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Rome's War on Whiteness
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That Washington Post article on “anti-Blackness and transphobia” in the Byzantine Empire reminds me that many of the the key events in Roman history involve war against more northern people than themselves, what could be called from a Counter-Woke perspective: Rome’s War on Whiteness.

Rome conquered roughly as far north as south, but Roman conquests southward merely petered out (a drive up the Nile under Nero failed in the great swamp in South Sudan and the Romans lost interest in sub-Saharan Africa). In contrast, the northern frontier was always central to Roman history, as the following magisterial list of Roman events I can remember off the top of my head proves:

390 BC: The Gauls cross the Alps and sack Rome. According to Peter Turchin, this northern intrusion is when the Romans, after centuries of petty squabbles with Italian neighbors, got serious about conquest.

Carthaginian Wars — OK, Carthage was to the south of Rome in modern day Tunisia (although it had started as Phoenician colony). And the three Carthaginians Wars were a really big deal in the history of the Roman republic. But … uh … huh … OK, Hannibal attacked from the north!

The Conquest of All of Gaul in 52 BC: Julius Caesar’s conquest of what is roughly today’s France and Belgium was the central cause of the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire.

The Conquest of Egypt: Hmmhhh, Egypt was pretty far south, but Queen Cleopatra was a Macedonian, so there.

The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD: Germans led by Hermann permanently stopped the Roman advance into central Germany; Augustus adopts a policy of more or less being satisfied with the extent of the Roman Empire.

Marcus Aurelius dies at his military headquarters in Serbia in 180 AD: The end of the peak decades of the Roman Empire

Emperor Valens lets the barbarian refugees cross the Danube because he was told it would be good for the economy in 375 AD: seriously, it was a lot like Merkel’s Mistake in 2015 but in the opposite direction, if she’d been blown up by Muslim terrorists in 2018.

The Visigoths sack Rome in 410 AD.

 
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  1. Well, to the North the peninsula was attached to land. To the South there was the Mediterranean. With no aviation, it was normal to worry about land invasions.

  2. Anonymous[332] • Disclaimer says:

    and the Romans lost interest in sub-Saharan Africa)

    Do any of the ancient sources say why that was?

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
    @Anonymous

    Far away, hard to get to, nothing of much value.

    Or if you want to hear it from the ancients:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHQt2wOzusw

    , @gent
    @Anonymous

    Going past the cataracts of the Nile with an army would be pretty wasteful when there's far easier terrritory to conquer in the East.

    , @AnotherDad
    @Anonymous


    and the Romans lost interest in sub-Saharan Africa)
     
    Imagine a world where our ancestors had had such wisdom.

    America with functional cities and normal politics? Europe that looks like ... Europe? The world on the cusp of level population?

    And a few tens of millions of Africans enjoying life and occasionally in awe of the rare silver bird that leaves a smoke trail.
    , @nebulafox
    @Anonymous

    I think it was just geography. The Roman Empire had pretty sound natural barriers: Rhine and Danube rivers in Europe, Mesopotamian and Arabian desert in the Middle East, Sahara in Africa. With the exception of the Persians in Mesopotamia, none of the peoples living across these barriers were really worth conquering by most rulers: they were too poor and too warlike. There were emperors that did want to try push it further-Trajan to the east, Marcus Aurelius to the north-but they died before they could and their successors would reverse their policies.

    By the 3rd Century, it was a moot point anyhow. There would be occasional absorbations of territory outside the empire: Diocletian took everything up to Nisbis after smashing the Persians in the late 290s. But Rome's opponents had gotten a lot more formidable. The German tribes were getting increasingly politically sophisticated due to their contact with Rome (leading to them converting to Christianity after the Romans did) and were forming the kinds of superconfederations like the Franks and Goths which would become notorious, and in the east, the Sassanian dynasty which had come to power in Persia created a far more Roman-esque centralized, coherent state, purged of Hellenistic influences. As I said above, Sassanid Persia from the 200s to the 600s can be best understood as a USSR to Rome's USA, and most of the time, both powers understood this dynamic. "The two eyes of the world", they called it.

    If I recall my Herodotus correctly, the old Achaemenid Persian empire did invade sub-Saharan Africa once after they'd conquered Egypt, but they failed.

  3. Anonymous[332] • Disclaimer says:

    The Conquest of All of Gaul in 52 BC: Julius Caesar’s conquest of what is roughly today’s France and Belgium was the central cause of the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire.

    Lincoln’s conquest of the South was the central cause of the end of the American Republic and the beginning of the American Empire.

    • Replies: @AnotherDad
    @Anonymous


    Lincoln’s conquest of the South was the central cause of the end of the American Republic and the beginning of the American Empire.
     
    A grievous mistake ... yes. The "central cause".

    Multiple mistake were made that allowed both unfit and--worse--disloyal people to have voice in the republic.

    As some wag once said: "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty".
    , @Corvinus
    @Anonymous

    You mean the Union's triumph over the scourge of slavery was a pivotal moment in saving the American Republic. The beginning of the American Empire was the U.S. victory in the 1898 Spanish American War.

    Replies: @Mr. Anon, @SunBakedSuburb, @Desiderius

    , @S. Anonyia
    @Anonymous

    Interesting that no one ever examines Southerners from the perspective of the colonized. Particularly the Deep South. Florida, Louisiana, Texas and coastal Mississippi and Alabama had only been part of the US for a few decades (about two generations) before the civil war. Previously under the control of France, Spain, Great Britain, or were their own short-lived republics. These people were just settlers from all over out to make money, they weren’t all that attached to America or its culture and “ideals.”

  4. I remember 15 or so years ago the big debate was that Hannibal was a negro.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
    @Mike Tre

    Mike, well if he trashed and looted a storied civilization and culture, could be he is black.

    , @JMcG
    @Mike Tre

    No, Mr. T was the negro.

    Replies: @Desiderius

  5. The later Romans had taken some population loses due to plague, thanks to the little, known consul, Antonius Faucini.

    • LOL: Cortes
  6. At the peak of the Roman Empire, as much as 40% of Italy were slaves. The vast majority of the slaves were from Europe, with some from the Middle East and North Africa. Black slaves would have been as common as black people are in rural China now.

    Since ~all of the slaves were white, does this make Roman a progressive Empire – did it have “equity”?

  7. Those Gibbon passages (down the Emperor Valens link) are really marvelous.

    So much stuff there that can be quoted now with bitter irony.

  8. Despite Hollywood myths Rome never had contact with what we usually call blacks, that is bantu-speaking people originating from West Africa, but with people that looked and spoke like modern ethiopians.
    Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and East Africa were inhabited since the neolithic by afroasiatic peoples which spoke languages originating from the Middle East, plus some old east african populations which are now extinct.
    These were the only africans that Rome had contact with because the trans saharan trade routes were opened only later after the islamic conquest of North Africa and the Atlantic maritime trade was started by the portuguese only after 1450.
    Nubians, in modern Sudan, spoke a language related to coptic and were culturally and religiously close to Ancient Egypt. Like the modern sudanese they were middle eastern looking, not black.
    The Great Lakes area in the Rift Valley was home to the Savanna Pastoral Neolithic peoples which spoke Cushitic which is an Afroasiatic language from Ethiopia, that is also spoken in modern Somalia.
    Periplus Maris Erythraei from the early principate period describes the african coast all the way to Raptha, south of Zanzibar, in modern Tanzania. Romans called the Swahili Coast Azania and it was inhabited by kushite speakers until they were replaced by bantu-speakers during the first millenium AD.
    Even these afroasiatic-speaking africans were a rarity in Rome which had none of them in her provinces or even near her land borders.

    • Thanks: Buffalo Joe
  9. World War Hair has been going on a long time. Wealthy Roman women wore wigs made of blond German women’s hair, the hair of the defeated, trophy and eye-catching allure in one. I have always wondered, shorn or scalped?

    • Replies: @Old Brown Fool
    @Elli

    Shorn.

  10. Anonymous[376] • Disclaimer says:

    According to Gibbon, the Romans cruelly exploited the Goths seeking refuge.
    Merkel actually doles out free houses, free education, free healthcare and vast amounts of German cash to the so called ‘refugees’.

  11. @Anonymous

    and the Romans lost interest in sub-Saharan Africa)
     
    Do any of the ancient sources say why that was?

    Replies: @Almost Missouri, @gent, @AnotherDad, @nebulafox

    Far away, hard to get to, nothing of much value.

    Or if you want to hear it from the ancients:

  12. The Celts of Europe were destroyed by Rome and by the Germans.

  13. The Carthaginian wars were anti-semitic, weren’t they? Then, according to legend, the Romans were fed up and threw in a salty Holocaust.

  14. If Hannibal hadn’t had so many jealous rivals back in Carthage, we’d be happily visiting the local temple of the great mother goddess Tanit today, instead of venerating a crazy Jewish guy who got nailed to a hunk of wood for irritating greedy guys from Italy.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
    @Observator

    Observator, I like humor, but I don't like what you posted. But that's me being me.

    , @El Dato
    @Observator

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delenda_Est


    Renegade time travelers meddle in the outcome of the Second Punic War and so bring about the premature deaths of Publius Cornelius Scipio and Scipio Africanus at the Battle of Ticinus in 218 BC and create a new timeline in which Hannibal destroys Rome in 210 BC. That made Western European civilization come to be based on a Celtic-Carthaginian cultural synthesis (rather than a Greco-Roman, as in actual history). This civilization discovered the Western Hemisphere and created certain inventions (such as the steam engine) long before the corresponding events happened in actual history (partly since there was nothing corresponding to the fall of the Roman Empire), but overall technological progress has been slow since most developments are arrived at through ad hoc tinkering, and there is no scientific methodology of empirically testing rigorous theories.
     
    , @anonymous coward
    @Observator


    If Hannibal hadn’t had so many jealous rivals back in Carthage, we’d be happily visiting the local temple of the great mother goddess Tanit today, instead of venerating a crazy Jewish guy who got nailed to a hunk of wood for irritating greedy guys from Italy.

     

    Wrong on all counts.

    Both ancient Hebrews and Cathaginians were Phoenician tribes - they spoke the same language, had similar customs, were related genetically, followed the same cultural and religious norms; this despite their serious theological disagreements. (The Orthodox Christian church is even to this day, millennia since, modeled after the Phoenician temple.)

    If anything, a Phoenician victory would only make it easier for Christianity to spread across Western Europe.
    , @PaceLaw
    @Observator

    Your understanding of history seems to be juvenile, at best. Furthermore, I can understand that you are not a Christian, but to call the Lord and Savior of many of us a “crazy Jewish guy” is extremely disrespectful. As a Christian, I forgive you for your impudence and ignorance.

    Of course, I can only wonder if you would keep up the same energy regarding the founder of the religion of peace.

    , @JMcG
    @Observator

    Moloch wants your children.

  15. The Romans had no idea of geography – they just conquered opportunistically, thus no grand strategy.

    Where did I learn that? Here, in comments about Edward Luttwak’s ridiculously overpraised The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire. You cannot have grand strategy without a strategic vision, and that comes from maps.

    I love a devastating logical take down.

    (PS I wonder if they had their own maps, made by smart combat engineers. Robert E. Lee is said never to have consulted maps – because he had created them. He didn’t need to read them.)

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    @Paperback Writer


    Robert E. Lee is said never to have consulted maps – because he had created them. He didn’t need to read them.

     

    Reminds me of Steve's thing about Jack Nicklaus and the mind's eye. Lee and Nicklaus seem pretty similar.
  16. The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD

    I’ve seen what is now thought to be the battle field.

    • Replies: @AnotherDad
    @countenance

    Hermans aren't what they used to be:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_Heights_Monument

    This Herman--meant to stop "Romans"--couldn't even stop the Somalis.

  17. Rome military has been furnished with mostly Gallic and Slavic people. And slaves from all over the place but mostly south. The Visigoth who entered Rome in 410 were more romanized that most remaining Romans even the emperor.

    The most important factor in the destruction of Greece by the Roman is the Jew and Roman alliance and in the destruction of Rome is the Rome- Jewish wars

  18. @Anonymous

    and the Romans lost interest in sub-Saharan Africa)
     
    Do any of the ancient sources say why that was?

    Replies: @Almost Missouri, @gent, @AnotherDad, @nebulafox

    Going past the cataracts of the Nile with an army would be pretty wasteful when there’s far easier terrritory to conquer in the East.

  19. @countenance
    The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD

    I've seen what is now thought to be the battle field.

    Replies: @AnotherDad

    Hermans aren’t what they used to be:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_Heights_Monument

    This Herman–meant to stop “Romans”–couldn’t even stop the Somalis.

  20. They’re not shameless at all. If anything they could stand to be more shameless – a SocJus mob can make them turn on a dime – you just have no power to shame them. Are you ashamed by native Americans complaining about the moderation decisions of your ancestors?

    Why not?

    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
    @Desiderius

    Conservatives complaining about Twitter is endlessly fascinating.

    Replies: @Stan d Mute, @anon

  21. @Anonymous

    and the Romans lost interest in sub-Saharan Africa)
     
    Do any of the ancient sources say why that was?

    Replies: @Almost Missouri, @gent, @AnotherDad, @nebulafox

    and the Romans lost interest in sub-Saharan Africa)

    Imagine a world where our ancestors had had such wisdom.

    America with functional cities and normal politics? Europe that looks like … Europe? The world on the cusp of level population?

    And a few tens of millions of Africans enjoying life and occasionally in awe of the rare silver bird that leaves a smoke trail.

