Aurelian Timeline

Aurelian Timeline


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  • c. Sep 214 CE - c. Sep 275 CE

  • 235 CE - 284 CE

  • c. 270 CE

    Zenobia breaks away from Roman Empire to found Palmyrene Empire.

  • Sep 270 CE - c. Sep 275 CE

  • 271 CE

    Aurelian defends the Roman Empire against Juthungi, Alamanni, and Marcomanni incursions.

  • 271 CE - 274 CE

    Tetricus I rules the Gallic Empire until defeated by Aurelian.

  • 272 CE - 273 CE

    Aurelian successfully campaigns against Palmyra.

  • 272 CE

    The Battle of Immae between the Roman forces under Aurelian and the Palmyrenes under Zenobia in which Rome triumphed.

  • 272 CE

    Aurelian defeats Zenobia at the Battle of Emesa; Palmyrene Empire falls to Rome.

  • 273 CE

    Zenobia is defeated by Aurelian and brought to Rome.

  • 274 CE

    Aurelian defeats the forces of Tetricus I at the Battle of Chalons; Gallic Empire falls to Rome.


Aurelian (Gaul Rising)


Roman coin featuring Aurelian

29th Emperor of the Roman Empire
September 270 – December 27, 275

Aurelian was the Emperor of the Roman Empire from 270 to 275. He is most commonly remembered for leading an ill-fated attempt to reconquer the Gallic Empire during the Gallic War for Independence. The invasion prompted Postumus, the Gallic Emperor, to order a scorched earth campaign in Italy, which included the first sack of the city of Rome since 387 BC. The Gallic invasion of Italy led to a complete disintegration of central authority in the Roman Empire: in October 275, Marcus Aurelius Probus and Faltonius Pinianus rebelled against Aurelian and after one of Aurelian's generals suffered a major defeat in Gallic territory, Julius Asclepiodotus arrested and deposed Aurelian and declared himself emperor.

After the end of Aurelian's reign, he was transported to a prison in northern Italy, and he eventually died in that prison. Exactly when he died is unknown, but it was probably around the time of Probus' first campaign in northern Italy in late 276. During that time, little food or other supplies were delivered to the prisons. Aurelian was found dead in his cell in early 277.


Aurelian (Nova Roma)

Aurelian (March 15, 310 AD - December 31, 360 AD) was Roman emperor from 340 AD to 360 AD. He is referred to as optimus princeps ("best ruler") by historians, alongside his predecessor Nerva and Domitian. He is also known for his philanthropic rule, overseeing extensive public building programs and implementing social welfare policies, which earned him his enduring reputation as a good if not great emperor who presided over an era of peace within the Empire and prosperity in the Mediterranean world.

Born in humble circumstances, he rapidly rose through the military and became the Primus Pilus in 323 AD, being one of the youngest Primus Pilus at the time. He left the army soon after in favour of a more civic career and was appointed as a senator by the emperor Publius II. He supported the emperor Nerva, and helped Nerva ascend the throne. This lead to him rapidly rising to Consul in 331 AD. When Nerva's health began to decline, Nerva chose Aurelian one of the most skilled military and civic leaders of the empire as his adopted son. After Nerva's death Aurelian was proclaimed emperor by the Senate and the legions.

During Aurelian's reign he annexed several client states, including the Nabataean Kingdom, creating the province of Arabia Petraea. His conquest of the Parthian Empire ended with the sack of the capital Ctesiphon and the annexation of Armenia and Mesopotamia. expanding the Roman Empire to its greatest territorial extent.

Aurelian died in 360 AD due to illness at the age of 50. His death was mourned by all, and many were surprised that Aurelian would die at such a young age for such a divine emperor. Aurelian would be succeeded by his son Marcus Aurelian who would ascend to the throne at 30 years of age.


Nova Aetas Timeline(Still in Construction)

Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Aurelianus Augustus Restitutor Orbis dies in 280 CE. After ending the crisis of the third century about 15 years earlier. Beginning of the Nova Pace.

