I've just had a first look at Peter Heather's book on the fall of the Roman 
Empire and read a few online reviews - one of those occasions where the 
different reviewers might seem to have read different books.  How we react to 
the Great Fall in the light of our own political preoccupations!  Some react to 
the narrative by talk of an 'immigration crisis', some in terms of 'imperialism 
responsible for its own demise'.  From our point of view, we might ask whether 
V was responsible for encouraging too much imperialist hope and arrogance, or 
even too much contempt for the non-Roman nations who were to become immigrants 
into Roman territory.  I suppose that Romans reading 'imperium sine fine' might 
have been encouraged in a dangerous complacency, even arrogance, though perhaps 
only if their reading was superficial.  When one thinks of Jupiter's character 
and concerns it is hard to take 'sine fine' at face value. Mynors, in 
commenting on the passage in Geo. about the inhabitants of!
  the cold and hot regions, says that V refers to the Goths and Saracens who 
were to bring the Roman world to an end.  Did he mean that V sensed that these 
peoples would be to Rome, after a much longer siege, what the Greeks had been 
to Troy?  The judgement on Troy seems to be that the city must fall - occiderit 
cum nomine - but that the city's work for the world would somehow continue in 
other hands.  A message concerning peritura regna that avoids the traps both of 
arrogance and of despair. Well, I think I've concatenated as many unrelated 
passages, irresponsibly regardless of their context, as one well might in one 
short note. - Martin Hughes 

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