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Thursday, October 11, 2007

I introduce Gavin M to Edward G

“U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black says the United States, like past great civilizations such as the Roman Empire, could collapse due to a decline in family values, a decline in religion, a preoccupation with pleasure and overspending on militarism,” per AP.

Gavin M goes on to laugh at Pastor Swank and is excellent as always (and with a great photo) however Barry Black is full of it too (except for the overspending on militarism part). The amusing depravity of the Julio Claudian emperors did not cause the fall of Rome as it immediately preceded centuries of Roman dominance of Europe. Rome lost it when it turned back to religion (especially new weird cults like Mithraism and Christianity).

The Roman empire was still going strong when Constantine converted. Then Rome itself became almost irrelevant to the once Roman empire and was effectively abandoned.

Perhaps I am too harsh on Constantine. The emperor who really caused the fall of the Roman empire *in the West* was Theodosius who split the empire between his two sons dooming the West. He also banned all religions other than Christianity. The evidence is overwhelming. The Roman empire wasn't destroyed by depraved lapsed Pagans (it did fine). The Roman empire wasn't destroyed by Christians. The Roman empire was destroyed by intolerant Christians (and the effects of overspending on militarism on the economy). No serious historian contests this claim (originally due to this guy named Gibbon who wrote a rather long book on the subject).

This brings me to the best established hypothesis in the social sciences. The Romans had a theory that they won wars because the gods were on their side. They felt that so long as they performed traditional Pagan rituals they were fine. After converting Constantine as Pontifex Maximus ordered Romans to keep up the Pagan rituals then moved to Constantinople. For centuries Romans ruled and performed these rituals. Theodosius banned them from performing the traditional rites. Rome was sacked within 30 years. Sure it was just a coincidence suuuuuure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you (and readers) might find this series of podcasts on the late Roman empire interesting. (focusing on the transition to the Eastern empire and the centuries of continuation of the empire of Rome)

Check it out, I highly reccommend it. For history lectures, they are very engaging! The reasons for the "decline" are very much political, military, and economic. Highly relevant.