© 2016

The Modern Cultural Myth of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


  • Investigates the 'myth' of the decline and fall of Rome in British and American culture

  • Analyses how writers, filmmakers and the media conceptualise this narrative and draw parallels to contemporary world

  • Argues the 'rise and fall' is a myth representing fears of the instability of civilisations then and now


Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of the Media book series (PSHM)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Jonathan Theodore
    Pages 1-19
  3. Jonathan Theodore
    Pages 21-82
  4. Jonathan Theodore
    Pages 83-111
  5. Jonathan Theodore
    Pages 113-150
  6. Jonathan Theodore
    Pages 195-199
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 201-228

About this book


This book investigates the ‘decline and fall’ of Rome as perceived and imagined in aspects of British and American culture and thought from the late nineteenth through the early twenty-first centuries. It explores the ways in which writers, filmmakers and the media have conceptualized this process and the parallels they have drawn, deliberately or unconsciously, to their contemporary world. Jonathan Theodore argues that the decline and fall of Rome is no straightforward historical fact, but a ‘myth’ in terms coined by Claude Lévi-Strauss, meaning not a ‘falsehood’ but a complex social and ideological construct. Instead, it represents the fears of European and American thinkers as they confront the perceived instability and pitfalls of the civilization to which they belonged. The material gathered in this book illustrates the value of this idea as a spatiotemporal concept, rather than a historical event – a narrative with its own unique moral purpose. 


Ancient Rome Civilisation Cultural history Lévi-Strauss Media

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.ManchesterUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Jonathan Theodore studied at the University of Oxford and King’s College London, UK and has been a tutor in early European history at the latter. His first book, Cyprus and the Financial Crisis, was published by Palgrave in 2015.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title The Modern Cultural Myth of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • Authors Jonathan Theodore
  • Series Title Palgrave Studies in the History of the Media
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Studies in the History of the Media
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-137-56996-7
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-349-84893-5
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-137-56997-4
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages X, 228
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Ancient History
    Cultural History
    History of Ancient Europe
  • Buy this book on publisher's site