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May 2, 2017

In the spirit of Gibbon, we dream of the Roman Empire,

ever falling, and the troops out at the wild frontiers, lonely and afraid.
The reality was usually different. They minded the borders, but mostly they were employed in police functions, on the near side of it, trying to enforce some civilized order. This was true not only for the pagan Romans but for the Christian Byzantines who succeeded them. Both had a lot of “West Texas” to defend. Pannonia was a bit like that, and by the sixth century, becoming more so. The people there did not like to be ruled, preferring to select their own vigilantes. Often it was farmers versus ranchers (“shepherds”). - - Villagers & pillagers : Essays in Idleness

Posted by gerardvanderleun at May 2, 2017 10:31 AM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

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