Emperor Marcus Aurelius II

==== Marcus Caesennius Aurelius, also known as Marcus Aurelius II, was adopted by Aurelian and becomes Emperor in 282 CE, and died in 308
Emperor Maximus ====

==== Gaius Aurelius Maximus, was adopted by Marcus Aurelius II, became emperor in 308, and died in 314.
Emperor Agricola ==== Gnaeus Aurelius Agricola, adopted by Maximus, became emperor in 314 and died in 321.

Emperor Marcus Aurelius III

Marcus Antoninus Aurelius III, Adopted son of Agricola, became emperor in 321 and died in 340 

Emperor Antoninus

Gaius Antoninus Aurelius, Son of Aurelius III, became emperor in 340 died in 352

Emperor Romulus Antonius

Romulus Aurelius Antonius, Nephew of Antonius, became emperor in 352 and died in 359. Was assassinated and had no heir ending the Nova Pace with the start of the Bellum Civili.

Bellum Civili

Marcus Valerius Maxentius, also known as Maxentius the Apostate, and Flavius Claudius Julianus also know as Julian the Greek, who was backed by the Church, both claim the imperial thrones and the Senate contests that it has the right to elect the emperor. Julian Ultimately won the war.

Pontificate

In this period of time the Empire is dominated by the church, and set the stage for the crisis of the fifth century.

Emperor Julian the Greek

Flavius Claudius Julianus, also known as Julian the Greek, from 374-404.

(Map of Empire at the outset of Julian's Reign)

In 376 thousands of Goths flee south seeking refuge in the Roman Empire, fleeing from a new enemy, the Huns, this is the start of what would become known as the Crisis of the Twelfth Century. This emerging crisis was only furthered by the emergence of the Second Palmyrene Empire in 401, which once again seceded from the empire shortly followed by the Kingdom of Armenia. Julian moved to combat the new threat by the Palmyrans, but was defeated and captured at the massive defeat of the Battle of Raphia, in the year 404. He was killed in captivity later that year, and the Palmyrans conquered Egypt as a result.

Emperor Cleganus the Cruel

Publius Cornelius Cleganus, was placed as emperor with papal backing in 404. He heavily supported persecution of pagans, with the support of the church, and his reign of terror earned him his nickname, "the cruel". However this ended up being his downfall as he was assassinated in 409, by pagans while on campaign in Cyrenica against Palmyra.

Emperor Constantine the Great

Tiberius Valerius Constantius, is considered the only good emperor of the Pontificate. The Pope placed him in power in 411, after a minor power struggle. He prevented the empire from complete collapse, by defeating the goths at the Battle of Nicopolis, in 415. He launched a war on Palmyra in 429 and managed to retake Egypt sadly he died in 432 of natural causes, his campaign unfinished.

Emperor Varronianus

Flavius Iovianus Varronianus

Appointed to Emperor by the Pope in 432, the most significant decision of his reign was to abandon Britannia. He died at the Battle of Pola in 438

Emperor Constans the Feeble

Flavius Iulius Constans was placed as emperor by the Pope in 439, after a year long period of infighting that further weakened  the Empire. He gained his nickname "the feeble" for his ill fought refusal and eventual submission to the Pope's decision to abandon most of Gaul and Hispania, in 440, which were straining under barbarian invasion and migration. The Roman abandonment of the region led to the establishment of several Roman and barbarian Kingdoms. Constans died in 453.

Emperor Constantine II

Flavius Claudius Constantinus

Son of Constantine I,  was placed as emperor in 453 and died in a plague in 457. He attempted a campaign against the Palmyrans, however failed and lost parts of Asia Minor.

Emperor Honorius

Flavius Honorius is placed on the throne in 457. He fails to stop the Vandal migration and conquest of most of northwest Africa. He died in 470.

Emperor Magnus

= Flavius Magnus Maximus

Placed on the throne by the pope in 470. His Gothic General Sarus, managed to prevent the capture of Carthage by the Vandals, and in 476 Sarus turned his armies around and marched on Rome, overthrowing Magnus and making himself Emperor in 476, ending the Pontificate. ====


Map of the Empire at the end of the Pontificate.

