Via Larry Reed, here’s a link to an animated picture that tells the story of Rome. It’s a simple picture. But it tells an amazing story. It’s fun to watch it and play the events over in my mind.
The map begins as a tiny dot in 510 B.C. That’s the year before Tarquin the Proud, the last of the Roman kings, was overthrown. That event marked the birth of the Roman Republic. Roman territory quickly grows, despite the famous Punic Wars against Carthage. Romans come to view the Mediterranean as “Mare Nostrum” — our lake.
But not forever. The Empire starts shrinking in the third century A.D., slowly at first and then with alarming speed. Population pressures in the Far East push Goths and other barbarians into Roman territory faster than they can be assimilated. They turn hostile.
Eventually the Empire splits into Eastern and Western halves. The Western halfdisappears after 476. The Eastern half survives for another millennium as the Byzantine Empire. It prospers for a while, but it spends its last few centuries as a depressing rump of what it once was.
It’s a fascinating story; in learning it, one learns much about human nature, about art, philosophy, literature, economics, politics, war, peace, church and state, and more. No wonder it has captured so many imaginations over the years.