How Do You Know If You’re Living Through the Death of an Empire? – Mother Jones

The fall of an empire—the end of a polity, a socioeconomic order, a dominant culture, or the intertwined whole—looks more like a cascading series of minor, individually unimportant failures than a dramatic ending that appears out of the blue. Carts full of olive oil failing to arrive at some nameless fort because of a dysfunctional military bureaucracy, a corrupt official deciding to cook the books and claim taxes were collected when they really weren’t, a greedy aristocrat bribing that official instead of paying his bill, an aqueduct falling to pieces and nobody willing to front the funds to repair it.

Consider the city of Rome, no longer the capital as the empire wound down but still its symbolic heart. It suffered two dramatic sackings in the fifth century, the first at the hands of the Visigoths in 410, the second committed by the Vandals in 455. But neither of those famous plunderings did the city in.
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