Tempora German Tyrannidem

In this period Rome is dominated by German-Roman Emperors. And ultimately led to the hastened development of more civilized Germans directly north of the Roman Empire in the form of the Kingdoms of Swabia and Bavaria

Emperor Sarus the German

Virius Stilicho Sarus or Sarus the German

Emperor Ricemer the Aryan

A powerful, German, general who seized the throne after Sarus' death, he is the only ever Aryan Roman Emperor. And in 482 he famously massacred the pope along with the rest of the clergy in Rome, upon their attempts to install a ruler, as they had done previously. Ultimately this led to his downfall, and the Aryan Emperor was killed by a mob in Rome in 482.

Domitius Alarus

Though not technically an emperor, he deemed it necessary in the aftermath of the death of Richmer to have a non-German be on the throne so, Flavius Varian was placed as a puppet emperor onto the throne, with Alarus as the real man in power. He is unable to prevent the Ostrogoth flight and eventual conquest of a large portion of Thracia, after being pushed out of Dacia by both the Avars, and then later and more importantly the Magyars. At the end of his life, in 485, he designated Theodoric as his heir.

Emperor Theoderic

Before Theodericus was placed as the heir by Alarus he was the first to control all the tribes of southern Germania, uniting the Bavari, Alammani/Suebi(known as Swabian) tribes. After taking power in 485, he at first ruled as king in Germania and puppet master in Rome. However he ended this facade in 490, when he fully usurped the throne from Varian, declaring himself Emperor Theodosius of Rome and King of Germania. In his rule the cities of southern Germania grew and became more sophisticated in design and technology. However upon his death in 494 King Arnulf claimed the Swabian Throne and King Carloman claimed the Bavarian throne, the two kingdoms quickly fell into war.

Emperor Odoacerus Tyrannus

Flavius Odoacerus, a loyal subordinate of Theoderic, took power in Rome in 494 after his death. He saw himself at the rightful leader of not only the Roman Empire but also Bavaria and Swabia and led an army north to take these lands. After some victories in Germania against the other two kings, he began to plan for after his victory, planing to redraw the borders drastically expanding the size of Swabia and Bavaria at the expense of Roman territory. When the senate caught wind of this they demanded he returned to Rome, which, despite having no teeth behind it, led the new emperor to a simple decision. He left his large sum of German Levies and mercenaries to continue his campaign in Germania, and took his legions south to Rome to take out the senate once and for all. The city scrambled what loyal defenders it could find and prepared itself in the city. He besieged the city soon after only to be assassinated by his own men, who, as Romans, ultimately remained loyal to the city. The Senate took temporary power, ending the German Tyranny of the Empire.

Magnum Inter Regnum

In this time period the emperor more or less is a figurehead of the senate, which controls and elects the emperors. The Senate stabilizes the empire and removes Papal Influence, and in 497 the senate elects Gaius Julius Crispus to emperor 

Altera Vincit

Emperor Julius

Gaius Julius Crispus, who later on changes his name to Gaius Julius Caesar, and the senate in 510 gives him the name, Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus. 


Aurelian (The Romans Abide)

Aurelian (Latin: Flavius Aurelian Aetius Caesar Augustus 23 April, 894 - 23 September, 957) was the 27th Roman Emperor, reigning from 938 to 957.

Aurelian was born into the mercantile Arrinus family, his father being the Consul Arrinus Aurelianus and his mother being Aureliana Sabinus , a descendant of the Emperor Sabinus I. Raised into Roman aristocracy, he left for Rome in 910 at the age of 16 to join the military, and fight against the Germanic raiders in the north. Over the years, he rose through the ranks of the Germanic Legions, and in 929, he was called for personally back to the capital by Sabinus III to serve in the Praetorian Guard, and after six years in the position, he became a Prefect, renound for his loyalty. 

This changed in 938, however, when his father was executed by the Emperor for plotting against him. In an act of revenge, he entered into a conspiracy with a number of other disgruntled Praetorian Guardsmen, planning to murder Sabinus, and act that would come ahead in 28 July, 938, when he and one-hundred conspirators entered into the Imperial palace, and captured and executed their leader. After a short struggle against his contemporaries, he swayed those Guardsmen under his control to swear loyalty to himself as Augustus, the Senate later agreeing to appointed him to the position.

