Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The Fall of the Roman Empire Revisited: Sidonius Apollinaris and His Crisis of Identity
Published by the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia. ^ | 2-1-03 (Volume Thirty-Seven) | By Eric J. Goldberg

Posted on 02/01/2003 7:42:21 AM PST by vannrox


Volume Thirty-Seven        1995
Essays in History
Published by the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia.

The Fall of the Roman Empire Revisited: Sidonius Apollinaris and His Crisis of Identity

By Eric J. Goldberg


Scholars of Late Antiquity (the period roughly from A.D. 300-600) have long labored under the shadow of two monumental works: Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1787) and M. I. Rostovtzeff's Social and Economic History of the Roman Empire (1926). Though Gibbon, an intellectual of the Enlightenment, and Rostovtzeff, a Russian Marxist, approached their topic from very different viewpoints, they both agreed that the "transformation" of Western civilization from the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages was a story of decline and decay. While Gibbon favored a moral and cultural explanation, Rostovtzeff not surprisingly emphasized economic and social factors. The last generation of scholars, however, has begun to revise this earlier scholarship. With the publication of A. H. M. Jones's The Later Roman Empire, 284-602. A Social, Economic and Administrative Survey (1964) and Peter Brown's The World of Late Antiquity (1971), historians of Late Antiquity began to argue for continuity, transformation, and achievement where Gibbon and Rostovtzeff found only decline and decay.

Yet the problem of how to gauge the momentous political, social, and cultural changes in Late Antiquity remains. One of the most exciting new approaches to this question was recently outlined by Ian Wood in the inaugural article in the collection entitled Fifth-century Gaul: a crisis of identity?1 Ian Wood discusses the problems and limitations when working with the historical sources from the fifth century, traditionally seen as the pivotal era for the "fall" of the western Roman Empire. Wood argues that, because of the thin, sporadic, and often contradictory nature of the surviving written records from this period, scholars should give up pursuing the chimera of a positivist chronological narrative of fifth-century history. He rightly cautions that the works of such authors as Salvian and Avitus are "not mere reflections of reality" but rather "literary constructs." As such, Wood suggests that historians take a different approach to fifth-century Gaul by attempting to understand end of the western empire "from the standpoint of shifting perceptions of identity." By emphasizing the point of view of fifth-century authors rather than the events they record, "the question of continuity or calamity becomes an issue of the mobilization of culture to deal with a changing world."

With this useful methodology, we can achieve a new understanding of the single most important surviving author from fifth-century Gaul, Sidonius Apollinaris.2 In the twenty-four surviving panegyrics and nine books of letters of C. Sollius Apollinaris Sidonius, bishop of Clermont between c.469 and c.485, we have a rare window into how a Catholic Gallo-Roman aristocrat, man of letters, politician, and churchman came to terms with the "fall" of the Roman Empire. Sidonius published his works in two very different periods in the history of fifth-century Gaul.3 He published his panegyrics and first book of letters before he became bishop in 469, while the Visigoths were still loyal foederati (federates) of the Roman imperial government. Sidonius did not publish the last eight books of his letters until after 476, by which time the Goths had conquered Gaul, and the western Roman imperial government had collapsed. By publishing these "memoirs," Sidonius endeavored to explain and justify his actions to his fellow Gallo-Romans.4 One can therefore compare Sidonius's writings published before 469 and after 476 to uncover how Sidonius came to redefine and refashion his identity during a period of momentous political, social, and cultural change.

Scholars have heretofore failed to appreciate the importance of a chronological approach to Sidonius's publications. Rather, there has been a tendency to view Sidonius's works as the product of an unchanging, monolithic personality. Sidonius's biographer, C. E. Stevens, wrote of his subject: "He was a faithful observer of his age.... He was an honest man.... [W]e see not the development of a character, but a collection of formal pictures illustrating the manners of the fifth century. Around Sidonius moves the circle of his universe; it is a varied universe, but he stands at rest in the midst of it."5 By approaching Sidonius's works with a sensitivity to chronology, however, one discovers that Sidonius was in fact a dynamic and evolving personality who experienced and came to terms with a "crisis of identity" between 469 and 476. This identity crisis forced Sidonius to redefine what it meant to be a patriotic Gallo-Roman in his later publications.

To understand Sidonius's world, one must appreciate the christological disputes between orthodox Catholics and Arian Christians (the latter of whom denied the divinity of Christ) that had divided the Roman Empire for over a century. The history of the relationship between Catholics and Arians in Gaul in Late Antiquity followed a decidedly different course from that of the eastern half of the Empire and northern Italy. Beginning in the 380s, Emperor Theodosius at Constantinople passed a series of decrees which imposed upon all people in the empire a strict adherence to the Nicene formulation of the Catholic faith. These actions were the first efforts of the eastern imperial court to present a united front against Arianism and other heresies.6 In northern Italy, Ambrose likewise led the campaign for Nicene orthodoxy, and in 386 he successfully silenced the Arian opposition.7

The situation in Gaul, however, was quite different. Between 406 and 418, large-scale Germanic migrations and political usurpations severed Gaul from western imperial authority in northern Italy.8 Owing to this drastic contraction of centralized authority, as well as the settlement on Gallic soil of tens of thousands of Germans (most of whom were Arian Christians), imperial efforts to counter Arianism were ineffectual in Gaul. As a result of this absence of central imperial and ecclesiastical authority, the endeavors of Gallo-Roman Catholics to address the issue of Arianism in the fifth century were largely uncoordinated and piece-meal. Thus, Gaul lacked any type of unified orthodox front against Arianism.

