[lit-ideas] Re: Historical Explanation According To Parmele

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 1 May 2014 06:49:49 -0700

JL, 

You wrote, 

" Parmele and "the fall of Rome" is not a subject line I would use. I can 
hardly see Rome fallen. The verb is being used 'figuratively', and wrongly 
figuratively at that!"

Except it has been often written, probably  before Gibbon, that empires "rise 
and fall"; so in that sense Rome did eventually fall.  Even if the city 
remained and Odoacer was king of Rome, the Roman Empire had fallen.

Of course one could argue that bits of Roman power existed in Constantinople, 
Trieste and elsewhere, but if they are considered to comprise Roman empirical 
continuity then the definition of "empire" is being strained.

On the other hand, the straining of that term seems a modern enterprise: many 
writers attempt to fit the U.S. into the Roman or British mold.  I think of 
Niall Ferguson arguing that the U.S. is an empire, just not a very good one 
since it doesn't do any of the things that earlier empires did -- but, not to 
worry.  The world has changed; so empires need to do things differently 
nowadays. 

Lawrence


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