The Leaning Cow

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Having started to think about the fall of Rome

April 27th, 2016 ·No Comments

I think it was about 44 years ago that I sat on the end of a sofa in Sacramento and read Caesar and Christ, by Will Durant. I was particularly struck by the prose of the first paragraph of the epilogue:

“THE two greatest problems in history,” says a brilliant scholar of our time, are “how to account for the rise of Rome, and how to account for her fall.”1 We may come nearer to understanding them if we remember that the fall of Rome, like her rise, had not one cause but many, and was not an event but a process spread over 300 years. Some nations have not lasted as long as Rome fell.

I am thinking of this now because yesterday I read and then wrote about the movie, The Fall of Rome. My first impulse was to look for the film and then, as I remembered the above paragraph, to re-read all the volumes of his Story of Civilization. Tabloids are juicier and I scan them at grocery stores, although now I don’t recognize too many of the “famous” names. Well-written novels are fascinating, like a song in your head. This multi-volume set of history, however, makes you feel as if you could reach beyond yourself. Its effect is like listening to Amazing Grace in a church setting. I feel odd saying it, but you feel cleaner.

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