Many books of fiction, academic studies, dry histories, shoddy blogs, shoddier movies and cheap soaps have been devoted to that abstraction called ROME.
They devote themselves to the common questions we have been told that matter most, the “serious” questions.
Who were the Romans?
Where did they come from?
How did they achieve dominance over the classical world?
And most importantly in the eyes of many – what caused “THE FALL”.
The latter question is one that interested me as well, a great deal, until I understood a basic historical fact – a truly heretical historical fact. That fact stunned me, blew me away really, fascinated me from the get-go and it hasn’t let go of me since.
ROME DID NOT FALL.
Or put more specifically, when Romulus Augustulus abdicated in favor of the Goth warlord Odoacer, he formally ended the Western Roman Empire. Yet this apocryphal collapse was really just a historical asterisk. Why? How could I be so flip with the seminal event of modern western civilization.
The year was 476. The “end” came in 476.
But the reality is that for another thousand years – until 1453 – a Roman Emperor continued to rule in the ancient Byzantium, the capital of the Roman Empire since Constantine the Great moved the capital of the Empire from Roman to the newly christened Constantinople in 330CE.
It is accurate to say that the Western Empire ceased to exist in 476, while in truth it had ceased to exist several decades before as an independent entity. It is equally true, stunningly accurate, to assert that the Eastern Empire lived until it fell to Mehmed “the Conqueror” in 1453, on the eve of Columbus’ trip to the new world.
Assuming that what I have just abruptly foisted upon you is true, it begs the following questions. I trust they will pique your interest as they have held me hostage since childhood,
– Why do Western school children know nothing of this “other Rome”?
– What is the missing history, these thousand years that is not taught?
– What debt do we owe to this Rome – how would our world be different if Rome hadn’t continued in the East?
– Who were these “other” Romans? How did they perceive the falling darkness, the barbarian invasions, the retreat of classical civilization?
– How did they navigate the Dark Ages? How did civilization survive in their hands when the West lived in darkness, ignorance, brutish squalor?
– What was the role of this forgotten Rome in the reawakening of the West in the Renaissance?
These are the basic questions that have kept me occupied for many years – they are obviously far greater than I. But I’ve delved into these things in a very small way, pursuing my obsession and attempting to share a germ of this fascinating world with others in the form of my novel, FROM AFRICANUS, and it’s sequel, AVENGING AFRICANUS that will be released in the summer of 2014.
Please stay tuned, share your thoughts, your passion, and curiosity, for the forgotten Rome. Not to say that the story of the Republic and early Empire isn’t worthy – it is most worthy of study and discussion but it’s not neglected. The same can’t be said of the Rome of Justinian the Great.