The Light of Rutupaie Going Out

Rutupaie, the modern Richborough Castle, in Kent, England – was once the site of a notable Roman military garrison graced by an enormous marble triumphal arch visible to ships arriving in the port, a tall lighthouse, and a thriving civilian town with an amphitheater. The lighthouse and the triumphal arch are long gone, but a large portion of the circuit of twenty-five-foot-high walls still remain visible above ground. This was the terminus of Watling Streat, a keystone in the network of carefully engineered roads which covered Britain like a net. It was most likely the site of the original Roman bridgehead in the time of the Emperor Claudius, which would in large part become the province of Britannia. Rutupaie became the major port of entry all throughout the four centuries that Roman power held sway over that far and misty isle, their ships and galleys guided into safe harbor after dark by the fire atop the lighthouse.

In one of the opening chapters of the novel The Lantern Bearers, a young Roman-British soldier makes his decision to remain in Britain when the legions are finally and officially withdrawn by order of the Emperor. Having deserted his unit as they are on the point of departure for the last time, he lights the great fire atop the lighthouse, as the galleys row away on the evening tide; a last defiant fire, as darkness descends. Peter Grant, who blogs at Bayou Renaissance Man noted this week that Rosemary Sutcliff’s series of novels about the Romans in Britain and the long, slow, painful dying of Roman civilization there were being republished at a reasonable price in eBook. This reminded me again of my very favorite historical author; The finest and most evocative historical novel ever in English is either the Rider of the White Horse or her retelling of the Arthurian epic, Sword at Sunset. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s version, The Mists of Avalon, is overwrought trash in comparison.

The haunting element of Rosemary Sutcliff’s series, which beings with The Eagle of the Ninth and ends with The Shield Ring, is the slow dying of a civilization, and how ofttimes those people in it look around, and know without a doubt that things are not as they once were and might never be again, for all that they might do. They see the unmistakable evidence, know that their world is disintegrating bit by bit, even as the Roman-built cities, garrisons and farmsteads in Britain decay or were abandoned, in the wake of continuing invasions by the Saxon tribes from the mainland. These various characters are haunted by knowledge that the best they can do may not be enough to keep the light of Rutupaie on for another night. They fought gallantly and died bravely, holding off the barbarian hordes who came over the walls and swept the old Roman laws, culture and establishments, civil and actual into oblivion and all memory, save for the archeologist’s trowel and the writer’s art. The walls crumbled, the roads were grown over, the cities either vanished underneath the green turf, or were inhabited by people who built simple timber shacks among the colonnades and walls that they no longer could rebuild, repair, or replicate until centuries later.

It’s the notion of a dying civilization that haunts, especially in this year. One has the sense of standing on a crumbling wall, looking at the odds and knowing that even if you win for the day, tomorrow there will be another assault, and another after that. Many of us are now standing on that wall, or lighting the fire in that tower, resolving to resist the barbarian horde, but there is a single overwhelming difference. In the times that Rosemary Sutcliff wrote about, the enemies of the Pax Romana were barbarians from outside, intent on conquest, wanting land and riches for themselves, and to brutally quash anyone getting in their way. In our own time, the barbarian savages, hungry for power above all and motivated by the unquenchable thirst to destroy through famine, plague, economic destruction, and open warfare against all of those who stand in their way … are none but our own ruling elite. Comment as you wish.

77 thoughts on “The Light of Rutupaie Going Out”

  1. I have the same feeling. My wife this morning commented that elections were no solution as they could not be trusted. Pelosi arrives in Taiwan this morning. What does that mean ? We have de-industrialized to the point that most essential medicines are made in China and are subject to blockade. Our own CDC just let 20 million does of smallpox vaccine expire. The vaccine, which could prevent Monkeypox as well, was intended as a national defense store in case smallpox was used by an enemy in a biowarfare attack. Now, Monkeypox, a minor threat limited to gays, is not preventable unless the small supplies are increased. It should be noted that the crazies in the Biden regime are talking about giving the vaccine to children.

  2. I remember reading Jacques Barzun, From Dawn To Decadence 20 years ago, and thinking it was silly–what was he talking about, American/Western decadence? What a naive fool I was.
    I think we have a tendency to look for single dramatic events, a single light going out, before and after being profoundly different, but of course it’s a gradual process. We’re not going to go from Rome in 50AD to 300AD in a single generation, there’s a long ways yet to go…

  3. You should all maybe move to America.

    Oh wait? Are you all Americans? You sure do not sound like it.