  22. @Anonymous

    The Conquest of All of Gaul in 52 BC: Julius Caesar’s conquest of what is roughly today’s France and Belgium was the central cause of the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire.
     
    Lincoln’s conquest of the South was the central cause of the end of the American Republic and the beginning of the American Empire.

    Replies: @AnotherDad, @Corvinus, @S. Anonyia

    Lincoln’s conquest of the South was the central cause of the end of the American Republic and the beginning of the American Empire.

    A grievous mistake … yes. The “central cause”.

    Multiple mistake were made that allowed both unfit and–worse–disloyal people to have voice in the republic.

    As some wag once said: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”.

  23. Capitol, Washington, DC sacked by Vandals January 2021 in the year of the Two Presidents.

    By 2021, it was clear that the electoral system that had served the United States well for a couple of hundred years was no longer fit for purpose.

    They trouble had started over 150 years earlier after a bloody Civil War between the slave owners and the industrialists which led to a reversal of a supreme Court decision that negroes could never be citizens of the United States.

    The trouble then became a lot worse 100 years earlier when the franchise was expanded to include women.

    Then in the 1960s, after a US president was shot by the Russians, the franchise was further expanded to include the negro descendants of slaves, when the Voting Rights Act introduced the idea that all citizens were entitled to vote, even those who did not know what was good for them.

    The voting system survived into the television age which had the unfortunate effect of making the electorate aware that their leaders were crooks.

    This tide was stemmed for a little while when the Canute-like Richard Nixon said: “I am not a crook.”

    By the 21st century Americans of both sexes were turning to homosexuality en masse and castration of white citizens was covered without deductibles by most employer insurance plans.

    The general election of November 2020 led to a stalemate after which both sides attempted coups and counter coups, but in the end the elderly Joseph Biden was appointed as a figurehead President, although the true powers behind the White House were known to be Vladimir Putin and his wife Kamala Putina.

    This was the last election that took place in the United States and marked the transition to an oligarchy. The title of President was still retained by President-for-Life Zuckerberg, but the post-colonial constitution of 1789 was effectively suspended when the government moved to Wall Street, and was soon forgotten after the Supreme Court was abolished in 2024 and replaced by mandatory private arbitration.

    (Extracted from Mason’s Decline and Fall of the American Republic. Facebible Publications, 2121.)

    • LOL: Rich
    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
    @Jonathan Mason


    Capitol, Washington, DC sacked by Vandals January 2021 in the year of the Two Presidents.
     
    At the instigation of government paid informants apparently. The FBI seems to have as many agents provacateurs as the Okhrana did.

    As to the rest of your post - I didn't read it. Why would I? Why would anyone read the musings of the invariably wrong and silly Jonathan Mason.

  24. Appropos of nothing except Classics, here is a topic you, Mr. Steve, might want to blog on…

    I am just writing a message to someone while at the last quintile of a bottle of gin I opened tonight. For gin reasons, I could not remember the name of the famous Macedonian Alexander the Great. “Hmmm, hmmm, the Great…. eh tou, eh tou…. (I live in Japan)….”

    I tried to search him in Google. Guess what? When your brain is addled with stupidity, ignorance, forgetfullness, or age (or alcohol), you can’t even rely on Google. For you don”t know where to start.

    Libraries are a vast expanse of knowledge used by no one. But unusable by those who don’t know where to start. Such like, Google.

    I’m sure there is a TakiMag article in there somewhere…

    • Replies: @Stan d Mute
    @Chrisnonymous


    I am just writing a message to someone while at the last quintile of a bottle of gin I opened tonight.
     
    I wonder how the iSteve comment section would fare in the absence of alcohol?
  25. >That Washington Post article on “anti-Blackness and transphobia” in the Byzantine Empire

    The conception of “Roman” in the Byzantine empire was not the old inclusive “Roman” identity that was the norm before the collapse of the 7th Century. But it wasn’t a racial identity in the sense that we’d understand it today. A foreigner who converted to Orthodox Christianity, spoke Greek, and adopted Roman “ways” (Hellenistic culture, obeying Roman law) was considered Roman, regardless of whether his ancestors were Germans, Slavs, Latins, Armenians, Arabs, or Persians. If Africans or Chinese had arrived and done the same, I suspect the Byzantines would have accepted them, too.

    Also, if you want a more concrete example of the silliness of this: one of Justinian’s major early foreign policy moves was an alliance with the Christian kingdom of Axum, in modern day Ethiopia. While Justinian viewed himself as leader of the Christian world and innately superior to other Christian kings, this applied as much to blonde Franks as black Axumites, and there was no difference between how Justinian treated them: with respect, but as inferiors. The latter invaded the Jewish Arab kingdom of Yemen, which was at the time persecuting local Christians. Abraha’s event was remembered enough by future generations that it is mentioned *in the Qu’ran*.

    (This really wasn’t a racial thing. The only people that Roman emperors ever granted a degree of equality or superiority to were the Pope, who was understood as leader of the Church if not the absolute one that he would become in Catholic tradition, and the Shahs of Sassanid Persia, which played the role of the USSR to Rome’s USA until the 7th Century. The Arab caliphs would replace the Persian kings in the 7th Century until the 10th. I suspect if the Han and Tang had more intensive contact with the West, they’d have made the cut, but beyond that… the office of emperor, whether in the Roman or Byzantine conception, was one of superiority to barbarian peoples. End of story. It did not matter whether said barbarians were white, black, yellow, or brown. If they were Christian, it was a perceived as a step in the right direction toward being civilized, true, but that didn’t make them not-barbarians.)

    >Carthaginian Wars — OK, Carthage was to the south of Rome in modern day Tunisia (although it had started as Phoenician colony). And the three Carthaginians Wars were a really big deal in the history of the Roman republic. But … uh … huh … OK, Hannibal attacked from the north!

    “African” in Roman parlance meant North African, not sub-Saharan. Think people who look like today’s Berbers. And TBH, the Berbers today probably are the genetic descendants of the indigenous North Africans mixed with Italian colonists, just Islamized and (in their case only partially) Arabized like their counterparts in Egypt, Syria, and Palestine.

    >Emperor Valens lets the barbarian refugees cross the Danube because he was told it would be good for the economy in 375 AD: seriously, it was a lot like Merkel’s Mistake in 2015 but in the opposite direction, if she’d been blown up by Muslim terrorists in 2018.

    To be fair to Valens, it was not his stroke of his genius to handle the Gothic migration in clear contradiction to established Roman precedents, which was the reason for the blow-up. This included disarming the barbarians and putting them into small groups to break up the local tribal structures. Rome had been settling Germans as a policy since the 3rd Century because they-unlike modern America-really needed more people at the time.

    Unfortunately, the end result of Adrianople was that these norms would be thrown out the window altogether, with the Germanic peoples being settled as whole nations within the empire.

    >The Visigoths sack Rome in 410 AD.

    By that point, though, Rome as anything other than a symbol-as a symbol, it was still insanely important-was long gone. Rome’s practical importance had already begun to decline during the Flavian dynasty, and it would go off a cliff during the 3rd Century for a whole host of reasons, above all the fact that the empire needed to be governed from more strategically sound locations.

    By the time Constantine created his new capital on the Bosporus, Rome was a living relic living in its own weird little bubble. Inside the city, things would have looked vaguely familiar to Julius Caesar, but once you got outside-or even to the walls-it would have been entirely foreign.

  26. @Anonymous

    and the Romans lost interest in sub-Saharan Africa)
     
    Do any of the ancient sources say why that was?

    Replies: @Almost Missouri, @gent, @AnotherDad, @nebulafox

    I think it was just geography. The Roman Empire had pretty sound natural barriers: Rhine and Danube rivers in Europe, Mesopotamian and Arabian desert in the Middle East, Sahara in Africa. With the exception of the Persians in Mesopotamia, none of the peoples living across these barriers were really worth conquering by most rulers: they were too poor and too warlike. There were emperors that did want to try push it further-Trajan to the east, Marcus Aurelius to the north-but they died before they could and their successors would reverse their policies.

    By the 3rd Century, it was a moot point anyhow. There would be occasional absorbations of territory outside the empire: Diocletian took everything up to Nisbis after smashing the Persians in the late 290s. But Rome’s opponents had gotten a lot more formidable. The German tribes were getting increasingly politically sophisticated due to their contact with Rome (leading to them converting to Christianity after the Romans did) and were forming the kinds of superconfederations like the Franks and Goths which would become notorious, and in the east, the Sassanian dynasty which had come to power in Persia created a far more Roman-esque centralized, coherent state, purged of Hellenistic influences. As I said above, Sassanid Persia from the 200s to the 600s can be best understood as a USSR to Rome’s USA, and most of the time, both powers understood this dynamic. “The two eyes of the world”, they called it.

    If I recall my Herodotus correctly, the old Achaemenid Persian empire did invade sub-Saharan Africa once after they’d conquered Egypt, but they failed.

  27. Footballer Woody Strode appeared in the movie Sparticus in 1960. Thats a fact Jack. So yea, blacks were promenade in Ancient Rome.

  28. Ceasar dixit!
    Wasn’t Emperor Valens known as La Bamba?

  29. There is a mirror parallel to Invasion of the Barbarians (de: Völkerwanderungen, Migration of the Peoples) that upended the Western Roman Empire, in Chinese history, which is the Upheaval of China by the Five Barbarians* 五胡亂華 (4th CE) that did the same to the Han-Jin Empire.

    View post on imgur.com

    *Some of these barbarians are related to the Huns who displaced the East Germanic Goths and set off the Migration Period in the first place

    The Eastern Romans would briefly make a comeback to reclaim the West under Justinian (6th CE)…

    View post on imgur.com


    Until a Force of Nature as never seen before showed up to its East, Islam.

    Whereas the Han Chinese would assimilate the barbarians and make a full comeback in the glorious Sui-Tang Era (6-10th CE)

    The net effect was the core of Western civilization had been pushed west and north to Francia (Land of the Franks). For Sinitic civilization this had been pushed to the east and south, from today’s Xi’an region to Shanghai.

    But whereas today in Europe both the economic and political centers are in the northwest, in China the economic center is in the southeast, but the political center is still in the north, Beijing.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
    @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    >Until a Force of Nature as never seen before showed up to its East, Islam.

    I don't disagree that the Chinese ability to somewhat absorb Islam, of all things, is impressive. But it must be stressed that the Romans were dealing with the following by the time of the Yarmouk:

    1) Nearly a century of bubonic plague: this was what really erased any chance that Justinian and Belisarius had at restoring the full Roman empire in its former glory. If the plague never came, there's no realistic way the Goths would have been able to hold out in Italy for a decade, nor would the empire have been so exhausted that they couldn't have incorporated it.

    (Justinian's actions after the plague exacerbated the empire's problems-the empire desperately needed time to heal, with no efforts at expansion made. But it is important to remember that when historians talk about how his reign weakened the empire, it was the wars that exacerbated the effects of the plague, not the other way around. Prior to 540, Justinian never committed too many soldiers to any one front, and it's very likely that had the plague never come, history would have turned out differently. Justinian to me represents the ultimate paragon of why you *never* count on having good times in power. Flaws in your style that you can get away with will become apparent.)

    The pandemic hit the urbanized Roman empire hard: extremely hard. Half the population dying on you wreaks havoc at any time, but for pre-industrial societies that relied on agricultural manpower... worse yet, it didn't hit the empire's enemies as hard, particularly the Bedouin of the desert. Rats didn't like the desert.

    2) Several decades of counterproductive war with the aforementioned Persians (the last members of the dynasty fled to the Tang court and became Chinese), in which the eastern provinces were occupied and Constantinople itself was subject to a 717-esque siege in 626. culminating in the epic campaign of the only existing Roman field army in the world under Heraclius from 622-628 AD. Simultaneously, the Slavs and Avars had taken the Balkans.

    3) All this meant a far reduced tax base, and near economic collapse. The only reason the emperor was able to pay for that army was because he melted the church's gold stores down. There were no similar stores left when the Arabs showed up. I'm sure you can imagine what the reaction of the Arab client soldiers were when Heraclius couldn't pay them and this new guy from the Hijaz preaching monotheist unity and apocalyptic Semitic fervor showed up.

    Heraclius was all too aware of the empire's situation. That's why he did what he did after the Yarmouk: he knew there was going to be no counter-attack any time soon and that the best he could hope for was that the Romans could hang on to Anatolia. The Sassanids, by contrast, gambled everything and lost: though to be fair, they might not have had a choice due to the geography of their capital.

    I don't think the Tang ever suffered from anything as wholly apocalyptic as what the Romans went through in the 7th Century, but my impression is that the An Lushan rebellion scarred the dynasty permanently enough to prevent any prospect of the Chinese wholly absorbing Central Asia after Talas. If I'm wrong, please correct me, this is a part of history I'm a beginner with.

    Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard

  30. I watched TV yesterday. All day. They were showing one of those “Men Who Made America” shows that have painted the stories of Henry Ford and Water Chrysler except this was “Food that Made America”. It told the story of Nabisco and Kraft Cheese. Presumably this was an apolitical show, but it made me wonder about Black Lives Matter and America’s reputed racism.

    You see when you have a show that dwells on American Captains of Industry or the men who built all the brands that adorn our pantries you begin to notice a pattern. They are all white men.

