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The Eternal Decline and Fall of Rome


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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 A Snapshot and a Story Chapter 2 The Decline and Fall of the Roman Republic, c. 200 BC-14 AD Chapter 3 Manufacturing the Golden Age of Trajan, 14 -117 AD Chapter 4 Renewal without Decline: The Antonines and Severans, 117-235 AD Chapter 5 Decline and False Renewal: The Third Century Crisis, 235-284 AD Chapter 6 Decline, Renewal, and the Invention of Christian Progress, 284-337 AD Chapter 7 Roman Renewal versus Christian Progress, 337-363 AD Chapter 8 When Renewal Fails to Arrive, 363-384 AD Chapter 9 The Loss of the Roman West and the Christian Future, 384-c. 470 AD Chapter 10 Justinian, Roman Progress, and the Death of the Western Roman Empire, c. 470-565 AD Chapter 11 Rome, the Arabs, and Iconoclasm, 565-c. 750 AD Chapter 12 Old Rome, New Rome, and Future Rome, c. 750-814 AD Chapter 13 The Retrenchment of One Roman Empire, the Resurgence of Another, 814-1085 AD Chapter 14 The Captures of Constantinople, 1085-1282 AD Chapter 15 The Fall of Roman Constantinople and the End of Roman Renewal, 1282-1461 AD Chapter 16 Roman Renewal After the Fall, c.1450-c. 1560 AD Chapter 17 The Dangerous Idea

About the Author

Edward J. Watts is Alkiviadis Vassiliadis Endowed Chair and Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego. His previous books include Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny, The Final Pagan Generation, and Hypatia: The Life and Legend of an Ancient Philosopher.


"History professor Watts accomplishes an impressive feat by effectively compressing the vast history of Rome and its empire into a relatively short book... In such an abbreviated history of much of the Western World, Watts succeeds admirably in his purpose. But his truly novel contribution is his ability to weave in the ways that the 'deeply entrenched narrative' of Roman decline and recovery accompanied Rome's growth in the second century B.C.E. and on to its commanding position in the western empire as the seat of Catholicism, before the break with Constantinople.... A fresh, complex story of how historical perceptions come into being and are used to persuade and rule." -- Kirkus Reviews "The Eternal Decline and Fall of Rome traces the dreams and nightmares of the longest lasting polity in the history of Europe. For almost two millennia, Romans remained haunted by the prospect of their own decline and fall. They were also constantly hypnotized by programs that claimed to 'Make Rome Great Again.' Each such program left a trail of victims and scapegoats. Edward Watts tells this story of alternating hopes, fears, and grand illusions from beginning to end with zest and truly panoramic erudition. Those who wish to understand how the chill ghost of Rome's fall can still be conjured up by modern pundits and politicians - and frequently with toxic results--should read this book." -- Peter Brown, author of The Ransom of the Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity "The 'fall of Rome' is an idea that has been weaponized throughout the ages. Where one speaks of a 'decline,' talk of blame is usually soon to follow. Any 'renewal' or 'revival' quickly results in its own victims. The Eternal Decline and Fall of Rome is the first book to tell the story of the use and misuse of these ideas over the long course of Roman history. As Watts lays out, there was no one decline of Rome, nor one fall, but a series of them, each of them heavily politicized." -- Anthony Kaldellis, author of Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood: The Rise and Fall of Byzantium, 955 A.D. to the First Crusade "In this timely and well-executed work, Edward Watts has brought off three exceptional achievements: literary, historical, and political. His well-tempered description of Roman decline and fall strikes chords in contemporary America, inviting a use of Rome's example to think more responsibly about the challenges of our own world." -- Janet Nelson, author of King and Emperor: A New Life of Charlemagne "Memory of Rome's imperial greatness has inspired over the centuries the ambitions of rulers, popes, and warlords. But alongside this was the warning of Rome's fall. In this masterful compression, Edward Watts brings together ideas of empire and decline, showing their interaction over almost two millennia and their continued relevance and misuse in politics today." -- Martyn Rady, author of The Habsburgs: The Rise and Fall of a World Power

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