    You are the people who are holding us back by living in the past rather than embracing the future. You see decline where others see opportunity. You are simply being pushed out of whatever minor perch you inhabit and are crying about it. Probably all living off Social Security and Medicare while bitching about government handouts. (And don’t get me wrong I am for those. I just hate your hypocrisy).

  4. “… the enemies of the Pax Romana were barbarians from outside, intent on conquest, … In our own time, the barbarian savages, … are none but our own ruling elite.”

    The story of the decline of Rome might be a little more nuanced than that. The fall of Rome had a lot to do with the shortsighted incompetence of the Roman ruling elite. They effectively drove the hardy Roman farmer (the source of military recruiting) off the land and replaced him with slave labor. The Roman ruling elite, then lacking the human resources for a powerful military, recruited and armed those “barbarian savages” and trained them in the Roman way of war to protect Rome. Was it really much of a surprise when those Romanized barbarians decided to use the power the Roman elite had given to them?

    There are archaeologists who suggest that the Dark Ages which followed the fall of Rome were actually quite a happy time for anyone except the old Roman elite (who lost everything). When the Gauls swept through an area, they seemed to sweep out the oppressive Roman tax collectors and the unpopular rulers.

    Perhaps we should be looking forward to our own Dark Ages after the DC Swamp slides back into the mud?

  5. Just to be pedantic, the Roman name of Richborough was Rutupiae, not Rutupaie. To be even more pedantic, it was best known in the age of Trajan for its excellent oysters. How they were shipped to Rome without spoiling is an interesting question: alive in big barrels of frequently-changed sea water, I think. The satirist Juvenal tells us the true connoisseur can tell the difference between a Rutupian oyster and one from Naples or a town half-way between Naples and Rome just by the flavor. They must have been equally fresh, if telling the difference was such a great accomplishment.

  6. Part of Rome “collapsed” (“Tis but a scratch restructuring!”), and the eastern part changed. The eastern part we gave a new name to, a name that’s a byword for excessive bureaucracy and deviousness.

  7. Toynbee was all over collapsing imperia, and noted that they generally succumbed to the combination of barbarians within AND without, not just the first. Again and again the children of elites turn away from the old ways as irrelevant, obtuse, or pernicious and go looking for truth and beauty elsewhere–among the foreign and the lower orders. At first it’s just a matter of style, but eventually the mentality changes also.

    Gibbon’s scheme was the same–barbarians within (i.e. Christians) sapped the will to resist the barbarians from without (also sometimes Christian by their own lights). As well, even in late Roman times the clear distinctions between freemen and slaves was being blurred into the mass of serfs.

    It’s an interesting fact that Britons and Americans in particular seem susceptible to Romanostalgia. My impression is that on the Continent the national histories stress the benefits of the post-Roman free-for-all the Germans call der Volkerwanderung (forgive lack of umlauts).

    The Byzantines are fascinating. Knocked down often but rarely out, they kept the name and fame of Rome alive for another rough thousand years–to the extent that the Ottomans claimed the Sultanate of Rom when they finally prevailed.

  8. I highly recommend Michael Pye’s book “The Edge of the World: A Cultural History of the North Sea and the Transformation of Europe.” Chapter One starts with a Roman garrison near the sea in what is now Belgium, and is based on Pliny’s account of his experiences among the barbaric native water people whose only resource was fish.

  9. I see we have an AOC voter trolling.

    You are simply being pushed out of whatever minor perch you inhabit and are crying about it.

    The boasting by trolls is amusing. The “minor perch” is common in NYC

  10. Hey, “GeorgeNYC”:

    My wife and I are currently “living off of” our SocSec payments right now, since due to the completely insane government policies on income we have to restrict our income from our (formerly nicely filled) 401(k)’s until next year. Are we leaches? Nope, we’ll NEVER get back the money we put into the SocSec for however long we live.

    According to the SocSec admin folks, who kindly sent me a statement every few random years (as compared to my 401(k) admin that sends it out every 3 months, or my financial people who send it out every month), I paid in over $250,000 in the 40-some years that I worked. They’re generously “giving” us about $2,000 a month based on that. Okay, that’s about what I could get if I bought an annuity for that amount.

    But a quick spreadsheet analysis shows that the net present value of those 40 years of payments, even assuming TERRIBLE (and unrealistically low) rates of return mean that I would have had well over $500,000 as a balance with which to buy the same type of annuity…which would have easily given me more than DOUBLE the monthly payout, even with the survivor’s benefit option.

