Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Fall of Rome

Wadsworth, WI – He was an obscure general.

In 453, having finished his training in Alexandria in Neo-Platonism, Anathemas was sent to the wild and untamed border of Danubia to clear up the problems with barbarians there, made ever since Attila the Hun had died.
Anathemas was soon the emperor. He was killed in a civil war in Rome not long after. His last stronghold was the basilica. After him one war after another took place for several years, but the empire was gone. Twelve year old Romulus Augustus was the last emperor to claim the title. It was fitting perhaps that first king and the last emperor should have the same name. One had, according to legend, lost his brother. The other had lost his empire.
Many, many hundreds of tomes have been written on Rome, its rise and its fall. The greatest and most well-known being Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, at over a 1,000 pages, it makes the case that Christianity destroyed the empire. The speculations have been endless.
But despite the fact that it toppled in the end, everyone knows about Rome. Even those who know nothing about history know about Rome, and they know it fell.
The fact that it fell is one of the first things that comes to mind when people think of the Roman empire. They will often say that it came about because of the barbarian invasions. Adam Smith, the famous economist and author of the magnum opus of classical economics The Wealth of Nations, asserted that the empire fell because of a lack of moving about of the soldiers. The legions, he says, lost their division of labor, had multiple jobs, and thus disintegrated.
Others, like Robert O’Connell in his book Of Arms and Men states that it was the lack of ingenuity in the army, and the absence of new weapons. A lecture I heard earlier this year in St. Louis stated that they fell in large part because they were dull, and had no inventions of their own.
But why did Rome fall?
That is the subject of another article.

Andrew C. Abbott

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