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Howard C Berger  
Floresville, TX  
September 11, 2011 4:14pm
 
I have noticed that whenever some columnist cites the fall of Rome to support his views he almost always changes the historical facts to fit his predetermined ideological positions. I may agree or disagree with the politics in this column, but the history is really off. The western half of the Roman empire disintegrated between the collapse of the Rhine frontier on Dec. 31 406 and the deposing of Romulus Augustulus in 476.Very little of what the columnist describes had anything to do with the collapse in the West or the survival in the East of Roman Imperial government. During that entire time Rome was officially Christian, and became more and more so after paganism was effectively outlawed in 389 A.D. The Germanic tribes that attacked Rome were often Christian too (albeit Arian rather than Catholic). The discussion about conflicts between the Emperor and the Senate is puzzling (I assume he means the Western Emperor and the Senate in Rome). The Senate was by this time a mostly honorary body, and was usually pretty subordinate to the Emperor (such as when Theodosius removed the alter of Nike from the Senate House, and forced the Senate to back down). Indeed the capitol of the Western Empire was not in Rome during any of this period. The Goths sacked Rome in 410, while the court of the Emperor Honarius continued to mis-rule Rome from Ravenna. Economic statistics of the ancient world are few, but it does appear the problem was too few workers, not unemployment, as the Western Empire kept issuing edicts to keep workers in their old jobs or on the land. The currency was stabilized under Constantine the Great 100 years earlier and seems to have continued to be stable. The morals of the Western Empire in the 5th century AD were certainly no worse than in the Golden Age of Augustus (go read Suetonius), unless you agree with Edward Gibbon (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) that it was Christianity that actually sapped the virtue out of Rome (I don't). Obviously there are a lot of problems with the history here (there were many plagues in the Western Empire, but not any more natural disasters than any other era, the Germanic tribes knew Roman tactics because many 5th century Roman generals were German, et. cet.). In short, those who ignore history may be doomed to repeat it, but those who warp it for political ends aren't doing us any good either.
     
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