Sidonius Apollinaris was born in Lyons in about 430 into one of the premier Gallo-Roman aristocratic families. His ancestors had filled the highest offices in the imperial hierarchy. His grandfather had been prefect of Gaul under the usurper Constantine, and his father held the same office under Valentinian III. As a member of the highest Gallo-Roman social stratum, Sidonius found himself close to the center of the major political events in Gaul during the last decades of the western Empire.

From his early years, Sidonius was involved with a group of patriotic Gallo-Roman aristocrats who wanted to make Gaul a major political power in the western empire with the aid of the Gothic foederati.9 Absolutely central to Sidonius and his circle's understanding of the acceptable Roman order was the concept of the foedus (treaty) with the Arian Goths, who as foederati were to serve as military auxiliaries to ensure order and stability in Gaul. For Sidonius, the existence of the foedus was the crucial litmus test for the acceptability of Roman dealings with the Goths.10 Since 418, the Goths had been foederati of the Empire. As imperial servants, the Arianism of the Goths was not a major concern for many of the Catholic Gallo-Roman elite.11 Sidonius's generation grew up thinking that there was nothing blameworthy in working with barbarian Arian federates, going to their courts, flattering their kings and queens, and agreeing to their military ventures when they could not be prevented. Indeed, Sidonius and his contemporaries could look to several Christian writers from the first half of the fifth century such as Saint Augustine, Orosius, and Salvian of Marsielle who had praised German Arians for their piety.12 Sidonius and his circle's desire to maintain friendly terms with the Goths required Catholic Gallo-Romans to turn a blind eye to the Goths' denial of Christ's divinity.

In his panegyrics and first book of letters, Sidonius published writings which depicted how he had advocated amicable relations with the Arian Goths. The best example of this pro-Gothic agenda are the materials that relate to the emperorship of Avitus.13 Sidonius was the son-in-law of Avitus, who became praetorian prefect in 439, and had close ties with the Gothic court since 418/19.14 In 455, when the last member of the Theodosian dynasty was murdered, Avitus became emperor with the help of the Gothic king Theoderic II (453-66). On January 1, 456, Sidonius delivered a panegyric to his father-in-law at Rome, a work which in essence is a history of the Gallo-Roman endeavors to bolster Gaul's political power with the help of the Goths. In this panegyric, Sidonius repeatedly emphasized that Avitus had maintained good working relations with the Goths throughout his political career through the enforcement of the foedus.15

Sidonius published his first book of letters before the end of 469 to justify and win support for Gallic political machinations with the help of the Arian barbarians. Following the dedicatory letter of his first book, Sidonius's next letter was his famous laudatory description of the Visigothic king, Theoderic II, and his court. The issue of Theoderic's Arianism was a real concern for the Gallo-Romans, and Sidonius went out of his way to depict the Gothic king's heretical religion in the most favorable light. Sidonius wrote: "Before dawn he goes with a very small retinue to the gathering of his priests (sacerdotum suorum coetus), and he worships with great earnestness, though (between ourselves) one can see that his devotion is a matter of routine rather than of conviction."16 In Sidonius's mind, the faith of the barbarians to the foedus was of much greater importance than their heretical Christian faith. These materials related to Avitus's rise to the imperial throne demonstrate Sidonius's willingness to excuse the Arian religion of the Goths in order to further Gallo-Gothic relations and uphold the cherished foedus, the cornerstone of his conception of Roman order in Gaul. In addition to this sympathetic tone towards the Arian Goths, Sidonius's earlier writings are almost completely devoid of any interest in Christianity, orthodox or otherwise.17

Between 470 and 476, a series of events transpired which forced Sidonius to re-think completely his ideas about acceptable relations between Catholics and Arian Goths. In 470, like many members of his class in the second-half of the fifth-century, Sidonius entered the Church and became bishop of Clermont. About the same time, the Gothic king Euric (466-84) broke the 418- foedus and began to conquer the remaining imperial territories in Gaul.18 Although Sidonius valiantly led Clermont's resistance against the Gothic siege, in 475 Emperor Julius Nepos ceded the rest of Gaul, including Clermont, to Euric in return for Provence.19 In this conquest, Euric left vacant about one-quarter of the Gallo-Roman sees, since they had become centers of Gallo-Roman resistance to Gothic expansion.20 In agreement with this policy, Euric exiled Sidonius to Capendu and Bordeaux for two years before allowing him to return as bishop to Clermont.21 Euric ceased his anti-Catholic policy soon after the Gallo-Roman bishops recognized his conquests.22 In the final analysis, Euric's conquests were characterized by political realism rather than religious fanaticism.