    So the Fed-dot-gov basically stole my money at gunpoint (go ahead, try to NOT pay your FICA deduction and see what happens), and then only gave me less than half of what it should have been worth.

    In your world-view that makes me a bad person.

    FOAD, slaver.

  11. The thing is – like some of Sutcliff’s characters – I can look around and sense that things are on the edge, and not going to end well. The baby formula shortage is still a problem. (Not so much for us personally, as Wee Jamie is moving on to cereal, whole milk and baby food.) Truckers striking at the Oakland port, and bottlenecks at other ports. What looks like a deliberate effort to generate a famine with food crops in order to go carbon and nitrogen neutral – this in the face of war in the Ukraine and embargoing Russia. There will be a famine in some parts of the world, and in the US, all kinds of grocery shortages. Gas, diesel and fuel oil prices through the roof. Not to mention increased prices for everything else… and the insistence on green energy will absolutely guarantee blackouts this winter, which will not work out well for places where it gets damned cold. And there’s a terrible kind of tension in the air – people losing their sh*t and getting violent for the smallest provocation or no provocation at all. Road rage shootings over nothing at all, brawls in restaurants for nothing much more than getting an order wrong or not the right kind of condiment.
    I look around, and wonder if we really are in the last months or year of ‘things as they used to be,’ before all heck breaks loose.

  12. this is what happened with yeltsin, the great unraveling, thanks to the advise of sachs and summers, the former has gone full on green new deal, the latter alternately makes sense and is foolish,) the country’s infrastructure was put on the auction block, there was a rigged shares auction that was criminal negligence, and the oligarchs were the result, (this was the formative experience of matt taibbi) many starved, the standard of living plummeted, putin was part of it, as part of the looting party in st petersburg, the bratva came out of the shadows, and there were too many echoes of Weimar in Cyrrillic, chubais was the ringleader then, this is why the liberal standard bearers except for navalsky, are not trusted,

  13. Sgt Mom: “I look around, and wonder if we really are in the last months or year of ‘things as they used to be,’ before all heck breaks loose.”

    Hey! If it is only “all heck” that breaks loose, I for one will give a big sigh of relief. :)

  14. I know, Gavin – in one way, so will I, because the tension will be broken and we can move on.
    The really horrible thing is the sense that that our PTB really want all these awful things to happen. They don’t f**king care about the lives lost, the ordinary people freezing in the dark. Or starving. They DO NOT CARE.
    They’ll make some useless gestures for the sake of the Tame NewsMedia … but in the end, THEY DO NOT CARE.

  15. Sgt Mom — What concerns me is the potential for some unintended “some damn fool thing in the Balkans” to tip us from the ongoing stupidity into global thermonuclear war — a war which none of the participants actually wanted.

    Goodness! Now we have the Balkans stirring up again, with tension between Serbia and Kosovo (remember? the place that declared independence from Serbia and US/NATO bombed Serbia back to the Stone Age because people have a right to self-determination … except in the Donbas). And there is the ongoing proxy war between US/NATO and Russia over … the Donbas. And now we have China dangerously losing face. There are too many places where an accident could cause things to spiral out of control.

  16. As Cavafy put it, to some the Barbarians “were a sort of solution.” True then, true today.

  17. SGT Mom @ 1719

    This, absolutely. I’m dubious about an election happening in November, especially an honest one. Once legitimacy is lost, it is hell to get it back again. I’m pretty sure that shortly after the date of the scheduled election in November we will be seeing signs of it getting hungry out; based on either actual shortages from the source [starting with meats because right now farmers and ranchers are reducing herds because they will not have fodder for the winter], or transportation and supply chain problems. Along with major energy shortages because of deliberate government action starting hours after the inauguration. Along with that, economic collapse. Don’t know if you have heard, but today GEICO pulled out of California, closing all 38 agencies and laying off hundreds. There are further reports of similar actions being taken by Oracle, Amazon, and Meta [Facebook’s parent company] to reduce their California footprint. Which makes business sense given the effects of California’s form of socialism on businesses. Everybody keep your codpieces buttoned and pantry full.

    Subotai Bahadur

  18. I think there will be an election come November- but it very definitely will not be honest.

    I happened to vote in my state’s primary yesterday, to find brand new Dominion voting machines had appeared in the polling place. Of course the poll workers made a great show of inspecting my ID, etc, as they always do.

