Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Riots’

Another week, another American city torched by “mostly peaceful protesters.” Police in riot gear clear a park during clashes with protesters outside the Kenosha County Courthouse late Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. | David Goldman/AP Photo

“In the second century of the Christian Era, the empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilized portion of mankind.” With this sentence did Edward Gibbon open his famous Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.  Gibbon’s work, first published in 1776, is a sweeping work of history, following the fortunes of the Roman Empire from its height in the second century AD to the fall of Constantinople in 1453.  

It may come as a surprise to some people to find that the Roman Empire lasted into the 15th century.  When we think about the fall of Rome, we tend to focus on the collapse of the Western Empire in AD 476 and forget that Rome had a vibrant eastern portion that did not fall until its capital, Constantinople, fell to the Turks nearly seven hundred years later.  We call this eastern empire Byzantium, but the Byzantines did not call themselves Byzantines.  The term “Byzantine Empire” did not come into use until well after the fall of Constantinople.  No, the people we call Byzantines did not use this term.  They called themselves Romans.   

After the spilling of much ink, Gibbon concludes his work with a chapter in which he discusses what he believes to be the four main causes of the fall of Rome.  He lists them as: 1) The injuries of nature, 2) the hostile attacks of the Barbarians and Christians, 3) the use and the abuse of the materials, and 4) the domestic quarrels of the Romans.  Was Gibbon right in his assessment?  That is for another time to discuss.

Although Gibbon’s work is likely the first to come to mind when people think about decline and fall histories, his was not the first work to describe the chain of events leading from civilizational greatness to civilizational collapse.  As this author has mentioned before in this space, the Old Testament can be viewed, at least in part, as the history of the decline and fall of ancient Israel, or the Hebrew Republic as the 19th century American Presbyterian writer E.C. Wines called it. 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: