Tuesday marks the 1,600th anniversary of one of the turning points of European history - the first sack of Imperial Rome by an army of Visigoths, northern European barbarian tribesmen, led by a general called Alaric.It's a grim reminder that even superpowers have their weaknesses, and a limit to their glory. [But don't tell that to the Tea Party.]
It was the first time in 800 years that Rome had been successfully invaded. The event had reverberations around the Mediterranean.
Jerome, an early Christian Church Father, in a letter to a friend from Bethlehem - where he happened to be living - wrote that he burst into tears upon hearing the news.
"My voice sticks in my throat, and, as I dictate, sobs choke me. The city which had taken the whole world was itself taken," he said.
Although Alaric was a Christian ransacking a Christian city, there was an ominous feeling that the world structure built by pagan Rome was disintegrating.
The Roman Empire survived for a few more decades, and later other armies sacked the city again, but this was the date which marked the beginning of the end of Rome's grandeur.
Centuries later, the city which had at the height of its power boasted a population of more than a million people, was reduced to a lawless, ruined village of no more than 30,000 residents
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
And so, began the end
24 August 410: the date it all went wrong for Rome?