    It was sad, in a way.

  19. You should all maybe move to America.

    Normally I’m quite happy to waste my time arguing with internet randos who say stupid things, but this isn’t even coherent enough for me to want to bother.

    I suspect these sort of comments are paid for- but not paid for very much. So the people writing them don’t care enough to make sense or offer up a real argument, even assuming that they are capable of doing so in the first place.

    It’s just be offensive and then off to the next target on the list.

    Shrug. This is also sad, but in a different way.

  20. Anyway, many years ago I happened to wander into a Borders bookstore, walk up to a shelf, randomly grab a book I thought might be interesting. This is typically what one does when in a bookstore, I admit.

    The author was attempting to argue that the Roman Empire never actually fell, based upon what I recall as nonsense. I did not buy that book, obviously, but it always stuck in my memory as an example of something so stupid that only an intellectual could believe it, to borrow a pithy quote from Orwell.

    Well, alas. The idea apparently became so prevalent a historian named Bryan Ward-Perkins felt compelled to write a book that argued, yes indeed, Rome did in fact fall.

    It’s entitled The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization and I agree with the quote on the cover from the Sunday Telegraph that it is indeed hard hitting and beautifully written.

    My point, I suppose, is even in something as obvious as the utter collapse and total disappearance of the (Western) Roman Empire, there are still people today- historians no less- who manage to argue that it never happened.

    I think it follows that there are going to be a whole lot of folks who imagine nothing is wrong in the United States, either.

    The WaPo certainly isn’t going to tell them differently.

  21. “……….are none but our own ruling elites. ”

    Now you can understand, (if you didn’t before), the Scottish Highland Clearances of the late 18th early 19th centuries.

  22. “Well-wrought this wall: Weirds broke it.
    The stronghold burst…
    Snapped rooftrees, towers fallen,
    the work of the Giants, the stonesmiths, mouldereth.
    Rime scoureth gatetowers
    rime on mortar.
    Shattered the showershield, roofs ruined,
    age under-ate them.
    And the wielders and wrights?
    Earthgrip holds them—gone, long gone,
    fast in gravesgrasp while fifty fathers
    and sons have passed….”

  23. Well under our cigar store indian the fact that the infrastructure is maribund that cities are on fire is totes fine but that was a reach

  24. Two years ago all libs would have agreed that electronic voting machines are a massive security risk. Many of them would have said that Dominion is corrupt and rigs thing for Republicans. I’ve had conversations with libs in the last year saying I don’t think it’s a good idea for voting machines to be connected to the internet, not even mentioning anything specific to do with 2020, and the reaction is always that I’m a raving conspiracy theorist lunatic.
    My faith in humanity has been pretty much completely destroyed. Not from this in particular, just in general. Great examples are Russiagate, covid, 2020, Jan 6, etc. Very few people use their brains, or have any principles at all.

  25. Great empires fall when they fail to satisfy the needs of the populace. The Western Roman Empire was no exception, and neither is the USA.

    IMO Americans today most resemble the ancient Romans in corruption, cruelty, and bloodlust.

  26. From the military of our newest NATO allies. Feel safer now, with them standing on that wall?
    “There are those who claim that the Armed Forces have more important things to focus on right now than waving the Pride flag. Rights are pitted against each other and one wonders what is more important: a strong defense or everyone’s equal worth?” asked the Swedish military in a statement.
    “For us, there is no contradiction. The task of the Armed Forces is to defend Sweden, everyone who lives here, our democracy and our rights. Because in the end, no one stands without rights and without protection,” the statement added.
    Effectively the Swedish military is saying that promoting gay prides parades is equally as important or even more important than defending Sweden from military attack by a foreign adversary.”

  27. Cousin Eddie: “I’m a descendent of the Germanic Barbarian Winners, not the Roman losers.”

    That triggers an interesting question related to David Foster’s post on Resilience. The Romans in the West declined into insignificance and got over-run; but the Romans in the East held out at Byzantium for about another 1,000 years — maybe 40-50 generations. What was the difference? Why was the Eastern Roman Empire resilient and able to adjust, whereas the Western Roman Empire went the way of all flesh?

  28. With Nancy and Joe at the helm, the American Republic has glorious days ahead!
    Nancy Pelosi in Taiwan with wise words from “Benjamin Franklin, our presidency” on “freedom and democracy on one thing, security here.”

