Tag Archives: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


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The roses of Heliogabalus

Nothing is as aesthetically harmless as a shower of rose petals.  So it is with the decadent opulence and aesthetic excesses of a declining empire.  In the western world the “peasants” are smothered with glitz and glamorous televised special effects, entertainments, athletic spectacles and indulged in gluttonous festivals on a daily basis. Conversely, during the Black Death plague that wiped out 2/3 of European civilization, people wore flowers around their necks to disguise the smell of their rotting flesh, just before they died.  This is the origin of the children’s song “Ring Around The Rosey, Pocket Full of Poseys, All Fall Down“.

We are the very same beings who lived in Rome.  We died.  We were reincarnated.  This process repeated, again, and again, and again, explains the rise and fall of human civilizations on Planet Earth.  So far, EVERY civilization on Earth has failed and disappeared.  Without exceptions.  Why is that?  Simple: we are the people our mothers warned us about.  It does not matter whether you “believe” it, or not.  What is, is.  What will be, will be.  Unless each one of us decides to change our personal behavior.  Unless we create a sustainable civilization for everyone, every day, our civilization declines and disappears.  When we allow criminals and maniacs to rule our lives (Secret Societies, Private Bankers and Politicians) we are doomed to repeat the same decay and death we’ve already endured a thousand times.  Personally, I’m tired of it.  It’s too fucking boring and absurd!

Last year I read The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (27 April 1737– 16 January 1794) which was published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788.  I am also a painter and a student of art history. The decadent murder attempt rendered beautifully in the painting titled, The Roses of Heliogabalus”  was painted in 1888 by the Anglo-Dutch academician Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

“According to Gibbon, the Roman Empire succumbed to barbarian invasions in large part due to the gradual loss of civic virtue among its citizens.  They had become weak, outsourcing their duties to defend their Empire to barbarian mercenaries, who then became so numerous and ingrained that they were able to take over the Empire. Romans, he believed, had become effeminate, unwilling to live a tougher, “manly” military lifestyle. In addition, Gibbon argued that Christianity created a belief that a better life existed after death, which fostered an indifference to the present among Roman citizens, thus sapping their desire to sacrifice for the Empire. He also believed its comparative pacifism tended to hamper the traditional Roman martial spirit. Finally, like other Enlightenment thinkers, Gibbon held in contempt the Middle Ages as a priest-ridden, superstitious, dark age.”  (Wikipedia.org)

Any student of history, especially of the Roman Empire, cannot be otherwise than overwhelmed by the nearly identical parallels in the decay and decline of the American Empire.  This principle difference is that the American deterioration has taken only 200 years, whereas the collapse of Rome took about 1500.  I cannot resist commenting on the decadent, aesthetic irony embodied by this painting:  It is based on an episode in the life of the Roman emperor Heliogabalus, (204–222), taken from the Augustan History.  He is portrayed attempting   to smother his unsuspecting guests in rose-petals released from false ceiling panels.  “In a banqueting room with a reversible ceiling he once overwhelmed his parasites with violets and other flowers, so that some were actually smothered to death, being unable to crawl out to the top.”

The emperor was cut to pieces by swords at the age of 18, by the Praetorian Guard, — at the instigation of his own grandmother — who was outraged and incensed by the perverse sexual and political behavior of this boy-emperor.  Heliogabalus was bi-sexual, rampantly promiscuous, and unabashedly disrespectful of Roman Law and moral codes.

Members of the Praetorian Guard attacked Heliogabalus and his mother: So he made an attempt to flee, and would have got away somewhere by being placed in a chest, had he not been discovered and slain, at the age of 18.  His mother, who embraced him and clung tightly to him, perished with him; their heads were cut off and their bodies, after being stripped naked, were first dragged all over the city, and then the mother’s body was cast aside somewhere or other, while his was thrown into the river.”

What do you think  the Praetorian Guard might do with Emperors, Wall Street Banksters and Congressmen today?

