Skip to comments.History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [ch. VII, last 2 paragraphs]
Posted on 03/13/2012 10:06:07 AM PDT by matt1234
Since Romulus, with a small band of shepherds and outlaws, fortified himself on the hills near the Tyber, ten centuries had already elapsed. During the four first ages, the Romans, in the laborious school of poverty, had acquired the virtues of war and government: by the vigorous exertion of those virtues, and by the assistance of fortune, they had obtained, in the course of the three succeeding centuries, an absolute empire over many countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The last three hundred years had been consumed in apparent prosperity and internal decline. The nation of soldiers, magistrates, and legislators, who composed the thirty-five tribes of the Roman people, were dissolved into the common mass of mankind, and confounded with the millions of servile provincials, who had received the name, without adopting the spirit, of Romans. A mercenary army, levied among the subjects and barbarians of the frontier, was the only order of men who preserved and abused their independence. By their tumultuary election, a Syrian, a Goth, or an Arab, was exalted to the throne of Rome, and invested with despotic power over the conquests and over the country of the Scipios.
The limits of the Roman empire still extended from the Western Ocean to the Tigris, and from Mount Atlas to the Rhine and the Danube. To the undiscerning eye of the vulgar, Philip appeared a monarch no less powerful than Hadrian or Augustus had formerly been. The form was still the same, but the animating health and vigor were fled. The industry of the people was discouraged and exhausted by a long series of oppression. The discipline of the legions, which alone, after the extinction of every other virtue, had propped the greatness of the state, was corrupted by the ambition, or relaxed by the weakness, of the emperors. The strength of the frontiers, which had always consisted in arms rather than in fortifications, was insensibly undermined; and the fairest provinces were left exposed to the rapaciousness or ambition of the barbarians, who soon discovered the decline of the Roman empire.
The empire's biggest problem was that it never definitively settled the issue of succession.
All emperors were either usurpers or they had acquired their title to the throne by descent from or adoption by a usurper.
Thus any successful soldier had inherently as good a title as any other, and for that matter as good a potential title as the guy on the throne.
This led emperors to, understandably, be nervous about successful soldiers and kill them on a regular basis. Which led some good generals to revolt in self-defense who might otherwise have been perfectly content to remain loyal.
Contrast this with the French or Ottoman empires, where no general, no matter how successful, had any hope of gaining the throne by revolt. Thus he could remain loyal without worry of being executed for winning battles.
Hereditary succession to absolute power has its own problems, but probably fewer than the constant succession and civil wars of the Romans and Byzantines.
Wish I had time to read the book. Sounds more like a script than a history.
This has a familiar ring, doesn’t it?
correction: “204 AD” should be “244 AD”
Gee whiz! It sounds almost like today where the populace and the judiciary are so ill educated that they cannot define "natural born citizen" and enforce the principle.
The New Chronologists would say that human history is something like 1500 years old at most. Past historical events just get re-told and are assumed to be new and separate events. I think they would point to the Trojan War (1100 BC) and the Crusades (1100-1300 AD) as the same event, just told differently and assumed to be separate events.
I find it mildly amusing that the Roman Empire reached a point of mixed power and decline when The Arab became emperor. A New Chronologist might almost argue that Barack Obama and Philip the Arab are exectly the same man and that the tale of his ascension is just being re-told in a different way.
Crackpot theory to be sure, but the world sure is a funny place.
And the donatives (i.e., bribery) given by the emperors to the soldiers was a factor that aggravated the instability. Often the soldiers supported whomever offered them the most money.
Yes. It's amazing that it was published in 1776.
About to be beheaded on the deck of a warship in the Golden Horn, the Emperor Maurice turned towards his successor Phocas and uttered his last words: “Don’t forget to pay the army.”
In the quoted excerpt, Gibbon also mentions a Syrian and a Goth who preceded Phillip. The Syrian was Emperor Elagabalus, an open homosexual who brought eunichs to the imperial court in Rome. The Goth was Emperor Maximinus (AKA Maximin) who was described as very tall and brutish.
Either way the actions would have been the same; power struggles, oppression through "compassion", welfare to appease the masses, over expansion through the ages, massive debt, inflationary practices especially by the “Dominus et deus” I guess the Nixon of Emperors with his price controls, confusing/repressive taxation polices which were different from province to province, “hospitable” immigration "appeasement" (In the West), messing with the currency, depopulation of actual citizens, etc...
In the end once the individual is detroyed by government policies (Some by "suicide" who are granted some type of control over government) and becomes apathetic, "Empires" die.
Sounds like excellent advice.
Emperor Maximinus: “By this axe I rule!”
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
My pet economic theory is that by the time of Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive movement America had built up a massive treasury of wealth and resources. From that time until today we’ve added very little to the storehouse of wealth, but have taken a lot out. We’re living off the principle and not the profit. Each successive regulation and bureaucrat kills the innovation and the destruction of the old regime, now proven useless by said innovation. If we had today’s regulatory regime during TR presidency you’d still be riding a horse (for safety and sustainability). That’s what kills empires - they lose their will to win through merit and politics trumps proficiency.
“the Roman people, were dissolved into the common mass of mankind, and confounded with the millions of servile provincials, who had received the name, without adopting the spirit, of Romans”
This was the root cause of the decline.
“There is a bizarre fringe theory called “New Chronology” which argues”
Is there any way in which that could make sense, or do you really have to be crazy to believe it?
King Solomon said it best: “There is nothing new under the Sun.”
In other words, history repeats itself because humans are not learning from their past errors.
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