    “”In our earliest days at our founding of our country, Benjamin Franklin, our presidency, said, freedom and democracy. Freedom and democracy, one thing, security here. If we don’t have- we can’t have either, if we don’t have both.””

  29. “What was the difference?”
    Combination of physical strength–the city walls were impregnable and so it could not be sacked–and the cultural rejuvenation that came with relocating so that it was basically a fresh new Greek empire reboot, rather than a tired Latin one.

  30. Every ancient Roman of ambition knew that fame and fortune lay in the East. We tend not to see that, with the last 500 years of our own glory dimming the realities of the past.

    In the West were Rome, a few garrison towns, fog, cold, and barbarians; in the East: Constantinople, Antioch, above all Alexandria; the Egyptian breadbasket; the thriving trade with India and far Chin; loot. Much more loot than the West offered. (In addition to the factors already mentioned by others.)

    If you read a standard American history textbook from say, 1910, you might learn that American democracy rests on three pillars from the past: Judeo-Christian religion and ethics, Greco-Roman law and philosophy, and the elected kingships of Germanic warbands.

    It’s a theory. Given that the least democratic places on the planet today didn’t get overrun by Germanic warbands . . .

  31. If the GOP candidates win in AZ (which seems likely if the GOPe doesn’t sabotage them), they need to go to FL and figure out how they cleaned up their elections. They don’t have multi-day counting processes in corrupt Dem strongholds anymore, there’s no way that should be tolerated. Same in PA and MI, but it seems like in those places the Dem city machines are more entrenched and will be harder to break up.

  32. Many years ago, I worked for an architect. There was a building on the local university campus, which had been around since ca. 1910. He undertook a series of jobs to modernize that building and bring it up to modern code requirements (including handicapped access (there was none) and elevators.

    Complicating this was the fact that it had also been placed on the Register of Historical Places, which mandates that it be rebuilt as much as possible as it had been built in 1910ish.

    1) The main entrance had a grand staircase that was about 8 people wide at the top and 14 people wide at the bottom. This had been totally removed sometime in the 1970s. It was replaced, based on the sparse original blueprints. One change that was required was that, on the original circular base, the tread depth varied from the centerline to the outer edges. This was no longer acceptable, so now it has a uniform depth.

    2) several of the internal stair cases were brought up to modern fire codes.

    3) Now — how do you address the issues of handicapped bathrooms and elevators, when “restoring it to original condition” which had no such things? Simple: Add a separate access building on one side, which has all that — and provide a multi-floor enclosed walkway linking the two. The new building has ramps, handicapped stalls, and elevators, and not much else except for another stairway and some maintenance and janitorial spaces.

    Now the part which is actually OT —

    4) The top floor, the “attic space” of the building (it had steeply pitched roofs, so most of the attic space was useful — though it was odd because rooms had angled beams through the middle of them)… There had been a fire in about 1980. This was some 18y later. Rather than repairing it at the time, they just sealed it off and left it as it was.

    It was essentially a little time capsule, though not much of one. The main things about it were some amusing comments on a chalkboard about Walter Mondale and a really really eerie feeling as I walked around.

    I tried to think of why it was that it felt “off”, and it eventually occurred to me, it was an “abandoned space”. This is not something in common experience. Humans rarely “abandon” anything, we only expand outward. Contraction is unusual. Even in places like the decayed parts of the inner city, most spaces are not fully abandoned.

    Now, I’m sure you can find places in Detroit that are like that (there is/was a series of pix on “Retronaut” some years back). And others — factories in the old “Rust Belt”, where you can get the same feeling. But it’s not something most of us ever experience, it’s not like those are places we typically seek out.

    I am sure, walking across post-Roman England, that there must have been a similar feeling, but larger. Probably the same with the Black Plague — after it decimated the population, there had to be places you felt it. And those “ghost towns” of the Old West, too.

    It happens… but it is not something most of us experience commonly. Humans have been too successful for the most part.

  33. }}} Probably all living off Social Security and Medicare while bitching about government handouts. (And don’t get me wrong I am for those. I just hate your hypocrisy).

    Perhaps, George, you might want to leave your little liberal soap bubble, and actually read more than a single story before getting a notion that you have any clue whatsoever who or what we are..

