Not quite how I would put it myself

On this day in AD 395: The Roman Empire is forever cloven in two – and the classical world dies

I’d perhaps argue that 1204 is the date, the Crusaders sack Byzantium. Other dates can also be chosen. But thinking that the Western Empire going down – or starting its fall – is the end of the classical world is to be more than a little euro-centric, no?

14 comments on “Not quite how I would put it myself

  1. Well, why not? Why should we automatically assume that everything Western is wrong? The Roman Empire was founded in the West. It was culturally strongest in the West – the East rapidly dropping its Latin culture for Greek.

    Since World War One there has been a self-loathing cultural abnegation in the West. There shouldn’t be. Let the Chinese be proud of their gunpowder and the Arabs their numbers. None of them did much with metal beyond making pointy sharp objects to stab each other. The West has invested pretty much everything else. In fact we stand so far above every other civilisation that there is just no comparison. What we do (or did in this case) matters.

  2. Tongue in cheek there Tim?

    Nothing wrong with eurocentricity. Everything outside Europe except for the bits that are like Europe are basically shitholes.

  3. Give them a break Tim. The first half of the sentence is correct which is 50% more than expected.

  4. I’d say the heads-on-coins view of history preferred by historians is a very simplistic view of history. The people of Europe & the Mediterranean basin – those with the agricultural toolkit to win crops from the land, those with the technological skills to build, to forge, to sail the oceans – the people who enabled civilisation, didn’t go away. They were there through the fall of Rome & after. They were the people who enabled the Islamic empire. It certainly wasn’t created by a bunch of ignorant camel jockeys out of the deserts of Saudi Arabia. They were still around to turn their skills to the flowering of the medieval period.
    It’s something one can appreciate here. Just down the road is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Originally Phoenician, it’s been Carthaginian, Roman,, Islamic, Spanish & is currently part of the Brussels Empire. And living in its apartment blocks you could find people whose families have lived here, right the way through. It’s them that make Malaga, not whichever bunch of thugs currently claim to be running it.

  5. bloke in spain – “The people of Europe & the Mediterranean basin – those with the agricultural toolkit to win crops from the land, those with the technological skills to build, to forge, to sail the oceans – the people who enabled civilisation, didn’t go away. They were there through the fall of Rome & after.”

    They did in Britain. The Anglo-Saxon invasion led to the loss of a great deal of technology including all city life. Metal working and pottery significantly declined.

    I know it is a mistake to make an obscure grammar point but surely that cloven is wrong? Cloven is the past something or other of cleave? Which in itself is an odd word because it means both to join together and to split apart. But wouldn’t a more accurate, or at least common, past tense be cleft or cleaved? It is mostly kosher animals that are cloven.

  6. Charles Freeman in “AD 381, Heretics, Pagans and the Christian State” and in “The Closing of the Western Mind” argues that the freedoms to question the nature of reality and to innovate ended with eEmperor Theodosius edict on the nature of the Godhead bringing to an end the thousand productive years of debate, conflict and contention that was the classical world. Political Correctness aims to stifle free thought after less than four hundred.

  7. @SMFS

    The eastern empire was always the cultural core of the Roman empire.

    The Romans employed Greeks as their teachers, not Gauls. The Roman pantheon is based on the Greek one, not Western ones. They built using Greek models. You’d be hard pressed to find many cultural adaptations specifically Western in Rome — there’s probably more Persian influence (Mithras, clibinarii armour etc).

    Which is why the eastern empire lasted approximately twice as long. It actually had a cultural cohesion, and wasn’t just a bunch of conquered provinces.

    The West always produced good sturdy soldiers though.

    Not sure why you think the Empire was “founded in the West”. They had massive eastern holdings before they even crossed the Alps.

  8. Past tenses of cleave : clove, cleft, or cleaved.

    Past participles : cloven, cleft, or cleaved.

    In context, cloven is correct. The Empire clove in two but intransitively is or was cloven

  9. Cleave meaning to stick has the past tense cleaved or sometimes clave and the past participle is cleaved

  10. @Chester,

    His Grace the Right Hon. Professor Dr. Dr. Lord Justice Field Marshal Rear Admiral Sir SMFS (Licensed to Kill) knows everything.

    And if he doesn’t, he knows how to look it up in Wikipedia. Or the OED. So he is never wrong.

  11. What makes you all think that the end of one dynasty, or centre of government marks the end of an Empire? Wasn’t the EEC established by the Treaty of Rome? Doesn’t he Pope have his base there? Isn’t Latin the basis for a lot of European languages? I suspect that in a couple more thousand years today will be seen as a continuation of the Roman Empire .

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