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▶  More from Ancient Combat Book Reviews A Dread Grace
The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians by Peter Heather

The largest European state to ever exist, Rome, still castes His spell over us, and that mighty nation was most certainly a he. When a new barbarian nation was conquered, a statue of the goddess personifying that nation, would be carved into statuary, kneeling before Rome as he held her hair and exposed her soft throat.

To me, as an amateur, what I find most fascinating and relieving about Rome, is that Rome represents the honest state, that State as evil incarnate, the dispenser of cruelty, holder of souls in bondage, butcher after battle, erasing agent of opposing cultures.

This is far preferable to our deluded modern view of the State as a guardian of individual rights, a vehicle of justice, protector of the weak rather than their rapist.

In the introduction to The Fall of the Roman Empire, Heather mentions the new tools provided by specialized investigation of micro-subjects, but declares that they need to be used to reconstruct a more sensible narrative, rather than abandon the narrative as obsolete in the fashion current among atomized academic specialties.

He goes on to conceive of a legal analogy, of fallen Rome as the corpse at the center of the investigation and the readers as the jury. While committing to a multidisciplinary investigation of the Fall of Rome he does admit that it is, in the end, a military story, for when the legions "vanished like shadows" Rome was gone.

Although the measure of the ancients has mostly been limited to their material success, Peter Heather seems poised to reconstruct a holistic scene of the Empire that all of our ideas about the ancient world seem to lead to, as he "sets the scene" of the late Pax Romana, reminding the reader that late Roman Antiquity has left behind a vast trove of literature.

Feeling like a writer at the end of the age he was born into, this reader, after 10 years in possession of this book, thought it was about time to take it down off the shelf and see what the latest integrated scholarship on the Fall of Rome might offer the observer of the Fall of the American Empire. As I make my way through The Fall of the Roman Empire, I will continue the review process, wondering all along how that became this, but most of all, wondering why the combative spirit of the Aryan races seems to have moved ever westward, like a torch handed to the next ritual runner.

Of Lions and Men

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