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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Revising Rome Forging the finest print

I forgot that Latin word of the day thing. Here it is.
-- n, drunkenness, hangover.

That little contribution comes from a Livejournal community that's been dormant since the first of the month. Not exactly daily, is it? Well, I've give you a word and a history lesson. How's that?

The weaknesses of the Empire began with Augustus. He probably realized his shrouded leadership practices would lead to intrigues for his successors, but he probably reasoned his doubts away. The Tetrarch (rule of four) would later put this water under the bridge, but in the meantime, vulnerable successors administered the secret dictatorship.

In classic Italian style, the “republic became a family business, it worked smoothly immediately after Augustus died. Tiberius lacked ambition, and he kept the status quo, then Caligula abolished the (1%) sales tax before becoming a royal nut. At least Claudius was only physically ill; they say the good die young, and so he’s murdered so the Empire can have another nut.

I think we have conflict-of-interest laws because of Nero. This guy ripped Augustus’s careful facade by tyrannically becoming a pop star and every other celebrity type. His pyrotechnic show angered Romans, and his executions of Peter and Paul angered an emerging population to look out for.

Vespasian could be likened to Clinton, if Clinton had been military. They both slashed expenses after an excessive era. Unlike Clinton, however, this Emperor had a decisive Middle East policy. Vespasian put down a massive Hebrew rebellion in his time, while Clinton let Hamas grow to unmanageable size during his eight years in office.

Domitian begins the process of strengthening the Empire’s borders. His efforts anticipate Hadrian’s, but passive defenses are a cheap quick fix; just ask China’s Han Empire.

I think Rome would have done well to research better missiles, or maybe they should have better invested in current technology. See, the Dacian infantry ‘falks’ were good blades, and only better organization made dominion over Romania possible. Really, they should have carried more standoff weapons. Rome’s military reforms are to little, to late, but our reforms began as soon as we found our tools less-than-ideal. Our answers came in remarkably similar forms, however, fast cavalry.

Finally, nearly 300 years after Julius Caesar first chronicled Rome’s new direction, Marcus Aurelius, the last of a line of good leaders, desperately fought a new threat to his north.

Rome had lost in the Tauten Forest before -and the Iceni routed them, too, around the time of Nero- but as Commodus held his games, the law of the jungle must have been drafted.

Things could have been worse. In the 180s, the Dinarii was seventy percent pure, while Nixon pulled the US off any standard in as crucial a time, but no commission existed to end the Roman drama. Taxes grabbed 10% of Rome gross national product (GNP),* and barbarian raids on grain shipments were still fairly rare. During Nixon’s presidency, the Vietnam War alone gobbled 8% GNP, and OPEC blocked all oil imports.

The mob packed the games to watch the Emperor’s antics, while in the 1970s, Americans must have watched baseball- the Big Red Machine was building into a dynasty in Ohio- but something tells me Rome was happier in the 180s.

Into it’s bi-centennial, America and the looked in the same shape the Rome Commodus re-christened ‘Colonia Commodiana,’ and things would get worse before better.

America had it’s first un-elected President, and Rome raised a puppet. The Japanese Yen gained on the dollar, and Roman inflation was equally absurd.

Persia captured an Emperor of Rome, and in a similar time, they captured the occupants of a US embassy. And OPEC embargoed us again. Just in time, Aurelian and Ronald Reagan came to power, and things looked a little brighter.

We thankfully have not cycled through the next act, and it’s important to note that John Hinckley failed his job of making my parallel perfectly square. Meanwhile, in the past, Aurelian did not survive.

* Rome’s tax rates were misleading. While it does look like American taxes were far higher than Rome’s, subject provinces absorbed still more income in the form of tribute, and slaves gave all of their bodies to handle labor and spectacle, something we phased out a little after the Battle of Fort Sumner.

Published by Typewriter King | 7:00 PM
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