By the time Sidonius returned from exile in c.476 and set about publishing the last eight books of his letters, many of the assumptions which he had held throughout his earlier life had been undermined. Euric was dominus of a "conquered world," and all of Gaul was subjected to the feodifraga gens (treaty-breaking race) of the Goths.23 Gallo-Roman generals and scholars, who had once frequented the Gallic capital of Arles, were now seeking Euric's patronage at the Gothic court.24 Sidonius could no longer travel freely, and road blocks often harassed letter carriers.25 Moreover, a German general had recently deposed the last western emperor. These great changes in his world forced Sidonius to re-think many of the assumptions which he had held about relations between Goths and Romans before 469.

By 476, Sidonius came to realize that his former faith in the maintenance of good relations with Gothic federates--the theme of his earlier published works--had been an embarrassing mistake. In books II-IX, therefore, Sidonius consciously redefined his identity as a patriotic Gallo-Roman. The result was that Sidonius began to identify himself with orthodox Christianity, the Gallic Church, and the rejection of the Arianism of the Goths.

Sidonius draws attention to his "transformation" and rejection of his former life in four main ways: by (1) emphasizing his penitence for his former life, (2) including almost two whole books of correspondence with fellow bishops, (3) describing his role in the episcopal election at Bourges, and (4) emphasizing his efforts to defend Clermont during the Gothic siege.

A strong confessional and penitential theme runs throughout Sidonius's last eight books which goes far beyond the conventional humility-topos of early Christian literature.26 Remarkably, manly scholars have overlooked this theme in books II-IX. Raymond Van Dam, for example, observes merely that Sidonius letters after 476 "took on a more subdued tone." Yet in his last eight books Sidonius repeatedly confessed his earlier mistakes and begged for the forgiveness of God and his fellow bishops. In one published sermon Sidonius admitted that "the responsibilities of this sacred office [the episcopacy of Clermont] were thrust upon me while I strayed amid the lamentable gulfs and sloughs of iniquity."27 Indeed, Sidonius openly expressed his belief that the fall of Clermont to the Goths was God's ironic retribution for his past dealings with the them.28 It seems that Sidonius had come under heavy criticism from episcopal colleagues for his past associations with Arians and glancing familiarity of Christian orthodoxy. In the very last letter of his last book Sidonius wrote, "Nor can I recall how many things I wrote in the first fervor of youth; I only wish that most of them might be buried in silence!"29 C. E. Stevens incorrectly assumes that Sidonius was here referring lost volume of "racy" poems which Sidonius had published as a youth.30 Yet there is absolutely no evidence that Sidonius ever published such a volume of poetry. Rather, it is clear that Sidonius was here referring to his panegyrics and first book of letters, which had become a terrible embarrassment to him in his later life. This penitential and confessional theme of books II-IX was a clear message to his contemporaries that he had denounced his earlier writings and associations with the Arian Goths.31

In his last eight books of letters, Sidonius consciously re-cast his Roman identity in terms of orthodox Christianity and the Church. He underscores his new identity in particular in books VI and VII, which almost exclusively contain letters addressed to his fellow Gallo-Roman bishops. Sidonius appears to have published these two books separately as one work.32 By publishing these episcopal letters together, Sidonius deliberately associated himself with the network of Gallic orthodox Church leaders, many of whom were active in reform councils at Arles and Lyons in the early 470s.33 In these letters, Sidonius was able to express his new-found interests that had become central to his new Catholic, episcopal identity: studying scripture, teaching, composing sermons, exhorting others to lead a Christian life, admonishing wayward clerics, visiting parish churches, revering local saints, and praising bishops who wrote theological treatises and who attack Arianism and other heresies.34 Books VI and VII as a whole, therefore, are an expression of Sidonius's desire to replace the memory of his previous associations with Arians with a strong orthodox Christian and episcopal identity. Indeed, this concern for his memory is underscored by the refrain with which Sidonius ends every episcopal letter: memor nostri esse dignare, domine papa (deign to remember be, lord bishop).

Sidonius illustrates his new identity with two particular episodes recorded in his letter collection, both of which underscore his opposition to Arianism and the Goths, and his loyalty to the Catholic Church. These two episodes are preserved in epistolae VII.5-VII.7, which suggests that Sidonius grouped these letters together intentionally. The first episode is Sidonius's involvement in the episcopal election of Bourges, probably in 470.35 In this case, Sidonius had been called to Bourges to appoint the next archbishop of Aquitania Prima, and he found there a fierce struggle between the candidates of "both confessions"--the orthodox Catholics and "those who favor the faith of the Arians."36 In a series of three letters, Sidonius depicted how he painstakingly considered all the candidates and finally decided on the inlustris and orthodox Simplicius as the next archbishop. There was a strong symbolic element in Sidonius's detailed description of how he defeated the Arian party in favor of the orthodox Christianity at Bourges: after 476, Euric had exiled the orthodox bishop of Bourges and made the city the center of his administration over Aquitania Prima.37 Thus, the whole episode underscored Sidonius's loyalty to orthodox Christianity and his opposition to Arianism and the Gothic conquests.