During his reign, Aurelian was known as his extravagance (he built a number of large statues and memorials to himself and his family) and perversity, being renowned as a philanderer and heavy drinker, having slept with a number of high noblewomen, as well as producing several "illegitimate" children. To legitimise his rule, in 945 Aurelian adopted former-Emperor Caesar Sabinus' great-grandson and pesonal son-in-law, Drusus Julianus, proclaiming him his heir over his other children. For the last several years of his reign, the Emperor fled to his villa in Aleria on the island of Corsica, essentially allowing the Senate to maintain law-and-order in his absence.


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The word for Christmas in late Old English is Cristes Maesse, the Mass of Christ, first found in 1038, and Cristes-messe, in 1131. In Dutch it is Kerst-misse, in Latin Dies Natalis, whence comes the French Noël, and Italian Il natale in German Weihnachtsfest, from the preceeding sacred vigil.

EARLY CELEBRATION

Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts Origen, glancing perhaps at the discreditable imperial Natalitia, asserts (in Lev. Hom. viii in Migne, P.G., XII, 495) that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday Arnobius (VII, 32 in P.L., V, 1264) can still ridicule the “birthdays” of the gods.

Alexandria. The first evidence of the feast is from Egypt. About A.D. 200, Clement of Alexandria (Strom., I, xxi in P.G., VIII, 888) says that certain Egyptian theologians “over curiously” assign, not the year alone, but the day of Christ’s birth, placing it on 25 Pachon (20 May) in the twenty-eighth year of Augustus. [Ideler (Chron., II, 397, n.) thought they did this believing that the ninth month, in which Christ was born, was the ninth of their own calendar.] Others reached the date of 24 or 25 Pharmuthi (19 or 20 April). With Clement’s evidence may be mentioned the “De paschæ computus”, written in 243 and falsely ascribed to Cyprian (P.L., IV, 963 sqq.), which places Christ’s birth on 28 March, because on that day the material sun was created. But Lupi has shown (Zaccaria, Dissertazioni ecc. del p. A.M. Lupi, Faenza, 1785, p. 219) that there is no month in the year to which respectable authorities have not assigned Christ’s birth. Clement, however, also tells us that the Basilidians celebrated the Epiphany, and with it, probably, the Nativity, on 15 or 11 Tybi (10 or 6 January). At any rate this double commemoration became popular, partly because the apparition to the shepherds was considered as one manifestation of Christ’s glory, and was added to the greater manifestations celebrated on 6 January partly because at the baptism-manifestation many codices (e.g. Codex Bezæ) wrongly give the Divine words as sou ei ho houios mou ho agapetos, ego semeron gegenneka se (Thou art my beloved Son, this day have I begotten thee) in lieu of en soi eudokesa (in thee I am well pleased), read in Luke 3:22. Abraham Ecchelensis (Labbe, II, 402) quotes the Constitutions of the Alexandrian Church for a dies Nativitatis et Epiphaniæ in Nicæan times Epiphanius (Hær., li, ed. Dindorf, 1860, II, 483) quotes an extraordinary semi-Gnostic ceremony at Alexandria in which, on the night of 5-6 January, a cross-stamped Korê was carried in procession round a crypt, to the chant, “Today at this hour Korê gave birth to the Eternal” John Cassian records in his “Collations” (X, 2 in P.L., XLIX, 820), written 418-427, that the Egyptian monasteries still observe the “ancient custom” but on 29 Choiak (25 December) and 1 January, 433, Paul of Emesa preached before Cyril of Alexandria, and his sermons (see Mansi, IV, 293 appendix to Act. Conc. Eph.) show that the December celebration was then firmly established there, and calendars prove its permanence. The December feast therefore reached Egypt between 427 and 433.

Cyprus, Mesopotamia, Armenia, Asia Minor. In Cyprus, at the end of the fourth century, Epiphanius asserts against the Alogi (Hær., li, 16, 24 in P. G., XLI, 919, 931) that Christ was born on 6 January and baptized on 8 November. Ephraem Syrus (whose hymns belong to Epiphany, not to Christmas) proves that Mesopotamia still put the birth feast thirteen days after the winter solstice i.e. 6 January Armenia likewise ignored, and still ignores, the December festival. In Cappadocia, Gregory of Nyssa’s sermons on St. Basil (who died before 1 January, 379) and the two following, preached on St. Stephen’s feast (P.G., XLVI, 788 cf, 701, 721), prove that in 380 the 25th December was already celebrated there, one were to place those sermons in 383. Also, Asterius of Amaseia (fifth century) and Amphilochius of Iconium (contemporary of Basil and Gregory) show that in their dioceses both the feasts of Epiphany and Nativity were separate (P.G., XL, 337 XXXIX, 36).