    Not just some of them or even most of them – all of them are white. I thought we were told that if we were to understand the true nature of American history we would see dozens or hundreds of black entrepreneurs. But no, there were no blacks who ever did much of anything. The story of American Food enterprise is very much like the story of all American business. There is a smart ambitious white man who sees an opportunity and commits his life saving to developing some product or service that he and he alone believes will make him rich. All of his friends and family warn him that the risk is too great but he perseveres. Of course these shows are celebratory exercises. The brilliant young entrepreneur triumphs and a national brand emerges. One suspects that the most of the time the young man who dares goes broke, but some of the time, the new product catches on and a fortune is made. And it is always a white man who did it.

    So there it is. Proof that all this propaganda about black accomplishment is bunk. We know the color of invention and innovation – and it is white.

    Black Lives Matter – do they? To whom do those black lives matter. Not to America. Essentially all black heroes famous for one thing and one thing only – getting concessions from whites. Whites make the products. Blacks make mischief. A catalog of black accomplishment is a list of Civil Rights activists. Blacks haven’t done much outside of complaining.

    But all TV must have a plethora of black faces, so amidst these long intricate stories of white men creating food industries there are TV commenters who break in with additional information. About half of the commenters are blacks. So blacks are to be seen in the story of how white men made America.

    Don’t be fooled.

  31. That Washington Post article on “anti-Blackness and transphobia” in the Byzantine Empire reminds me that many of the the key events in Roman history involve war against more northern people than themselves, what could be called from a Counter-Woke perspective: Rome’s War on Whiteness.

    I rather think that this view may be a figment of the fact that we have gotten much of our Classical history through the lens of the British, and Roman history (really, the Western Empire) is a part of British history as well as the history of the development of a modern Europe.

    I think from the Roman perspective, its Eastern conquests and subjugation of formerly great powers of the Ancient world would probably be in the fore (and likely would have been immensely lucrative). Then probably the importance of the Punic Wars in dispatching a near peer rival for supremacy over the Mediterranean basin. But I think the expansion North and West would have been either viewed as defensive in nature or as simple adventure and as a venue to showcase Roman supremacy – from the Roman perspective there wasn’t much of value beyond the Alps besides perhaps slaves.

    • Replies: @Spect3r
    @Alec Leamas (hard at work)

    "from the Roman perspective there wasn’t much of value beyond the Alps besides perhaps slaves."

    You mean nothing of value like lots and lots of gold they took from Iberia?

  32. @Anonymous

    The Conquest of All of Gaul in 52 BC: Julius Caesar’s conquest of what is roughly today’s France and Belgium was the central cause of the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire.
     
    Lincoln’s conquest of the South was the central cause of the end of the American Republic and the beginning of the American Empire.

    Replies: @AnotherDad, @Corvinus, @S. Anonyia

    You mean the Union’s triumph over the scourge of slavery was a pivotal moment in saving the American Republic. The beginning of the American Empire was the U.S. victory in the 1898 Spanish American War.

    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
    @Corvinus


    You mean the Union’s triumph over the scourge of slavery was a pivotal moment in saving the American Republic. The beginning of the American Empire was the U.S. victory in the 1898 Spanish American War.
     
    No, he means what he means, a**hole, not what you mean. Stop presuming to rewrite what other people say.
    , @SunBakedSuburb
    @Corvinus

    "the Union's triumph over the scourge of slavery"

    Yes, we will all celebrate and commemorate with the fattest Diaspora Africans in the world on Juneteef. When will your heroes in the federal bureaucracy stop the scourge of human trafficking aka modern slavery at the southern border? What will be the fate of those kids travelling without family members?

    Replies: @Buffalo Joe

    , @Desiderius
    @Corvinus

    No that was standard issue Monroe Doctrine. No coincidence that public queasiness over Taft’s Philippine adventures left him vulnerable enough to fall to Wilson/weak enough not to win over TR.

    Pretty much everything that ensued from there: Income Tax, the Fed, first welfare check, entry into Euro Civil War, unprecedented suppression of dissent, etc... were intimately connected to the transformation.

    Replies: @nebulafox, @Corvinus

  33. @Desiderius
    https://twitter.com/Surabees/status/1405499295667732483?s=20

    They're not shameless at all. If anything they could stand to be more shameless - a SocJus mob can make them turn on a dime - you just have no power to shame them. Are you ashamed by native Americans complaining about the moderation decisions of your ancestors?

    Why not?

    Replies: @SunBakedSuburb

    Conservatives complaining about Twitter is endlessly fascinating.

    • Replies: @Stan d Mute
    @SunBakedSuburb


    Conservatives complaining about Twitter is endlessly fascinating.
     
    From its launch, I have maintained that a service explicitly for Twits would result in nothing good. I have been amply borne out in my prognosis.

    The only utility of the platform is to identify morons and to broadcast globally just how stupid “average intelligence” really is.
    , @anon
    @SunBakedSuburb

    Conservatives complaining about Twitter is endlessly fascinating.

    Plus it is always so very, very effective.

  34. @Jonathan Mason
    Capitol, Washington, DC sacked by Vandals January 2021 in the year of the Two Presidents.

    By 2021, it was clear that the electoral system that had served the United States well for a couple of hundred years was no longer fit for purpose.

    They trouble had started over 150 years earlier after a bloody Civil War between the slave owners and the industrialists which led to a reversal of a supreme Court decision that negroes could never be citizens of the United States.

    The trouble then became a lot worse 100 years earlier when the franchise was expanded to include women.

    Then in the 1960s, after a US president was shot by the Russians, the franchise was further expanded to include the negro descendants of slaves, when the Voting Rights Act introduced the idea that all citizens were entitled to vote, even those who did not know what was good for them.

    The voting system survived into the television age which had the unfortunate effect of making the electorate aware that their leaders were crooks.

    This tide was stemmed for a little while when the Canute-like Richard Nixon said: "I am not a crook."

    By the 21st century Americans of both sexes were turning to homosexuality en masse and castration of white citizens was covered without deductibles by most employer insurance plans.

    The general election of November 2020 led to a stalemate after which both sides attempted coups and counter coups, but in the end the elderly Joseph Biden was appointed as a figurehead President, although the true powers behind the White House were known to be Vladimir Putin and his wife Kamala Putina.

    This was the last election that took place in the United States and marked the transition to an oligarchy. The title of President was still retained by President-for-Life Zuckerberg, but the post-colonial constitution of 1789 was effectively suspended when the government moved to Wall Street, and was soon forgotten after the Supreme Court was abolished in 2024 and replaced by mandatory private arbitration.

    (Extracted from Mason's Decline and Fall of the American Republic. Facebible Publications, 2121.)

    Replies: @Mr. Anon

    Capitol, Washington, DC sacked by Vandals January 2021 in the year of the Two Presidents.

    At the instigation of government paid informants apparently. The FBI seems to have as many agents provacateurs as the Okhrana did.

    As to the rest of your post – I didn’t read it. Why would I? Why would anyone read the musings of the invariably wrong and silly Jonathan Mason.

    • Agree: Charon
  35. @Corvinus
    @Anonymous

    You mean the Union's triumph over the scourge of slavery was a pivotal moment in saving the American Republic. The beginning of the American Empire was the U.S. victory in the 1898 Spanish American War.

    Replies: @Mr. Anon, @SunBakedSuburb, @Desiderius

    You mean the Union’s triumph over the scourge of slavery was a pivotal moment in saving the American Republic. The beginning of the American Empire was the U.S. victory in the 1898 Spanish American War.

    No, he means what he means, a**hole, not what you mean. Stop presuming to rewrite what other people say.

  36. @Corvinus
    @Anonymous

    You mean the Union's triumph over the scourge of slavery was a pivotal moment in saving the American Republic. The beginning of the American Empire was the U.S. victory in the 1898 Spanish American War.

    Replies: @Mr. Anon, @SunBakedSuburb, @Desiderius

    “the Union’s triumph over the scourge of slavery”

    Yes, we will all celebrate and commemorate with the fattest Diaspora Africans in the world on Juneteef. When will your heroes in the federal bureaucracy stop the scourge of human trafficking aka modern slavery at the southern border? What will be the fate of those kids travelling without family members?

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
    @SunBakedSuburb

    Sun, they sure are well fed and now Burger King has an ad for their fried chicken sandwich with black people talking with their open mouths full of food and two beefalopes that go any easy 300 pounds each saying yum. Next up, black Americans and their health crisis brought on by unhealthy food or systemic racism.Your call.

  37. Unanimous?

    Post-progressivism is the way forward.

    • Replies: @Jonathan Mason
    @Desiderius

    Good decision but then the Supreme Court has a bunch of Catholics on it, so definitely a home court victory.

    Replies: @Desiderius

  38. @Corvinus
    @Anonymous

    You mean the Union's triumph over the scourge of slavery was a pivotal moment in saving the American Republic. The beginning of the American Empire was the U.S. victory in the 1898 Spanish American War.

    Replies: @Mr. Anon, @SunBakedSuburb, @Desiderius

    No that was standard issue Monroe Doctrine. No coincidence that public queasiness over Taft’s Philippine adventures left him vulnerable enough to fall to Wilson/weak enough not to win over TR.

    Pretty much everything that ensued from there: Income Tax, the Fed, first welfare check, entry into Euro Civil War, unprecedented suppression of dissent, etc… were intimately connected to the transformation.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
    @Desiderius

    The Monroe Doctrine didn't say anything about the Philippines.

    American imperialism had a more rapidly cyclic nature than their European variants did. The Spanish-American War saw the permanent introduction into the bloodstream, but the atrocities committed in the Philippines were enough to temper it: not erase it, but temper it to the extent that Roosevelt brought the bulk of the insurgency (those Moros, man...) to an end by offering amnesty. The Zimmermann telegram followed by the slaughter at Meuse-Argonne, still the single deadliest military operation in American history, had a similar effect.


    IMO, Americans are a rapid tempered, rather innocent (for better and for worse) bunch as a whole, equally quick to go to war and to want peace. So, it fits. Korea, Vietnam. Iraq. Even WWII: Kuribayashi's analysis that the US would tire of the slaughter on places like Iwo Jima was correct-FDR was getting letters about the slaughter in the Pacific by 1944 asking if there wasn't some other way that didn't involve sending their sons to go get killed on these islands. And there was. It was called the atomic bomb.

    , @Corvinus
    @Desiderius

    "No that was standard issue Monroe Doctrine."

    For justifying intervention, assuredly. But the spoils of war granted the U.S. far flung territories and ushered in the American foray into imperialism.

  39. @Anonymous

    The Conquest of All of Gaul in 52 BC: Julius Caesar’s conquest of what is roughly today’s France and Belgium was the central cause of the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire.
     
    Lincoln’s conquest of the South was the central cause of the end of the American Republic and the beginning of the American Empire.

    Replies: @AnotherDad, @Corvinus, @S. Anonyia

    Interesting that no one ever examines Southerners from the perspective of the colonized. Particularly the Deep South. Florida, Louisiana, Texas and coastal Mississippi and Alabama had only been part of the US for a few decades (about two generations) before the civil war. Previously under the control of France, Spain, Great Britain, or were their own short-lived republics. These people were just settlers from all over out to make money, they weren’t all that attached to America or its culture and “ideals.”

  40. @Desiderius
    @Corvinus

    No that was standard issue Monroe Doctrine. No coincidence that public queasiness over Taft’s Philippine adventures left him vulnerable enough to fall to Wilson/weak enough not to win over TR.

    Pretty much everything that ensued from there: Income Tax, the Fed, first welfare check, entry into Euro Civil War, unprecedented suppression of dissent, etc... were intimately connected to the transformation.

    Replies: @nebulafox, @Corvinus

    The Monroe Doctrine didn’t say anything about the Philippines.

    American imperialism had a more rapidly cyclic nature than their European variants did. The Spanish-American War saw the permanent introduction into the bloodstream, but the atrocities committed in the Philippines were enough to temper it: not erase it, but temper it to the extent that Roosevelt brought the bulk of the insurgency (those Moros, man…) to an end by offering amnesty. The Zimmermann telegram followed by the slaughter at Meuse-Argonne, still the single deadliest military operation in American history, had a similar effect.

    IMO, Americans are a rapid tempered, rather innocent (for better and for worse) bunch as a whole, equally quick to go to war and to want peace. So, it fits. Korea, Vietnam. Iraq. Even WWII: Kuribayashi’s analysis that the US would tire of the slaughter on places like Iwo Jima was correct-FDR was getting letters about the slaughter in the Pacific by 1944 asking if there wasn’t some other way that didn’t involve sending their sons to go get killed on these islands. And there was. It was called the atomic bomb.

  41. More on the war against affordable family formation:

    • Thanks: The Wild Geese Howard
    • Replies: @Wilkey
    @Desiderius

    It’s better if Americans have no right to their own country.

    It’s better if Americans don’t own their own homes.

    It’s better if you have to compete for jobs in your own country with foreigners who have no right to be here.

    It’s better if all of our manufacturing is outsourced to China.

    It’s better if billionaires don’t have to pay inheritance taxes.

    You owe black people and brown people for the crimes some (if any) of your ancestors committed against some (if any) of their ancestors.

    Black and brown people are entitled to hate you for the color of your skin.

    You have freedom of speech, religion, etc., unless the exercise of any of those rights offends someone. And then you don’t.

    Welcome to the Woke Paradise.

    Replies: @Desiderius

  42. I still can’t believe you didn’t climb over the ropes.

    More playground for us. Although my boys are enjoying the company now too.

