Tyger! Tyger! burning bright, In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry? In what distant deeps or skies. Burnt the fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire? What the hand dare sieze the fire? And what shoulder, & what art. Could twist the sinews of thy heart? And when thy heart began to beat, What dread hand? & what dread feet? What the hammer? what the chain? In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp dare its deadly terrors clasp? When the stars threw down their spears, and watered heaven with their tears, did he smile his work to see? Did he who made the Lamb make thee? Tyger! Tyger! burning bright in the forests of the night, what immortal hand or eye dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE – A New History of Rome and the Barbarians. By Peter Heather.
ON THE BACK OF THE BOOK
The death of the Roman Empire is one of the perennial mysteries of world history. Now, in this groundbreaking book, Peter Heather proposes a stunning new solution – centuries of imperialism turned the neighbors Rome called barbarians into an enemy capable of dismantling an empire that had dominated their lives for so long. A leading author on the late Roman empire and on the barbarians, Heather relates the extraordinary story of how Europe’s barbarians, transformed by centuries of contact with Rome on every possible level, eventually pulled the Empire apart. He shows first how the Huns overturned the existing strategic balance of power on Rome’s European frontiers to force the Goths and others to seek refuge inside the empire. This prompted two generations of struggle, during which new barbarians coalitions, formed in response to Roman hostility, brought the Roman West to its knees. The Goths first destroyed a Roman army at the battle of Hadrianople in 378 and went on to sack Rome in 410. The Vandals spread devastation in Gaul and Spain before conquering North Africa, the breadbasket of the western empire, in 439. We then meet Attila the Hun, whose reign of terror swept from Constantinople to Paris, but whose death in 453 ironically precipitated a final desperate phase of Roman collapse, culminating in the Vandal’s defeat of the massive Byzantine Armada, the west’s last chance for survival. Peter Heather convincingly argues that the Roman Empire was not on the brink of social or moral collapse.What brought it to an end were the barbarians. FROM PETER HEATHER’S BOOK PAGES 443/444. IN PRESENTING my own take on the reasons for the collapse of the west Roman Empire, I find myself lined up against one of the oldest historical traditions of all – in English writing, certainly. Famously, Edward Gibbon emphasized internal factors: The decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. Gibbon’s analysis picked up from where the Greek writer Polybius left off. Polybius, like most ancient historians, saw individual moral virtue or vice as the main moving force behind historical causation. The Roman Republic rose to greatness
because of the self-discipline of its leaders, went his argument, and started to fall from grace when the excesses produced by success fed through to corrupt their descendants. Polybius was writing in the second century BC, long before the Empire reached its full extent, let alone started to shed territories. Picking up his general line of argument, Gibbon, addressing the subject of Christianity, saw it as contributing massively to the tale of woe. For him, the new religion sowed internal division within the Empire through its doctrinal disputes, encouraged social leaders to drop out of political participation by becoming monks, and, by advocating a ‘turn-the-other-cheek’ policy, helped undermine the Roman war machine. There may be something to be said for this way of thinking but there is one counter-argument that relegates it to no more than a footnote in the debate. Any account of the fall of the western Roman Empire in the fifth century must take full stock of the fact that the eastern Empire not only survived, but actually prospered in the sixth. All the evils identified in the western system applied equally, if not more, to the eastern. If anything,
the Roman east was more Christian, and more given to doctrinal argument. Also, it operated the same kind of governmental system over the same kind of economy. Yet the east survived, when the west fell. This alone makes it difficult to argue that there was something so inherently wrong with the late imperial system that it was bound to collapse under its own weight. And if you start looking for differences between east and west that might explain their different fates, accidents of geography are what come most immediately to mind. The richest provinces of the east, the band stretching from Asia Minor to Egypt, were well protected by Constantinople against invaders from the north and east, whereas the western Empire had most of the Rhine and Danube frontier line to protect, and we have seen what hazards that threw up. Both of these points were made by two earlier commentators, N. H. Baynes and A. H. M. Jones; but since Jones was writing -forty years ago – it has become more necessary, I would argue, in any account of the collapse of the Roman west, to shine the spotlight on the barbarian-immigrant issue. This is for two reasons. First, the only factor that Jones saw as playing any real role in the different fates of east and west was their relative prosperity. In his view, overtaxation crippled the late Roman economy. Peasants were not being left with a large enough share of their yearly produce to feed themselves and their families, so that both population and output saw steady, if unspectacular, decline. This, he believed, was especially true in the west. Jones’s view of the late Roman economy was entirely based, however, on written, above all legal, sources. As he
wrote, the French archaeologist George Tchalenko was publishing the account of his revolutionary trove of prosperous late Roman villages in the limestone hills behind Antioch (see pp. 112-13); and since Jones wrote, rural surveys, as we saw in Chapter 3, have completely recast our view of the late Roman economy. We know that in the fourth century, taxes were certainly not high enough to undermine peasant subsistence. In the west as well as the east, the late Empire was a period of agricultural boom, with no sign of an overall population decline. The east may still have been richer, of course, but there was no major internal economic crisis at play in the Roman world before the fifth century. Equally important, understanding that both moments of frontier crisis, 376-80 and 405-8, had the same non-Roman cause, and reconstructing the detailed narrative of subsequent imperial collapse from 405 to 476, underline the central role played by outside immigrants in the story of western collapse.
Oi malothi lotha dhole, the autumn’s leaves sway in the lap of young love. Piyalo thoruno kole, pubh haathe, taking the East into their hands, malothi lotha dhole the splendored leaves have conquered all. Mor hridoye laage dhola aaa, And my heart sways phireya apono bhola, remembering in oneself what was forgotten. Mor bhabona kothai dhara, where do these thoughts lead? Meghere mothon jai chole, as they disappear like clouds. Oi Malothi lotha dhole piyalo thoruno kole, the color splashed leaves of autumn sway in the lap of young love. Jaanine kothai jaabo, I don’t know where I will go, Ogo bondhu porobashi, can you advice me distant friend? Koun nibritho bathayone, from where will these travels begin? Shae tha nishithero jolo bhora konthe, wherever water laden paths part. Koun birohi nirubani, what bride is this that has no words? Thomare ki chaay bole, because it wants the beloved. Oi malothi latha dhole. The autumn’s leaves sway in the lap of young love.
From the Heliconian Muses let us begin to sing, who hold the great and holy mount of Helicon, and dance on soft feet about the deep-blue spring and the altar of the almighty son of Cronos, and, when they have washed their tender bodies in Permessus or in the Horse’s Spring or Olmeius, make their fair, lovely dances upon highest Helicon and move with vigorous feet. Thence they arise and go abroad by night, veiled in thick mist, and utter their song with lovely voice, praising Zeus the aegis- holder and queenly Hera of Argos who walks on golden sandals and the daughter of Zeus the aegis-holder bright-eyed Athene, and Phoebus Apollo, and Artemis who delights in arrows, and Poseidon the earth-holder who shakes the earth, and reverend Themis and quick-glancing Aphrodite, and Hebe with the crown of gold, and fair Dione, Leto, Iapetus, and Cronos the crafty counsellor, Eos and great Helius and bright Selene, Earth too, and great Oceanus, and dark Night, and the holy race of all the other deathless ones that are for ever. And one day they taught Hesiod glorious song while he was shepherding his lambs under holy Helicon, and this word first the goddesses said to me — the Muses of Olympus, daughters of Zeus who holds the aegis:
Μουσάων Ἑλικωνιάδων ἀρχώμεθ᾽ ἀείδειν,αἵ θ᾽ Ἑλικῶνος ἔχουσιν ὄρος μέγα τε ζάθεόν τε καί τε περὶ
κρήνην ἰοειδέα πόσσ᾽ ἁπαλοῖσιν ὀρχεῦνται καὶ βωμὸν ἐρισθενέος Κρονίωνος·καί τε λοεσσάμεναι τέρενα
χρόα Περμησσοῖο ἢ Ἵππου κρήνης ἢ Ὀλμειοῦ ζαθέοιο ἀκροτάτῳ Ἑλικῶνι χοροὺς ἐνεποιήσαντο καλούς,
ἱμερόεντας· ἐπερρώσαντο δὲ ποσσίν.Ἔνθεν ἀπορνύμεναι, κεκαλυμμέναι ἠέρι πολλῇ,ἐννύχιαι στεῖχον
περικαλλέα ὄσσαν ἱεῖσαι,ὑμνεῦσαι Δία τ᾽ αἰγίοχον καὶ πότνιαν Ἥρην Ἀργεΐην, χρυσέοισι πεδίλοις
ἐμβεβαυῖαν,κούρην τ᾽ αἰγιόχοιο Διὸς γλαυκῶπιν Ἀθήνην Φοῖβόν τ᾽ Ἀπόλλωνα καὶ Ἄρτεμιν ἰοχέαιραν ἠδὲ
Ποσειδάωνα γαιήοχον, ἐννοσίγαιον, καὶ Θέμιν αἰδοίην ἑλικοβλέφαρόν τ᾽ Ἀφροδίτην Ἥβην τε
ρυσοστέφανον καλήν τε Διώνην Λητώ τ᾽ Ἰαπετόν τε ἰδὲ Κρόνον ἀγκυλομήτην Λητώ τ᾽ Ἰαπετόν τε ἰδὲ
Κρόνον ἀγκυλομήτην Ἠῶ τ᾽ Ἠέλιόν τε μέγαν λαμπράν τε Σελήνην Γαῖάν τ᾽ Ὠκεανόν τε μέγαν καὶ Νύκτα
μέλαιναν ἄλλων τ᾽ ἀθανάτων ἱερὸν γένος αἰὲν ἐόντων. Αἵ νύ ποθ᾽ Ἡσίοδον καλὴν ἐδίδαξαν ἀοιδήν, ἄρνας
ποιμαίνονθ᾽ Ἑλικῶνος ὕπο ζαθέοιο. Τόνδε δέ με ρώτιστα θεαὶ πρὸς μῦθον ἔειπον, Μοῦσαι Ὀλυμπιάδες,
κοῦραι Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο.
“Shepherds of the wilderness, wretched things of shame, mere bellies, we know how to speak many false
things as though they were true; but we know, when we will, to utter true things.”
«Ποιμένες ἄγραυλοι, κάκ᾽ ἐλέγχεα, γαστέρες οἶον, ἴδμεν ψεύδεα πολλὰ λέγειν ἐτύμοισιν ὁμοῖα, ἴδμεν δ᾽,
εὖτ᾽ ἐθέλωμεν, ἀληθέα γηρύσασθαι.»Ὥς ἔφασαν κοῦραι μεγάλου Διὸς ἀρτιέπειαι· Ὥς ἔφασαν κοῦραι
μεγάλου Διὸς ἀρτιέπειαι· καί μοι σκῆπτρον ἔδον δάφνης ἐριθηλέος ὄζον