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GENA 2112 The Characteristics of Western Culture The Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire 2012/6/13 Prof. Frederick Hok-ming The Decline and Fall of Roman Empire o Edward Gibbon, The Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire o (吉朋) o (6 volumes) o Donald Kagan, ed., Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire o o Lynn White, Jr., ed., The Transformation of the Roman World The Decline and Fall of Roman Empire o Edward Gibbon (1737-94) o Historical background (Age of Reason) o What (define) o Where (Western R.E.) o When 476 (180? 410? Or 800?) Henri Pirenne (“Pirenne’s Thesis”) o (Arnold Toynbee 湯恩比) o How & Why? The Decline and Fall of Roman Empire Internal External Christianity? Barbarian invasions Political disintegration + infiltration Population ↓ : lead (barbarization) poisoning, homosexuality, tax? Social & economic↓ Slavery↓ Intellectual↓ Climate & soil↓ Socio-Economic Historians o Lynn White, Jr., o Henri Pirenne, o Marc Bloch Henri Pirenne o Henri Pirenne (1920s) o “the Roman Empire survived in all its essentials until the coming of Islam--- (800)destroyed the unity of the Mediterranean & ended the Roman World.” The Decline and Fall of Roman Empire o Literary history: (180) = death of Aurelius o a Roman historian wrote: “Our history now descends from a kingdom of gold to one of iron & rust.” o Barbarian invasions: o Huns pushing in the rear (from Central Asia) → Attila, r. 434-53 Vandals o Goths o Visigoths o Ostrogoths o (Alaric 410 Sack of Rome) o Finally, 476 Odovacar (a Germanic general in R.E.) o Deposed Romulus Augustulus & became the King of the Romans Effects of the Barbarian Invasion 1. Short-range / immediate results: not revolutionary o ∵ life was similar o still Roman – administration, & law (+ Germanic) o (since the Germanic barbarians had no distinctive culture of their own, they accepted what they found in Italy) Effects of the Barbarian Invasion 2. Medium-long range effects: o a further acceleration of the decline in the west o ∴ “West” = the “barbarian West” o (the beginning of the Middle Ages) o the Germanic principle of “personal loyalty”人治 prevailed in the west in the Middle Ages Four Applicable Categories 1. Death by accident (J.B. Bury) 2. Natural causes (Gibbon, Boak, & Walbank) 3. Murder (: barbarians ) (Gibbon & Toynbee) 4. Suicide (Westermann) o (+ psychologically, strategically, & philosophically) stop expansion = the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire Q: o Causes for the rise of Christianity o To what extent did Christianity cause the decline & fall of the Roman Empire?
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