The second episode which Sidonius described in memorable detail was his efforts to defend the Gallo-Roman church as Gaul was being overrun by Euric's forces in 471-476.38 Although Euric left only those bishoprics vacant that were centers of political resistance, Sidonius portrayed Euric's conquests as an Arian holy war against Christian orthodoxy:

"So repugnant is the mention of the word 'catholic' to his mouth and his heart that one doubts whether he is more the ruler of his nation or of his sect (secta).... He imagines that the success of his dealings and plans comes from the legitimacy of his religion, whereas it would be truer to say that he achieves it by earthly good fortune."39

Sidonius exhorted the negotiators with Euric to win one fundamental concession: "that episcopal ordination being permitted we may hold according to the faith, though we cannot hold according to the treaty (teneamus ex fide, etsi non tenemus ex fodere), those peoples of Gaul who are enclosed within the bounds of the Gothic domain."40 Here one clearly sees how, in Sidonius's mind, the orthodox Christian fides and episcopal hierarchy had come to replace the foedus with the Goths as the cornerstone of proper Roman order in Gaul.

The writings of Sidonius Apollinaris reveal how one of the leading Gallo-Roman aristocrats of the fifth century re-defined his patriotic Roman identity and idea of proper Roman order. Until 469, Sidonius believed that the proper way to carry out politics in Gaul was through friendly relations with the Arian Goths through the maintenance of the 418-foedus. During this period, Sidonius was willing to pardon and ignore the heresy of the Goths, and he was moreover noticeably aloof towards his own orthodox Catholic identity. After becoming bishop of Clermont in c.470 and witnessing Euric's conquest of Gaul, Sidonius underwent a major transformation of identity. Expressed in books II-IX of his published letters, Sidonius after 476 denounced his former associations with the Arian Gothic federates. For Sidonius, the "proper order" in Gaul had become the ideal of Catholic Gallo-Romans bound to the Church in opposition to the Arian Goths. Sidonius's works, therefore, underscore how the history of Catholic-Arian relations in Gaul differed from those at Constantinople and in northern Italy. Lacking any centralized authority such as Theodosius or Ambrose to lead the orthodox opposition to heresy in Gaul, it seems that Gallo-Romans such as Sidonius only came to denounce Arianism after the Goths broke the 418-foedus and conquered Gaul. From the example of Sidonius Apollinaris, therefore, it is possible to suggest a correlation between the collapse of the imperial administration and the establishment of a Gothic kingdom in Gaul, with an increasing association of Roman identity with orthodox Christianity and the Catholic Church. Just as the Roman Empire had withdrawn from Gaul, so now Gallo-Romans were prepared to withdraw behind the edifice of the Gallic church and orthodox Christianity.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: archaeology; empire; fall; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; past; romanempire; rome
An interesting Read.
1 posted on 02/01/2003 7:42:22 AM PST by vannrox
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: vannrox
Bump for later
2 posted on 02/01/2003 7:44:51 AM PST by Mike Darancette
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: vannrox
bump for later reading
3 posted on 02/01/2003 7:53:43 AM PST by I_Love_My_Husband
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: vannrox
A very interesting read.

I see in it why Arianism died out in the West. It was the religion of the 'treaty breakers', the Goths, and why Gothic rule turned out to be so fragile in both Italy, Gaul, and Spain.

The Goths were the most civilized of the barbarian nations, far more so than savages like the Franks. Emperor Theodosius had a policy, and clearly represented a faction of which the young Sidonius had been a part, of thinking the Goths could be peacefully absorbed into the Roman Empire. But Gothic ambition could not be contained by the crumbling empire. When appeasement fails, the result is fury for having been a fool. Gothic 'betrayal' of Roman trust created a legacy of bitterness between Roman and Goth which made their kingdoms in Italy and Gaul/Spain 'conquest zones' and nothing more.

When the savage but orthodox Franks appeared on the scene, one battle, one Frankish victory pushed the Visigoths out of Gaul entirely into Spain. When the Moors appeared one battle, one Muslim victory, destroyed the Visigothic kingdom.
4 posted on 02/01/2003 8:24:22 AM PST by Tokhtamish
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: vannrox
The changing identification analysis as an explanation for the fall of the empire raises intriguing questions for the potential of the American "empire" (i.e., the diverse conglomerations of cultures that live in the U.S.) to do the same.
5 posted on 02/01/2003 8:35:36 AM PST by FateAmenableToChange
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: vannrox; Tokhtamish
I generally agree with Gibbon's intrepratation except for one thing. Theodosius "The Great" was a disaster for the Empire. He practiced a policy of appeasement( we won't even get into his Christian fanaticism which among other things he allowed a fanatical Archbishop to destroy the Great Library of Alexandria) which caused the Empire in the West to fall shortly after his death. The Ostrogoths and Theodoric's Visigoth's were fairly enlightened rulers. The Visigoth's in Spain generally were not. The Franks were savages but they tried the real destroyers were the Picts, Lombards, Spanish Visigoths, and Vandals( the Vikings later on Charlemagne almost managed to engineer a recovery but the Vikings stopped that after his death, then the Catholic church after the Viking invasions decided that it should rule Europe and horde knowledge which caused other problems).
6 posted on 02/01/2003 9:20:52 AM PST by weikel (Your commie has no regard for human life not even his own)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: vannrox
I get so much information from my freeper pals, and I really do appreciate it. We have to be some of the most informed people in the country.
7 posted on 02/01/2003 9:24:30 AM PST by dix
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: vannrox
This makes sense to me. Excellent article. Gibbon was blinded by Enlightenment rationalism and anti-Christian animus. What's obvious on the largest scale is that Rome fell and Christian Europe rose in its place. The displacement to the north was due to the rise Muhammed and the spread of Islam through North Africa and Asia.

