Interesting topic. For Romans I guess the system worked really well, some advances in politics, government, architecture were inspiring. But to outsiders, they were simply conquerers. They implied bringing enlightenment to savage barbarians and all that, but it seemed more like a very long campaign of terror against anyone who did not conform to Roman rule. I've always seem Rome as the ultimate war-machine, just plain attacking and subduing nearby, and not so nearby, civilisations. And when they got bored of that, they started oppresing and warring with each other. i've always thought Rome would have done a lot better if they had coexisted with thoses they subjegated.
Audaces Fortuna Juvat