  43. “Carthaginian Wars — OK, Carthage was to the south of Rome in modern day Tunisia (although it had started as Phoenician colony). And the three Carthaginians Wars were a really big deal in the history of the Roman republic. But … uh … huh … OK, Hannibal attacked from the north!”

    Carthage was to the south of Rome, but it was only in the Third Punic War (149-146 BCE) that Rome’s energies were concentrated against the city of Carthage. Spain was the center of Carthaginian power during the First Punic War (264-241 BCE) and Second War, the one Hannibal led (218-201 BCE.) The First War was mostly fought on and around Sicily, the Second largely on the Italian peninsula, but in each case the Carthaginian armies had been raised in Spain and were supplied from Spain. So those wars were less Rome striking southward than Rome striking westward.

    Indeed Hannibal’s family, the Barcids, spent most of their time in Spain; his mother was a Spaniard, and he grew up there. He paid a brief ceremonial visit to Carthage at the official commencement of hostilities. A great crowd gathered there to watch Hannibal personally strangle some children as part of a sacrifice to win the favor of the gods for the enterprise. But then he went home to Spain to make the final preparations for the march.

    Rome’s annexation of Spain at the end of the Second Punic War marked the end of Carthage as an empire, though Punic cities continued to exist for centuries in the western Mediterranean and on the Atlantic coast. So even the Third Punic War should be read as a westward push by the Romans, an attempt to ensure the Carthaginians would never re-establish themselves as the center of a powerful network of Phoenician states.

  44. Once Rome had Egypt, conquering further south was meaningless. The Romans received no reports or materials from further south, and from others heard that the south of Egypt was largely useless.

    Furthermore, Egypt was the gateway to the East and the Sea, not the South, as the Red Sea allowed access for ships to sail all the way to India. This allowed the Romans to bypass the various Persian Empires’ hold on trade with India. So when the Romans took Egypt, they focused on getting the Red Sea ports working again (they had fallen into disrepair under the last Ptolemies) and defensible, and suddenly the money started flowing in like water. After Egypt was taken, the Romans concentrated on getting around Persia to India and not going further south.

    And that’s before we get to the fact that Egypt’s grain and gold supply were also immense. Egypt’s grain basically fed the entire empire, and became a breadbasket x 100 of what Sicily had been previously.

    Egypt was so vital and valuable to the empire that, starting with Augustus, it was the personal property of the emperor and governed by him directly, and not a mere Roman province governed by the Senate. That was because Augustus realized whomever controlled Egypt would have the wealth to become emperor, so he kept it out of rivals’ hands.

    Meanwhile, the further north Rome penetrated, the more valuable materials it got and the more reports of more valuable materials and trading peoples it received. There were working civilizations in almost every northern country with tin, glass, wool, etc. that could be taken and traded with. It just became a question of will for the Romans on much they wanted the wealth to keep pressing north.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
    @R.G. Camara

    >And that’s before we get to the fact that Egypt’s grain and gold supply were also immense. Egypt’s grain basically fed the entire empire, and became a breadbasket x 100 of what Sicily had been previously.

    The loss of Egypt in the 7th Century can be considered the point where Rome ceased to be a superpower.

    One thing I find particularly symbolic was the free bread dole in Rome, introduced less than 20 years after Rome's twin sacking of Carthage and Corinth in 146 BC. When the Romans had Egypt: that magnified enough to make Rome a city of over a million people, something that even Chang'an in China didn't accomplish, I believe. But whenever there was trouble in Egypt, that was endangered.

    Even during the worst crisis years during the 3rd Century, as Rome itself ceased to be politically relevant, the emperors were always hyper-vigilant about potential disruptions to the grain supply, and were willing to do whatever it took to keep Egypt secure. That's why the Palmyrean state was tolerated when it was necessary to keep the Persians at bay. And it also meant that when Zenobia tried to make a move on Egypt (right when Aurelian, of all people, came to power-talk about bad timing), her days were numbered.

    This calculus underlines basically all of Roman strategic thinking throughout the subsequent centuries. The Persians were an organized rival empire who could threaten Egypt. Nothing the Germanic peoples could do seemed to be able to compare to that.

    The story of the Egyptian fueled grain dole didn't end when Rome itself became a depopulated wasteland. When New Rome on the Bosporus was founded, Constantine wanted it to have everything the old one did. That included the dole, which existed until Egypt was taken in the 7th Century. The odd thing is, I don't think it was just a political thing: I think there was a deep emotional view of the dole as being a marker of Rome's power. That's why Constantine wanted Constantinople to have it: without it, it wouldn't be a New Rome. It was what made Rome and Constantinople cities like no other in the ancient world, with the probable exception-again-of the capitals of China during the high periods of their various dynasties.

    You can talk about falling structures and battles and coups. But when the dole was gone, there was something deeply symbolic in that. That was a sign that Rome's days as a superpower, the world-defining civilization to everybody, were over.

    But then... it was the grain shipments that carried bubonic plague around the empire in the 6th Century. And it might have also been the grain shipments that carried the Cyprian plague to Rome in the 3rd. Maybe greatness lays the seeds of its own destruction by nature?

    Replies: @R.G. Camara

  45. @Desiderius
    https://twitter.com/JackPosobiec/status/1405551706994249729?s=20

    Unanimous?

    Post-progressivism is the way forward.

    Replies: @Jonathan Mason

    Good decision but then the Supreme Court has a bunch of Catholics on it, so definitely a home court victory.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    @Jonathan Mason

    Are you kidding?

    Catholics standing up for biblical teaching is an epoch-making breakthrough.

    Replies: @Jonathan Mason, @Reg Cæsar, @Nico

  46. @Desiderius
    @Corvinus

    No that was standard issue Monroe Doctrine. No coincidence that public queasiness over Taft’s Philippine adventures left him vulnerable enough to fall to Wilson/weak enough not to win over TR.

    Pretty much everything that ensued from there: Income Tax, the Fed, first welfare check, entry into Euro Civil War, unprecedented suppression of dissent, etc... were intimately connected to the transformation.

    Replies: @nebulafox, @Corvinus

    “No that was standard issue Monroe Doctrine.”

    For justifying intervention, assuredly. But the spoils of war granted the U.S. far flung territories and ushered in the American foray into imperialism.

  47. What a surprise. To celebrate yet another federal holiday, the BLACK Congressional Caucus is calling for More GIBS.

    A big part of our nation’s tragic situation at this point in time is that we don’t have a single public figure with the courage to say: “Negroes? More gibs is the very last thing you need. We’ve been doing it that way for over 50 years and you’re more angry, disaffected, and useless than ever.

    “What you need–desperately–is a crash course in self-discipline, hard work, and civilized behavior. Before the 1960s a large proportion of you knew those values, and even followed them to some extent, however grudgingly.

    “Now as a race you have been ruined by blame-shifting, indolence, money-for-nothing make-work, cultural depravity and shocking levels of crime. It’s no wonder you’re unhappy and unfulfilled. The very last thing you need is more of what got you into this mess. Because we love you and care for you, we’re going to give you what you need. Not what you want.”

    • Thanks: Polistra
  48. @Desiderius
    More on the war against affordable family formation:

    https://twitter.com/JackPosobiec/status/1405574043802161154?s=20

    Replies: @Wilkey

    It’s better if Americans have no right to their own country.

    It’s better if Americans don’t own their own homes.

    It’s better if you have to compete for jobs in your own country with foreigners who have no right to be here.

    It’s better if all of our manufacturing is outsourced to China.

    It’s better if billionaires don’t have to pay inheritance taxes.

    You owe black people and brown people for the crimes some (if any) of your ancestors committed against some (if any) of their ancestors.

    Black and brown people are entitled to hate you for the color of your skin.

    You have freedom of speech, religion, etc., unless the exercise of any of those rights offends someone. And then you don’t.

    Welcome to the Woke Paradise.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    @Wilkey

    Yes, that's why we need to fight as Americans. It's the only thing with enough weight to rein in the Globalists. Of course we'll need to strategically partner with other countries as well.

  49. @Paperback Writer
    The Romans had no idea of geography - they just conquered opportunistically, thus no grand strategy.

    Where did I learn that? Here, in comments about Edward Luttwak's ridiculously overpraised The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire. You cannot have grand strategy without a strategic vision, and that comes from maps.

    I love a devastating logical take down.

    (PS I wonder if they had their own maps, made by smart combat engineers. Robert E. Lee is said never to have consulted maps - because he had created them. He didn't need to read them.)

    Replies: @Desiderius

    Robert E. Lee is said never to have consulted maps – because he had created them. He didn’t need to read them.

    Reminds me of Steve’s thing about Jack Nicklaus and the mind’s eye. Lee and Nicklaus seem pretty similar.

  50. @Jonathan Mason
    @Desiderius

    Good decision but then the Supreme Court has a bunch of Catholics on it, so definitely a home court victory.

    Replies: @Desiderius

    Are you kidding?

    Catholics standing up for biblical teaching is an epoch-making breakthrough.

    • Replies: @Jonathan Mason
    @Desiderius

    Well obviously they can see that wokeness is gone too far.

    It is not like me to praise the clowns on the Supreme Court, but they seem to have got this one right.

    Now perhaps they can ban male and female genital mutilation in the United States.

    Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    , @Reg Cæsar
    @Desiderius


    Catholics standing up for biblical teaching is an epoch-making breakthrough.
     
    Natural law. You hardly have to be evangelical to object to the celebration of buggery. Look at China, the rest of Asia, Africa, any hunter-gatherer band.

    Replies: @Desiderius

    , @Nico
    @Desiderius

    Sadly not untrue (I also am Catholic). And while it’s true as the other poster mentioned that serious theologians understand sodomy is proscribed by nature, the natural law of God’s creation is the foundation from which the message of His Divine Law is dispensed. Liberalism and other forms of leftism, beginning with Descartes, are not simply rebellions against Christianity but against the classical understanding of nature.

    And the Church’s evangelization efforts have been slim because so many of her officials succumbed to at least part of this revolution in the 1960s, and it shows in the way the current pope (like most Jesuits) treats such injunctions as ad-hoc embarrassments that he grudgingly acknowledges when pressed (though as a Jesuit he’s also skilled at deflecting the question).

    But the fact remains: Christianity has nothing to say to those who reject the natural foundation on which Christ was Incarnated. This is why the Russel Moores are idiots to be preoccupied with Christianity looking good to liberals. And this explains Christian eschatology: it is also why when the Son of Man returns He will find not only no Faith on Earth but also nowhere to land and therefore have no choice but to set it ablaze.

    Replies: @Desiderius

  51. @Wilkey
    @Desiderius

    It’s better if Americans have no right to their own country.

    It’s better if Americans don’t own their own homes.

    It’s better if you have to compete for jobs in your own country with foreigners who have no right to be here.

    It’s better if all of our manufacturing is outsourced to China.

    It’s better if billionaires don’t have to pay inheritance taxes.

    You owe black people and brown people for the crimes some (if any) of your ancestors committed against some (if any) of their ancestors.

    Black and brown people are entitled to hate you for the color of your skin.

    You have freedom of speech, religion, etc., unless the exercise of any of those rights offends someone. And then you don’t.

    Welcome to the Woke Paradise.

    Replies: @Desiderius

    Yes, that’s why we need to fight as Americans. It’s the only thing with enough weight to rein in the Globalists. Of course we’ll need to strategically partner with other countries as well.

  52. Newark celebrates new statue of city father and religious figure St. George Floyd

    At 700 lbs, the statue is the third heaviest person in the photo.

    • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard
    @Charon

    Complete with wifebeater...I'm sorry, I meant to say, "A-shirt."

    This country is done.

  53. @Mike Tre
    I remember 15 or so years ago the big debate was that Hannibal was a negro.

    Replies: @Buffalo Joe, @JMcG

    Mike, well if he trashed and looted a storied civilization and culture, could be he is black.

  54. @Observator
    If Hannibal hadn’t had so many jealous rivals back in Carthage, we’d be happily visiting the local temple of the great mother goddess Tanit today, instead of venerating a crazy Jewish guy who got nailed to a hunk of wood for irritating greedy guys from Italy.

    Replies: @Buffalo Joe, @El Dato, @anonymous coward, @PaceLaw, @JMcG

    Observator, I like humor, but I don’t like what you posted. But that’s me being me.

    • Agree: PaceLaw
  55. @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms
    There is a mirror parallel to Invasion of the Barbarians (de: Völkerwanderungen, Migration of the Peoples) that upended the Western Roman Empire, in Chinese history, which is the Upheaval of China by the Five Barbarians* 五胡亂華 (4th CE) that did the same to the Han-Jin Empire.
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2d/Invasions_of_the_Roman_Empire_1.png/640px-Invasions_of_the_Roman_Empire_1.png
    https://imgur.com/a/7OV7YjU

    *Some of these barbarians are related to the Huns who displaced the East Germanic Goths and set off the Migration Period in the first place

    The Eastern Romans would briefly make a comeback to reclaim the West under Justinian (6th CE)…
    https://imgur.com/iVseQlj
    Until a Force of Nature as never seen before showed up to its East, Islam.

    Whereas the Han Chinese would assimilate the barbarians and make a full comeback in the glorious Sui-Tang Era (6-10th CE)
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/29/Cheui_Dynasty_581_CE.png

    The net effect was the core of Western civilization had been pushed west and north to Francia (Land of the Franks). For Sinitic civilization this had been pushed to the east and south, from today’s Xi’an region to Shanghai.

    But whereas today in Europe both the economic and political centers are in the northwest, in China the economic center is in the southeast, but the political center is still in the north, Beijing.