What gave Europe its fundamental identity and held it together was the Church, as Christopher Dawson has argued so well.
8 posted on 02/01/2003 9:34:44 AM PST by Cicero
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: FateAmenableToChange
The changing identification analysis as an explanation for the fall of the empire raises intriguing questions for the potential of the American "empire" (i.e., the diverse conglomerations of cultures that live in the U.S.) to do the same

I'd expect the fall of the "American empire" to be the result of a nuclear explosion in D.C. rather than diversity in American cities

9 posted on 02/01/2003 9:34:45 AM PST by stuck_in_new_orleans
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: vannrox
read later
10 posted on 02/01/2003 9:43:59 AM PST by LiteKeeper
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stuck_in_new_orleans
One explanation for the fall of the Western Roman Empire was higher and higher taxes and ever-expanding bureaucracy. Another factor was internal faction and what might be called party politics. Although there were barbarian incursions and invasions, they were prefaced by internal weaknesses.

If the American Empire falls, it will likely be caused by higher taxes, more government bureaucracy, a creaking, overloaded economy, and factional politics where seizing power becomes more important than serving the country.

The American constitution enables a certain resiliency in the face of partisan politics, but there is presumably a limit, which we have already seen tested under clinton and his scumbag supporters. There's no assurance that another clinton may not rise to power. There were certainly more than enough bad Roman emperors.
11 posted on 02/01/2003 9:47:50 AM PST by Cicero
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: FateAmenableToChange
I agree with your comments completely. In essence, barbarian tribes with high levels of population growth moved into the Western Empire (which had a stagnant population). The barbarians had a different culture and a different religion. At first, the elites of the empire thought that they could cohabitate with the newcomers and eventually absorb them into Roman culture. By the time they found out the truth, it was too late.
12 posted on 02/01/2003 9:58:18 AM PST by quebecois
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Cicero
It will be faction. The authors of The Federalist Papers saw faction as a leading threat. (I forget which particular author). We are becoming like Czechoslovakia. What a mess!
13 posted on 02/01/2003 9:58:50 AM PST by AEMILIUS PAULUS (Further, the statement assumed)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: weikel
The story that Theophilus destroyed a library is clearly a fiction that we can very precisely lay at the door of Edward Gibbon. It is in his monumental Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that we first find the allegation made. Gibbon seems mainly concerned to clear the Arabs of the responsibility of destroying the library and allows his marked anti-Christian prejudice to cloud his better judgement. His excellent footnotes show he had exactly the same sources as we do but drew the wrong conclusions.

From The Mysterious Fate of the Great Library of Alexandria
http://www.bede.org.uk/library.htm
14 posted on 02/01/2003 10:16:01 AM PST by DeaconBenjamin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: DeaconBenjamin
The Arabs destroyed the last of it and Julius Caesar destroyed part of it( not intentionally) during the siege of Alexandria. Im not ready to clear the mob led by the Bishop of Alexandria of all blame are you saying that mob didn't exist?
15 posted on 02/01/2003 10:18:56 AM PST by weikel (Your commie has no regard for human life not even his own)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: AEMILIUS PAULUS
It will be faction. The authors of The Federalist Papers saw faction as a leading threat.

You made an excellent observation, one which people should pay more attention to.

"Faction" is an important term that is defined as: "a party or group (as within a government) that is often contentious or self-seeking".

Not only can it be applied to our political leaders, it can also apply to illegal immigrants. America is in danger from both groups.

However, I believe the main reason for concern is because we have lost our way as a God-fearing nation and ignored warnings given by the Jonahs in our midst.

16 posted on 02/01/2003 10:33:31 AM PST by JudyB1938
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: vannrox
bump for later
17 posted on 02/01/2003 10:35:13 AM PST by Diana Rose
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: JudyB1938
The only question is when. Probably a bit of time-at least not in my lifetime.(absent some large stressor such as a nuke in DC. The occurrence of this latter contingency will probably result in the immediate disintegration of our political and social structures.)
18 posted on 02/01/2003 10:47:52 AM PST by AEMILIUS PAULUS (Further, the statement assumed)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: vannrox
Bump
19 posted on 02/01/2003 10:49:04 AM PST by Fiddlstix (Tag Line Service Center: Get your Tag Lines Here! Wholesale! (Cheaper by the Dozen!) Inquire Within)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: vannrox
bump
20 posted on 02/01/2003 10:51:11 AM PST by Red Jones
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: weikel
Did mobs exist in Alexandria in the time of Theophilus? Most probably. Did the "seven wonders of the world" library exist in Alexandria at that time? The evidence does not appear to support such a belief.
21 posted on 02/01/2003 11:13:54 AM PST by DeaconBenjamin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Cicero
This makes sense to me. Excellent article. Gibbon was blinded by Enlightenment rationalism and anti-Christian animus....
While I agree with your statement en toto I question the use of the word "blinded". Gibbson was not blinded by the Enlightenment so much as he was a product of it. Which, in turn, accounts for the anti-Christian undertoe found in his writings.

