What if the Roman Empire didn't fall?
The main reason Latin is a dead language is...
The main reason Latin is a dead language is that the Romans who spoke it were slaughtered by barbarians when Rome was sacked in 410 AD. The Visigoths who didn't speak Latin, slipped into the city from a side gate and pillaged their brains out, scaring the Jupiter out of the Romans. They fled to the countryside, leaving the city to the barbarian hordes. It was a thousand years later when the second sack of Rome finally finished off any remaining empire lovers when, in 1527, Rome was again sacked by the troops of Charles V.
So, getting sacked was not just a term for losing one's livelihood but in actual fact, was commonly used to refer to the decimation of an empire, a culture and a whole way of life. The Roman empire was large and well-organized and thus, it took a while to decline to the point where others felt the opportunity existed to sack the capital. It is the primary example of the temporary nature of power and empire. I mean, if the Romans could fall, anybody could.
It could be argued that the Roman Empire didn't fall in spirit, because we enjoy many things in our daily lives that had been preserved and passed down through the centuries from the heydays of Caesar and his generals. To quote Monty Python, there were the roads, sanitation, wine, aqueducts, medicine, education and public baths, to name a few. So their legacy withstood the dark Middle Ages and countless wars and plagues which tormented Europe for 1,500 years.
However, there are those who wonder why empires have to fall at all? Is it the way of things, to rise and fall? Or could we all be Romans, a continuous line of civilization from then until now? If so, what would life be like?
What if Rome didn't Fall?
Monty Python's What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?
The Remains of the Coliseum
Life Today if Rome Didn't get the Sack
The first thing is obviously sports. The Romans loved games, coliseums and live entertainment (where live people died for other people's amusement). We'd be enjoying the same kind of R-rated films, TV and live events as we do now, but without the special effects simulating the gore and slaughter of innocent victims. No, we'd see it all for real, just like the Romans did.
The second thing is the Latin, not dead but very much alive. Desperate quarterbacks would be tossing "Ave Maria" passes instead of Hail Mary's into the end zones. We would be using the full "Anno Domini" instead of the AD when we reference a year. The newspaper's arrival every day would be called a "Magna Charta" (a great paper) and we'd be asking our spouses to be "semper fildelis" which is always faithful.
So far, so good. The Roman Legion would have evolved into today's army with little change in tactics, save for longer pants and boots instead of sandals. We'd still be taking baths and building roads and great buildings.
We would probably still be punishing criminals by nailing them to crosses, although the Roman Empire did embrace Christianity and this habit could have eventually died out. However, it is hard to imagine the bloody nature of Roman society moderating itself when it was the source of its power. No, I believe the Roman empire would keep up the tradition of violent public executions as well as the insatiable and undiminished lust for conquest.
The Roman Empire would be a worldwide phenomenon if it wasn't sacked again and again. But it was, like all empires before and since. It is our very nature to attack the authorities and institutions around us, either from outside or from within. So we don't have emperors any more, we have Presidents and Premiers and Kings. These are just different names for the Caesars of our past, because human nature is essentially Roman, speaking to us in phantom Latin to "vescere bracis meis" which we'd all understand if the bloody Roman Empire had kept itself together instead of declining, falling and taking the sack.
Yes, my fellow Romans, we would hear the ancients speak to us in the dead language of the distant past to "eat my shorts". See how far we have come?
Why did Rome Fall?
What was the biggest reason for the Fall of Rome?See results without voting
What the Romans did for us
Decline and Fall and Sacking of Rome Details
- Alaric and the Fall of Rome - Alaric Sacks Rome
King Alaric I, ruler of the Visigoths, sacked Rome on August 24, A.D. 410, a possible date for the Fall of Rome.
- Decline of the Roman Empire - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Reference info on the classic text by Edward Gibbins on the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Great bedtime reading.
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