    Replies: @nebulafox

    >Until a Force of Nature as never seen before showed up to its East, Islam.

    I don’t disagree that the Chinese ability to somewhat absorb Islam, of all things, is impressive. But it must be stressed that the Romans were dealing with the following by the time of the Yarmouk:

    1) Nearly a century of bubonic plague: this was what really erased any chance that Justinian and Belisarius had at restoring the full Roman empire in its former glory. If the plague never came, there’s no realistic way the Goths would have been able to hold out in Italy for a decade, nor would the empire have been so exhausted that they couldn’t have incorporated it.

    (Justinian’s actions after the plague exacerbated the empire’s problems-the empire desperately needed time to heal, with no efforts at expansion made. But it is important to remember that when historians talk about how his reign weakened the empire, it was the wars that exacerbated the effects of the plague, not the other way around. Prior to 540, Justinian never committed too many soldiers to any one front, and it’s very likely that had the plague never come, history would have turned out differently. Justinian to me represents the ultimate paragon of why you *never* count on having good times in power. Flaws in your style that you can get away with will become apparent.)

    The pandemic hit the urbanized Roman empire hard: extremely hard. Half the population dying on you wreaks havoc at any time, but for pre-industrial societies that relied on agricultural manpower… worse yet, it didn’t hit the empire’s enemies as hard, particularly the Bedouin of the desert. Rats didn’t like the desert.

    2) Several decades of counterproductive war with the aforementioned Persians (the last members of the dynasty fled to the Tang court and became Chinese), in which the eastern provinces were occupied and Constantinople itself was subject to a 717-esque siege in 626. culminating in the epic campaign of the only existing Roman field army in the world under Heraclius from 622-628 AD. Simultaneously, the Slavs and Avars had taken the Balkans.

    3) All this meant a far reduced tax base, and near economic collapse. The only reason the emperor was able to pay for that army was because he melted the church’s gold stores down. There were no similar stores left when the Arabs showed up. I’m sure you can imagine what the reaction of the Arab client soldiers were when Heraclius couldn’t pay them and this new guy from the Hijaz preaching monotheist unity and apocalyptic Semitic fervor showed up.

    Heraclius was all too aware of the empire’s situation. That’s why he did what he did after the Yarmouk: he knew there was going to be no counter-attack any time soon and that the best he could hope for was that the Romans could hang on to Anatolia. The Sassanids, by contrast, gambled everything and lost: though to be fair, they might not have had a choice due to the geography of their capital.

    I don’t think the Tang ever suffered from anything as wholly apocalyptic as what the Romans went through in the 7th Century, but my impression is that the An Lushan rebellion scarred the dynasty permanently enough to prevent any prospect of the Chinese wholly absorbing Central Asia after Talas. If I’m wrong, please correct me, this is a part of history I’m a beginner with.

    • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard
    @nebulafox


    Nearly a century of bubonic plague: this was what really erased any chance that Justinian and Belisarius had at restoring the full Roman empire in its former glory.
     
    What Justinian and Belisarius managed to achieve in spite of their ongoing plague issues was hugely impressive.

    I think it's arguable that what they achieved is as, or possibly even more impressive than the emperor Aurelian's efforts to reassemble the Roman Empire following the fragmentation caused by the Crises of the Third Century.

    At the end of the day, the Byzantine failure to recapture and hold the Western Empire long-term is really one of Western history's most bittersweet and, "if only..." episodes.

    Replies: @nebulafox

  56. Not sure about your take care here Steve. The Romans believed in conquest period. They went in all directions and only stopped when it didn’t make logistical sense or the opposition was too fierce. A case in point is their attempt to go east into Persia. After many costly and indecisive battles, they ceased attempting to go east, because they just couldn’t defeat the Persians. Kind of like their experience with the Germans . . .

  57. @SunBakedSuburb
    @Corvinus

    "the Union's triumph over the scourge of slavery"

    Yes, we will all celebrate and commemorate with the fattest Diaspora Africans in the world on Juneteef. When will your heroes in the federal bureaucracy stop the scourge of human trafficking aka modern slavery at the southern border? What will be the fate of those kids travelling without family members?

    Replies: @Buffalo Joe

    Sun, they sure are well fed and now Burger King has an ad for their fried chicken sandwich with black people talking with their open mouths full of food and two beefalopes that go any easy 300 pounds each saying yum. Next up, black Americans and their health crisis brought on by unhealthy food or systemic racism.Your call.

  58. @R.G. Camara
    Once Rome had Egypt, conquering further south was meaningless. The Romans received no reports or materials from further south, and from others heard that the south of Egypt was largely useless.

    Furthermore, Egypt was the gateway to the East and the Sea, not the South, as the Red Sea allowed access for ships to sail all the way to India. This allowed the Romans to bypass the various Persian Empires' hold on trade with India. So when the Romans took Egypt, they focused on getting the Red Sea ports working again (they had fallen into disrepair under the last Ptolemies) and defensible, and suddenly the money started flowing in like water. After Egypt was taken, the Romans concentrated on getting around Persia to India and not going further south.

    And that's before we get to the fact that Egypt's grain and gold supply were also immense. Egypt's grain basically fed the entire empire, and became a breadbasket x 100 of what Sicily had been previously.

    Egypt was so vital and valuable to the empire that, starting with Augustus, it was the personal property of the emperor and governed by him directly, and not a mere Roman province governed by the Senate. That was because Augustus realized whomever controlled Egypt would have the wealth to become emperor, so he kept it out of rivals' hands.

    Meanwhile, the further north Rome penetrated, the more valuable materials it got and the more reports of more valuable materials and trading peoples it received. There were working civilizations in almost every northern country with tin, glass, wool, etc. that could be taken and traded with. It just became a question of will for the Romans on much they wanted the wealth to keep pressing north.

    Replies: @nebulafox

    >And that’s before we get to the fact that Egypt’s grain and gold supply were also immense. Egypt’s grain basically fed the entire empire, and became a breadbasket x 100 of what Sicily had been previously.

    The loss of Egypt in the 7th Century can be considered the point where Rome ceased to be a superpower.

    One thing I find particularly symbolic was the free bread dole in Rome, introduced less than 20 years after Rome’s twin sacking of Carthage and Corinth in 146 BC. When the Romans had Egypt: that magnified enough to make Rome a city of over a million people, something that even Chang’an in China didn’t accomplish, I believe. But whenever there was trouble in Egypt, that was endangered.

    Even during the worst crisis years during the 3rd Century, as Rome itself ceased to be politically relevant, the emperors were always hyper-vigilant about potential disruptions to the grain supply, and were willing to do whatever it took to keep Egypt secure. That’s why the Palmyrean state was tolerated when it was necessary to keep the Persians at bay. And it also meant that when Zenobia tried to make a move on Egypt (right when Aurelian, of all people, came to power-talk about bad timing), her days were numbered.

    This calculus underlines basically all of Roman strategic thinking throughout the subsequent centuries. The Persians were an organized rival empire who could threaten Egypt. Nothing the Germanic peoples could do seemed to be able to compare to that.

    The story of the Egyptian fueled grain dole didn’t end when Rome itself became a depopulated wasteland. When New Rome on the Bosporus was founded, Constantine wanted it to have everything the old one did. That included the dole, which existed until Egypt was taken in the 7th Century. The odd thing is, I don’t think it was just a political thing: I think there was a deep emotional view of the dole as being a marker of Rome’s power. That’s why Constantine wanted Constantinople to have it: without it, it wouldn’t be a New Rome. It was what made Rome and Constantinople cities like no other in the ancient world, with the probable exception-again-of the capitals of China during the high periods of their various dynasties.

    You can talk about falling structures and battles and coups. But when the dole was gone, there was something deeply symbolic in that. That was a sign that Rome’s days as a superpower, the world-defining civilization to everybody, were over.

    But then… it was the grain shipments that carried bubonic plague around the empire in the 6th Century. And it might have also been the grain shipments that carried the Cyprian plague to Rome in the 3rd. Maybe greatness lays the seeds of its own destruction by nature?

    • Agree: R.G. Camara
    • Replies: @R.G. Camara
    @nebulafox

    Taking Egypt and Greece were symbolic to the Romans, a symbol of their greatness. To the Romans, Greece was acknowledged as the foundation of Europe, and Egypt was believed to be the oldest civilization ever, the mystical magic kingdom that existed before the beginning of time. When the Romans took them as provinces, it symbolized to them a passing of the torch to Rome as the light of the world.

  59. @Desiderius
    @Jonathan Mason

    Are you kidding?

    Catholics standing up for biblical teaching is an epoch-making breakthrough.

    Replies: @Jonathan Mason, @Reg Cæsar, @Nico

    Well obviously they can see that wokeness is gone too far.

    It is not like me to praise the clowns on the Supreme Court, but they seem to have got this one right.

    Now perhaps they can ban male and female genital mutilation in the United States.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    @Jonathan Mason


    Now perhaps they can ban male and female genital mutilation in the United States.
     
    They did, at least the female kind. Remember Rep. Schroeder? (She's still alive, by the way.) She persuaded Congress to outlaw it in 1995. Minnesota had banned it the year earlier, being the second English-speaking jurisdiction to do so, after the UK. (Not counting any cities who beat them to the puss-- er, punch.)

    However, it had never been enforced until the Trump Administration. Real evidence for white supremacism!

    SCOTUS threw it out. It was a state issue, not the feds'. Imagine that.
  60. Rome conquered roughly as far north as south, but Roman conquests southward merely petered out… In contrast, the northern frontier was always central to Roman history, as the following magisterial list of Roman events I can remember off the top of my head proves:

    Romans were like Pirelli tires– when dago flat, or nort’, dago wop-wop-wop.

    The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest

    Interesting that it’s -burg (a castle or fortress) rather than –berg (a mountain). Hermann/Arminius lived long before the age of castles, at least any in his neck of the woods. (Waldhals?) But the name itself is a creation of 19th-century Romantic nationalism. Brahms would hike there.

    Emperor William I, the first Kaiser of the unified German Empire, dedicated the monument in 1875. In order to create a national landscape the Osning Hills were given the name “Teutoburg Forest”, see also Teutonic. However, the old name survived among the local population and the part of the ridge around the Ebberg (309 m or 1,014 ft) near Bielefeld is still known as the Osning today.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teutoburg_Forest#Hermann’s_Memorial_and_the_renaming_of_the_Osning

    Coincidentally, Ossining, New York changed its name as well, but for a very different reason. It was originally Sing Sing.

  61. @Desiderius
    @Jonathan Mason

    Are you kidding?

    Catholics standing up for biblical teaching is an epoch-making breakthrough.

    Replies: @Jonathan Mason, @Reg Cæsar, @Nico

    Catholics standing up for biblical teaching is an epoch-making breakthrough.

    Natural law. You hardly have to be evangelical to object to the celebration of buggery. Look at China, the rest of Asia, Africa, any hunter-gatherer band.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    @Reg Cæsar

    Of course. The point being that until now they hadn't managed to rouse themselves to do so.

    On top of that is the fact the the Court isn't nine Catholics. Could we see an American Catholic evangelize someone for the first time in living memory?

  62. @Jonathan Mason
    @Desiderius

    Well obviously they can see that wokeness is gone too far.

    It is not like me to praise the clowns on the Supreme Court, but they seem to have got this one right.

    Now perhaps they can ban male and female genital mutilation in the United States.

    Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    Now perhaps they can ban male and female genital mutilation in the United States.

    They did, at least the female kind. Remember Rep. Schroeder? (She’s still alive, by the way.) She persuaded Congress to outlaw it in 1995. Minnesota had banned it the year earlier, being the second English-speaking jurisdiction to do so, after the UK. (Not counting any cities who beat them to the puss– er, punch.)

    However, it had never been enforced until the Trump Administration. Real evidence for white supremacism!

    SCOTUS threw it out. It was a state issue, not the feds’. Imagine that.

  63. @nebulafox
    @R.G. Camara

    >And that’s before we get to the fact that Egypt’s grain and gold supply were also immense. Egypt’s grain basically fed the entire empire, and became a breadbasket x 100 of what Sicily had been previously.

    The loss of Egypt in the 7th Century can be considered the point where Rome ceased to be a superpower.

    One thing I find particularly symbolic was the free bread dole in Rome, introduced less than 20 years after Rome's twin sacking of Carthage and Corinth in 146 BC. When the Romans had Egypt: that magnified enough to make Rome a city of over a million people, something that even Chang'an in China didn't accomplish, I believe. But whenever there was trouble in Egypt, that was endangered.

    Even during the worst crisis years during the 3rd Century, as Rome itself ceased to be politically relevant, the emperors were always hyper-vigilant about potential disruptions to the grain supply, and were willing to do whatever it took to keep Egypt secure. That's why the Palmyrean state was tolerated when it was necessary to keep the Persians at bay. And it also meant that when Zenobia tried to make a move on Egypt (right when Aurelian, of all people, came to power-talk about bad timing), her days were numbered.

    This calculus underlines basically all of Roman strategic thinking throughout the subsequent centuries. The Persians were an organized rival empire who could threaten Egypt. Nothing the Germanic peoples could do seemed to be able to compare to that.

    The story of the Egyptian fueled grain dole didn't end when Rome itself became a depopulated wasteland. When New Rome on the Bosporus was founded, Constantine wanted it to have everything the old one did. That included the dole, which existed until Egypt was taken in the 7th Century. The odd thing is, I don't think it was just a political thing: I think there was a deep emotional view of the dole as being a marker of Rome's power. That's why Constantine wanted Constantinople to have it: without it, it wouldn't be a New Rome. It was what made Rome and Constantinople cities like no other in the ancient world, with the probable exception-again-of the capitals of China during the high periods of their various dynasties.

