Adrian Goldsworthy addresses perhaps the greatest of all historical questions in a presentation based on his monumental new work, How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower.
In AD 200, the Roman Empire seemed unassailable. Its vast territory accounted for most of the known world. By the end of the fifth century, Roman rule had vanished in Western Europe and much of North Africa, and only a shrunken Eastern Empire remained. What accounts for this improbable decline?
Known for his scholarship, perspective, and narrative skill, Goldsworthy illuminates a period of remarkable personalities, from the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius to emperors like Diocletian, who portrayed themselves as tough, even brutal, soldiers. It was a time of revolutionary ideas, especially in religion, as Christianity went from persecuted sect to the religion of state and emperors. Goldsworthy pays particular attention to the willingness of Roman soldiers to fight and kill each other. Ultimately, this is the story of how an empire without a serious rival rotted from within, its rulers and institutions putting short-term ambition and personal survival over the wider good of the state.
Adrian Goldsworthy is the author of many books about the ancient world including Caesar, The Roman Army at War, and In the Name of Rome. He lectures widely and consults on historical documentaries produced by the History Channel, National Geographic, and the BBC. He lives in Wales.