The Roman Empire. Retrospect and Prospect

  • M. Cary
  • H. H. Scullard


Though Diocletian and Constantine gave the Roman Empire a further lease of life, they could not eradicate the disease which had all but destroyed it. After the death of Constantine a new round of civil wars between his sons and other claimants kept the Empire in a more or less permanent state of division, and its temporary reunion under Constantius (353–361) and Julian (361–363), and again under Theodosius I (395), merely emphasised the difficulty of holding it together. In 364 the brothers Valentinian and Valens made an amicable partition of the Roman dominions, by which the former took Italy and the western districts, while Valens received the eastern provinces; and a similar compromise was made between Theodosius’s two sons, Arcadius and Honorius, who became the founders of two sub-empires in the East and West respectively (395). Though in strict law Arcadius and Honorius remained joint rulers of an undivided realm, in actual practice they became independent of each other, so that the history of the eastern and western divisions henceforth ran on separate lines.


Fourth Century Military Coup Roman Emperor Roman World Roman Empire 
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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    J. P. C. Kent (Corolla memoriae E. Swoboda dedicata (1966), 146 ff.) appears to have shown that Odoacer continued to recognise a Julius Nepos as emperor in the West until 480: thus officially the Western Empire survived four years longer than the traditional date of its end.Google Scholar
  2. A summary of the impressions made by the decline on thinkers of later ages will be found in W. Rehm, Der Untergang Roms im abendlandischen Denken (1930).Google Scholar
  3. A useful introductory sketch is S. Katz, The Decline of Rome and the Rise of Mediaeval Europe (1955).Google Scholar
  4. On malaria in Italy see P. A. Brunt, Roman Manpower (1971), 610–24Google Scholar
  5. who discusses inter alfa the views of W. H. S. Jones, Malaria, a Neglected Factor in the History of Greece and Rome (1907).Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    See A. E. R. Soak, Manpower Shortage and the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West (1955).Google Scholar
  7. For trenchant criticism see M. I. Finley, JRS 1958, 156 ff.Google Scholar
  8. and (for slavery) P. A. Brunt, JRS 1958, 166 f.Google Scholar
  9. (On slavery see also S. Mazzarino, The End of the Ancient World (1966), 136 ff.).Google Scholar
  10. 18.
    See M. Rostovtzeff, Social and Economic History of the Roman Empire (1957).Google Scholar
  11. For discussion and criticism of his views see H. Last, JRS 1926, 120 ff.;Google Scholar
  12. N. H. Baynes, JRS 1929, 229 f.;Google Scholar
  13. M. Reinhold, Science and Society x (1946), 301 ff. Rostovtzeff himself had witnessed an aristocratic regime in conflict with an alliance of soldiers and workers in his own land of Russia.Google Scholar
  14. 20.
    On how hard emperors might have worked in the service of the Empire see F. Millar, ‘Emperors at Work’, JRS 1967, 9 ff.Google Scholar
  15. 29.
    On the medieval Roman Empire J. Bryce, The Holy Roman Empire (1905), now needs much revision.Google Scholar
  16. See G. Barraclough, The Origins of Modern Germany (1946).Google Scholar
  17. 28.
    On the study of Latin in the Dark Ages see M. L. W. Laistner, Thought and Letters in Western Europe, A.D. 500–9002 (1947); G. Haskins, The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century.Google Scholar
  18. On scholarship see J. E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, 13 (1921).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The representatives of the estate of the late M. Cary and H. H. Scullard 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Cary
    • 1
  • H. H. Scullard
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LondonUK

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