Jerusalem. In 385, Silvia of Bordeaux (or Etheria, as it seems clear she should be called) was profoundly impressed by the splendid Chilhood feasts at Jerusalem. They had a definitely “Nativity” colouring the bishop proceeded nightly to Bethlehem, returning to Jerusalem for the day celebrations. The Presentation was celebrated forty days after. But this calculation starts from 6 January, and the feast lasted during the octave of that date. (Peregr. Sylv., ed. Geyer, pp. 75 sq.) Again (p. 101) she mentions as high festivals Easter and Epiphany alone. In 385, therefore, 25 December was not observed at Jerusalem. This checks the so-called correspondence between Cyril of Jerusalem (348-386) and Pope Julius I (337-352), quoted by John of Nikiu (c. 900) to convert Armenia to 25 December (see P.L., VIII, 964 sqq.). Cyril declares that his clergy cannot, on the single feast of Birth and Baptism, make a double procession to Bethlehem and Jordan. (This later practice is here an anachronism.) He asks Pope Julius to assign the true date of the nativity “from census documents brought by Titus to Rome” Pope Julius assigns 25 December. Another document (Cotelier, Patr. Apost., I, 316, ed. 1724) makes Julius write thus to Juvenal of Jerusalem (c. 425-458), adding that Gregory Nazianzen at Constantinople was being criticized for “halving” the festival. But Julius died in 352, and by 385 Cyril had made no change indeed, Jerome, writing about 411 (in Ezech., P.L., XXV, 18), reproves Palestine for keeping Christ’s birthday (when He hid Himself) on the Manifestation feast. Cosmas Indicopleustes suggests (P.G., LXXXVIII, 197) that even in the middle of the sixth century Jerusalem was peculiar in combining the two commemorations, arguing from Luke 3:23 that Christ’s baptism day was the anniversary of His birthday. The commemoration, however, of David and James the Apostle on 25 December at Jerusalem accounts for the deferred feast. Usener, arguing from the “Laudatio S. Stephani” of Basil of Seleucia (c. 430. — P.G., LXXXV, 469), thinks that Juvenal tried at least to introduce this feast, but that Cyril’s greater name attracted that event to his own period.

Antioch. In Antioch, on the feast of St. Philogonius, Chrysostom preached an important sermon. The year was almost certainly 386, But between February, 386, when Flavian ordained Chrysostom priest, and December is ample time for the preaching of all the sermons under discussion. (See Kellner, Heortologie, Freiburg, 1906, p. 97, n. 3). In view of a reaction to certain Jewish rites and feasts, Chrysostom tries to unite Antioch in celebrating Christ’s birth on 25 December, part of the community having already kept it on that day for at least ten years. In the West, he says, the feast was thus kept, anothen its introduction into Antioch he had always sought, conservatives always resisted. This time he was successful in a crowded church he defended the new custom. It was no novelty from Thrace to Cadiz this feast was observed — rightly, since its miraculously rapid diffusion proved its genuineness. Besides, Zachary, who, as high-priest, entered the Temple on the Day of Atonement, received therefore announcement of John’s conception in September six months later Christ was conceived, i.e. in March, and born accordingly in December.

Finally, though never at Rome, on authority he knows that the census papers of the Holy Family are still there. [This appeal to Roman archives is as old as Justin Martyr (Apol., I, 34, 35) and Tertullian (Adv. Marc., IV, 7, 19). Julius, in the Cyriline forgeries, is said to have calculated the date from Josephus, on the same unwarranted assumptions about Zachary as did Chrysostom.] Rome, therefore, has observed 25 December long enough to allow of Chrysostom speaking at least in 388 as above (P.G., XLVIII, 752, XLIX, 351).

Constantinople. In 379 or 380 Gregory Nazianzen made himself exarchos of the new feast, i.e. its initiator, in Constantinople, where, since the death of Valens, orthodoxy was reviving. His three Homilies (see Hom. xxxviii in P.G., XXXVI) were preached on successive days (Usener, op. cit., p. 253) in the private chapel called Anastasia. On his exile in 381, the feast disappeared.