    I’ll cut you some slack, however you got here… but you’re in a city which has done everything possible to chase away anyone with mid-level money — and now asks, “Whatever did we do that this should happen to us?” — even as you’ve been ignoring people telling you it was happening for the last 20+ years, it’s just getting so obvious now — with your Soros DA-driven crime levels and your general urban decay. Maybe you might want to look around and ask if any of those are actually signs of a bigger issue?

  34. }}} Perhaps we should be looking forward to our own Dark Ages after the DC Swamp slides back into the mud?

    Mrrr, probably less pleasant than your comments suggest. They were great if you were young and tough… not so much if you were a former farmer or plebe. This was how the feudal system developed. And being beholden to some arrogant bastard in a metal suit who thinks he’s better than you (kind of like today’s liberal asshole, but with more metal) does not seem all that pleasant.

    And equally concerning, we go off into that Dark Age with a finger on a nuclear trigger….

  35. My job took me into many an abandoned space in search of potentially important records for our archive, or books for our library. The open-to-the pigeons top floor of the downtown RR hotel . . . the dim and dank basement of the old municipal auditorium where some old city records had been put aside . . . private attics and basements too numerous to count.

    The hotel was renovated to be apts and condos; the auditorium replaced by a bigger and better facility by far.

    Sometimes, walking on the campus where I studied and worked most of my life, I have a deja-vu, but when I try to pin down the place-memory I often remember that what was there before might have been the opposite of what’s there now. Open spaces have been built up, buildings demolished and repurposed. The biggest change is the parking, mostly on the periphery now and in huge lots, instead of scattered across many acres and subject to fierce space-rivalries.

  36. }}} The Byzantines are fascinating. Knocked down often but rarely out, they kept the name and fame of Rome alive for another rough thousand years–to the extent that the Ottomans claimed the Sultanate of Rom when they finally prevailed.

    Less than you’d think. They did refer to themselves as “Rome”, but culturally, they were much more Greek. The language was Greek, not Roman, and there is a reason their version of the Catholic church is called the “Greek Orthodox Church”. They considered themselves the heirs of Alexander more than of Rome.

    An interesting lot of semi-fictional stories about the Byzantine Empire lies in the Fictional writings of Harry Turtledove, in his “Tales of Videssos” multi-series ouvre (two four-part series and a three-part). Videssos is, basically, Byzantium at different times. Turtledove’s trilogy “Tale of Krispos” is a thinly veiled semi-biography of Basil I. His “Times of Troubles” quadrilogy is a back-and-forth (Byzantium and the Sassanid Persians, their main rivals) story of how the change took place between the “Eastern Roman Empire” and the “Byzantine Empire”. And the other quadrilogy is a general comparison of how a Roman Legion of Trajan’s era would have seen Byzantium ca. 1000AD.

    Turtledove has a PhD in Byzantine history, and many of his stories are thinly veiled retellings of actual historical events, within a somewhat different setting. He’s retold WWII at least three times — once with an Alien Invasion, once when Magic existed rather than technology, and another one which was part of a longer series where the South won the civil war, and the south took the part of Germany in the subsequent events, even down to Pittsburgh becoming Stalingrad.

  37. Something went astray earlier, so this is a second try.

    Robert Graves (I, Claudius) wrote two (IIRC) excellent books about Justinian’s great general, the eunuch Belisarius, who reconquered much of the central Med and Italy for the Byzantines (who were under the impression that they were Roman, but what did they know?)

    Luttwak’s Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire is very interesting; I haven’t read his companion book about Byzantium. Also unread, but on the list, is Thomas Madden’s “Empires of Trust,” with explicit comparisons (mostly positive) between Rome and the USA.

  38. It was essentially a little time capsule, though not much of one. The main things about it were some amusing comments on a chalkboard about Walter Mondale and a really really eerie feeling as I walked around.

    I was visiting a friend at Guy’s Hospital in London and he showed me a new discovery in a building across the street. They had been remodeling and tore down a wall. Behind it was a 19th century operating room, early 19th century. It had just been sealed off in the early 1900s.

  39. If the GOP candidates win in AZ (which seems likely if the GOPe doesn’t sabotage them),

    I’m hearing that no election results are coming from Maricopa County yet,

  40. The transition from Roman to Greek took centuries, and in the future–the Holy Roman Empire, Russia as the Third Rome–it was “Rome” that people wanted to be associated with, not the Byzantines. And of course, even by the 370s the army, economy, social, political, and religious structures and institutions were very different than they were in say 170, and those conditions all varied considerably anyway from one end of the place to the other. What was the true Rome and the true Romanness?

    But leaving that issue aside, it’s curious that the Fall of (West) Rome is more often seen as the dramatic and decisive event, when it might be argued that the transition from
    Republic–hollow as it was–to Empire was.

    I’ve never been able to take Counterfactuals or Whit-Ifs in the long form. I’ve known about Turtledove, and Gingrich and Co etc etc, since they’ve been publishing, but I scratch that itch with wargaming and free-form b.s. on the interwebs.

  41. ObloodyHell – August 3, 2022 at 3:41 pm:
    [The Byzantines]… considered themselves the heirs of Alexander more than of Rome.

    Not at all. Alexander was to them merely an interesting historical character. They were the Rhomaioi: the descendants of the Empire which ruled all civilization (as they saw it) for centuries. Even after the Turkish conquest of Constantinople, Greeks referred to themselves as Rhomaioi for centuries – right down to the 1900s in some communities.

    Cousin Eddie – August 3, 2022 at 3:48 pm
    … Justinian’s great general, the eunuch Belisarius… Belisarius was married. You may be thinking of Justinian’s other great general, Narses, who was an eunuch.

  42. so there was something inherent, in the political structure of the western empire, that made it more brittle, if byzantium could hold out for a 1100 hundred years, mind you Rome lasted longer, if you count from the Founding about 1200 years,

  43. Thanks, Rich. I coulda swore it was B as well as Narses. (Which raises a question in my mind–could eunuchs marry?)

  44. re justinian, a friend of mine noted the double side account by procopius who was a court hagiographer, and then ages later a poison pen secret history emerged that painted him and his consort theodora in terms reserved for trump in the 21st century, it’s left unclear why was the falling out,

  45. Circling back around to our current depraved elite, Dick Cheney just released a bizarre ad where he looks like death warmed over trashing Trump and urging a vote for his worthless daughter, and George W Bush as far as I know still hasn’t said a word about overturning Roe v Wade, and I also don’t believe either of them has shown any sign of self-reflection about their colossal failures. Instead they’re perfectly happy to be super chummy with Obama and the Dems, and trash “their” party’s base every chance they get.

  46. its become very Game of Thrones or Dune, or the Continental system of the John Wick universe, each seat represents a mob family

  47. Bush and Cheney are criminals, pure and simple. Their PATRIOT Act was the start of the modern slide to police-statedom, and they lied us into a war that profited only Iran, Islamic terrorists, and B&C’s corporate cronies.

    I’m sure they’re proud.

  48. George, your rationalization is exactly what I would expect a New Yorker to say. How else to explain maintaining a semblence of sanity in the hellhole you call home? Paraphrasing Kipling, if you can keep your head while those about you are losing theirs, you don’t understand the situation.

  49. Those destroying western civilization from the inside do so with a zealous righteousness that even religious conviction couldn’t muster. Aided by either a state’s salary or donations from advocated wealth. All the while, living and eating very well while they do their wreckage.

  50. Cousin Eddie said,

    “Great empires fall when they fail to satisfy the needs of the populace . . .”

    No, they fall when the populace is corrupt enough to think they’re so entitled.

  51. I will have to go read these books as that captures exactly how I feel about our society. Standing on the walls expecting another assault and knowing that it’s all slipping. No….. being thrown away.

  52. Glubb makes some very good points. There is a lot of overlap between his and Toynbee’s observations of patterns throughout history–his coda about the need for world history of the race parallels Toynbee’s own insistence that nations per se are too narrow a focus for understanding the whole story. Prof T of course maintained the proper study of the past should focus on the distinct civilizations (he counted 20-odd) that have come and eventually gone–civilizations in his view are the significant unities, not nations, much less empires.

    The academy has responded to ideas like those with Global History and World Systems studies–jargonized, contentious and irrelevant.

    And as Hegel said, the Owl of Minerva flies at twilight.

  53. Sgt. Mom, assuming you are aware of the sudden furor over Florida adding a Gadsden Flag tag to its license plate options, it’s been called attention to that many other states already have them.

    This seems to tie to Texas and the “Molon Labe” flag of the Battle of Gonzales.

    I know you like writing about history — especially Texas history, and thought this might inspire something… Your approach is often more personal and offers a different take than many others might use.

  54. OBH, my daughter was wondering this very morning when the wokists would start having a cow over the Molon Labe flag and remembering the Alamo.
    I have a Gadsden banner on the front porch this very minute, and a small one on the bookshelf over my desk – a souvenir of a Tea Party rally. Guess that makes me one of them-there-dangerous-radical insurrectionists.
    I wrote about the Gonzalez Come-and-take-it Fight, here: Lexington on the Guadalupe

  55. Sgt Mom
    Here’s Pete’s channel.
    We are both Roman archaeology enthusiasts and get together every Spring to work on an excavation along Hadrian’s Wall (Vindolanda). Great fun. Pete travels the UK filming all manner of Roman stuff. Digging and Pints. Here’s the star find of 2022…..I was there when another friend of mine unearthed this classic – literally – insult!
    This is a community volunteer dig, regular folks….if it interests you.


  56. Lin, the US was founded on the proposition that the government exists to serve the people, not the other way around, whether the government is imperial or not.

    No one has ever owed loyalty to tyrannical governments that cannot or will not protect their interests. Many inhabitants of the Roman Empire no longer felt they were well-served by the elites and authorities far away, and who is to say they were wrong?

  57. At what point do “we” in the West realize that our elites have completely frittered away our global dominance position, and stop living in delusional fantasy land about what our options are?
    “South Korea is reviewing its participation in the US-led semiconductor alliance from a national interest standpoint and has no plans to form an exclusive grouping against China, according to the industry minister on Monday.”

  58. I doubt Korea is any more anxious to hand their IP and technology to China than we are, they’re just smart enough to not state it in the open.
    China’s major effort over the last few years to close the gap in chip making has imploded and suddenly the heads of various chip making funds are being arrested. Apparently when the government started handing out money to these guys they failed to make clear that this time they really meant for the money to be spent to make chips better. What was actually spent on chips went to buy obsolete chip lines that were otherwise being scraped in the West. The rest ended up in the usual places.

  59. “they’re just smart enough to not state it in the open”
    Right, because the days when they would want to openly state that they’re on the US side vs China are long gone.

  60. The tell was when Nancy the Lush finished her triumphant conquest of Taiwan and flew on to South Korea — where the South Koreans sent someone like the local dogcatcher to greet her. The important guys were doing something urgent — vacation, or something like that. How are the mighty fallen!

    Of course, we should look at this from the South Korean perspective. They have a border with North Korea, which in turn has land borders with both China and Russia. In those circumstances, disrespecting some Congressional tourist from a bankrupt government seems like the smart choice compared to the risk of provoking China or Russia.

  61. I hear that in China they occasionally hang corrupt politicians.
    No reason why that comes to mind.
    In totally unrelated news, the big stories on the righty twitter today are that Chris Wray told Congress to pound sand during his laughable testimony last week and that he “had a plane to catch”, meaning his private plane had to fly him to his Adirondack resort. And that fat toad Milley is bragging to the New Yorker about openly undermining the president.

  62. Brian @ 1428

    “Given the threat of China and North Korea, and the less than robust in both intention and ability of the United States to support a military ally under attack, that was probably the wisest move.”

    Gavin Longmuir @ 1508

    In any crisis involving the ROK and China/North Korea, they know that in fact the Democrats led in no small part by Pelosi will be working behind the scenes for China/North Korea. She should have been met by the local gongong hwajangsil chamseokja.

    Brian @ 1543

    Those who believe they rule us by the atheistic, collectivist equivalent of Divine Right have nothing but contempt for this country and its people. Karma is building up, and eventually will not be denied.

    Subotai Bahadur

  63. Spanish Civil War time.
    Moments ago, Donald Trump – who is still banned by Twitter – published a statement on Truth Social in which he said that his Florida home, Mar A Lago is “currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents”, an assault which according to Trump “could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries.” He is probably right. He also claims the Fed’s presence was unannounced and the reason was politically motivated.

  64. Yes, this raid is pure politics, Biden/Garland style. Hillary deleted email evidence of her corruption with no consequences, The Biden family are corrupt from one end to the other. Mueller and Weissmann tried very hard for three years to find something on Trump. Weissmann is distinguished by being reversed 9-0 on the Supreme Court in his Arthur Anderson witch hunt. Thousands of employees lost their jobs and the company did not survive but Weissmann, as far as I know, never suffered any consequences, like disbarment.

  65. President Trump should be grateful — he got the “kinder, gentler” treatment from the FBI.

    Normally, the FBI would have shot Melania and burned his children to death.

  66. They shot one unarmed protester and crushed the skull of another, that was practically in the open (boyland was an overdose they said(

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