Now that we know societies can live 1200 to 1400 years and we've traced the creation of some of our contemporary Nation Societies, before we analyze any of their rather complicated and incomplete lives further, let's compare and contrast two completed societies to get a fuller perspective on how the lives of our contemporary societies may continue to unfold. I suggest we choose Venice, an Island City Society as one, and Rome, a Land City Society, as the other. Venice lived and died earlier in our present Western Civilization, Rome lived and died in the dead Mediterranean Civilization, so this will be a good test for us as to whether there are life form similarities as well as obvious differences in life styles between dissimilar types of societies living in different civilizations.

Don't underestimate the power of Venice in its prime. The English playwright Shakespeare, in a different language in a different society, didn't compose one of his most successful plays called The Merchant of Genoa, or Florence, or Padua, or Pisa, or even Rome. He called it The Merchant of Venice.


Each society develops its own ethos, values, and way of succeeding in the world. It has its own peculiar problems to solve, and how it does or does not solve them helps set the course of its destiny. Island City Societies seem particularly suited to success in commercial activity, perhaps because lacking natural resources they have to live by their wits. They become great trading societies. Venice quickly developed a monopoly in salt, and soon afterwards in high quality glass making, using the fine sand from its shores. The Venetians had a problem with water. They had too much of it. The sanitation difficulties were never satisfactorily solved, but their habitat caused them to invent the gondola for transportation, and to become expert sailors and later seamen with fast cargo-carrying galleys.

Land based societies seem more militarily inclined. Rome, an extreme example, early on showed no proclivity to trade, but was continually engaged in warfare, from the very beginning of its existence. In 753 BCE a god (Romulus, actually a half-Immortal, son of the god Mars and a human king's daughter) was supposed to have harnessed a plough and ploughed a furrow around the Palatine hill where the city was to be. He lifted the plough where the gates were to be set (Latin: portare, to carry, so porta, a gate, and our words porter, and portal, now used on the Internet). From this simple example we can see the strength of the influence of Rome through its language, even to this day in our own times.

Apparently the earliest citizens included descendants from the refugees after the fall of Troy city. Rome was created by them and the Latins, one of six peoples then inhabiting the peninsula we now call Italy. It was a very small city to start with, on one of 7 barren hills with a mosquito infested swamp in the middle, next to a river. Rivers have always been important to societies, for drinking water from upstream and carrying away waste downstream. Rome gradually expanded to include the seven hills, solved its marsh and bridge problems and in the process developed engineering and construction ability leading it to mastery of techniques for making concrete, building roads, viaducts, arched bridges, water transportation systems, baths, central heating systems, large buildings, and so on. Its soldiers doubled as engineers. At first Rome was governed by kings who ruled for life. By 493 BCE kingship was abolished. The city controlled the surrounding 240 square miles, and had set up good government with a senate, consuls, tribunes, and so on. The city walls were 13 feet thick and 50 feet high. During this first 270 years the city established itself and provided security from attacks.

Good government and freedom for the citizens is at its best in the early stages of a society. In the first formative period of Venice, the chief advisor to Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths (471 - 526 AD) wrote: "There is no distinction between rich and poor; the same for all. The houses are all alike... all your activity is devoted to the salt works, whence comes your wealth..."

In the formative phase of Rome two Tribunes of the people (the plebs, or lower order) were set up. They were plebians, elected for one year. Their duty was to protect the people against the magistrates. If any one, even a consul, wished to arrest a plebian, the Tribune could simply place himself before the threatened man and no one dared oppose his defence. Whoever did resist a tribune of the people was sacrificed to the gods, - put to death and his goods confiscated. A Tribune could not leave Rome and had to keep his house open day and night so no one would be unable to come to him. The Tribunes could stop any legislation they thought unwise by simply saying "veto" (I forbid). Unfortunately these early freedoms soon vanished in both societies.

. . . . . . . . . .


We left Rome at about 493 BCE at the end of its formative phase. Its next stage is what I call the ascendancy phase. By the end of this phase in 266 BCE Rome had conquered all the other peoples in "Italy". Rome was now relatively secure with the Alps to the north and water surrounding the peninsula of "Italy". The Romans were very thorough. In one instance the Romans had besieged a city for 10 years, paid the Roman soldiers wages (a first in those days), took the city, massacred or sold the population, divided up the territory and desolated the city. That's how determined they were in conquering the whole of the peninsula. Their military organization was very orderly and innovative, but they had trouble with the Gauls in the north. They were beaten several times by the Gauls, but finally defeated them. The Roman army discipline was severe, even by the standards of its time. If a legion failed in its objective it was 'decimated'. One man in ten was put to death.

As the Romans conquered other territories they sent permanent garrisons of soldier farmers there to colonize the areas and secure their authority. They sent 20,000 farmers to Venusia to settle there and keep watch on the Venusians. Their famous Roman roads were necessary to move armies quickly and in relative safety. The roads were wide, straight, with a good foundation and pavement and cleared for a hundred yards on each side to reduce risk of ambush.

. . . . . . . . . .

The ascendancy phase of Venice was from 697 AD to 968 AD. Early in this period the 2nd Doge made trade agreements with the Longobards who had swept down on the Italian peninsula. But the Doge still professed loyalty to the Emperor of Byzantium (Leo III). Venice from now on was the principal outport in northern Italy of the Byzantine Empire. During 814 in a treaty between East and West a representative from Venice was present and its political existence was accepted.

Troubled by pirates in the Adriatic sea from the areas now Croatia and Herzegovina, Venice established defensive bases on their shores.

Byzantium called on Venice to sail as an ally against the "Saracens" (Arabs) threatening their colonies, in Sicily and ancient Greater Greece. Each time Venice won it was given more trading privileges. Then a commercial treaty gave Venice a role in the markets and commerce of the mainland. Venetian coinage was widely accepted. Venice began trading in silk from the east, wood, iron, and military equipment. Venice sent a fleet to put down piracy. This was in defence of Byzantium's interests as well as its own.

By 968 AD Venice, the maritime ally of Byzantium, was the acknowledged prime seagoing trading power in the Mediterranean. Venetian fleets traded in grain, wine, oil; had a virtual monopoly in salt, controlling the means of production and distribution, and shipping had to be by Venetian ships.

Although not a major land power, by subtle diplomacy Venice had gained recognition and respect and was present to protect its interests when treaties were negotiated.

The ascendancy phase of Venice lasted about 271 years.

. . . . . . . . . .

This has taken us from 421 AD, the year of the creation of Venice, to 697 AD as its formative phase (276 years), and from 697 to 968 AD, the end of its ascendancy phase (271 years).

Rome was created in 753 BCE, Its formative phase was to 493 BCE (260 years) and its ascendancy phase ended in 266 BCE (227 years).

The historical dates, in particular for the ascendancy phase of Venice, are not definitive. They're meant to identify in real terms the movement of a society from one stage in its life to the next, just as in individual lives there is no specific physiologically significant moment for the onset of puberty or menopause.

I have called the next phase expansion: the cannibalistic phase, because societies at this stage are now well grown with an established role in the civilization they find themselves in, but are not content to continue growing naturally. They are met with a competent rival society and generally fight it out until one is eliminated. As their population grows they send out colonies and establish trading centres in the territory of others. Militarily they develop an appetite for eating up weaker societies because now it's easier for them to seize the wealth of others than it is to go on creating it in their home territory.

So far we can see the smaller and more defensive society of Venice took longer to move through its first two phases of life than did Rome, a more powerful and aggressive society. Next we want to see how they live through their expansion, the cannibalistic phase each of them is about to enter.





By 266 BCE Rome had secured for itself control over the Italian peninsula. It could have been satisfied with this success and developed trade and political relationships with the rest of the known world. During its conquest of Italy there had been several treaties of peace with Carthage, which had even at one time sent a fleet to help the Romans. Carthage controlled all of Sicily except for the Greek colony of Syracuse. The Greeks were allies of the Romans and when trouble erupted within their colony, Rome apparently became jealous of the prosperous Carthaginian and Greek colonies in Sicily, the next door island, and determined to take over. This involved declaring war on Carthage, in 264 BCE.

Rome was disciplined, efficient. Its citizens had a somewhat austere life style. Carthage was the greatest maritime trading power of its day and very wealthy. The first reaction to Rome's hostility was almost amused contempt. Rome would need a navy to get to Sicily. "Without our permission Rome cannot even wash her hands in the sea." Romans landed with help from a Greek fleet. A Greek general was king of Syracuse, the eastern part of Sicily. Rome attacked and scattered his army in 263 BCE, demanding 200 talents and promise of alliance. Then Rome attacked and destroyed two Carthaginian armies on the island. The city that had sheltered one asked for permission to surrender, but was refused. The Romans broke open the gates, pillaged the city and sold the inhabitants into slavery, (262 BCE). What followed was a 23 year war with Carthage, generally called the first Punic war; 'Punic' from Phoenicians, a famous seafaring people at the eastern end of the Mediterranean sea. Tyre, the mother city of Carthage had been one of their greatest cities. Carthage itself was on the north African shore line opposite Italy to the south of the Mediterranean.

Carthage naturally responded to Rome's attack by sending a fleet to ravage the coasts of Italy. The Romans had some smaller vessels but nothing to challenge the huge warships of Carthage. They decided to build warships and used as a model a Carthaginian ship wrecked on their coast. Their rowers practised on shore while the ships were being quickly built, with green wood. But when seaborne they fled on first contact with some ships from Carthage. Then the Romans designed a platform 36 ft by 4 ft attached to the mast of each ship with a huge spike on the end that was to be dropped. Now they sailed up to the ships from Carthage, dropped the platforms, the spikes drove into their decks and Carthaginian sailors were no match for the Roman soldiers who rushed on board. In 260 BCE the Romans took 30 ships from Carthage with this tactic.

