The Day Rome Fell

In 410 AD, Alaric I, a Visagoth, lead an army into Rome and sacked the city.

It was in essence, the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

We really don’t talk about this enough.

Rome had been replaced by Ravenna as the capital city of the Western Roman Empire a decade before, but it was still the eternal city and the spiritual center of the Empire. It’s fall and sacking sent shock-waves to friend and foe.

Really, it was all over twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

St. Jerome, residing in Bethlehem said, “The City which had taken the whole world was itself taken.”

I had to let that sink in for a minute.

Rome had fallen to no one for nearly 800 years.  In 387 BC, the Gauls, at the battle of Allia and under the leadership of a brute named Brennus, defeated the Romans, charged into the city, and tore it UP.

The Romans tried to buy their way out of destruction, and agreed to pay 1,000 pounds of gold.

The historian Livy, tells us that a dispute arose over the weights used to weigh the gold.  It seems Brennus had brought his own which were heavier than usual.  When the Romans began to whine, he threw his sword onto the scales and said “Vae victis!” which means, “woe to the conquered.”

Now, 800 years later, and after pillaging the world, Rome had fallen again.

Rome had conquered the known world; more than the Persians, more than the Medes, more than Alexander, more than anyone before.

Alaric and his army had marched south to begin his third siege of the city, and after some time and treachery, his army of Visigoths breached the Porta Salaria and Rome had fallen.

Sack_of_Rome_by_the_Visigoths_on_24_August_410_by_JN_Sylvestre_1890

Some historians of the day wrote glowing stories of the Visigoths’ mercy:  Christian churches were spared along with the Roman citizens who took refuge therein; precious metals in homes were spared when they sat in front of altars of St. Peter, and many women went “unharmed.”

Yeah, right!

They were barbarians, Visigoths, Huns!

Much of the city was spared from fire, but an invasion is an invasion, and barbarians are barbarians.

After Rome, Alaric headed to Calabria.  He wanted to invade Africa, but a storm arose, many of his ships fell apart, and much of his army drowned.

He, himself was dead a few days later of fever.

He was buried under the riverbed of the Busento as was the custom of the plundering horde.  To accomplish this, the river was diverted from its normal course, the grave dug, Alaric interred, and the river righted; those who’d done the labor were killed to avoid divulging his burial place.

Busento River

Nice bunch.

He Really Should Be!

This is a book review.

My dad was a big fan of the talking head shows on CNN, Faux, NBC, CBS, and ABC.  He loved to listen to them argue, and aside from the hour a day mother commandeered the TV and watched “her stories”, he had some pundit yelling at him all the time.

Unless there was a baseball game on.

One of his favorites to watch, and vehemently disagree with, was Bob Beckel.

Bekel on the Five

I’ll have to admit, although I also do not agree often with Mr. Beckel, I did enjoy his style and his banter from shows like Crossfire and Faux News’ The Five.

Recently, Bob came out with a “redemptive memoir” about his many decades as a political operative, diplomat, pundit, addict, and alcoholic.

It is entitled I Should Be Dead.

Bekel Book

Really, he should be!

Over 75 % of the book is a story of drink, drugs, debauchery, and deceit.

I really liked the guy until I started reading the book.  For a while, I was on the off ramp of disgust and disdain for the boy.

The book helped to cement my perception of political operatives as well.

They.Are.Scum.

Just sayin’.

Growing UP a “survivor” in an abusive home dominated and driven by an alcoholic father, he learned to hide his feelings, survive, lie, and deceive which all came in very handy in his Washington career.

Seemingly at the pinnacle of success in the political and infortainment worlds, Bob was hiding – not so well – a big secret.

He was a drunk.

Waking UP in the psych ward on “W’s” inauguration day in 2001 was rock bottom for him, but allowed his story to change.

The story is a difficult one to read.  I had to put the book down repeatedly and move on to something else for a day or two.

Once I started it, it took me 6 months to read this book.

It has fewer than 300 pages.

It’s not me, it’s him.

Once started, it’s a must finish.  He weaves a story of his addictions and how they nearly killed him and a story of help, faith, friendship, sobriety, and redemption from unlikely sources.

It’s not a book I’ll re-read, but I’m glad I read it.

And he’s right, he should be dead!

Don’t Lose Your Head!

1642 Charles I of England called Parliament Traitors and the English Civil War began further proving my theory that Mondays suck, and have for centuries.

The English Civil War was a mess, ended UP with Charlie’s head on the chopping block and the country run by a religious fanatic or two.

Charles I

But, I’ll spare you the deets.

However, Charlie was an interesting bloke as they say.

Here are some highlights.

He was the grandson of Mary Queen of Scots who had been beheaded by his first cousin twice removed and predecessor, Queen Elizabeth I

He was born in Scotland prior to his father’s ascension to the English throne; up to then, they were just Scotsmen.

He was never meant to be king, but came to the throne when his older brother, Henry died of typhoid at the age of 16.

Charles, a sickly child, stayed in Scotland when mummy and daddy hightailed it to England after good queen Bess bought the farm.  He was looked after by the Lord Fyvie, his father’s friend.

He did not learn to walk until he was three and a half.  Most likely it was from a physical ailment – probably rickets.

Some say he didn’t talk until he was five.

In May of 1625, he was married by proxy to 15 year old princess Henrietta Marie of France, a Roman Catholic.  He had seen her before while travelling to Spain to woo another royal bridal possibility which failed.

He promised he would not relax religious restrictions on Catholics because of his bride, but promised King Louis XIII the exact opposite in the marriage treaty.

It didn’t help that his Catholic wife refused to attend his coronation since she considered it a Protestant ceremony – which it was.

In the first four years of his reign, he dismissed three parliaments and acted as an autocrat.

When preparing for his execution – he was beheaded on a cold winter’s day – he asked for two shirts to prevent any noticeable shivering that might be mistaken for fear.

He was the only English monarch to be executed after a trial for treason.

After he was beheaded by one stroke, he head was sewn back on so he could have a proper burial.

He was royalty after all!

It’s Monday, don’t lose your head!

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Orville Wright. He was born in 1871 in Dayton, Ohio – the Birthplace of Aviation.

Orville Wright

He may have been wright, but he was wrong when he said, “No flying machine will ever fly from New York to Paris.”

Don’t limit yourself, you never know what’s inside of you.