‘At the Gates of Rome’ Book Review

On the Gates of Rome: The Fall of the Everlasting Metropolis, AD 410, by Don Hollway, Osprey Publishing/Bloomsbury Publishing, Oxford, U.Okay., and New York, 2022, $30

In some ways the historical past of Rome is the story of “barbarians”—these past the imperial frontier who seemed on Rome with longing, both to beat and pillage or be part of and achieve safety. Barbarians have been lurking on the fringes when Rome clawed its solution to energy, and so they have been in on its final gasping breaths within the West. Imperial battle with barbarians persevered for greater than 800 years and formed Rome in profound methods.

As Plutarch famous, the important thing to Rome’s success was the assimilation of these whom it conquered. This Romanizing, voluntary or not, of individuals absorbed inside imperial boundaries paid dividends to Romans and barbarians alike. When the Goths, pushed by the Huns, pushed on the boundaries of the empire within the fourth century, Rome struck a deal. In trade for refuge, the Goths would serve Rome. However the relationship quickly soured, and in 378 Jap Roman Emperor Valens was killed at Adrianople, Thracia (present-day Edirne, Turkey), attempting to comprise the thankless friends. Unconquered and unassimilated, the Goths remained a barbarian nation inside the imperial borders. The implications for Rome have been profound. On the Gates of Rome examines these tumultuous occasions.

Writer Don Hollway focuses on the many years main as much as the 410 sack of Rome by the Visigoths, an occasion that uncovered an empire spiraling into ever-increasing chaos. However historical past is not only a chronicle of occasions; it’s the examine of individuals in historic context—their ambitions, virtues, vices, fears and flaws. A gifted storyteller, Hollway wraps his narrative across the lives of two males distinguished inside the maelstrom of intrigue and conflict that marked these many years: Flavius Stilicho, the supreme navy commander of Rome and buttress of its teetering throne, and Alaric, king of the Goths, a onetime ally of Rome turned potent enemy.

Skillfully weaving the accounts of historical chroniclers right into a compelling narrative, Hollway relates how these former comrades in arms turned opposition leaders within the contest for empire. The writer richly contextualizes their tales inside the broader historical past of Rome, giving readers an appreciation of the issues that weighed on their selections. Whether or not describing battles or political plots, Hollway has a knack for respiration life into historical past. On the Gates of Rome is a strong work of scholarship in addition to learn.

—Justin D. Lyons

The Fall of the Everlasting Metropolis, AD 410

By Don Hollway

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