According, however, to John of Nikiu, Honorius, when he was present on a visit, arranged with Arcadius for the observation of the feast on the Roman date. Kellner puts this visit in 395 Baumstark (Oriens Chr., 1902, 441-446), between 398 and 402. The latter relies on a letter of Jacob of Edessa quoted by George of Beeltân, asserting that Christmas was brought to Constantinople by Arcadius and Chrysostom from Italy, where, “according to the histories”, it had been kept from Apostolic times. Chrysostom’s episcopate lasted from 398 to 402 the feast would therefore have been introduced between these dates by Chrysostom bishop, as at Antioch by Chrysostom priest. But Lübeck (Hist. Jahrbuch., XXVIII, I, 1907, pp. 109-118) proves Baumstark’s evidence invalid. More important, but scarcely better accredited, is Erbes’ contention (Zeitschrift f. Kirchengesch., XXVI, 1905, 20-31) that the feast was brought in by Constantine as early as 330-35.

Rome. At Rome the earliest evidence is in the Philocalian Calendar (P. L., XIII, 675 it can be seen as a whole in J. Strzygowski, Kalenderbilder des Chron. von Jahre 354, Berlin, 1888), compiled in 354, which contains three important entries. In the civil calendar 25 December is marked “Natalis Invicti”. In the “Depositio Martyrum” a list of Roman or early and universally venerated martyrs, under 25 December is found “VIII kal. ian. natus Christus in Betleem Iudeæ”. On “VIII kal. mart.” (22 February) is also mentioned St. Peter’s Chair. In the list of consuls are four anomalous ecclesiastical entries: the birth and death days of Christ, the entry into Rome, and martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul. The significant entry is “Chr. Cæsare et Paulo sat. XIII. hoc. cons. Dns. ihs. XPC natus est VIII Kal. ian. d. ven. luna XV,” i.e. during the consulship of (Augustus) Cæsar and Paulus Our Lord Jesus Christ was born on the eighth before the calends of January (25 December), a Friday, the fourteenth day of the moon. The details clash with tradition and possibility. The epact, here XIII, is normally XI the year is A.U.C. 754, a date first suggested two centuries later in no year between 751 and 754 could 25 December fall on a Friday tradition is constant in placing Christ’s birth on Wednesday. Moreover the date given for Christ’s death (duobus Geminis coss., i.e. A.D. 29) leaves Him only twenty eight, and one-quarter years of life. Apart from this, these entries in a consul list are manifest interpolations. But are not the two entries in the “Depositio Martyrum” also such? Were the day of Christ’s birth in the flesh alone there found, it might stand as heading the year of martyrs’ spiritual natales but 22 February is there wholly out of place. Here, as in the consular fasti, popular feasts were later inserted for convenience’ sake. The civil calendar alone was not added to, as it was useless after the abandonment of pagan festivals. So, even if the “Depositio Martyrum” dates, as is probable, from 336, it is not clear that the calendar contains evidence earlier than Philocalus himself, i.e. 354, unless indeed pre-existing popular celebration must be assumed to render possible this official recognition. Were the Chalki manuscript of Hippolytus genuine, evidence for the December feast would exist as early as c. 205. The relevant passage [which exists in the Chigi manuscript Without the bracketed words and is always so quoted before George Syncellus (c. 1000)] runs:

“For the first coming of Our Lord in the flesh [in which He has been begotten], in Bethlehem, took place [25 December, the fourth day] in the reign of Augustus [the forty-second year, and] in the year 5500 [from Adam]. And He suffered in His thirty-third year [25 March, the parasceve, in the eighteenth year of Tiberius Cæsar, during the consulate of Rufus and Rubellio].”

Interpolation is certain, and admitted by Funk, Bonwetsch, etc. The names of the consuls [which should be Fufius and Rubellius] are wrong Christ lives thirty-three years in the genuine Hippolytus, thirty-one minute data are irrelevant in this discussion with Severian millenniarists it is incredible that Hippolytus should have known these details when his contemporaries (Clement, Tertullian, etc.) are, when dealing with the matter, ignorant or silent or should, having published them, have remained unquoted (Kellner, op. cit., p. 104, has an excursus on this passage.)