What's obvious on the largest scale is that Rome fell and Christian Europe rose in its place...
Yet, IMHO, it was not a case of The Church waiting eagerly in the wings. The Church and the Empire were like compensating buckets in a well. The Empire represented and maintained organization. The further it weakened, the more The Church, already (and the only one) possessing a well structured, well organization administration was obligued-- either by force of circumstance or opportunity-- to replace that of the politically leperous Empire.

22 posted on 02/01/2003 11:46:10 AM PST by yankeedame ("Oh, I can take it, but I'd much rather dish it out.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: vannrox
I had never seen this analysis before, thanks for posting it.

It has striking similarities to what happened at the end of the Eastern Roman Empire 1000 years later. The clergy then fought any political approaches to Rome based on religious compromise that were being attempted to stir up another Crusade. These approaches also, as in the earlier times, were advocated and supported by "liberal" or "worldly" politicians. The clergy were fiercely resistant to any accomodation of their religious principles despite the fact it might save the remnants of the Empire. They wisely (from their perspective) held to their principles despite promises of short-term gain. The earlier, Apollinaris Western Romans only reached this epiphany after their Empire already was lost and it was too late.

Expressed in more contemporary terms, Sidonius Apollinaris was a liberal politician who turned conservative only after his liberal friends betrayed what he really stood for. His liberal accomodation undermined what he wanted, a strong Roman Gaul. So, in a sense he helped define "conservative" as "a liberal who got mugged." The Eastern Roman clergy never made his initial mistake, was conservative throughout, and their religion managed to survive to the present day. Food for thought.

23 posted on 02/01/2003 11:52:20 AM PST by KellyAdmirer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stuck_in_new_orleans
I'd expect the fall of the "American empire" to be the result of a nuclear explosion in D.C. rather than diversity in American cities

LOL! Silly, empirers don't fall like a brick heaved through a plate glass window.
Besides, when Gibbon's books were published the British chattering-class was full sure that he was talking about them, the decline and fall of the British Empire, etc., etc.; things like that.
It's the same as every generation being sure that their's is the time of the Apocalypse because of Bibical signs apparently coming true.
It's all a case of: "We see what we look for."

24 posted on 02/01/2003 11:56:28 AM PST by yankeedame ("Oh, I can take it, but I'd much rather dish it out.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: weikel
There was no Library of Alexandria for the Arabs to destroy, had they been so inclined. In fact, the Arabs preserved all of the Greek learning they could find, and translated it (along with Persian and Indian learning) into Arabic.

Christian destructive efforts - whether purely the action of mobs, or organized by Church leaders - against pagan temples, pagan learning, and pagan philosophers - is massively documented and undeniable. Whether one particular Churchman is to be blamed for the destruction of the Library, or not, is beside the point.

25 posted on 02/01/2003 12:07:41 PM PST by Vast Buffalo Wing Conspiracy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: stuck_in_new_orleans
I'd expect the fall of the "American empire" to be the result of a nuclear explosion in D.C. rather than diversity in American cities.

Totally absurd. Nuke DC all you want; it will not destroy America if America is healthy. But America is not healthy.

You are, like Gibbon, making the classic mistake of only being able to see external enemies. Gibbon speculated on the possible fall of Western Civilization, and noting the vast power and health of Europe in the 18th century, and the puny powerlessness of the external "barbarians", predicated a rosy future for the West. He was right in the short term, wrong in the long term.

Rot begins from within. Accepting millions of strangers into our midst is just a symptom of the rot, but it will rapidly become not just a symptom, but a disease in its own right, when the sh!t hits the fan. Compared to what is coming, a mere nuke in DC will feel like a pinprick.

26 posted on 02/01/2003 12:14:49 PM PST by Vast Buffalo Wing Conspiracy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: DeaconBenjamin
The story that Theophilus destroyed a library is clearly a fiction that we can very precisely lay at the door of Edward Gibbon. It is in his monumental Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that we first find the allegation made. Gibbon seems mainly concerned to clear the Arabs of the responsibility of destroying the library and allows his marked anti-Christian prejudice to cloud his better judgement.

Gibbon was a fanatical follower of anti-Christian "Enlightement" (which should be named "Endarkenment"). From "Enlightement" comes the tradition of bsessive whitewashing of Muslims at the expense of Christians. Shiftin the blame from the Omar barbarians who destroyed the Alexandrian library to the Greek Christians is an example of successful anti-Christian slander.

