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Your Opinion: Downfall of Rome not so simple

Your Opinion: Downfall of Rome not so simple

March 12th, 2019 in Opinion

Robert Haslag

Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

I now finish my response to Mr. Johnson's simplistic explanation that immigration destroyed Rome's Empire. Although the Hunnic invasion is easily determined as cause of the Roman Empire's demise, the fact is that its death was long and was a function of greed, ambition, over-reaching and simple inadequacies of too many Caesars.

Though this submission may seem didactic, I hope that readers would grasp that books are immensely superior to depending upon network or cable news or the internet as the sole source of one's perception of how we came to this place in America's history.

The simple truth is that by the end of Augustus Caesar's reign in 14 A.D. succeeding Caesars were men who came to the throne largely by connivance, Praetorian Guard support or by being the last man standing in a struggle for Imperial power. Indeed, the first 14 years of Augustus' "reign" was defined by power-sharing with Marc Anthony and was focused upon punishing those involved in Julius Caesar's assassination. Anthony's and Cleopatra's deaths after the Battle of Actium in 30 B.C. left Augustus in sole possession of the Empire. Equally the last 10 years of Augustus' reign were those of an old man exceeding his personal ability to rule. The only thing keeping the Empire alive for the next 300 years was the administrative framework that Julius and primarily Augusts created. Until the reigns of Constantine and the aforementioned Justinian, whom I mentioned in my last submission, Emperors came and went with more or less regularity and frequency and even fewer instances of talent. There were exceptions such as Trajan but they were too few.

The true source of the Empire's demise was 300 years of Caesars lured by its power and incapable of meeting its responsibilities. Emperors designated heirs who sometimes inherited but rarely survived beyond being a footnote in history. They were victims of the magnetism of power and only its siren-song. They misinterpreted that power assuming it was so absolute that any deviance, cruelty or abuse was theirs. It was not. Simply, after Augustus the Empire began to die. What we must learn is that first absolute power by any one man will prove ephemeral. And that is why our system of three empowered branches is so precious. Immigration was only peripherally involved in the end of the Empire. Emperors killed it.