    You can talk about falling structures and battles and coups. But when the dole was gone, there was something deeply symbolic in that. That was a sign that Rome's days as a superpower, the world-defining civilization to everybody, were over.

    But then... it was the grain shipments that carried bubonic plague around the empire in the 6th Century. And it might have also been the grain shipments that carried the Cyprian plague to Rome in the 3rd. Maybe greatness lays the seeds of its own destruction by nature?

    Replies: @R.G. Camara

    Taking Egypt and Greece were symbolic to the Romans, a symbol of their greatness. To the Romans, Greece was acknowledged as the foundation of Europe, and Egypt was believed to be the oldest civilization ever, the mystical magic kingdom that existed before the beginning of time. When the Romans took them as provinces, it symbolized to them a passing of the torch to Rome as the light of the world.

  64. @Reg Cæsar
    @Desiderius


    Catholics standing up for biblical teaching is an epoch-making breakthrough.
     
    Natural law. You hardly have to be evangelical to object to the celebration of buggery. Look at China, the rest of Asia, Africa, any hunter-gatherer band.

    Replies: @Desiderius

    Of course. The point being that until now they hadn’t managed to rouse themselves to do so.

    On top of that is the fact the the Court isn’t nine Catholics. Could we see an American Catholic evangelize someone for the first time in living memory?

  65. Rostovtzeff, in his classical work on Greece and Rome, speculates that Caesar’s future plan would be complete invasion of the East, a remake of Alexander the Great.

    Nobody among Romans cared about black Africa, and for Germany & other Northern lands- too cold & too dull. Nothing there.

    I wonder why they conquered Britain, what was the use of that…..

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Tin and Iron IIRC

  66. White nationalism seems prone to odd interpretations of real history.

    Emperor Valens did the right thing for Rome and the Goths. There was no reason to expect the Goths not to be an honorable people, and they acted accordingly. Unfortunately, some Romans were far less than honorable, acted accordingly, and were acted upon right back.

    Lupicinus, Tribune of Pannonia, deliberately thieved, starved, and extorted the Goths while failing to disarm them, inciting the fateful Battle of Adrianople. Instead of being fired if not crucified by Valens’ successor, Lupicinus was left in place to then lead Rome to disaster again at the Battle of Marcianople. Lupinicus’ churlish cartoon villainy, cowardice, and outright sabotage of the Roman state was apparently a not-uncommon Roman way of doing business. Lupicinus seems to have been a typical savant of the Roman Deep State, if Rome could have been said to have one.

    Merkel did indeed make the reverse mistake, letting in migrants of questionable character that would never pass an immigration test. Many of these migrants kind of won the lottery and took advantage of U.S./NATO wars against their homelands to claim ‘refugee’ status. Even though, Germany did not instigate nor participate significantly in NATO imperialism.

    Valens and his court were undone in by corruption they did little reign in, or even recognize as a problem. Merkel, was undone by frenemies in NATO she did little to censure.

    So, yeah, its a mistake for whites to let in migrants if they can’t help but thieve, pillage, and extort them at home as they do abroad.

    However, Merkel and Germany didn’t do any of that but instead have treated militant, ungrateful migrants generously, perhaps guided by some misplaced sense of atoning for the sins of her ‘allies’.

  67. The Visigoths sack Rome in 410 AD.

    Serves them right!

  68. @Chrisnonymous
    Appropos of nothing except Classics, here is a topic you, Mr. Steve, might want to blog on...

    I am just writing a message to someone while at the last quintile of a bottle of gin I opened tonight. For gin reasons, I could not remember the name of the famous Macedonian Alexander the Great. "Hmmm, hmmm, the Great.... eh tou, eh tou.... (I live in Japan)...."

    I tried to search him in Google. Guess what? When your brain is addled with stupidity, ignorance, forgetfullness, or age (or alcohol), you can't even rely on Google. For you don"t know where to start.

    Libraries are a vast expanse of knowledge used by no one. But unusable by those who don't know where to start. Such like, Google.

    I'm sure there is a TakiMag article in there somewhere...

    Replies: @Stan d Mute

    I am just writing a message to someone while at the last quintile of a bottle of gin I opened tonight.

    I wonder how the iSteve comment section would fare in the absence of alcohol?

  69. @SunBakedSuburb
    @Desiderius

    Conservatives complaining about Twitter is endlessly fascinating.

    Replies: @Stan d Mute, @anon

    Conservatives complaining about Twitter is endlessly fascinating.

    From its launch, I have maintained that a service explicitly for Twits would result in nothing good. I have been amply borne out in my prognosis.

    The only utility of the platform is to identify morons and to broadcast globally just how stupid “average intelligence” really is.

  70. You forgot Persia. Rome fought Persia for a thousand years and never stopped.

  71. @Bardon Kaldian
    Rostovtzeff, in his classical work on Greece and Rome, speculates that Caesar's future plan would be complete invasion of the East, a remake of Alexander the Great.

    Nobody among Romans cared about black Africa, and for Germany & other Northern lands- too cold & too dull. Nothing there.

    I wonder why they conquered Britain, what was the use of that.....

    Replies: @Desiderius

    Tin and Iron IIRC

    • Thanks: Bardon Kaldian
  72. @SunBakedSuburb
    @Desiderius

    Conservatives complaining about Twitter is endlessly fascinating.

    Replies: @Stan d Mute, @anon

    Conservatives complaining about Twitter is endlessly fascinating.

    Plus it is always so very, very effective.

  73. Anonymous[146] • Disclaimer says:

    The “Barbarians” series on Netflix recently about the Roman invasion of Germania is very good. The Germans were aided by their geography in halting the Roman advance. The swampy forests of Germany allowed them to engage in guerrilla style warfare and ambush attacks against the Roman legions who were otherwise unstoppable in open fields and pitched battles.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
    @Anonymous

    Rome's response to the Teutoburg Forest was to play divide-and-conquer with the German tribes. This worked fine for a couple of centuries, especially when coupled with the impressive defensive fortifications built under Domitian and reinforced under Hadrian.

    But centuries of contact with the more advanced Roman civilization *changed* German civilization. Their economy gradually began to advance. They created more advanced political systems, leading to the famous superconfederations that casual students of late Roman history are familiar with: the Goths, the Vandals, the Franks, the Alemanni. As Rome suffered from manpower shortages, German immigrants were invited in to make up the difference: which, again, worked fine for a reasonably long time until Adrianople happened and whole nations began to be let in, without breaking up the tribal structure and ensuring assimilation. Even religion: when Rome went Christian, the Germans ended up adopting it, too.

    One of my favorite parts of history are finding things that rhyme across different eras and cultures, so here's one: the various Turkic tribes in Central Asia underwent a very similar process at the hands of the medieval Islamic world. Like the Germans in the decaying Western Empire (and they came close in the East, too, in the mid-400s), they'd come to dominate the various powerbases of the imploding caliphate. The main difference is that, unlike the Germans, they attempted to revive the failed, centralized government of the world they'd come to dominate. They didn't succeed, but they kept it alive long enough for the sultan to meet the head of what was left of the Roman Empire, all those centuries later, outside a town called Manzikert...

  74. @Desiderius
    @Jonathan Mason

    Are you kidding?

    Catholics standing up for biblical teaching is an epoch-making breakthrough.

    Replies: @Jonathan Mason, @Reg Cæsar, @Nico

    Sadly not untrue (I also am Catholic). And while it’s true as the other poster mentioned that serious theologians understand sodomy is proscribed by nature, the natural law of God’s creation is the foundation from which the message of His Divine Law is dispensed. Liberalism and other forms of leftism, beginning with Descartes, are not simply rebellions against Christianity but against the classical understanding of nature.

    And the Church’s evangelization efforts have been slim because so many of her officials succumbed to at least part of this revolution in the 1960s, and it shows in the way the current pope (like most Jesuits) treats such injunctions as ad-hoc embarrassments that he grudgingly acknowledges when pressed (though as a Jesuit he’s also skilled at deflecting the question).

    But the fact remains: Christianity has nothing to say to those who reject the natural foundation on which Christ was Incarnated. This is why the Russel Moores are idiots to be preoccupied with Christianity looking good to liberals. And this explains Christian eschatology: it is also why when the Son of Man returns He will find not only no Faith on Earth but also nowhere to land and therefore have no choice but to set it ablaze.

    • Agree: Desiderius
    • Replies: @Desiderius
    @Nico

    You were fine until you got to the end there. The advocacy and defense of organic life is favorable ground on which to fight.

    He will find faith and not just on Earth. Mother Nature isn’t settling for one measly planet and it will take a great deal of faith indeed to make it to the next.

    Replies: @Desiderius, @Nico

  75. Much like the Germans, the Romans actually spent most of their time and energy worrying about the “Eastern Front”, i.e. the ongoing battles with the Persians/Sassanids. We in the West tend to focus on places like Gaul, that for the Romans were more peripheral, just as we tend to focus on D-Day or the battle for Sicily when Stalingrad and Kursk were far more critical.

    • Agree: El Dato
    • Replies: @El Dato
    @Peter Akuleyev

    Lots of surprising things come out of the East. Huns, Mongols ...

    Replies: @nebulafox

    , @nebulafox
    @Peter Akuleyev

    As I mentioned earlier, that's because the East was a lot wealthier, and the Persians were an organized rival superpower in a way the Germans and later the Slavs never could be. I'm broadly in Heather's camp that the fall of the Arascids and rise of the Sassanids truly changed the balance of power in the east: Roman decline wasn't the sole factor. The latter created a far tighter, more centralized ship akin to Rome, in contrast to the Parthian realm that preceded it. The West's collapse further pushed them toward equality.

    But the Roman empire never collapsed because of the Persians: not directly. Instead, the military catastrophes that sent the empire on a death spiral were possible due to the geostrategic mutual pummeling with Persia. Neither Adrianople nor the Yarmouk would have been possible without it.

  76. @Observator
    If Hannibal hadn’t had so many jealous rivals back in Carthage, we’d be happily visiting the local temple of the great mother goddess Tanit today, instead of venerating a crazy Jewish guy who got nailed to a hunk of wood for irritating greedy guys from Italy.

    Replies: @Buffalo Joe, @El Dato, @anonymous coward, @PaceLaw, @JMcG

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delenda_Est

    Renegade time travelers meddle in the outcome of the Second Punic War and so bring about the premature deaths of Publius Cornelius Scipio and Scipio Africanus at the Battle of Ticinus in 218 BC and create a new timeline in which Hannibal destroys Rome in 210 BC. That made Western European civilization come to be based on a Celtic-Carthaginian cultural synthesis (rather than a Greco-Roman, as in actual history). This civilization discovered the Western Hemisphere and created certain inventions (such as the steam engine) long before the corresponding events happened in actual history (partly since there was nothing corresponding to the fall of the Roman Empire), but overall technological progress has been slow since most developments are arrived at through ad hoc tinkering, and there is no scientific methodology of empirically testing rigorous theories.

  77. @Peter Akuleyev
    Much like the Germans, the Romans actually spent most of their time and energy worrying about the "Eastern Front", i.e. the ongoing battles with the Persians/Sassanids. We in the West tend to focus on places like Gaul, that for the Romans were more peripheral, just as we tend to focus on D-Day or the battle for Sicily when Stalingrad and Kursk were far more critical.

    Replies: @El Dato, @nebulafox

    Lots of surprising things come out of the East. Huns, Mongols …

    • Replies: @nebulafox
    @El Dato

    The reason that Adrianople happened at all was the Huns. Well, that, and Valens didn't have the troops on hand needed to handle the Goths properly, because-among other things-Persia. Ditto the German spillover in the early 400s that sent the West into a death-spiral.

    The spiritual heirs of the Huns, the Avars, and the Slavic tribes they'd conquered did try to make a crack at Constantinople in 626 in conjunction with the Persians to finish off the Roman Empire after the West fell, I suppose. But they enjoyed no more luck than Atilla did with the Theodosian walls. Ditto the Bulgars who'd originally come down from the steppe over the centuries.

    Constantinople really was in a league of its own when it came to defense until the Fourth Crusade. And the Byzantines were lucky to have those walls from late antiquity, because by the 8th Century, they had neither the knowledge nor the money needed to build such fortifications. One of the reasons the First Crusade was impressive was because the cities they had to take still had those late antique fortifications in many cases, and those latter day Romans really, really knew how to build walls well.

  78. @Alec Leamas (hard at work)

    That Washington Post article on “anti-Blackness and transphobia” in the Byzantine Empire reminds me that many of the the key events in Roman history involve war against more northern people than themselves, what could be called from a Counter-Woke perspective: Rome’s War on Whiteness.
     
    I rather think that this view may be a figment of the fact that we have gotten much of our Classical history through the lens of the British, and Roman history (really, the Western Empire) is a part of British history as well as the history of the development of a modern Europe.

    I think from the Roman perspective, its Eastern conquests and subjugation of formerly great powers of the Ancient world would probably be in the fore (and likely would have been immensely lucrative). Then probably the importance of the Punic Wars in dispatching a near peer rival for supremacy over the Mediterranean basin. But I think the expansion North and West would have been either viewed as defensive in nature or as simple adventure and as a venue to showcase Roman supremacy - from the Roman perspective there wasn't much of value beyond the Alps besides perhaps slaves.