27 posted on 02/01/2003 12:16:00 PM PST by A. Pole
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Vast Buffalo Wing Conspiracy
Christian destructive efforts - whether purely the action of mobs, or organized by Church leaders - against pagan temples, pagan learning, and pagan philosophers - is massively documented and undeniable.

You are repeating the anti-Christian slur peddled by Enlightement libertines and established in the popular mind of English speaking countries. Byzantine Christians loved learning and preserved the ancient Greco-Roman culture of antiquity. Their main "crime" was that they were genuine Christians. This is an offence the enlightened historians will never forget.

28 posted on 02/01/2003 12:20:21 PM PST by A. Pole
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: vannrox
A very interesting read, indeed. While everyone seems to be putting their own spin on it, it does reveal a dichotomy between ethnic identity and ideological identity, which goes to the core of the present debate over American immigration policy--and, indeed, to a much wider spectrum of issues.

Basically, the Left would define America in terms of an ideology--and some Conservatives have taken the bait. Our problem is not, however, really understandable in those terms. While the writer referred to in the essay could find solace in his Faith, there is not even the suggestion of a refuge for a loss of the American identity in any ideological substitute.

The American identity does have ideological aspects, but they are more in the form of unique images than a clear, common philosophy. To be sure, Virginia traditionally has a philosphy, as does Massachusetts. But they are conflicting philosophies. The common area--the area in which we Ohioans and you in other States are all Americans--are in major part image driven, dependent upon a common struggle and common interest, rather than a common value system. The vital images are being lost, today, in the Left's promotion of what I call a "musical chairs" concept of ethnicity, which is totally nonsensical.

William Flax Return Of The Gods Web Site

29 posted on 02/01/2003 12:22:27 PM PST by Ohioan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: weikel
Im not ready to clear the mob led by the Bishop of Alexandria of all blame are you saying that mob didn't exist?

The Christian mob destroying the library is as real as Serbian rape camps or throwing out babies from incubators by Iraqis in Kuwait. And Muslim barbarians led by Omar (the real culprits) are as civilised as KLA thugs.

30 posted on 02/01/2003 12:25:52 PM PST by A. Pole
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Cicero
One explanation for the fall of the Western Roman Empire was higher and higher taxes and ever-expanding bureaucracy.

There was also the stratification of society where the decadent super-rich acquired most of wealth while being exempt from taxation. The impoverished majority had to carry the burden of taxation and of growing bureaucracy so the barbarians were often more preferable. The poor got some break and redistribution of property.

31 posted on 02/01/2003 12:30:02 PM PST by A. Pole
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: A. Pole
Looks like there are some factional histories, Ill trust Gibbon until I see proof otherwise. Yeah the Serb rape camps were BS.
32 posted on 02/01/2003 1:01:28 PM PST by weikel (Your commie has no regard for human life not even his own)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: A. Pole
impoverished majority had to carry the burden of taxation and of growing bureaucracy

That was true throughout the Empire's history( well except for the huge bueracracy created in Diocletian's time). The problem was Constantine bound the formerly free peasants to the land and made the tradesmen professions hereditary( and increased taxes a lot). He also demoralized and weakened the border armies by creating elite reserve armies at Rome and Byzantium( for political not military reasons an army closer to him with handpicked officiers was more likely to be loyal). Then Theodosius started giving land to the barbarians within the Empire... if fell pretty quickly after that.

33 posted on 02/01/2003 1:15:53 PM PST by weikel (Your commie has no regard for human life not even his own)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: weikel
Looks like there are some factional histories, Ill trust Gibbon until I see proof otherwise.

Get any decent Byzantine history from Amazon - I recommend Vasiliev or Ostrogorsky. Gibbon was a splendid writer and managed to impress and hypnotise readers with his vision. But at his time people in England knew squat about late antiquity or Christian East. And he had a Deistic pro-Muslim agenda. Read solid history on the subject and you will have many proofs.

Gibbon is a great writer to be valued for his ideas, not because his work was true in factual sense but was true as a didactic phantasy.

34 posted on 02/01/2003 1:16:07 PM PST by A. Pole
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: A. Pole
Its true he was "biased" to say the least against the Eastern Empire. He wasn't pro Muslim I read his stuff on Mohammed and he basically said Mohammed was a power hungry whackjob who united the Arabs under a barbarous religion, and that Islam was only peaceful until Mohammed had an army behind him( then he started preaching a much more militant and intolerant religion). I'll check those guys out at some hypothetical point where I have the time.
35 posted on 02/01/2003 1:23:14 PM PST by weikel (Your commie has no regard for human life not even his own)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: vannrox
Bump for later study.
36 posted on 02/01/2003 2:15:39 PM PST by mrustow
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Cicero; FateAmenableToChange
FATC: "The changing identification analysis as an explanation for the fall of the empire raises intriguing questions for the potential of the American "empire" (i.e., the diverse conglomerations of cultures that live in the U.S.) to do the same."

Cicero: "One explanation for the fall of the Western Roman Empire was higher and higher taxes and ever-expanding bureaucracy. Another factor was internal faction and what might be called party politics."

