That's exactly it. It was no fluke that Rome did so well for so long. Here's another example: there were the occasional flare-ups by politicians (who could also be pests) who wanted the Bible burned in order to make a name for themselves.
Nothing has changed, you see.
Well, the civil servants and others upon whom it fell to administer policy would see that upsetting the locals was a bad idea. So, they did things like this: 'I have to burn this thing called the Bible. Well, I don't know what it looks like since I'm a proper pagan and not a Christian. So, if you give me *a* book then I'll have to take your word for it that you've given me the proper article,' (WINK!)