‘The Last of the Romans’

Image result for images of stilicho

That was the nickname given to Stilicho by historian Edward Gibbon.

“The last of the Romans,” and commander of what was left of all the Roman armies in the West, Stilicho was half-Vandal and related by marriage to the imperial family. In 408 A.D. he was judicially murdered as the result of a coup within the imperial household. Two years later, Alaric and the Goths sacked Rome. That was the end of the Roman Empire in the West.

Stilicho won battle after battle with armies he was forced to scrape together at short notice, a small hard core of veterans, and barbarian allies who sometimes didn’t stay allies for long. He was the last Roman general to be awarded a triumph, in 402, after beating back another Gothic invasion of Italy. In 406 a confederation of several barbarian nations burst into Italy. Stilicho raised 30 “legions” totalling some 30,000 men and drove off the invaders. Once upon a time, a Roman legion was 6,000 men, plus allies and auxiliaries–for all practical purposes, ten thousand. For Stilicho, a legion was a single thousand.

But there were no legions available to defend the Rhine frontier. The confederation swarmed across the frozen river and ravaged the provinces of Gaul–which led also to a revolt in Britain.

Gibbon marveled at what Stilicho was able to do, militarily, with so little–a very far cry from the armies Rome placed at the disposal of Scipio or Augustus Caesar.

What ought to be remembered is this: Stilicho’s strength was stretched so thin, his resources of money and manpower so limited, that he could not afford to lose a battle: he could never lose and live to fight another day. His political enemies in Rome lived for that single defeat that would mean the end of Stilicho. When he was unable to stop the invasion of Gaul, they framed him on a trumped-up charge of treason and had him put to death. That was the reward he got for all his victories. That was the one defeat, the one failure, he was not allowed to suffer.

Does that remind you of any leader currently in office, in our own time?



8 comments on “‘The Last of the Romans’

  1. I hope that we are not that far gone as a civilization, but I fear that we are. I am truly appalled by what I see in the news. My greatest solace is that we may be in the Last Days and will see Divine deliverance. My second solace is, at the very least, I am not young and the uncertainty of my future in this life is limited to my natural lifespan.

    I have a handful of younger relatives and literally shudder at what they may face in their lifetimes.

  2. I love it when you delve into history in your blog posts. It is amazing how much we know about the Romans. And the allusion to today’s deep state trying to take out Trump because he is upsetting the apple cart and doesn’t give a hoot what anyone says about him because he is on a mission from God (he was born to be President).

    1. Just to expand upon that thought, in 1979 this country was circling the drain while Carter fiddled. Reagan was elected and everything changed. For over thirty years I’ve marveled at what happened in 1980. God had blessed us many times. I just hope that this nation thorns it’s heart to Him.

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