Thursday, 24 February 2011

Diocletian's Character: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 13 Part 3

The Palace of Diocletian at Split

From when he became president to his resignation, we know virtually every word that Richard Nixon said.  Acres of print have been covered in writing about him.  Many of his staff and close friends are still alive and have talked about him freely.  And yet the man is an enigma.  We don't feel we know him or what motivated him at all. Some people just seem to have opaque characters no matter how much you know about them. On the other hand,  Diocletian lived centuries ago and many of his actions were deliberately aimed at obscuring what is true thoughts and intentions were.  Despite this Gibbon is able to paint a detailed portrait of the man and we feel that we are getting to know him well.  Unlike Nixon, everything he does seems to express his character.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Diocletian and the Borders: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 13 Part 2

Being British I share Gibbon's interest in events in Britain, but in reality what was going on elsewhere was a lot  more significant.  Indeed Carausius may well have calculated that he stood a good chance of getting away with his entire province larceny scheme because the emperors would be otherwise engaged elsewhere.  And at the time it would have been hard to disagree with him.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Here’s something to look out for the next time you see footage on a documentary of the concentration camps in the Second World War.  You often see people being dusted with a powder. 
The  chances are that it is DDT.  At the end of the war Europe was on its knees with widespread destruction of infrastructure and a shortage of food.  Many people were displaced as well as hungry and were moving about trying to get back to their homes.  The situation was ideal for the emergence and wide spreading of disease.  But that problem, at least was avoided, thanks largely to DDT.  It had been developed as an insecticide in 1939 and was deployed in large quantities to prevent mites, the habitual spreaders diseases as the war ended in 1945.

Continue reading this Silent Spring Review at the new home of the blog.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Two Very Different Revolts: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 13 Part 2

A coin from the Britannic Empire of Carausius - Wth thanks to Wikipedia

In Gaul, early in the reign of Diocletian the peasants rose in revolt.  Hang on, peasants?  In the Roman Empire?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Diocletian, the Tetrarchy: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 13 Part 1

Diocletian - Humble Birth, Great Achievements (thanks to Wikipedia for the image)

There are just over a hundred recorded Roman emperors but few of them had as much impact as Diocletian.