A Carthaginian fleet was defeated in 256 BCE, but a subsequent siege of Carthage was unsuccessful.

Carthage did not fight its own battles. The generals and officers were from Carthage. The soldiers were hired foreigners. But the army was formidable. Each section kept its own language, protective dress and weapons: the African Libyans with pikes; Numidian horsemen wearing lion skins, with lances and bows, firing at full gallop; Iberians from Spain dressed in red and white, using swords; the Gauls, with shield and broadsword. Other races used bows and slings. The Carthaginians were no more merciful than the Romans. If their forces were defeated and survived, they were crucified.

In 250 BCE after a Roman victory over Carthage, 104 elephants were taken to Rome and slaughtered in the circus to amuse the people. Then two Roman fleets were destroyed in 249 BCE. But by 241 BCE Carthage was again defeated, made peace, and gave up Sicily.

At the end of the first Punic war Carthage agreed to pay Rome 3,200 talents within 10 years. With its resources spent the army went unpaid, causing a revolt. After 4 years most of these mercenaries had been put to death.

The payment to Rome (in 1999 US dollars) was about $100 million, coming from a world with just a fraction of our populations today. In 239 BCE Rome took advantage of the armed forces problems of Carthage to extract a further 1,200 talents (About $37.5 million US) plus Sardinia and Corsica.

The Gauls invaded Italy from the north and defeated one Roman army, but lost to two others. Rome established colonies among the conquered Gauls (218 BCE). In the same year Carthage attacked a rich city and took much booty. Rome claimed this contravened their treaty and demanded reparations. Carthage disagreed, and so began the second Punic war in 218 BCE.

Hannibal brought his Carthaginian troops from Spain across Europe into Italy. At Cannae Rome suffered the worst defeat in its history. 70,000 killed, only 3,370 escaping; 10,000 camp guards surrendered. Carthage lost 4,000 Gauls, 1,500 Spaniards and Africans. But Scipio finally defeated Hannibal at Carthage in 202 BCE. Rome's peace terms included surrender of all prisoners, elephants, and all but 10 warships, to enter no war without Rome's consent, plus payment of 250 talents a year for 50 years: (another $390 million US.) Carthage had ceased to be a great power.

In 197 BCE, a short 5 years later, Rome conquered Macedonia, its king had to surrender his fleet and all his possessions in Greece, and be an ally of Rome in future.

Rome next attacked the last remaining major power, Syria which lost 50,000 men in a rout costing Rome 300 - so Rome said. The Syrian king sued for peace, promised to surrender all his elephants and fleet, and pay 15,000 talents within 12 years. (Another $470 million US). Rome was now the undisputed most powerful state in its world.

Perseus became king of Macedonia, and amassed wealth, armies and allies in the near east. Rome declared war in 171 BCE. Perseus defeated a Roman army but sued for peace. The reply was unconditional surrender. In 168 BCE he lost 20,000 killed and 11,000 prisoners. Rome claimed it lost 100. The Roman soldiers became discontented because they had no chance to pillage the country. The Roman general ordered all the cities to collect their gold and silver. The Roman soldiers entered every city on the appointed day, sacked it, and 150,000 inhabitants were sold as slaves, the proceeds going to the soldiers. The Roman general brought back to Rome the spoils for a 3 day triumph. Day one: 250 chariots filled with statues and pictures. Day two: chariots loaded with arms; 750 vases filled with silver coins, each vase carried by 4 men; plus drinking vases, cups and flagons. Day three: young men carrying vases of gold and silver; 77 vases filled with gold pieces; a great golden vase studded with precious stones; plus 400 golden crowns from Greek cities. This is what I mean by a cannibalistic society.

Two years later in 149 BCE Rome began the third and last Punic war. Cato, a Roman senator had seen Carthage and was amazed at the wealth he saw there. He constantly argued for the destruction of Carthage. Meanwhile Carthage had been attacked by an African neighbour but Rome refused permission to retaliate, causing Carthage to have to agree to their demands. Then a Roman army of 80,000 landed in Africa near Carthage, which agreed to surrender. Rome promised Carthage its liberty and laws, but ordered 300 hostages to go to Sicily, all arms to be given up. Carthage sent her ships, 200,000 stacks of arms and 3,000 engines of war. Next the Roman consuls said the Carthaginians must leave the city and go back 10 miles from the coast. This meant becoming peasants and losing their livelihood and source of wealth in trade and commerce.

Realizing it had been fooled, Carthage prepared for war as best it could, and drove back the first two Roman attacks. Then a new Roman general came, the adopted grandson of the Scipio who defeated Hannibal. In a complicated siege he starved the city into final surrender. When the city was torched the fire lasted 17 days. Then the city was demolished, the ground ploughed up and a priest put a curse on whoever should occupy the soil. The year was 146 BCE. The territory of Carthage was made a Roman province.

Next Rome overcame an uprising in Macedonia, also made a province. In the same year, 146 BCE Corinth, the richest city in Greece, rose against Rome. The city was sacked and destroyed and the inhabitants sold into slavery. All the works of art, some said to be the most beautiful in the world, were sent from Corinth to Rome.

But Rome was far from content with such conquests and looting. Spanish wars followed which went on for 70 years. Various Roman armies were defeated or massacred but eventually Rome prevailed. The Scipio who had destroyed Carthage was sent to Spain. He starved a city, whose inhabitants killed one another rather than surrender. He destroyed the city to the ground, leaving no trace to show where it had been (133 BCE). That finally subdued Spain.

I suggest this ends the first part of the expansion, the cannibalistic phase of Rome: 266 BCE to 133 BCE, 133 years. In that period Rome wantonly defeated city after proud and wealthy city, stripped it, destroyed it, and sold its survivors into slavery for profit. Instead of expanding into other territories by commerce and colonies, it preferred the quicker more brutal method of sacking and looting territories. Rome combined the expansion phase, which I would expect to occur after the ascendancy phase, with the cannibalistic period. Its colonies were primarily military outposts keeping watch on its conquests. Rome developed a technique for exacting tribute, stripping its provinces of wealth and produce, while funneling these gains to Rome.


We previously established the ascendancy phase as ending at about 968 AD. Here, with a trading society rather than a land based military society, the more normal development of expansion takes place next, with only such violence as necessary to maintain its position. I would include the incident of the fleet sent to crush the pirates at their home base, Lagosta, (1000 AD) as fitting this interpretation. Venice benefitted greatly financially from the first three Crusades (1096-9, 1147-9, and 1189-93), received additional territory, trading locations and privileges, and its role as sea power ally for Byzantium increased. A sizeable colony for a city of 150,000, the Venetians were said to number 200,000 in Constantinople by 1171. That was the year many of these Venetian merchants were arrested for arrogant brawling and terrorizing the other citizens, and their goods were confiscated. This so angered Venice that a hasty attack in reprisal followed which became a complete disaster. But by 1198 Venetian merchants were once more freed from customs duties as Byzantium needed the help of Venice against the Turks.

True to form for a trading society, Venice agreed to transport the 4th Crusade (1202) to the Holy Land for a rather exorbitant price, 85,000 marks, cash in advance, plus half of all conquests. To put this in perspective: in 1192 Richard 1st, king of England, who defeated Saladin during the 3rd Crusade, but was captured on his way home through Europe, was held to ransom for 150,000 marks. This was never paid in full and the resources of all England were taxed to the utmost for the first instalments.

But Venice turned into a cannibalistic society when part of its price, which the Crusaders didn't have, caused it to play the leading role in sacking Constantinople, capital of Byzantium, its former friend, ally and benefactor (see Chapter 3). Venice in this phase was aggressively expanding its territory and looting as well as trading. It fought many wars, including those against its rival Genoa: (1258, won; 1264, won; 1294 won once, lost once; 1299, crushing defeat; 1353 loss of entire fleet; 1381 lost the first battle, then trapped the Genoese fleet which surrendered. Genoa never recovered). Possession of eastern Mediterranean territories was involved in these wars that were fought through the period of the plague of the Black Death (1347-51) which killed a quarter to a third of the population of Europe.

During this period Venice was also fighting wars with Hungary for territorial possessions, including Dalmatia. That the rule of Venice was not benign is shown by Crete, acquired in 1212, but which revolted in 1364. I suggest the cannibalistic phase of expansion for Venice began in 1204 with the sacking of Constantinople, and continued through the Genoese wars to 1381.

Our tracking of Rome and Venice so far has given us (all numbers are years):

ROME (BCE). . . . .VENICE (AD)

753-493 (260). . . . .421-697 (276) FORMATIVE

493-266 (227). . . . .697-968 (271) ASCENDANCY

266-133 (133). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . EXPANSION with cannibalism

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .968-1204 (236) without cannibalism

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1204-1381 (177) with cannibalism

We can see that Venice was not big enough or the type of society to begin its expansion phase with cannibalism, unlike Rome which had the power to do it. And Rome was such a huge society for its time that we'll have to conclude our discussion of the rest of its cannibalistic and expansionary phase next.





The second part of the expansion phase of Rome, with its cannibalistic period, begins, I suggest, at about 133 BCE. Rome became a different city, with a more cosmopolitan people. Rome had begun as a farm based community and the rigorous hard-working farm life persisted throughout its early development. Now a more luxurious life came with the spoils of war and there were slaves to do the work. Many slaves were brought to Rome. Immigrants poured in. Some of these newcomers were more literate than the Romans and often became tutors for the children of wealthy Roman citizens. Roman dress became more sophisticated with expensive oriental or Greek imports replacing the old woollen togas. Food, once coarse, was now more varied and of better quality. The Greek gods were recognized as the same beings worshipped as Roman gods. Eastern religions were tolerated. Early Romans had no books or theatre. After the conquest of Greece educated people spoke Greek and Greek philosophy and literature became known to the Romans. Greek works were translated into Latin.