How much longer do you think American civilization will endure before it is smothered in its own decadence? 


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I heartily recommend that everyone read The History of the Rise and Fall of The Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon.  Personally, it has given me a perspective on the economic, political and religious vested interests that have driven the materialistic evolution of  Western Civilization.  Understanding our past creates the realization, for me, that we have learned little from history.  A nearly total absence of spiritual self-awareness of the beings who create and inhabit  Western society has been carefully nurtured since the rise of the Greeks and Romans 3,000 years ago.  Corrupt senators, imperialist armies and brutal entertainments of the circus maximus for plebeian mobs still thrive in our daily lives!  —  Lawrence R. Spencer

Here is more information about Edward Gibbon from Wikipedia.org:

“Edward Gibbon (27 April 1737 – 16 January 1794) was an English historian and Member of Parliament. His most important work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788. The Decline and Fall is known for the quality and irony of its prose, its use of primary sources, and its open criticism of organized religion.Gibbon’s work has been criticised for its scathing view of Christianity as laid down in chapters XV and XVI. Those chapters were strongly criticised and resulted in the banning of the book in several countries. Gibbon’s alleged crime was disrespecting, and none too lightly, the character of sacred Christian doctrine, by “treat[ing] the Christian church as a phenomenon of general history, not a special case admitting supernatural explanations and disallowing criticism of its adherents”. More specifically, the chapters excoriated the church for “supplanting in an unnecessarily destructive way the great culture that preceded it” and for “the outrage of [practicing] religious intolerance and warfare”. Gibbon, though assumed to be entirely anti-religion, was actually supportive to some extent, insofar as it did not obscure his true endeavour – a history that was not influenced and swayed by official church doctrine. Although the most famous two chapters are heavily ironical and cutting about religion, it is not utterly condemned, and its truth and rightness are upheld however thinly.

Gibbon’s apparent antagonism to Christian doctrine spilled over into the Jewish faith, leading to charges of anti-Semitism. For example, he wrote:

 “Humanity is shocked at the recital of the horrid cruelties which [the Jews] committed in the cities of Egypt, of Cyprus, and of Cyrene, where they dwelt in treacherous friendship with the unsuspecting natives; and we are tempted to applaud the severe retaliation which was exercised by the arms of legions against a race of fanatics, whose dire and credulous superstition seemed to render them the implacable enemies not only of the Roman government, but also of humankind.”

Gibbon is considered to be a son of the Enlightenment and this is reflected in his famous verdict on the history of the Middle Ages: “I have described the triumph of barbarism and religion.” However, politically, he aligned himself with the conservative Edmund Burke’s rejection of the democratic movements of the time as well as with Burke’s dismissal of the “rights of man.”

Gibbon’s work has been praised for its style, his piquant epigrams and its effective irony. Winston Churchill memorably noted, “I set out upon…Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [and] was immediately dominated both by the story and the style. …I devoured Gibbon. I rode triumphantly through it from end to end and enjoyed it all.” Churchill modelled much of his own literary style on Gibbon’s. Like Gibbon, he dedicated himself to producing a “vivid historical narrative, ranging widely over period and place and enriched by analysis and reflection.”

Unusually for the 18th century, Gibbon was never content with secondhand accounts when the primary sources were accessible (though most of these were drawn from well-known printed editions). “I have always endeavoured,” he says, “to draw from the fountain-head; that my curiosity, as well as a sense of duty, has always urged me to study the originals; and that, if they have sometimes eluded my search, I have carefully marked the secondary evidence, on whose faith a passage or a fact were reduced to depend.” In this insistence upon the importance of primary sources, Gibbon is considered by many to be one of the first modern historians:

In accuracy, thoroughness, lucidity, and comprehensive grasp of a vast subject, the ‘History’ is unsurpassable. It is the one English history which may be regarded as definitive. …Whatever its shortcomings the book is artistically imposing as well as historically unimpeachable as a vast panorama of a great period.”