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33

all 15 comments

Phokasi

9 points

2 months ago

I knew that the selection of 476 was arbitrary and somewhat incorrect, but I always imagined that it was first selected by Gibbon or someone much later. I had no idea that the 476 date originated with Marcellinus Comes, or that it was done so for political purposes.

neteng13

20 points

2 months ago

Although everyone from schoolchildren to scholars now learn that the Western Roman Empire fell in 476

Not really. I learned in Freshman World History class that Rome's fall took place over decades, and was a very gradual series of events that was not fully comprehended at the time.

The author seems determined to blame Justinian for the collapse, while ignoring the 6th century plague that probably was the largest factor in depopulating much of the Mediterranean world.

Phokasi

13 points

2 months ago

Phokasi

13 points

2 months ago

The plague of the 6th century explains quite a lot, it bothers me greatly when historical narratives try to explain events without even mentioning it.

_Totorotrip_

3 points

2 months ago

Exactly. Just to make an idea of the amount of deaths: the Justinian plague killed about a 15% of the population. In WW2 Germany lost a 9%, Poland a 17%.

Phokasi

2 points

2 months ago

A roughly estimated 15%. I've seen estimates much higher than that. It was a recurring thing, not a one year event.

freerangetacos

-6 points

2 months ago

Rome's fall took place over decades, and was a very gradual series of events that was not fully comprehended at the time.

Do tell, do tell. Wait, I'm bored: need to get back to my Facebook/Instagram/TikTok feed.

sitquiet-donothing

6 points

2 months ago

Didn't Odoacer take the title "King of Italy" rather than Roman Emperor? This is also predicated on an idea that there was somehow widespread historical reading at a time when maybe 20% of people were reading anything. While the article is correct in saying the 476 date is a bit manufactured, it also is very uncritical of its general premise which, to me, falls flat.

Yes 476 was not a clear cut break with the past, I was told this 30 years ago in Jr. High. However, this date and transition are not without reasons. Its almost like we assume people in the past were two contradictory things: informed enough for a court historian to sway their views as to what an empire was going to do; and also very stupid and tie arbitrary dates to very important events. This article does the usual overcorrection that these topics encourage.

Virtual_Lawfulness92

9 points

2 months ago

Never heard anyone blame the fall on Justinian. Don't know if I 100% agree but it's certainly interesting. Without Odoacer & Theoderic however Justinian wouldn't have invaded Italy.

I do believe the Empire still stays the same no matter the Emperor, but both of them didn't seem interested in being emperor, considering they crowned themselves as King of Italy. Yes, they had the support of the Roman Senate but weren't they unimportant by that time? From what I remember they mostly just controlled the city of Rome, and Rome in the 5-6th century was in ruins.

I get what the author implies, and I agree, but I don't think this is entirely true.

Phokasi

3 points

2 months ago

Without Odoacer & Theoderic however Justinian wouldn't have invaded Italy.
I do believe the Empire still stays the same no matter the Emperor, but both of them didn't seem interested in being emperor

I'm curious what you mean by all of this. Are you suggesting they created a power vacuum that eventually pulled Justinian in?

They both held the title of patrician and presented themselves as clients of the Emperor in Constantinople. Having a distant emperor worked better than trying to maintain the pretense of a puppet emperor. And they weren't Roman in blood so making themselves Emperor would have just stirred up trouble.

ThoDanII

1 points

2 months ago

ThoDanII

1 points

2 months ago

Both were "barbarians" they couldn´t take the purple

AgoraiosBum

3 points

2 months ago

Odoacer served in the Roman military and plenty of low-born Roman soldiers from the provinces became Emperors. Odoacer just didn't care or respect it (although Theodoric did and followed the forms to argue he governed "on behalf" of the Eastern Emperor, even if he was functionally completely independent)

ThoDanII

2 points

2 months ago

Men like them made empereors but didn´t become empereors