Most recent update:6/1/2004; 5:08:38 AM

 Thursday, May 06, 2004

... allergies ... apologies ... have to cut this a.m.'s update short ...
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CHATTER: Fall of the Roman Empire and Implications has a huge (massive) essay on the rise and fall of Rome (which will probably be much cribbed for undergraduate term papers) ... here are the conclusions of the piece:

First, the principles of the market are universal to complex economies that depend on trade and manufacturing. They did not arise from the genesis of a mystical entity called “capitalism.” Though masters of war and engineering, the Romans lacked a science of economics.

Second, societal suicide is not the only possible outcome of unfreedom. The Greek East, with its long-established commercial traditions, proved more resistant to state absolutism than the Latin West. The crippling of enterprise which opened the western empire to destruction opened instead the eastern empire to a long stagnation. Surrounded by tributary lands, the Byzantine Empire lasted for a thousand years. The Byzantines mastered the art of police, enabling a subject population to be held in check regardless of changes at the top. Defended by impregnable walls and the secret formula for “Greek fire,” a primitive napalm, Byzantium fell only with the development of a new technology, the cannon with which the Turks shattered its walls in 1453. But the eastern empire did not altogether perish. Its principles of government and diplomacy moved north to the kingdom established by the lords of the Rus Vikings. After the sack of Byzantium, their successor, Ivan III, married the niece of the last eastern emperor and proclaimed a “New Rome” in Moscow.

Finally, the quandary posed by Edward Gibbon can at last be answered. Any society subject to the same restrictions as the Roman Empire would speedily fall into economic stagnation and cultural decadence. Ancient civilization was destroyed by unrestrained statism, which flourished in the absence of a principle of individualism. Modern civilization will not fall, because it has discovered the intimately related principles of commercial vitality and individual freedom. Will not fall, that is, unless those who ignore the lesson of the ancient suicide of the West triumph, opening the way to the new barbarians. [the whole thing]

5:18:08 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

AWOTV: On TV Today

8.00 p.m. |HINT| The Great Empire: Rome: The Republic of Rome 
A sweeping chronicle of one of history's most dynamic empires. Part
1 features the city's fabled founding by Romulus and Remus; overthrow
of the Etruscan monarchy; and the republic's formation and ultimate
undoing with the rise of Imperial Rome. Host Joe Mantegna introduces
Rome's great faces--Pompey, Cicero, Caesar, Antony, and Cleopatra. 
9.00 p.m. |HINT|  The Great Empire: Rome: Age of Emperors 
After Caesar's murder, his great-nephew Augustus was victorious in
the civil wars that followed, becoming the first emperor. Host Joe
Mantegna explores this sensational, scandalous age when palace plots,
hostile takeovers, and imperial family intrigues were humdrum.
Features Augustus, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero, among others. 
10.00 p.m. |HINT| The Great Empire: Rome: Building an Empire 
Host Joe Mantegna visits the vast territories conquered by the
imperial army--by the 2nd century AD, the empire spanned three
continents. The over 4,000 Roman cities were cultural melting pots,
where diverse customs and beliefs blended. Features life in Pompeii,
the flamboyant Emperor Hadrian, and religious revolts in Judea.
11.00 p.m. |HINT| The Great Empire: Rome: The Enduring Legacy
The final episode reveals the birth of Christianity and how this
religion that the emperors initially tried to destroy ultimately
passed on the empire's legacy. Highlights include: the crucifixion of
Jesus; religious persecutions; rise of Constantine, the first emperor
to embrace Christianity; and Justinian, Rome's last emperor.

HINT = History International

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