    Replies: @Spect3r

    “from the Roman perspective there wasn’t much of value beyond the Alps besides perhaps slaves.”

    You mean nothing of value like lots and lots of gold they took from Iberia?

  79. @Nico
    @Desiderius

    Sadly not untrue (I also am Catholic). And while it’s true as the other poster mentioned that serious theologians understand sodomy is proscribed by nature, the natural law of God’s creation is the foundation from which the message of His Divine Law is dispensed. Liberalism and other forms of leftism, beginning with Descartes, are not simply rebellions against Christianity but against the classical understanding of nature.

    And the Church’s evangelization efforts have been slim because so many of her officials succumbed to at least part of this revolution in the 1960s, and it shows in the way the current pope (like most Jesuits) treats such injunctions as ad-hoc embarrassments that he grudgingly acknowledges when pressed (though as a Jesuit he’s also skilled at deflecting the question).

    But the fact remains: Christianity has nothing to say to those who reject the natural foundation on which Christ was Incarnated. This is why the Russel Moores are idiots to be preoccupied with Christianity looking good to liberals. And this explains Christian eschatology: it is also why when the Son of Man returns He will find not only no Faith on Earth but also nowhere to land and therefore have no choice but to set it ablaze.

    Replies: @Desiderius

    You were fine until you got to the end there. The advocacy and defense of organic life is favorable ground on which to fight.

    He will find faith and not just on Earth. Mother Nature isn’t settling for one measly planet and it will take a great deal of faith indeed to make it to the next.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    @Desiderius

    https://twitter.com/CNSAWatcher/status/1405603848090177536?s=20

    Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard

    , @Nico
    @Desiderius

    To be clear, I don’t say nothing is worth fighting for: just that the odds of victory are stacked against us and the holdout reduces every single year. Mind you, nothing’s over until it’s actually over: that’s where God comes in. Exactly what the final execution will look like is anyone’s guess: it could simply be the massive solar flare inevitable some five billion years down the road.

    Replies: @Desiderius

  80. @Desiderius
    @Nico

    You were fine until you got to the end there. The advocacy and defense of organic life is favorable ground on which to fight.

    He will find faith and not just on Earth. Mother Nature isn’t settling for one measly planet and it will take a great deal of faith indeed to make it to the next.

    Replies: @Desiderius, @Nico

    • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard
    @Desiderius

    One of these things is not like the others.

    You can tell it's totally real because it looks so fake.

  81. @Peter Akuleyev
    Much like the Germans, the Romans actually spent most of their time and energy worrying about the "Eastern Front", i.e. the ongoing battles with the Persians/Sassanids. We in the West tend to focus on places like Gaul, that for the Romans were more peripheral, just as we tend to focus on D-Day or the battle for Sicily when Stalingrad and Kursk were far more critical.

    Replies: @El Dato, @nebulafox

    As I mentioned earlier, that’s because the East was a lot wealthier, and the Persians were an organized rival superpower in a way the Germans and later the Slavs never could be. I’m broadly in Heather’s camp that the fall of the Arascids and rise of the Sassanids truly changed the balance of power in the east: Roman decline wasn’t the sole factor. The latter created a far tighter, more centralized ship akin to Rome, in contrast to the Parthian realm that preceded it. The West’s collapse further pushed them toward equality.

    But the Roman empire never collapsed because of the Persians: not directly. Instead, the military catastrophes that sent the empire on a death spiral were possible due to the geostrategic mutual pummeling with Persia. Neither Adrianople nor the Yarmouk would have been possible without it.

  82. @Anonymous
    The "Barbarians" series on Netflix recently about the Roman invasion of Germania is very good. The Germans were aided by their geography in halting the Roman advance. The swampy forests of Germany allowed them to engage in guerrilla style warfare and ambush attacks against the Roman legions who were otherwise unstoppable in open fields and pitched battles.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heFDaSS5I7Y

    Replies: @nebulafox

    Rome’s response to the Teutoburg Forest was to play divide-and-conquer with the German tribes. This worked fine for a couple of centuries, especially when coupled with the impressive defensive fortifications built under Domitian and reinforced under Hadrian.

    But centuries of contact with the more advanced Roman civilization *changed* German civilization. Their economy gradually began to advance. They created more advanced political systems, leading to the famous superconfederations that casual students of late Roman history are familiar with: the Goths, the Vandals, the Franks, the Alemanni. As Rome suffered from manpower shortages, German immigrants were invited in to make up the difference: which, again, worked fine for a reasonably long time until Adrianople happened and whole nations began to be let in, without breaking up the tribal structure and ensuring assimilation. Even religion: when Rome went Christian, the Germans ended up adopting it, too.

    One of my favorite parts of history are finding things that rhyme across different eras and cultures, so here’s one: the various Turkic tribes in Central Asia underwent a very similar process at the hands of the medieval Islamic world. Like the Germans in the decaying Western Empire (and they came close in the East, too, in the mid-400s), they’d come to dominate the various powerbases of the imploding caliphate. The main difference is that, unlike the Germans, they attempted to revive the failed, centralized government of the world they’d come to dominate. They didn’t succeed, but they kept it alive long enough for the sultan to meet the head of what was left of the Roman Empire, all those centuries later, outside a town called Manzikert…

    • Thanks: Desiderius
  83. @El Dato
    @Peter Akuleyev

    Lots of surprising things come out of the East. Huns, Mongols ...

    Replies: @nebulafox

    The reason that Adrianople happened at all was the Huns. Well, that, and Valens didn’t have the troops on hand needed to handle the Goths properly, because-among other things-Persia. Ditto the German spillover in the early 400s that sent the West into a death-spiral.

    The spiritual heirs of the Huns, the Avars, and the Slavic tribes they’d conquered did try to make a crack at Constantinople in 626 in conjunction with the Persians to finish off the Roman Empire after the West fell, I suppose. But they enjoyed no more luck than Atilla did with the Theodosian walls. Ditto the Bulgars who’d originally come down from the steppe over the centuries.

    Constantinople really was in a league of its own when it came to defense until the Fourth Crusade. And the Byzantines were lucky to have those walls from late antiquity, because by the 8th Century, they had neither the knowledge nor the money needed to build such fortifications. One of the reasons the First Crusade was impressive was because the cities they had to take still had those late antique fortifications in many cases, and those latter day Romans really, really knew how to build walls well.

  84. @Observator
    If Hannibal hadn’t had so many jealous rivals back in Carthage, we’d be happily visiting the local temple of the great mother goddess Tanit today, instead of venerating a crazy Jewish guy who got nailed to a hunk of wood for irritating greedy guys from Italy.

    Replies: @Buffalo Joe, @El Dato, @anonymous coward, @PaceLaw, @JMcG

    If Hannibal hadn’t had so many jealous rivals back in Carthage, we’d be happily visiting the local temple of the great mother goddess Tanit today, instead of venerating a crazy Jewish guy who got nailed to a hunk of wood for irritating greedy guys from Italy.

    Wrong on all counts.

    Both ancient Hebrews and Cathaginians were Phoenician tribes – they spoke the same language, had similar customs, were related genetically, followed the same cultural and religious norms; this despite their serious theological disagreements. (The Orthodox Christian church is even to this day, millennia since, modeled after the Phoenician temple.)

    If anything, a Phoenician victory would only make it easier for Christianity to spread across Western Europe.

    • Agree: PaceLaw
    • Thanks: Desiderius
  85. @Charon
    Newark celebrates new statue of city father and religious figure St. George Floyd

    https://cdni.rt.com/files/2021.06/l/60cb76aa85f54042843fbef5.jpg

    At 700 lbs, the statue is the third heaviest person in the photo.

    https://twitter.com/MissMaryJane03/status/1405320418899247112?s=20

    Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard

    Complete with wifebeater…I’m sorry, I meant to say, “A-shirt.”

    This country is done.

  86. @nebulafox
    @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    >Until a Force of Nature as never seen before showed up to its East, Islam.

    I don't disagree that the Chinese ability to somewhat absorb Islam, of all things, is impressive. But it must be stressed that the Romans were dealing with the following by the time of the Yarmouk:

    1) Nearly a century of bubonic plague: this was what really erased any chance that Justinian and Belisarius had at restoring the full Roman empire in its former glory. If the plague never came, there's no realistic way the Goths would have been able to hold out in Italy for a decade, nor would the empire have been so exhausted that they couldn't have incorporated it.

    (Justinian's actions after the plague exacerbated the empire's problems-the empire desperately needed time to heal, with no efforts at expansion made. But it is important to remember that when historians talk about how his reign weakened the empire, it was the wars that exacerbated the effects of the plague, not the other way around. Prior to 540, Justinian never committed too many soldiers to any one front, and it's very likely that had the plague never come, history would have turned out differently. Justinian to me represents the ultimate paragon of why you *never* count on having good times in power. Flaws in your style that you can get away with will become apparent.)

    The pandemic hit the urbanized Roman empire hard: extremely hard. Half the population dying on you wreaks havoc at any time, but for pre-industrial societies that relied on agricultural manpower... worse yet, it didn't hit the empire's enemies as hard, particularly the Bedouin of the desert. Rats didn't like the desert.

    2) Several decades of counterproductive war with the aforementioned Persians (the last members of the dynasty fled to the Tang court and became Chinese), in which the eastern provinces were occupied and Constantinople itself was subject to a 717-esque siege in 626. culminating in the epic campaign of the only existing Roman field army in the world under Heraclius from 622-628 AD. Simultaneously, the Slavs and Avars had taken the Balkans.

    3) All this meant a far reduced tax base, and near economic collapse. The only reason the emperor was able to pay for that army was because he melted the church's gold stores down. There were no similar stores left when the Arabs showed up. I'm sure you can imagine what the reaction of the Arab client soldiers were when Heraclius couldn't pay them and this new guy from the Hijaz preaching monotheist unity and apocalyptic Semitic fervor showed up.

    Heraclius was all too aware of the empire's situation. That's why he did what he did after the Yarmouk: he knew there was going to be no counter-attack any time soon and that the best he could hope for was that the Romans could hang on to Anatolia. The Sassanids, by contrast, gambled everything and lost: though to be fair, they might not have had a choice due to the geography of their capital.

    I don't think the Tang ever suffered from anything as wholly apocalyptic as what the Romans went through in the 7th Century, but my impression is that the An Lushan rebellion scarred the dynasty permanently enough to prevent any prospect of the Chinese wholly absorbing Central Asia after Talas. If I'm wrong, please correct me, this is a part of history I'm a beginner with.

    Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard

    Nearly a century of bubonic plague: this was what really erased any chance that Justinian and Belisarius had at restoring the full Roman empire in its former glory.

    What Justinian and Belisarius managed to achieve in spite of their ongoing plague issues was hugely impressive.

    I think it’s arguable that what they achieved is as, or possibly even more impressive than the emperor Aurelian’s efforts to reassemble the Roman Empire following the fragmentation caused by the Crises of the Third Century.

    At the end of the day, the Byzantine failure to recapture and hold the Western Empire long-term is really one of Western history’s most bittersweet and, “if only…” episodes.

    • Agree: Desiderius
    • Replies: @nebulafox
    @The Wild Geese Howard

    I think Justinian was unquestionably one of the most talented men to sit on the Roman throne. Equally crucially, he was surrounded by talent. John the Cappadocian, Belisarius, Tribonian, Anthemius, and the ever admirable Theodora: this team had few rivals in Roman history in terms of overall talent and work ethic. Off the top of my head, the only comparisons in terms of overall quality were the administrations of Augustus, Marcus Aurelius, and the succession of Balkan emperors in the late 3rd Century.

    But he was someone who, in the end, put his vision of what the empire ought to be over the real interests of the empire. Now, I don't think Justinian was the main or even one of the bigger reasons for the 7th Century collapse: what he left to his successors wasn't a smoldering ruin, after all, and his re-centralization of power might have been crucial to the empire's survival when the Muslims showed up. It would take a series of poor decisions on all of his successors coupled with the lingering impact of the plague to make that happen. But he was *a* reason.

    It's true that the reconquests didn't "weaken" the empire until the plague came. Africa fell easily. There was luck involved, as there is with all successful wars, but to his credit, Justinian astutely perceived the deep unpopularity of Vandal rule in Africa with former Roman citizens (an unpopularity that the Ostrogoths didn't share among their former Roman subjects), and Africa ended up falling with ease. The captured Vandal treasury was more than enough to recoup the cost of the campaign, and despite the rebellions, Africa would go on to be a strategic and financial asset to the empire all the way up to the 7th Century collapse. In fact, if Africa had *not* been re-taken, then it's possible that it wouldn't have survived the 7th Century.

    (Part of my analysis is also based on the fact that I believe that the Vandals were a real strategic danger to the ERE in a way the other Germans weren't. The Vandal history with the Romans was different from the Goths or the Franks: they never served as Roman allies, there was never a chance that they'd be Romanized. They needed to go if the empire was ever going to be wholly safe in the Mediterranean and Egypt was to be fully secure. The Ostrogoths were different. In a way, Theodoric was an emperor himself.)

    Had Belisarius had more responsible subordinates or Justinian been more patient (what I'm about to get into), it likely would have been the same story in Italy in the 530s, too. Although the Italians weren't alienated from the Goths in the way the Africans were from the Vandals, the last sour years of Theodoric's rule meant that a lightning campaign like in Africa would have led to a fait accompli that would have been accepted by the civilian populace. The Ostrogoth treasury was considerable, and would have offset any expense in conquering the peninsula involved. But even with the mistakes that prevented a similar Africa-esque blitzkrieg, I suspect Italy would have fallen without the decade of soul-sucking war had the plague never come. Justinian had no problems in bribing the Persians to keep quiet in the east, so I suspect that's what would have happened: requisite photo-ops after poor Antioch got sacked, peace deal, Belisarius sent back to Italy to finish the job.

    But beneath the conquests, you see flaws that would turn out to be devastating when the plague came. Let me use Italy as an example: did Italy need to be invaded *immediately* after the African campaign? Wouldn't it have been better to leave Belisarius in Carthage for five years to ensure that Africa was properly reintegrated into the empire? None of the rebellions that cost the empire money and manpower would have happened, and Justinian could have invaded Italy with more men to make a swifter conquest of Italy possible.

    The reason I bring this up is because Justinian probably could have invaded Italy whenever he wanted in the coming decades. The legal fiction was that the Ostrogoths ruled at the pleasure of the Roman emperor, and after 476, the only guy who had that title lived in Constantinople. He wouldn't have had to work hard to find a causus belli at any time, but he chose the first moment he possibly could, and as a result had too little men to make a quick job of it in the same way.

    I suspect that Justinian was gripped with a fear that he wouldn't live to see the glorious conclusion of his dreams. This impatience became devastating when the plague came. When half your capital lies dead in open pits and you don't reconsider your policy of expansion, what else can you say? This leads to the question of what Justinian would have done had the plague never come? Make no mistake, I do think without the bubonic plague, the empire would have remained a superpower, so Justinian's legacy would be considerably different. But might he have overextended anyway, leading to problems.

    Replies: @Sam Malone

  87. @Desiderius
    @Desiderius

    https://twitter.com/CNSAWatcher/status/1405603848090177536?s=20

    Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard

    One of these things is not like the others.

    You can tell it’s totally real because it looks so fake.

  88. @Observator
    If Hannibal hadn’t had so many jealous rivals back in Carthage, we’d be happily visiting the local temple of the great mother goddess Tanit today, instead of venerating a crazy Jewish guy who got nailed to a hunk of wood for irritating greedy guys from Italy.

    Replies: @Buffalo Joe, @El Dato, @anonymous coward, @PaceLaw, @JMcG

    Your understanding of history seems to be juvenile, at best. Furthermore, I can understand that you are not a Christian, but to call the Lord and Savior of many of us a “crazy Jewish guy” is extremely disrespectful. As a Christian, I forgive you for your impudence and ignorance.

    Of course, I can only wonder if you would keep up the same energy regarding the founder of the religion of peace.

  89. @Mike Tre
    I remember 15 or so years ago the big debate was that Hannibal was a negro.

    Replies: @Buffalo Joe, @JMcG

    No, Mr. T was the negro.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    @JMcG

    No better fren.

  90. @Observator
    If Hannibal hadn’t had so many jealous rivals back in Carthage, we’d be happily visiting the local temple of the great mother goddess Tanit today, instead of venerating a crazy Jewish guy who got nailed to a hunk of wood for irritating greedy guys from Italy.

    Replies: @Buffalo Joe, @El Dato, @anonymous coward, @PaceLaw, @JMcG

    Moloch wants your children.

  91. @Desiderius
    @Nico

    You were fine until you got to the end there. The advocacy and defense of organic life is favorable ground on which to fight.

    He will find faith and not just on Earth. Mother Nature isn’t settling for one measly planet and it will take a great deal of faith indeed to make it to the next.

    Replies: @Desiderius, @Nico

    To be clear, I don’t say nothing is worth fighting for: just that the odds of victory are stacked against us and the holdout reduces every single year. Mind you, nothing’s over until it’s actually over: that’s where God comes in. Exactly what the final execution will look like is anyone’s guess: it could simply be the massive solar flare inevitable some five billion years down the road.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    @Nico

    The purpose of the refiner’s fire is creation not destruction.

  92. @Elli
    World War Hair has been going on a long time. Wealthy Roman women wore wigs made of blond German women's hair, the hair of the defeated, trophy and eye-catching allure in one. I have always wondered, shorn or scalped?

    Replies: @Old Brown Fool

    Shorn.

  93. @Nico
    @Desiderius

    To be clear, I don’t say nothing is worth fighting for: just that the odds of victory are stacked against us and the holdout reduces every single year. Mind you, nothing’s over until it’s actually over: that’s where God comes in. Exactly what the final execution will look like is anyone’s guess: it could simply be the massive solar flare inevitable some five billion years down the road.

    Replies: @Desiderius

    The purpose of the refiner’s fire is creation not destruction.

    • Agree: Dissident
  94. @JMcG
    @Mike Tre

    No, Mr. T was the negro.

    Replies: @Desiderius

    No better fren.

    • LOL: JMcG
  95. @The Wild Geese Howard
    @nebulafox


    Nearly a century of bubonic plague: this was what really erased any chance that Justinian and Belisarius had at restoring the full Roman empire in its former glory.
     
    What Justinian and Belisarius managed to achieve in spite of their ongoing plague issues was hugely impressive.

    I think it's arguable that what they achieved is as, or possibly even more impressive than the emperor Aurelian's efforts to reassemble the Roman Empire following the fragmentation caused by the Crises of the Third Century.

    At the end of the day, the Byzantine failure to recapture and hold the Western Empire long-term is really one of Western history's most bittersweet and, "if only..." episodes.

    Replies: @nebulafox

    I think Justinian was unquestionably one of the most talented men to sit on the Roman throne. Equally crucially, he was surrounded by talent. John the Cappadocian, Belisarius, Tribonian, Anthemius, and the ever admirable Theodora: this team had few rivals in Roman history in terms of overall talent and work ethic. Off the top of my head, the only comparisons in terms of overall quality were the administrations of Augustus, Marcus Aurelius, and the succession of Balkan emperors in the late 3rd Century.

    But he was someone who, in the end, put his vision of what the empire ought to be over the real interests of the empire. Now, I don’t think Justinian was the main or even one of the bigger reasons for the 7th Century collapse: what he left to his successors wasn’t a smoldering ruin, after all, and his re-centralization of power might have been crucial to the empire’s survival when the Muslims showed up. It would take a series of poor decisions on all of his successors coupled with the lingering impact of the plague to make that happen. But he was *a* reason.

    It’s true that the reconquests didn’t “weaken” the empire until the plague came. Africa fell easily. There was luck involved, as there is with all successful wars, but to his credit, Justinian astutely perceived the deep unpopularity of Vandal rule in Africa with former Roman citizens (an unpopularity that the Ostrogoths didn’t share among their former Roman subjects), and Africa ended up falling with ease. The captured Vandal treasury was more than enough to recoup the cost of the campaign, and despite the rebellions, Africa would go on to be a strategic and financial asset to the empire all the way up to the 7th Century collapse. In fact, if Africa had *not* been re-taken, then it’s possible that it wouldn’t have survived the 7th Century.

    (Part of my analysis is also based on the fact that I believe that the Vandals were a real strategic danger to the ERE in a way the other Germans weren’t. The Vandal history with the Romans was different from the Goths or the Franks: they never served as Roman allies, there was never a chance that they’d be Romanized. They needed to go if the empire was ever going to be wholly safe in the Mediterranean and Egypt was to be fully secure. The Ostrogoths were different. In a way, Theodoric was an emperor himself.)

    Had Belisarius had more responsible subordinates or Justinian been more patient (what I’m about to get into), it likely would have been the same story in Italy in the 530s, too. Although the Italians weren’t alienated from the Goths in the way the Africans were from the Vandals, the last sour years of Theodoric’s rule meant that a lightning campaign like in Africa would have led to a fait accompli that would have been accepted by the civilian populace. The Ostrogoth treasury was considerable, and would have offset any expense in conquering the peninsula involved. But even with the mistakes that prevented a similar Africa-esque blitzkrieg, I suspect Italy would have fallen without the decade of soul-sucking war had the plague never come. Justinian had no problems in bribing the Persians to keep quiet in the east, so I suspect that’s what would have happened: requisite photo-ops after poor Antioch got sacked, peace deal, Belisarius sent back to Italy to finish the job.

    But beneath the conquests, you see flaws that would turn out to be devastating when the plague came. Let me use Italy as an example: did Italy need to be invaded *immediately* after the African campaign? Wouldn’t it have been better to leave Belisarius in Carthage for five years to ensure that Africa was properly reintegrated into the empire? None of the rebellions that cost the empire money and manpower would have happened, and Justinian could have invaded Italy with more men to make a swifter conquest of Italy possible.

    The reason I bring this up is because Justinian probably could have invaded Italy whenever he wanted in the coming decades. The legal fiction was that the Ostrogoths ruled at the pleasure of the Roman emperor, and after 476, the only guy who had that title lived in Constantinople. He wouldn’t have had to work hard to find a causus belli at any time, but he chose the first moment he possibly could, and as a result had too little men to make a quick job of it in the same way.

    I suspect that Justinian was gripped with a fear that he wouldn’t live to see the glorious conclusion of his dreams. This impatience became devastating when the plague came. When half your capital lies dead in open pits and you don’t reconsider your policy of expansion, what else can you say? This leads to the question of what Justinian would have done had the plague never come? Make no mistake, I do think without the bubonic plague, the empire would have remained a superpower, so Justinian’s legacy would be considerably different. But might he have overextended anyway, leading to problems.

    • Replies: @Sam Malone
    @nebulafox

    Thanks for your detail on this.

  96. @nebulafox
    @The Wild Geese Howard

    I think Justinian was unquestionably one of the most talented men to sit on the Roman throne. Equally crucially, he was surrounded by talent. John the Cappadocian, Belisarius, Tribonian, Anthemius, and the ever admirable Theodora: this team had few rivals in Roman history in terms of overall talent and work ethic. Off the top of my head, the only comparisons in terms of overall quality were the administrations of Augustus, Marcus Aurelius, and the succession of Balkan emperors in the late 3rd Century.

    But he was someone who, in the end, put his vision of what the empire ought to be over the real interests of the empire. Now, I don't think Justinian was the main or even one of the bigger reasons for the 7th Century collapse: what he left to his successors wasn't a smoldering ruin, after all, and his re-centralization of power might have been crucial to the empire's survival when the Muslims showed up. It would take a series of poor decisions on all of his successors coupled with the lingering impact of the plague to make that happen. But he was *a* reason.

    It's true that the reconquests didn't "weaken" the empire until the plague came. Africa fell easily. There was luck involved, as there is with all successful wars, but to his credit, Justinian astutely perceived the deep unpopularity of Vandal rule in Africa with former Roman citizens (an unpopularity that the Ostrogoths didn't share among their former Roman subjects), and Africa ended up falling with ease. The captured Vandal treasury was more than enough to recoup the cost of the campaign, and despite the rebellions, Africa would go on to be a strategic and financial asset to the empire all the way up to the 7th Century collapse. In fact, if Africa had *not* been re-taken, then it's possible that it wouldn't have survived the 7th Century.

    (Part of my analysis is also based on the fact that I believe that the Vandals were a real strategic danger to the ERE in a way the other Germans weren't. The Vandal history with the Romans was different from the Goths or the Franks: they never served as Roman allies, there was never a chance that they'd be Romanized. They needed to go if the empire was ever going to be wholly safe in the Mediterranean and Egypt was to be fully secure. The Ostrogoths were different. In a way, Theodoric was an emperor himself.)

    Had Belisarius had more responsible subordinates or Justinian been more patient (what I'm about to get into), it likely would have been the same story in Italy in the 530s, too. Although the Italians weren't alienated from the Goths in the way the Africans were from the Vandals, the last sour years of Theodoric's rule meant that a lightning campaign like in Africa would have led to a fait accompli that would have been accepted by the civilian populace. The Ostrogoth treasury was considerable, and would have offset any expense in conquering the peninsula involved. But even with the mistakes that prevented a similar Africa-esque blitzkrieg, I suspect Italy would have fallen without the decade of soul-sucking war had the plague never come. Justinian had no problems in bribing the Persians to keep quiet in the east, so I suspect that's what would have happened: requisite photo-ops after poor Antioch got sacked, peace deal, Belisarius sent back to Italy to finish the job.

    But beneath the conquests, you see flaws that would turn out to be devastating when the plague came. Let me use Italy as an example: did Italy need to be invaded *immediately* after the African campaign? Wouldn't it have been better to leave Belisarius in Carthage for five years to ensure that Africa was properly reintegrated into the empire? None of the rebellions that cost the empire money and manpower would have happened, and Justinian could have invaded Italy with more men to make a swifter conquest of Italy possible.

    The reason I bring this up is because Justinian probably could have invaded Italy whenever he wanted in the coming decades. The legal fiction was that the Ostrogoths ruled at the pleasure of the Roman emperor, and after 476, the only guy who had that title lived in Constantinople. He wouldn't have had to work hard to find a causus belli at any time, but he chose the first moment he possibly could, and as a result had too little men to make a quick job of it in the same way.

    I suspect that Justinian was gripped with a fear that he wouldn't live to see the glorious conclusion of his dreams. This impatience became devastating when the plague came. When half your capital lies dead in open pits and you don't reconsider your policy of expansion, what else can you say? This leads to the question of what Justinian would have done had the plague never come? Make no mistake, I do think without the bubonic plague, the empire would have remained a superpower, so Justinian's legacy would be considerably different. But might he have overextended anyway, leading to problems.

    Replies: @Sam Malone

    Thanks for your detail on this.

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