Add a dash of Hayek and we might have a synthesis. Small government with few laws and few taxes requires at least a minimal level of cultural homogeneity, so that most laws are by and large voluntarily obeyed, and, perhaps more importantly, never articulated as written law at all. Without common culture -- without tacit rules of behavior which we can assume that most will follow most of the time -- the need for articulation increases, as does the desire to use the state to impose by force one set of rules upon all.

37 posted on 02/01/2003 3:15:27 PM PST by Tauzero
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: KellyAdmirer
Interesting analogy. As one 15th century Orthodox prelate put it, "Better a sultan's turban than a bishop's mitre."

They understood that the Balkans, unlike the Levant, Egypt, and North Africa, would stay Christian under Turkish rule.
38 posted on 02/01/2003 6:24:10 PM PST by Tokhtamish
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: sphinx; Toirdhealbheach Beucail; curmudgeonII; roderick; Notforprophet; river rat; csvset; ...
If you want on or off the Western Civilization Military History ping list, let me know.
39 posted on 02/01/2003 9:12:03 PM PST by Sparta (Statism is a mental illness)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sparta
Bump
40 posted on 02/01/2003 9:56:50 PM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: Tokhtamish
"They understood that the Balkans, unlike the Levant, Egypt, and North Africa, would stay Christian under Turkish rule."

With all due respect, that's a ridiculous statement. You're comparing 400 years under the decaying Ottomans with a free & strong Europe (& Russia) behind you to 1400 years of muslim rule including islam at its most vigorous "golden age"?
41 posted on 02/02/2003 4:18:05 PM PST by Keme
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: DeaconBenjamin
The first time I read Gibbon I had no idea his information was often incorrect. While it is a valuable work, it is not entirely reliable history.
42 posted on 02/02/2003 10:29:51 PM PST by WaterDragon (Playing possum doesn't work against nukes.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Keme
On the contrary, it's precisely because the Orthodox religious establishment knew that Islam was no longer what it had been during the 6th-7th centuries that they were willing to take their chances with the Turks rather than knuckle under in their ongoing battle with the Vatican.
43 posted on 02/03/2003 8:17:00 AM PST by steve-b
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies]

To: Keme
With all due respect the Ottoman Empire that twice besieged Vienna was not in the least decaying until the Industrial Revolution.

By 1000 Egypt and the Levant were Muslim. But aside from the Bozniaks Islam took no root in the Balkans.
44 posted on 02/03/2003 6:44:57 PM PST by Tokhtamish
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies]

To: Tokhtamish; steve-b
This is my first real online discussion, so I hope I don't sound in any way disrespectful in my reply.

1. The Turks did not have the same religious zeal as the Arabs & arguably did not rule nearly as long or as brutal (for the most part). Your point is well taken, but the Turks bit off more then they could chew with the siege of Vienna, they were on the defensive since then.

2. The Balkans were the furthest reach of Turkish rule in Europe, they were not in the very heart of the beast, so to speak, as the Middle East.

3. The Slavs had kindoms, however meager they may have been at the time, with armies. Because the Christians of the ME were completely under Byzantine control, they had no such self government or means of self defense. Their fate was tied to that of the Empire.

4. In spite of everything, Egypt stayed majority Christian for several hundred years. The gradual conversion was a slow & brutal one. I don't know enough to speak about the Levant. Even today after 1400 years, some estimates have the Christians numbering 15 to possibly 20% of the population in Egypt, this is with having many, MANY fewer children over many generations. Who knows what might have been.

Lastly, let me say it's always with great pride when I read of how the Slavs (& Greeks) freed themselves from the Turks. Maybe because of the many sins of the ME Christians, he saw fit to keep us under this yoke. But, I think your comparison is not an accurate one. Always thank God for your freedom, but don't boast in it.

Regards.


45 posted on 02/03/2003 9:33:17 PM PST by Keme
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 44 | View Replies]

To: vannrox; A.J.Armitage
Thanks for this post .... new perspective and an interesting one.

A.J. being a student of the Caesars and history, perhaps you will like this .

46 posted on 02/05/2003 7:14:11 AM PST by Countyline
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sparta
Sure, put me on your ping list, Leonidas.

;^)
47 posted on 02/05/2003 7:40:50 AM PST by headsonpikes
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

Just adding this to the GGG catalog, not sending a general distribution.

Please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest
-- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

48 posted on 07/30/2005 7:30:07 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Down with Dhimmicrats! I last updated by FR profile on Tuesday, May 10, 2005.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]


· join list or digest · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post a topic ·

 
Gods
Graves
Glyphs
Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
GGG managers are Blam, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach
 

· Google · Archaeologica · ArchaeoBlog · Archaeology magazine · Biblical Archaeology Society ·
· Mirabilis · Texas AM Anthropology News · Yahoo Anthro & Archaeo ·
· History or Science & Nature Podcasts · Excerpt, or Link only? · cgk's list of ping lists ·


49 posted on 03/27/2008 11:07:18 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/______________________Profile updated Saturday, March 1, 2008)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 48 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson