Some (Sometimes Silly) Explanations

[Strategy and Tactics Magazine #39 (1973), p. 21 (characterizations added)]
original version by Albert A. Nofi, designer of Imperium Romanum

  • PLAGUES reduced the population, and the fertility of the survivors. [Medical archaeology]
  • LEAD PIPES and utensils poisoned the aristocracy, lowering their birth-rate and intelligence level of this most important class (S. Colum Gilfillan) [Eugenics]
  • The admission of INFERIOR RACES to the citizenship lowered the vigor of the Pure Roman Stock. [Racism]
  • CHRISTIANITY made people less concerned with this world. (Edward Gibbon) [Religious Bigotry, Enlightenment]
  • Augustus‘ jury-rigged apparatus of state was unable to cope with certain types of crisis. [Systems Analysis]
  • CIVIL WARS sapped the strength of the Empire. [The Military Theory]
  • The People praciticed BIRTH CONTROL without restraint, thus causing a loss of population. [Medical/Religious]
  • Failure to establish a workable CONSTITUTION. [Legal/Systems Analysis]
  • "Bread and Circuses": the people became LAZY. [The Welfare Argument]
  • The ARMY got out of hand due to lowering of standards of discipline [Military Theory, Part II; moral]
  • God turned his favor from Rome because of its sins [Religious Explanation, Old Testament, St. Augustine; Moral]
  • The State collapsed under the weight of its bureaucracy. [Systems Analysis]
  • The BARBARIANS became civilized enough to contend with the Romans on an equal footing. [Racism]
  • Abandonment of the old religion, which had given moral strength to the Roman People [Religious]
  • Widespread HOMOSEXUALITY among the upper classes led to a decline in the birth rate among aristocrats, thereby reducing the available pool of leadership manpower. [Sexism, Aristocratic Political View of Eugenics]
  • ORGIES and VENEREAL DISEASE and other entertainments sapped the vigor of the Roman People. [Moral, Medical, Welfare Argument]
  • LIBERAL-THINKING EMPERORS attempted to spend too much on the poor in their efforts to lift them up, thus draining the financial resources of the Empire [Political-Republican; Financial]
  • The flow of gold to the Orient to pay for luxury goods eventually dealt a death blow to the Roman economy. [Economic]
  • The existence of slavery and an impoverished citizen mass created a large internal proletariat which would eventually prove disloyal to the empire [Marxism].
  • The Aristocracy permitted too many of the lower classes to participate in affairs of state, thereby diluting the value of experience and brains which the Aristocracy possessed. [Eugenics: pro-Aristocratic]
  • As the State became more despotic, the average citizen, and even members of the Upper Classes, became less interested in it, thereby causing a LOSS OF CONFIDENCE and support. [Psychological Argument, Aristocratic subspecies]
  • Abandonment of the old, good Roman institutions and virtues which had helped to bring Rome to greatness [Fear of Change; Moral]
  • Too many of the old institutions were left with a measure of power, which tended to disrupt the machinery of Empire [Progress vs. Obstructionism]
  • Easy living made the Romans soft, permitting the Barbarians to overrun them with ease. [Moral, Racism]
  • Slavery impoverished the Citizenry. [Economic, Class-based]
  • The bulk of the inhabitants of the Empire failed to share in the incredible prosperity, remaining impoverished and restive. [anti-trickle-down Economics; Marxist?]

  • -Michael Grant, The Fall of the Roman Empire: A Reappraisal (1976)
  • -Mortimer Chambers (ed.), The Fall of Rome: Can it be explained? (NY: Holt, Reinhart Winston 1963).
  • -Donald Kagan (ed.), The End of the Roman Empire: Decline or Transformation? 2nd ed. (D. C. Heath 1978).
  • -Ramsay MacMullen, Corruption and the Decline of Rome (New Haven: Yale 1988).
  • -Ramsay MacMullen, Roman Government‘s Response to Crisis, A.D. 235-337 (New Haven: Yale, 1976).
  • -Alexander von Demandt, Der Fall Roms. Die Auflösung des römischen Reiches im Urteil der Nachwelt (Munich 1984).
  • -A.H.M. Jones, The Decline of the Ancient World (London 1966).
  • -Walter Kaegi, Byzantium and the Decline of Rome (Princeton 1968).
  • -Arther Ferrill, The Fall of the Roman Empire: The Military Explanation (London: Thames & Hudson 1986).
  • -Peter Heather, The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians (Oxford University Press 2006).
  • -Bryan Ward-Perkins, The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization (Oxford University Press 2005).

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May 24, 2009 12:33 PM

John Paul Adams, CSUN

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