The Romans had adopted the Etruscan custom of gladiatorial combats. For public entertainment wild beasts were brought from foreign lands and let loose in the circus, where trained hunters were employed to kill them. This was called a hunt. In 108 BCE 63 panthers were killed in a single hunt.

The farmer/soldiers/peasants were a disappearing breed. Some were killed in foreign wars or remained in conquered territory, still others couldn't get back from the campaigns to work their land each year. Those who did return could not sell their grain at a living wage because there was pillage instead of peasantry. Rome now imported tribute, including grain, from Sicily and Africa. The nobles bought the peasants land, formed large estates, and used slaves to do the work.

Roman women left behind no longer stayed at home and wove wool. They drove chariots, went to the circus, the theatre, public baths, and dined in public. Divorce became permissible and increasingly frequent. Before AD 1 marriage came to be regarded as a temporary union. 4 or 5 wives in succession were common. Pompey had 5, Caesar had 4.

Rome had so many slaves now that there was a revolt of about 200,000 of them in Sicily. It lasted 3 years. Finally put down in 132 BCE thousands of the slaves were crucified. There was another slave revolt in Sicily in 103 BCE and one in Italy, led by Spartacus and other gladiators, in 73 BCE. After defeating two small Roman armies this was crushed and the survivors, said to number about 6000, were crucified. In addition to revolts there were civil wars. These went on for about 100 years.

In northwest Asia Minor the last king of Pergamon left his kingdom to the Roman people (132 BCE). This became the province of Asia.

Having made a territory into a subject province, the Romans generally furthered their own interests and not those of the province. Governors often imprisoned, whipped or executed subjects at will. They tended to rob temples of treasure and force cities and the wealthy to give them money, art and valuables. Governors only had one year in office so they had to make their fortunes quickly. A governor could station his troops where he wanted and cities paid him to keep them away. There were Roman laws against this type of extortion, but poorly enforced. A governor brought friends, officers and lawyers, and the whole retinue was generally on the make.

The unfortunate inhabitants of a province had to render a proportion of their harvest, a tribute in silver, and a tax for each family. It didn't end there. There were the publicans. They purchased from Rome the right to collect taxes, custom duties and rents. Each publican had his staff of clerks and collectors. The people were forced to pay more than was due and the word publican came to mean robber.

There was social unrest during this phase. Dispossessed peasant farmers, immigrants, freed slaves, flocked to Rome, without means for support. In the past when territory was conquered the State of Rome became the owner. Some land was left with the inhabitants who paid tribute for the use of it; ploughed lands and pastures were farmed out to companies of contractors (Publicans) who sublet and levied taxes. What was left after the various partitionings was regarded as waste land, available to any Roman citizen including retired soldiers, free, to take possession and settle. Some settlers had now been in possession for generations. Tiberius Gracchus carried out agrarian reform by leaving these occupants with about 320 acres each, taking the rest for distribution to poor citizens, a 30 acre lot in Italy for each family. There was a riot by the senators and other wealthy citizens. Tiberius and his supporters were clubbed to death. But not before Tiberius had monthly grain provided to the people of the city at half price. The agrarian 'reform' law was not repealed and the commissioners continued to distribute the land. About ten years later (123 BCE) his younger brother Gaius carried out more reforms - a corn law and free clothing for soldiers. Judges were no longer to be senators. Gaius and 3,000 of his supporters died in civil uprisings.

There was a 'social war' between Rome and its allies after a 95 BCE law forbidding allies to settle in Rome and claim to be citizens. The other Italians created their own capital and drove back the first Roman army. But with reports of uprisings in Spain, Gaul and Asia, a law was passed granting Roman citizenship to all Rome's allies who had not revolted on condition they adopted Roman law. Rome fought the other allies and won, executing the chief instigators and driving other leaders naked from the towns. One Samnite army held on. Then Rome extended the freedom of the city to all Italians (89 BCE). But this internal war probably cost about 300,000 lives. It's said the registry of citizens rose from 394,336 to about 900,000.

Meanwhile Mithridates, king of Pontus (an area south of the Black Sea opposite the Crimean peninsula) organized a larger kingdom around the Black sea. His father was a Persian king and his mother a Greek princess from Syria. The Greeks in the Roman province of Asia were being stripped of their wealth and resources. Mithridates, Rome's last great adversary in the east, took over, and abolished all taxes. The Greeks massacred the Italians there, said to be about 80,000, and took their valuables. Two Roman generals, Marius and Sulla, competed for the right to lead the forces going east to quell the uprising. 6 Roman legions entered Rome in support of Sulla, armed, the first time the rule against this was broken. Marius fled to Africa. Sulla led the forces to Greece and began conquests and massacres there. But in Rome supporters of Marius entered the city and massacred the leading senators. Sulla was declared a public enemy and V. Flaccus sent to Greece with another army. This mutinied. Flaccus was captured and killed. His second in command (Fimbria) led the army against Mithridates, but it deserted and joined Sulla, causing Fimbria to commit suicide. Sulla demanded 20,000 talents from Asia, which ruined it. His soldiers pillaged the province.

Having accomplished his mission with much brutality, Sulla returned to Rome with 40,000 devoted soldiers. 6 armies were raised against him. One killed its general for trying to force it to fight Sulla, who defeated another army. This was the first time two Roman armies fought each other (84 BCE).

The supporters of Marius left Rome after a massacre of more senators. Sulla fought the other armies, finally won, and had them all massacred, including those who surrendered. Then his soldiers began a general civilian massacre that went on for days.

Sulla settled 120,000 veterans on lands of those he had exterminated. He freed all slaves of the proscribed. 10,000 of them became his bodyguard. But 3 years after he became dictator Sulla abdicated, and soon after this he died.

Pompey was Sulla's favourite general. Pompey and Crassus arrived at Rome, each with an army for support. They met, and arranged that both would be elected consuls.The civil wars continued in Spain and Lusitania (Portugal). Then there was another slave revolt in Sicily. A tribune publicly denounced the governor of Sicily (Verres). His accuser before the tribunal was the youthful Cicero. Verres didn't deny the charges, merely said he used a third of the extortion money to buy his judges. He went into exile.

Pompey was given special powers to deal with the pirates who were now so bold and numerous as to have formed their own state, and were threatening Rome's supply routes. Pompey took command in 66 BCE. He cleared out the pirates in the central and eastern Mediterranean. Next he went to war with Mithridates who committed suicide to avoid capture. Pompey made Syria a province, then took Jerusalem. But back at home Italy was full of social unrest. When Caesar became dictator, with a population of about 2 million in Italy, there were 320,000 citizens being supported by the state. In 43 BCE Cicero, now a Roman statesman, spoke in the Senate of Rome:

"The budget should be balanced, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled and assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. The mob should be made to work and not depend on government for subsistence..."

Without detailing this further as we are merely noting a pattern, I suggest Rome is about to enter a new phase. This may have begun when Caesar defeated Pompey in 48 BCE, or when Caesar was murdered in 44 BCE, but about this time Rome began to settle down internally and externally to a new phase of unqualified dominance around the Mediterranean and beyond, despite some periods of poor leadership. And with this security Roman culture began to flourish.


We left Venice in about 1381 AD after it had finally crushed Genoa as a rival sea power. We suggested Venice's cannibalism began with the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, but it could be said to have begun about 75 years earlier with Venetian attacks on Greek islands, including the stripping of Rhodes (see chapter 3). The later date was chosen because of the enormity of the attack on the capital of Byzantium and the consequent riches and territories with immediate elevation of Venice to world power.

During this cannibalistic phase Venice, as did Rome, experienced internal as well as external rebellion. We've already mentioned the rebellions in its overseas territories of Dalmatia and Crete, but in Venice itself in 1296 the Great Council was closed to the admission of new families and from then on Venice became an oligarchy. This caused a revolt in 1300 by the people excluded from a seat in the Great Council. The uprising was quickly crushed. The doors were open to let the mob in: the ringleaders were promptly seized and hanged. But in 1310 there was another larger revolt. It too was crushed, one leader was killed, the other fled from Venice. This experience caused the establishment of the Council of 10. It began as a public safety committee to hunt down the conspirators. In 1335 it was made permanent.

The reaction of Venice to these events was to turn itself into a police state. Dissidents just disappeared. Spies and informers were everywhere and torture of prisoners was a common practice. This made a popular revolt impossible through personal fear of the consequences. A French ambassador to Maximilian called the Venetians 'crafty and malignant foxes' but also 'proud and ferocious lions' and 'whales who besiege the ocean.'

. . . . . . . . . .

Rome achieved some stability by about 44 BCE because the various military aspirants for power fought it out with their respective armies until one was victorious. Venice achieved stability by about 1381 AD through financial freedom and wealth satisfying the merchant class and political power held by an oligarchy operating a police state.

This concludes our view of the Formative, Ascendancy and Expansion phases of our two examples, Rome and Venice. We can now complete the Expansion phase for each:


ROME (BCE). . . . .VENICE (AD)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .968 - 1204 (236) without cannibalism

266 - 44 (222). . . .1204 - 1381 (177) with cannibalism

In the life of societies the phase of dominance comes next and we'll see how Rome and Venice experience this period in their lives and how long it lasts for each of them.






Dominance for Rome lasted from the 40s BCE to about 180 AD. The beginnings of this phase continued the brutal civil wars with Roman armies fighting one another. This ended when Cleopatra (for whom Caesar had fathered a child and gave her Egypt to rule), and Anthony, committed suicide. There was a triumvirate or three headed rulership to solve the civil wars problem, but this soon became a single dictatorship.

Caesar said he had killed a million men and sold another million into slavery. This type of military conduct had certainly crushed resistance in the provinces. They became Romanized with road systems, public buildings, senates, assemblies, and judicial systems of their own. With peace at last the provinces grew and prospered and provided the finest part of Roman armies. Trajan was the first Roman Emperor born and raised in a Roman colony - Spain.

In the early days of this phase, when heredity still decided who ruled, Claudius is an interesting example. It's been said that Claudius was found by the Praetorian guard in the palace hiding in a closet after the murder of Caligula and the Praetorians had him proclaimed Emperor. He didn't run the government. He had 4 freedmen to do that. As they were former slaves this upset the nobles in the Senate who had to co-operate with them. Claudius is generally regarded as simple minded, with nodding head, stammering, and trembling hands, foolish jokes and laughable edicts to the people on wine making or eclipses rather than affairs of state. But how does one explain his relationships with women. He repudiated his first two wives for evil conduct and then married Messalina. We're told she had a competition with her chief maid; Messalina having intercourse with 23 men in one night while the maid only managed 19. Claudius had Messalina put to death. But he was apparently responsible for a naval battle between two fleets on a lake involving 19,000 condemned men from across the empire. Engines of war were put around the lake to make the men fight. And in the reign of Claudius the Jews were expelled from Rome. Yet in certain ways he tried to be a benevolent leader and some of the harsher laws were softened under his rule.

Many of the ancient families of Senators had been massacred in civil wars. Short of funds through intemperate extravagance, such as Caligula with his million dollar suppers, Nero travelling with an entourage of 1000 chariots or his wife Poppae taking along 500 asses for her daily milk baths, the hereditary rulers condemned a number of the surviving senators for treason. This was usually done so that their wealth could be confiscated for the imperial treasury. Some wealthy citizens even went so far as to commit suicide before being accused to be more sure their children could inherit their estates.

When the degenerate hereditary rulers had been cleared away, either by suicide (Nero) or assassination, (Caligula, Claudius), rulers chosen by various army groups came to be emperors, 3 in one year (68-9 AD) Galba was murdered, Otho chose suicide, Vitellius was murdered. From then on rulers were chosen by merit, beginning with Vespasian, (69 - 79). His grandfather was a centurion. Sculpture shows this general to have been square faced and thin lipped. He restored order and discipline, was very economical, lived simply, and worked to the day of his death. He created new senators from the great Provincial families that had come into being in Spain and Gaul. The various provincial revolts were put down and Rome's true dominance took shape.

During this phase of the society Pax Romana came into effect - the universal Roman peace. Industry, trade and commerce in the empire could thrive. There was trading even as far as to India and China. In our century the sunken remains of two Roman ships each laden with jars, presumably with contents for trading, were found in the Amazon basin, in South America. The city of Rome, now with a population close to two million was a centre for luxury goods, but began to develop a negative balance of trade as its appetite for luxury exceeded its exports.

We should not underestimate Roman society achievements, many created during the dominance phase. There was rotation of crops and soil fertilization. Rome had the first state hospital in the western world, the first free health service for the poor, the first distribution of food, wines, clothing and even money to poor people on designated lists. There were urban cohorts who patrolled the streets at night to minimize crime and they doubled as firefighters. There was an elaborate government postal service. A map of all the roads in the Empire was carved in stone and set up in a public place. Copies were made for use by travellers. In Rome there were covered malls for citizens to walk about protected from the weather.

Rome's public spectacular events in the Circuses were free. They generally ran from morning to evening and included four horse chariot racing. There were professional drivers and chariot companies competing much as our car racing of formula 1 cars is organized today. Several circuses existed in Rome. The largest, the Circus Maximus, had accommodation for 250,000 spectators. The Coliseum seated 87,000 with standing room for 15,000.

Let's just take one example of how the society operated - its use of water. A clean abundant water supply is essential to good human health. The water supply to Rome was 300 million gallons a day. It was carried in by 10 aqueducts. There were nearly 260 miles of conduits, 20 supported by arches and columns. The Romans knew how to prevent hammering in the supply lines by setting up large columns filled with air leading off the supply, just as in a good modern plumbing system a 6 inch dead end air-filled pipe line is attached close to each tap or valve to let the air cushion any sudden stoppage of water rushing at 125 lbs per square inch. If this buffering is not set up the pipes "hammer" noisily when a tap is quickly shut off. The Roman water supply is said to have been better than in 19th c. AD London or Paris.

Some of the water supply was for the public baths. These had large marble tanks of cold water with storage and furnace rooms. There were sweating rooms, heated halls with small bathrooms leading off them. There were huge covered malls, dressing rooms, rubbing rooms, all paved with mosaics and with pictures hung and statues. Outside were gardens enclosed by a portico, library, gymnasium and changing rooms.

Country houses had parks, land under cultivation, reservoirs for fish breeding, aviaries for rare birds, underground galleries for use in hot weather and a centrally heated floor system for cold weather. There were kitchens, laundries, a mill, oven, spinning and weaving rooms and slave cabins, in some cases a slave village with hundreds of slaves.

The Roman army was another remarkable achievement of the Roman society. Many generals in subsequent periods have studied Roman logistical skills, strategy and tactics in the field of battle. There were 25, later 30 legions with 6000 men in each, These were volunteers, usually poor people who enlisted for 20 years and often for a second term. They were paid wages. At the end they received a lump sum of money and gift of land. In addition to the legions there were auxiliaries - cohorts of infantry and squadrons of cavalry. A soldier could not be promoted beyond centurion, in charge of 100 men. Our equivalent would be a non commissioned officer such as an army company sergeant major. The legion was divided into cohorts and battalions. Only a senator could be a legate and command a legion. A knight or equestrian could be a procurator or commander of a cohort.

In 9 AD the Germanic people beyond Gaul surprised a Roman army in ambush and massacred it. Verus, the commanding officer committed suicide as did some of his senior officers, the remaining officers were buried alive or crucified. The legions destroyed were 17, 18 and 19. They were never re-instituted. Unlike past periods in Roman history the Emperors decided against subjugating the Germanic people.

Much later in this phase of dominance the emperor Trajan (98-117 AD) decided to attack the Dacian people, took their capital, and the Dacian king committed suicide. Trajan made it the province of Dacia, Romanized it with colonies, operated mines, cultivated the land and built cities. Latin became the chief language. This area later became Romania.

Trajan then turned his attention to the Parthians who frequently gave trouble in the furthest east of the Empire. He had boats dismantled and carried overland in wagons to the Euphrates river, entered Babylon, then overland again with the boats to the river Tigris where he took two major Parthian cities. He died on the march, but had made three new provinces: Armenia, Mesopotamia and Assyria.

I suggest this was the last offensive action of the empire, which had now reached its greatest extent in 117 AD in the late middle of the phase of dominance. Although as you know by now I'm not really interested in individual performances they certainly lend more colour to the narrative of the advance, pre-eminence and decline of societies. So let's look at the power of Roman society in this phase of dominance as it were through the eyes of Hadrian, who was selected by Trajan as his successor.

Hadrian (117 - 138) swore never to put a senator to death, attended conscientiously to business, heard complaints in person, said "I wish to govern the republic not as my property but as that of the people." He lived like a private citizen, without luxury, eating simple meals. He was fluent in Greek, learned painting and sculpture, geometry, music, medicine. His first act was to abandon Trajan's eastern conquests around the Euphrates. He thought the empire was large enough already. He avoided war, kept peace with surrounding tribes by making presents to their chiefs. During his reign the frontiers were never attacked. But he ensured good armies and discipline, did away with officers' banquet halls, drove out the actors and jugglers, ordered at least three marches a month, laid down rules for camps and baggage and had lighter engines of war. In camp he lived like a common soldier, led military marches of 18-19 miles on foot, fully armoured. He visited sick soldiers, gave promotions for bravery or long service. His men were devoted to him. There were no mutinies in his reign.

Hadrian spent his time travelling about his empire and organizing the government. He visited Syria, the Danube provinces, south and north Italy, Gaul, and Britain. Hadrian's wall exists there to this day, built to keep the Scots out. This wall was over 60 miles long from Solway Firth to the Tyne. It cut Scotland off from England. There was a ditch in front 40 feet wide and 15 feet deep. Behind it was a masonry wall 7 feet thick and 15 feet high guarded in front by 300 towers jutting out, backed by 80 guard posts. Along the full length of the wall ran a military road, 65 feet wide defended by 17 forts each within reach of water. A second ditch between 2 lines of earthworks protected the wall on the south. This was constructed by 3 legions.

Having dealt with the defence of Britain he moved on to Spain, all the African provinces, Syria, met the king of the Parthians, returned his daughter but not his golden throne, both taken by Trajan. Then he went to the provinces bordering the Black Sea. To Thrace, Adrianople (it's really Hadrianople), on to Macedonia, Epirus, Thessaly and Greece, returned to Rome by sea, stopping en route at Sicily.

He made a second voyage east, to Greece, Syria, Judaea, the Dead Sea and strongholds in the new province of Arabia. At Alexandria in Egypt he visited the famous library, then travelled up the Nile.

In this way, following Hadrian, we can grasp the size of the Roman Empire in its phase of dominance and what was required to maintain it.

Hadrian's successor was Antonius( 138-161 AD), selected by Hadrian. Antonius was a rich senator from Nimes in Gaul. He was economical and lived plainly. He refused the money usually offered to emperors, paid the soldiers' lump sum payments out of his own personal fortune. He built up a vast treasury of many hundreds of millions of dollars (in today's equivalent). There were no wars during his entire reign. "Better to save one citizen than kill 1000 enemies." We can see how far Rome had come from the boasts of Caesar about killing and enslaving men. All these leaders were the products of the age of their society.

Antonius had selected and adopted Marcus Aurelius to be his successor. Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD) studied philosophy, became a Stoic, lived in perpetual austerity, worked hard, suffered poor health, perhaps induced when he slept on the ground in his youth. He detested war but had to devote years to defending the empire against peripheral enemies. The Parthians attacked Syria, the Moors attacked the Spanish coasts. The Germanic peoples in the Danube region attacked Greece, and even Italy, ravaging, plundering and taking the inhabitants. To make matters worse, Rome suffered a plague which reduced the army strength. Then there were poor harvests. Taxes were not coming in as usual and to defray costs, rather than trying to extract more from the people, Marcus Aurelius sold the palace jewels. He died, worn out, at what is now Vienna, preparing a second campaign in the Danube area.

As you can see, the peak of Roman dominance has now already passed. The greatest extent of the empire has come and gone, and the last twenty years of this phase see Rome beginning defensive wars against outside invaders. These are wars by a reluctant Rome which is merely trying to protect its existing territory.

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During this phase of dominance Roman government began with three branches of administration: accounts, despatches, and petitions, a fourth was soon added, investigations. The governors of the provinces were now salaried officials, left in charge for longer periods, as were the tax and other officials.

The Provinces kept their own revenues, paid all their own expenses and wealthy local citizens were encouraged to support their towns. Pliny the Younger gave over 11 million sesterces to his town for a library, school, temples, and covered malls for merchants during fairs (In 1999 $US about $13,750,000). Only Egypt remained under direct control of the emperors, because of the vital grain supply. No senators were allowed there, the administration was part of the personal estate of the emperor.

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Rome's greatest gift to later societies was probably its law. The jury decided questions of fact. Judges decided questions of law and could take previous opinions into account. The law had three branches:

jus (or ius) civile - civil law - for Rome and its citizens that in the dominance phase now numbered about 7 million. This law included statutes, decrees, edicts and ancient customs which were carefully preserved.

Jus gentium - the law for all others (gens = race, hence our word genocide) it included laws on slavery, private ownership of property, contract and partnership law.

Jus naturale - was the natural law of philosophers, the kind of law that in our modern era Rousseau and Tom Paine wrote about: the state of nature, all men as equal, with no exploitation.

To this day such concepts as 'habeas corpus" are still used in the Roman (Latin) language and define fundamental principles of our justice system.

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Public finance was another well organized system within the government. There were several branches:

1. the original senate treasury

2. the imperial treasury, the emperor's treasury or 'fisc' from revenue derived from the provinces, imperial domains - such as Egypt - taxes and customs duties.

3. the private fortune of the emperor

4. the military treasury, added during the early part of the phase of dominance. To fund this treasury there was a 1% sales tax, a 5% tax on the emancipation of slaves, and a 5% tax on larger inheritances.

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Since we have regarded Hadrian as representing the spirit of his age we can discuss how he made, I believe, one unfortunate mistake. The Romans had been sensitive to the religion of the Jews. For example, because it forbade graven images the Romans issued coins for Judaea which did not have the head of the Emperor embossed on them. Further, the Jews were exempt from military service. They were allowed to keep their Council of Ancients (Sanhedrim). Roman soldiers were forbidden to carry their standards into the city of Jerusalem. Romans were forbidden to enter the Temple. The wealthier Jews were friendly towards Roman rule, bringing peace and stability, but a party known as the Zealots in particular thought it sacrilege to obey a foreign unbeliever and pay him taxes. In 66 AD the revolt became general. The Zealots drove the rich citizens from Jerusalem seized the Temple and king's palace and finally massacred the Roman soldiers and leaders of the Roman party. The governor of Syria came with an army but was defeated. Nero sent Vespasian with an army of about 50,000. He began a deliberate campaign, but returned with his army to Rome when proclaimed emperor (69 AD). He sent his son Titus with 60,000 men (70 AD). Titus besieged Jerusalem for months. There was famine. The walls were finally breached. The city was taken house by house, the palace stormed, then the Temple. All the inhabitants were massacred or sold into slavery. He took the sacred objects from the Temple with 700 prisoners for his triumph in Rome and left the city in ruins.

Now we come to Hadrian. The Zealots were rebelling again. Hadrian ordered a colony of veterans to be established on the site of the ruined city of Jerusalem. This provoked general rebellion. It took the governor of Syria 3 years to put it down. He took the strongholds one by one, said to be 50 fortresses and 985 towns (132-135 AD). In the campaign about 580,000 Jews were said to have perished. Hadrian renamed the province Palestinian Syria and put 2 legions there. The country was left a virtual desert. The Jews were forbidden under penalty of death to come within the limits of Jerusalem except once a year to weep at the foot of the city wall. The repercussions of these events have, I suggest, echoed down through the ages to the present day.

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This came into existence during the phase of dominance in the Roman society. The Romans were tolerant of all religions including Christianity, but this particular religion presented them with some problems. First, the sect held secret meetings. This left Christians open to accusations of infanticide at such meetings, plotting against the state, and so on. Next, all the courts of law and appointments to office required swearing an oath by the gods. If they regarded the ancient Roman gods as impotent relics of the past it seems to me they should have had no problem obeying Roman law ("render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's..." Matthew.22.21) because the 'gods' they were swearing to were meaningless to them. But many Christians did not see it that way. They refused to swear such oaths. This put them in direct conflict with Roman government and in breach of law and custom. It's true that Nero had some Christians put to death after the disastrous fire (64 AD) in Rome which began in an oil storage area and over many days swept through a large part of the city, which had to be rebuilt. Nero was apparently out of town when it began but a scapegoat had to be found as some were accusing Nero. Systematic persecution of the Christians did not come until after the phase of dominance.

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The arts

During this phase of dominance we have, as we would expect, almost the entire collection of writers, historians, philosophers, men of religion and medicine who lived in the Roman society:

from Italy; Cicero, Horace, Juvenal, Livy, Ovid, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Tacitus, Virgil,

from Greece; Epictetus, Galen, Lucian, Ptolemy,

from Spain; Lucan, Martial, Quintilian, Seneca,

from Judaea came the gospels of the New Testament of the Christian Bible; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,

finally there came the famous Jewish historian, Josephus, Christian writer Tertullian, and convert to Christianity, Paul.

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During this phase of dominance, not content with chariot races and theatre with some gladiatorial combat as the main public spectacles, cruelty and bloodshed increased in shows at circuses. As early as 106 AD about 11000 wild animals were killed in circus events in one year. Later, naked prisoners of both sexes were tied to posts and predatory wild animals released to tear them apart and eat them. Some gladiatorial combats came to be more like small wars to the death. The frequency of crimes of violence increased in the city. The number of prostitutes in Rome increased to 32,000 or more. Homosexuality became common and even fashionable. We don't presume to pass moral judgements on these life styles, all we need to do is to notice that when they are prevalent or popular the society is entering the phase of decline and decay. Rome was now starting its slow decline towards its end.

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The phase of dominance for Venice was roughly the same length of time as for Rome. I suggest this was from 1381 AD to 1574 AD, these being the usual markers for convenience and not meant to be exact dates for transitions. Just as Rome lost 3 legions to the Germanic people, so did Venice suffer defeat by the League of Cambrai. But as we saw (Chapter 4) Venice soon got most of its lost territory back, the chief effect was in suffering financial cost. The quotation we gave from the Doge's speech (Chapter 3) sums up the dominance role of Venice. During this phase of dominance for Venice, as for Rome, the arts flourished (Chapter 4). As late as 1571 came success in the battle of Lepanto. In 1574 Venice could still build a complete galley in a few hours, but as with Rome the seeds of decline and decay were already present. Venice received little or no help in defending its own and eastern Mediterranean interests against the Turks. But it provided central Europe with some protection from what would otherwise have been a full onslaught by the expanding Turkish nation.

It is natural for a society at a certain phase in its development to expand, just as a tree has to grow somewhere and the forces of nature are so strong that a blade of grass can push its way up through asphalt. Problems arise because other entities already occupy the space where the expanding society needs to grow, and that causes competition, conflict, and the supremacy of the fittest.

This ends our discussion of the dominance phase of our two chosen societies. I suggest for Rome it was from about 44 BCE to 180 AD (224 years) and for Venice from about 1381 AD to 1574 AD (193 years).





The Rome society was a huge entity in its civilization. Its final phase took nearly 300 years. To attempt to present this fairly in just a few pages is quite a challenge. For easier reading it's been divided into separate sections in this order:

The Political Aspect

The Army

Finance, Economic Health, and Taxation


The Political section is the longest and contains some detail about an almost unending stream of civil wars, assassinations, murders, and rebellions. You may wish to skim through this and perhaps find the other sections of greater interest.


We left Rome at the death of Marcus Aurelius who was trying to keep the peripheral Germanic peoples from invading the Empire south of the Danube river. That was in 180 AD. Head of state succession always seemed to be a problem in the Roman society. The system of 'adopting' a 'son' who was not related but was very capable and then nominating him as a successor had worked well during the phase of dominance. But unfortunately Marcus Aurelius had a real son, Commodus. He seemed satisfactory at first as a young man under the guidance of his father's friends but soon became the worst tyrant since Nero (who had Christians covered with bitumen and used as human torches for an evening garden party at the palace). Commodus called himself Hercules and posed with a lion's skin and club. He had all his father's friends and many of the Senators executed, paid no attention to his duties, and squandered the treasury. Grain distribution was halted. He gathered the infirm and crippled, disguised them as monsters with serpents for tails, armed them with sponges that looked like stones and then killed them for sport with arrows. After 12 years of misrule a mob demanded his death. He was strangled by order of his wife and his officers.

The Senate replaced him with Pertinax, an old soldier, son of a freedman of ability who began as a charcoal burner, acquired wealth and a proconsulate. Pertinax stopped persecutions for treason, and recalled exiles. But after 87 days 300 praetorian guards marched on the palace and killed him (AD 193).

It was a custom for emperors to make donatives (donations) to soldiers on special occasions, such as being appointed Emperor, marrying, birth of a child, a victory in war. This was now abused -- the praetorians had 2 candidates bidding up the price of the donatives to become Emperor. The praetorians chose the higher bidder. But this didn't satisfy the 3 great armies of Syria, Britain and the Danube. Each proclaimed its own choice of Emperor. Severus of the Danube had the largest army (10 legions), was closest to Rome, and first to arrive there with an army. The praetorians didn't dare oppose him. The successful praetorian candidate-emperor was killed by order of the Senate. Severus as Emperor (194 AD) was a hard worker, left the senate little power, increased the pay of the soldiers, allowed their wives into camp. He defeated and killed the other two army candidates. Severus led an expedition against the Parthians in the east, took their capital and conquered Mesopotamia. Then he went with his two sons to Britain for a war with the Scots. He died there (211 AD).

The sons of Severus were made joint emperors, but Caracella, one of his sons, killed his brother, many more Senators, and his brother's friends. He issued an edict making all inhabitants of the Empire Roman citizens. This was no privilege. They now paid taxes as Roman citizens, and, it's said, as foreigners. Caracella was uncouth and lived like a common soldier. After a war against the Germanic people he went to Asia, stopping in Alexandria, a sophisticated city that laughed at him. He invited the leaders to eat with him, then had their throats cut and turned his soldiers loose to pillage the city and massacre at will. He attacked the Parthians and led his army beyond the Tigris. His praetorian prefect killed him (217 AD).

The Prefect led the army back to Syria and proclaimed himself Emperor. Caracella's mother came from a wealthy Syrian family. They promised much gold to the soldiers and a 16 year old boy candidate. The prefect was killed (218 AD).

The boy was obliged to adopt his cousin Alexander as his successor. Then he tried to kill Alexander. Soldiers stopped him and told him to end his riotous behaviour. Finally they killed him, and proclaimed his cousin emperor (222 AD). But Alexander could not control the soldiers. There was civil unrest in Rome, the Parthians were attacking in the east, the Germanic peoples in the west. (235 AD). This was a period of military anarchy. Various armies were each trying to make their general the emperor. The emperors spent their time and energy opposing their rivals. Each successful candidate was either assassinated or executed. Maximium, a huge man, once a Thracian shepherd, now a general, marched on Italy with the army of the Danube. They left a trail of pillage and massacre, all within the Roman Empire. He was killed by his soldiers. The Senate elected two others, the praetorians added a child, Gorelian, as emperor. The praetorians killed both the choices of the Senate. The child's stepfather governed for him (238-244AD) The Syrian army fighting the Parthians proclaimed as emperor an Arab, formerly a brigand chief, Philip. The Danube army revolted and proclaimed Dacius, then marched on Italy. Philip was defeated and killed. Dacius was killed 2 years later in a battle on the frontier in Thrace (251AD)

The son of Dacius, a child, was made joint emperor with Gallus, a general. Gallus had the child killed, but was killed by his soldiers. Valerian an elderly senator, governed from 251 - 264 AD but was captured by the Parthians. He died in captivity. It's said Sapor, the Parthian king, always used him as a foot rest to mount his horse.

New emperors were proclaimed by all the armies. Counting their sons, there were 30 in all, this was later called the period of the 30 tyrants. As soon as the frontier armies left their posts and began fighting among themselves, the frontier peoples began to invade the empire, now from 3 sides. The Parthians under King Sapor took Mesopotamia, and pillaged the proud and wealthy city of Antioch. The Franks ravaged their way through Gaul as far as Spain. The Alemanni even invaded Italy from the north. A new Germanic people appeared, the Goths. They settled on the coast of the Black Sea, near the mouth of the Danube. Then they crossed into Moesia and Thrace which they ravaged. The Empire lost all its possessions north of the Danube. The Goths fitted out ships with crews of Roman prisoners, then ravaged Greece.

Various Illyrian Emperors came and went. Then came Diocletian, in 284 AD, the son of a slave mother. Diocletian was helped by his colleague Maximian, who he made co-emperor (286). Between them they restored order. The peasants of Gaul had rebelled against the tax collectors and formed an army. Maximian exterminated them and repelled the Alemanii. Diocletian conquered the Parthians and took back Mesopotamia. Diocletian established himself in the east. Maximian went not to Rome but to Milan in the west for his seat of government. Diocletian reduced the size of the provinces; 57 now became 96. The governors no longer had armies to command. He and Maximian were called Emperors, 'Augustus'. Diocletian arranged for each to have an assistant called Caesar, to be an eventual successor. The four ruled the Empire. They were all Illyrians, not Romans. After 20 years Diocletian abdicated in favour of his choice of Caesar and made Maximian do the same. The new emperors, each now Augustus, appointed their own successors as Caesars. But this system only worked while Diocletian was in effect the prime Emperor.

When one of the Emperors (Galerius) ordered a new property valuation the Romans rebelled and killed the prefect of the city. Maximian came out of retirement to become Emperor in 306 AD. Now came a war between the Emperors. There were 5 civil wars in 16 years. Severus entered Italy, was abandoned by his army and killed. There were now 7 emperors reigning at the same time:

Galerius and his appointment Lucinius (Illyrian, son of a peasant), Constantine, Maximinus, Alexander, Maxentius and Maximian (307AD). Maximian was forced to abdicate (again) and soon died. Maxentius defeated Alexander, later was defeated by Constantine and drowned. Galerius died. Maximinus was defeated by Lucinius and killed himself. His family was massacred. Then Constantine defeated Lucinius (314) and took his European Provinces. Lucinius was defeated again in 323, surrendered and was put to death in 324.

Constantine was now the only Emperor left. He is said to have been the eldest son of Constantius by a barmaid, and born at Nis in what is now Serbia. He established Constantinople in the east as his new capital. He was the only ruler for 13 years. He had his son Crispus and his friends put to death for an alleged conspiracy against him. He also executed the son of his sister. Constantine, like Diocletian, ruled not from Rome but in the east as an oriental despot. Ministries of state ran the empire. Each minister had a separate branch of the imperial services and carried out the emperor's orders.

In 337 Constantine's 3 sons succeeded him as joint emperors. The soldiers massacred the rest of his family. Constantine II was killed after defeating his brother Constans. Constans was killed by Magnentius. Constantius defeated Magnentius and was now sole emperor.

In 360 Julian was proclaimed emperor in Paris, in Gaul. He had defeated the Alemanni before becoming emperor. He died of injuries after defeating the Parthians. He was emperor for less than 2 years but was a brilliant man, said to be able to listen, converse and dictate with 3 different people at the same time on 3 different subjects without error. He was the last Emperor capable of running the Empire single-handed.

Valentinian, his successor, divided the empire with his brother Valens. He pushed the Germanic people back out of the imperial provinces. But the Goths who themselves had been pushed westwards had taken refuge within the empire and began a war against Valens, who was defeated and killed at Adrianople (378). The Goths invaded the empire. This was the beginning of the end for Rome.

Theodosius, now emperor, subdued the Gauls in the west. Gratian was assassinated and Maximian proclaimed Emperor (383). Theodosius defeated and killed Maximian. In 392 Arbogastes killed Valentinian II and proclaimed Eugenius emperor. In 395 Theodosius divided the empire between his two sons Honorius and Arcadius. He died in 402, 8 years before the sack of Rome..

Alaric, King of the Goths, invaded Italy. The Vandals, Suevi and Burgundians invaded Gaul. In 404 came the last Roman triumph. Stilicho, a Germanic and a general, with Honorius the weak young emperor, rode through Rome to celebrate the general's victory in driving Alaric from Greece. In 406 Stilicho defeated the Germanics pouring Into Italy from the north. Most of the Roman army was now Germanic. In 407 Stilicho recalled the last of the Roman Legions from Britain for war against the Goths. As a result, the Scots broke into Caledonia. The Romans in Britain wrote "To Actius the consul at Rome: the groans of the British. The barbarians drive us to the sea, the sea drives us back to the barbarians, between them we are either slain or drowned." In 408 the irresponsible young emperor Honorius had Stilicho killed. He was foolishly afraid of Stilicho's ability and power. In the same year Alaric invaded Italy.

Alaric, King of the Goths, stood with his hostile army of Goths before the gates of Rome in 410 AD. This had not happened to Rome in the 600 years since Hannibal faced Rome with his Carthaginian army. Then, Rome was in its ascendancy phase. There were three armies drawn up between Hannibal and the city. The fortifications were in good order. Every able bodied man in Rome had received military training. The citizens were proud of their city and would fight without question to protect it. Other armies could be raised and might soon appear. Hannibal was a military genius, but he decided not to attack Rome. He was far from home, rapid reinforcements would be hard to come by for him but not for the Romans. Instead he roamed through Italy for 16 years. The Romans harassed his forces but never risked a pitched battle. Then he left, and Rome was unconquered.

Now, 600 years later, there were no competent armies facing Alaric. The city was full of soft and wealthy people, an unemployed and unemployable mob living on government handouts, and slaves. No reinforcements were quickly available. Alaric had been an officer in the Roman Army. He now wanted to be commander in chief of Roman armed forces. He could fight with them, or against them. It was their choice. The Goths, his Germanic people, had never been really conquered by the Romans. They had through centuries of contact become partly Romanized. They provided the best soldiers to the Roman armies. They were fierce, larger men, and independent in spirit. They were being slowly driven westward by the Huns coming from the east. These were massive movements of whole peoples. Rome had exhausted its military strength by constant warfare and conquest. It was no longer able to defend itself against forces of this magnitude.

The slaves in Rome at night secretly opened one of the city gates. The Goths poured in. They torched the nearby houses to show the way for the rest of their forces, then they pillaged the city for 6 days. Because they were mostly Christians as was Alaric, on his orders they left the churches unharmed and did not massacre or enslave the population, although the slaves took some revenge on their former masters. The Goths just stripped Rome of its wealth and then poured like an incoming tide over the rest of Italy.

Rome was then 1173 years old. It had ceased to be the centre of the empire for some time. Only on 3 occasions in the last 100 years had emperors even visited Rome, and then only briefly. Western emperors lived at Milan or Ravenna; Constantine built his own capital in the east -- Constantinople -- and shifted half the Senate there. For several hundred years there had been military despotism and the Emperor with his ministers ran the state. The Senate at Rome had degenerated into a mixture of country club and municipal council.

It wasn't just the sacking of Rome in 410 AD that ended the Empire. The Visigoths settled in Gaul and Spain. The Vandals crossed to Africa. The Anglo-Saxons invaded Britain. The Huns invaded Italy. Province after province fell to invaders. Then in 455 AD Rome was sacked again, this time by the Vandals. After various nominal emperors came and went, Orestes made his young son Romulus Augustus emperor, the last emperor of the Roman empire. But Odoacer, a local chieftain, killed Orestes and deposed the child emperor, in 476 AD. The Senate of Rome wrote to Constantinople saying the seat of the universal empire should be transferred from Rome to Constantinople and they renounced the right to chose their own ruler. They requested that Odoacer be given the title of Patrician for the administration of the diocese of Italy.

After more than 2 centuries of widespread political corruption, internal wars, mostly inept government and oppression of the population, Rome, the once proud city and head of the former mighty Roman Empire, had ceased to exist as a political power.

The political aspect of a society is like a framework or skeleton; it should hold the society together and guide it. The military should defend it from predatory attacks of other rapacious societies. So now let's see what happened to the military of Rome during those last eventful years.


Even in its most successful phase of dominance the Roman army was never really able to conquer the Germanic peoples to the north. But late in the life of Roman society the Germanics as a people were being pushed from the north and east by migrating peoples as fierce or fiercer than they were. The Goths asked for a province within the Empire, and food and subsidy to help their relocation. The long delays, changes of mind, perfidy of Roman ministers and weakness of rulers finally caused the Goths to come and take what they needed by force.

The Roman army in its greatness had always consisted of sturdy citizens well trained in martial arts. Later as the supply dwindled they were replaced by Romanized provincials from Gaul, Spain, Africa, Illyria, and elsewhere. Even these troops began to dwindle in the last phase of degeneration and decay to the death. The imperial armies probably spent almost as much time fighting one another as they did protecting the borders. There were not now enough forces to do both at once.

One solution was to cut the size of a legion from 6000 men to 1500. Auxiliaries were also decreased in size. Towards the end, an army of three of these legions plus auxiliaries sent north to defend Italy was about 5,000 men, less than a former single legion.

From the time of Commodus to Constantine nearly 100 governors "raised the standard of revolt." To prevent governors from controlling the armies in their provinces and proclaiming themselves emperors, the command was divided. Governors were now civilian officers with civilian staff and the army was a separate command. Unfortunately for Rome this meant slower response time in the event of an attack across the border. The Governor controlled the supplies. Logistically the troops might have negotiations and delays in getting supplies in the right quantities to the right place at the right time. It was Napoleon who said "an army marches on its stomach."

Towards the end, when Julian was in the east, about to fight the King of Kings, Sapor of the Parthians, his men complained they were going to have to fight after receiving a mere 150 pieces of silver as a donation. It was always customary for a Roman commander in chief to give an oration to his assembled troops to stir their courage and intensity before the battle. Here's what Julian is reported to have said, "Believe me, the Roman Republic which formerly possessed such immense treasures is now reduced to want and wretchedness, our princes and ministers have been purchasing with gold the tranquility of the barbarians. The revenue is exhausted, the cities are ruined, the provinces are dispeopled. The only inheritance I have received from my royal ancestors is a soul incapable of fear...."

The border troops only received about 2/3 of the pay of those close to the imperial government. But the border troops carried the load of defence of the empire. In disaffection they began to side with the "barbarians", share their spoils -- at least look the other way when incursions into imperial territory occurred. The continued and gradual increases in pay helped exhaust the Roman treasury. It became difficult to get youths to take on the hardships and dangers of military service. Slaves were allowed into the ranks and veterans granted leave on condition their sons joined the army. Then came levies on provincials. They had to take up arms or find a substitute or pay a heavy fine; this was reduced to 42 pieces of gold. Some youths in Italy and the provinces cut off fingers from their right hands to avoid military service. This practice is connected with our word 'mutilate'.

The legions had relaxed discipline and being out of condition found the body armour and helmets too heavy to wear. They asked and got permission to leave them off. They didn't like the short sword and spear of their ancestors. But you can't hold a shield when you're using a bow. The emperors could not get the legions to go back to wearing armour. Meanwhile the cavalry of the Goths, Huns and Alemanni had begun to use defensive armour. They were excellent archers and could overwhelm the legions who now had little protection.

With the finest Roman stock long since killed in conquests or civil wars, and brave but less disciplined and poorly trained foreigners fighting Rome's wars, the degenerate society was now less than capable of defending itself.

But there's more to a society than this. It has a financial and economic aspect. Let's see how this ran its course in the final phase of Rome.


Some historians have told us high taxation ruined and destroyed the Roman Empire. Even from this brief survey of some major circumstances in the nearly 300 years of the Roman society's decadence into death, we can see there's more to it than that. But the broad financial outline is clear -- first Rome sacked and pillaged the wealthy cities and societies surrounding it. Then it squandered the proceeds in luxury living and buying off less "civilized" peoples who attacked it. As the money and wealth supplies dwindled, taxes went up, and the coinage was debased until 98% of the coinage was base metal. Finally, money became scarce and little used; the citizens were now bartering goods and services directly and probably escaping some taxation in the process -- an underground economy had grown. Because of the shortage of coinage in circulation, commerce was stifled. Salaries began to be paid in food and clothing, taxes were collected in produce.

The Catholic church was becoming a large and wealthy institution. It was receiving funds from the state and from private individuals, building up a treasury within the state. By the time Attila the Hun descended on Rome it was not an emperor but the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church that arranged the payment of gold to buy him off. This gradual creation of a wealthy state within a state was siphoning off financial resources that formerly were available to the empire for its own use. A church does not produce goods and tangible services.

Many of the emperors in this last phase of the Roman Society taxed their citizens mercilessly. Taxation of citizens became so extreme that Lactantius said there were more people collecting taxes than there were paying them. Laws were passed binding the peasants "to the soil" and compelling a town man to follow the occupation of his father. Deprived of their freedom, people sank into wretchedness and despair. This helped the spread of Christianity and oriental religions of passivity, other worldliness; man could give up the hopeless struggle in this world and hope for reward in a life after death.

The unjust taxation, especially of the merchant and middle class, discouraged the development of new economic ventures. A substantial bureaucracy grew up in finance and administration headed by the master of the offices. Beginning with 200 - 300 messengers to carry edicts and official news to the provinces, these messengers gradually came to report back on what they saw, and became the spies of the emperor and scourge of the people. Their numbers grew to over 10,000. Then they either solicited bribes or reported citizens as treasonable. The wealthy risked incrimination, torture, loss of property and death.

Each year an 'indiction' written in purple ink in the hand of the emperor went out to the provinces within two months of Sept. 1 prescribing the tribute based on budget requirements. If revenue was down or expenses higher an additional 'superindiction' was imposed. As well, there was tribute in kind for the land. A census every 15 years revalued the properties for tax purposes. On the evidence of an actual survey an exception was granted for 330,000 acres of prime land in Italy, now deserted and uncultivated. This was before the attacks of the predatory border peoples, so presumably over- taxation and civil wars had ruined it.

The assessment was levied on a province divided by the number of heads (a capitation or poll tax). Constantine levied 25 pieces of gold for the annual tribute of every head in Gaul, one of the richest provinces. This conduct of affairs exhausted it. His successor reduced the levy to 7 pieces of gold. Several indigent citizens had to group together to form a "head". A wealthy provincial in proportion to his fortune had to contribute a number of "heads". Apparently the Roman levies on Gaul were about 4 times those on pre-revolutionary France in the 1700s AD in the same geographic area.

As losses of provinces occurred the revenue and strength of the Empire diminished. When Sapor took 5 wealthy provinces in the east with 3 fortress cities, this was a severe shock to the finances and spirit of the Roman Empire. One ancient writer said the prisoners, scribes and fugitives formed the greatest part of the inhabitants.

The assessment procedure for taxation devolved down to the municipalities where the councillors were personally responsible for making up any deficit. Property owners had to be councillors. This caused such a tax burden that property owners avoided public office at all costs, even abandoning their lands and going to other cities to find employment. If caught they were brought back and forced to suffer the tax consequences.

The denarii were small value Roman coins. In

302 AD there were 50,000 denarii to a pound of gold

334 AD there were 300,000 denarii to a pound of gold

337 AD. . . . . . . . . 20,000,000 denarii to a pound of gold

357 AD. . . . . . . . 330,000,000 denarii to a pound of gold.

This statistic alone shows us the extent of inflation in 60 years or so and the financial and monetary instability suffered by Roman citizens shortly before the death of the Rome society.

A society also has beliefs, laws and a justice system, social conditions and health, and finally it is subjected to natural events; plagues, famines, droughts, earthquakes, floods, and so on. Let's look at the beliefs of Rome in its last phase. I suggest we should then have given ourselves a sufficient perspective to see how Rome declined to its death without considering any further aspects of its demise.


Apparently humans are prepared to die in large numbers for their beliefs. A general discussion of the impact of beliefs on the lives of societies will come later, but for now we will just look at the Roman Society and its beliefs. Worship of the Immortals with idols and sacrifices had been the established religion of many societies in the Mediterranean civilization for thousands of years. It was the fate of Roman Society to experience the onset of Christianity. It began its phase of decline and death with the state religion of the Immortals. Before its death this had been banned and Christianity, or rather Catholicism, had become the mandatory state religion. The transition was turbulent. As Jesus is quoted in Matthew 10:34-5 of the New Testament of the Bible (King James Version):

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I have not come to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father and the daughter against her mother....",

Faith in the religion of the Immortal gods was declining by the time of Plato in ancient Greece. Gradually Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, Stoicism, each in turn moved more towards a personal conception of "god". Then in the declining phase of Rome Neo-Platonism was popular. This had degenerated into little more than fake mysticism and magic. The strength of belief in the old Immortal religion had gone completely, only the practice and form of it remained .

Into this vacuum the arrival of the ideas of Jesus of Nazareth was electrifying. We can best understand this by seeing the modern belief engendered by Karl Marx and his Communist Manifesto in 1848 which ended: "Working men of the world, unite". Within 150 years this doctrine had caused many revolutions and took hold as a government in Russia and China, two of the largest nations on this planet.

No record has been found in Roman history to substantiate the biblical tale of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. His birth is thought by some modern scholars to have been about 4 BCE, to fit more closely with a known Roman census, than the choice of 1 AD by the Catholic church.

Believers in the old established Immortals religion thought the Christians were atheists. Although the Christians were a troublesome sect, the Romans tried to avoid persecuting them. Diocletian had 4 eunuchs as assistants. They were all Christians. But Galerius was a strong believer in the old religion and was involved in the destruction of churches and 'martyrdom' of Christians. Just before he retired Diocletian did issue edicts against Christians but Constantine, who followed him, favoured them and ameliorated the edicts.

In 321 AD (AD being Anno Domini, Latin for 'the year of our Lord') by the Edict of Milan Constantine ordered the churches as places of worship to be restored without dispute or delay, if any purchaser paid a fair price to be indemnified from the imperial treasury. There was tolerance of all religions including Christianity. But Lucinius in the east went back on this and dismissed Christians from his service. By the mid 350s AD the Catholic church had 1800 bishops. These were now to be tried by their peers and ecclesiastical law came into being. The ancient privilege of sanctuary was transferred to Christian churches.

In AD 325 the Emperor convened at Nice in Bithynia an assembly to decide the dispute over the Trinity. 318 bishops attended and 2048 of other ranks and sects. Constantine, the Emperor, frequently attended. He gave the clergy security, wealth, and power. Support of the orthodox faith was now considered the most sacred duty of the civil magistrate. The Edict of Milan which confirmed to each individual the privilege of choosing his own religion soon degenerated into disagreements with the 'orthodox' meaning 'against the emperor's commands' and so heresy and punishable-- the property of heretics was confiscated for the emperor and the church. Before Constantine condemned the Manichaeans (as a heresy) he commissioned a civil magistrate to make an accurate enquiry into the nature of their religious principles. As a result he exempted the Novations from penalties of the law.

There was a Donatist faction. They claimed apostolic succession was interrupted in Europe and Asia, but not by them in Africa. Other schisms were Arianism, the Gnostics and the Ebronites. The early theologian Athanasius said of the Trinity the more he thought about it, the less he comprehended it. He is not alone, it was a compromise solution. It doesn't make sense to philosophers or logicians.

The Christians inflicted more martyrdom on themselves than they suffered from the Romans. 5 times Athanasius was expelled from his throne as archbishop of Alexandria, primate of Egypt. The Synod of Tyre with Arians strong in the east, condemned him. 2 bishops contended for the 'episcopal throne', one, Paul, a Nicene creed follower, was driven from the throne several times, finally strangled by order of Philip, a principal minister of the emperor Constantius who appointed Macedonius (an Arian) In Paul's place. The people disputed this, took up arms and the consecrated ground was their field of battle. The well before the church overflowed with blood. Macedonius was determined to stamp out those not Arians. He sent 4000 regular troops to Phamphlagoria. The locals with scythes and axes left almost the entire 4000 dead, although many locals died also. While "the flames of the Arian Controversy consumed the vitals of the Empire" the Christian Donatists rebelled in Africa. "The kingdom of heaven through the enmity of Christians for one another turned into chaos or hell itself".

The sons of Constantine shut down the non-Christian temples "It is our pleasure that in all places in all cities the temples be immediately shut". Apparently this was not well enforced as the temples continued in existence. The divisions among the Christians helped delay the ruin of the Immortals religion.

The emperor Julian was brought up as a Christian but in the midst of the (eastern) Arian controversy, Christian dogma and infighting didn't impress him. He reformed the ancient religion. Platonists in his time had moved the old religion from belief in physical Immortals to belief that they existed in the heavens and the soul of man could disengage from its material bonds and reunite with the infinite divine spirit.

An edict of Julian gave free and equal religious toleration for all citizens whatever their faith, but Christians were not to stigmatize their fellow subjects as idolators and heretics. The old religion was to open all its temples. The bishops and clergy banished by the Arians were now restored. Julian gave orders before his death to restore the temple of Jerusalem. He transferred back to the older religion allowances from public revenue granted by Constantine or his sons to Christians who were now required to make full restitution for temples they destroyed in the previous reign.

George of Cappodocia "born in a fullers shop" made a fortune selling bacon to the army. He rose to be archbishop of Egypt. He impoverished the people with his pomp, and monopoly of nitre, salt, pepper, funerals, and other items. When Julian became emperor George and his master of the mint were dragged in chains to prison and after 24 days the people , impatient of legal justice, broke in and killed them.

Because of constant disorders between Christians themselves and others in the Odessa area, Julian confiscated the whole property of the church there, distributed the money to the soldiers, and the land to the domain of the government. "They will advance with more diligence in the paths of virtue and salvation when they are relieved by my assistance from the load of temporal possessions"....

Two bishops fought over the episcopal seat of Rome. 137 dead bodies were found in the Basilica of the loser. The successful candidate could be sure of enrichment by the offerings of the wealthy matrons of Rome.

Theodosius was the first emperor baptized in the "true faith of the Trinity" AD 380. In 15 years Theodosius promulgated at least 15 edicts against heretics, including a fine of 10 lbs. of gold on any one who should promote an heretical ordination. The Arian belief was that the Son was inferior to the Father. My own reading of only the words of the New Testament attributed directly to Jesus indicates that his position was that he was 'the son of man', was a messenger and had the task of delivering the message first to Jews, then to Gentiles. This type of statement is repeated a number of times. Only once is he reported to have said he was the Son of God and since this is inconsistent with the other statements I suspect it is a copyist's addition to enhance the image. Such 'inflations' were not unknown among hand copyists in the centuries before printing presses. However, the Council of Constantinople in 381 established the Trinity with 3 equal deities, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost or Spirit. Typical of the perversity of humans, the 'Son of man' who came with a message from 'God the Father' had his message largely ignored and was now himself worshipped as a God.

At age 34, before he was baptized, Ambrose, a consular whose jurisdiction included Milan and the Imperial residence, was transferred from governor to archbishop. Gratian, the then western emperor loved and revered him. In a small town near the Persian border a bishop and his adherents burned a Jewish synagogue. The local magistrate ordered them to rebuild it or repay the damage. The eastern emperor, Theodorus, confirmed this. Ambrose was against it, as a persecution of the Christian religion. He caused Theodorus to cancel the restitution order.

Theodosius gave orders to prohibit the use of sacrifices, shut the temples and confiscate the consecrated property for the benefit of the emperors, the church and the army. Christian zealots led by bishops in east and west tore down the temples, some with difficulty. The archbishop of Alexandria, Theophilus, caused the destruction of pagan temples there and apparently also the library of Alexandria. Theodosius then passed a law that worshipping an idol by sacrifice of guiltless victims and divination was a crime of high treason against the state. But the believers in the old religion weren't persecuted, many were still in public service.

By now the worship of "saints" and "relics" had begun to corrupt the simplicity and purity of the original message of Jesus. An ecclesiastical hierarchy had already entrenched itself. I suggest organized religion had become a product of the intellect, was materialistic and used belief as an instrument of power.

At the fall of Rome Gothic Christians were fighting Gothic Christians and despoiling Roman Christians which seems to have little to do with the original message of the Sermon on the Mount or even the Old Testament 10 commandments.

So now we have seen evidence for the decay of Rome's political system, its army, its economic and financial strength and even its beliefs. The death of Rome and its Empire was a natural consequence.


We discussed the decline and death of Venice in chapter 4. It seems unnecessary to repeat the unfolding of events that led to its demise.

The decline and death of the two societies occurred as:

Rome: . . 180 - 476 = 296 years

Venice: 1574 - 1787 = 223 years.

We can see that the sack of Rome in 410 gives a 7 year difference from Venice. The additional 66 years before final expiry of Rome occurred because it was a huge society in what I have called the Mediterranean civilization and did not succumb immediately as did Venice.

I suggest to you that the similarities between the final phase of these two very different societies, Rome and Venice, are so close as to justify my view that what we have here is the life history of two living social organisms. If we agree on this, now we're ready to see where this conclusion leads us.


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