St. Ambrose (de virg., iii, 1 in P. L., XVI, 219) preserves the sermon preached by Pope Liberius I at St. Peter’s, when, on Natalis Christi, Ambrose’ sister, Marcellina, took the veil. This pope reigned from May, 352 until 366, except during his years of exile, 355-357. If Marcellina became a nun only after the canonical age of twenty-five, and if Ambrose was born only in 340, it is perhaps likelier that the event occurred after 357. Though the sermon abounds in references appropriate to the Epiphany (the marriage at Cana, the multiplication of loaves, etc.), these seem due (Kellner, op. cit., p. 109) to sequence of thought, and do not fix the sermon to 6 January, a feast unknown in Rome till much later. Usener, indeed, argues (p. 272) that Liberius preached it on that day in 353, instituting the Nativity feast in the December of the same year but Philocalus warrants our supposing that if preceded his pontificate by some time, though Duchesne’s relegation of it to 243 (Bull. crit., 1890, 3, pp. 41 sqq. ) may not commend itself to many. In the West the Council of Saragossa (380) still ignores 25 December (see can. xxi, 2). Pope Siricius, writing in 385 (P. L., XII, 1134) to Himerius in Spain, distinguishes the feasts of the Nativity and Apparition but whether he refers to Roman or to Spanish use is not clear. Ammianus Marcellinus (XXI, ii) and Zonaras (Ann., XIII, 11) date a visit of Julian the Apostate to a church at Vienne in Gaul on Epiphany and Nativity respectively. Unless there were two visits, Vienne in A.D. 361 combined the feasts, though on what day is still doubtful. By the time of Jerome and Augustine, the December feast is established, though the latter (Epp., II, liv, 12, in P.L., XXXIII, 200) omits it from a list of first-class festivals. From the fourth century every Western calendar assigns it to 25 December. At Rome, then, the Nativity was celebrated on 25 December before 354 in the East, at Constantinople, not before 379, unless with Erbes, and against Gregory, we recognize it there in 330. Hence, almost universally has it been concluded that the new date reached the East from Rome by way of the Bosphorus during the great anti-Arian revival, and by means of the orthodox champions. De Santi (L’Orig. delle Fest. Nat., in Civiltæ Cattolica, 1907), following Erbes, argues that Rome took over the Eastern Epiphany, now with a definite Nativity colouring, and, with as increasing number of Eastern Churches, placed it on 25 December later, both East and West divided their feast, leaving Ephiphany on 6 January, and Nativity on 25 December, respectively, and placing Christmas on 25 December and Epiphany on 6 January. The earlier hypothesis still seems preferable.

ORIGIN OF DATE

The Gospels. Concerning the date of Christ’s birth the Gospels give no help upon their data contradictory arguments are based. The census would have been impossible in winter: a whole population could not then be put in motion. Again, in winter it must have been then only field labour was suspended. But Rome was not thus considerate. Authorities moreover differ as to whether shepherds could or would keep flocks exposed during the nights of the rainy season.

Zachary’s temple service. Arguments based on Zachary’s temple ministry are unreliable, though the calculations of antiquity (see above) have been revived in yet more complicated form, e.g. by Friedlieb (Leben J. Christi des Erlösers, Münster, 1887, p. 312). The twenty-four classes of Jewish priests, it is urged, served each a week in the Temple Zachary was in the eighth class, Abia. The Temple was destroyed 9 Ab, A.D. 70 late rabbinical tradition says that class 1, Jojarib, was then serving. From these untrustworthy data, assuming that Christ was born A.U.C. 749, and that never in seventy turbulent years the weekly succession failed, it is calculated that the eighth class was serving 2-9 October, A.U.C. 748, whence Christ’s conception falls in March, and birth presumably in December. Kellner (op. cit., pp. 106, 107) shows how hopeless is the calculation of Zachary’s week from any point before or after it.

Analogy to Old Testament festivals. It seems impossible, on analogy of the relation of Passover and Pentecost to Easter and Whitsuntide, to connect the Nativity with the feast of Tabernacles, as did, e.g., Lightfoot (Horæ Hebr, et Talm., II, 32), arguing from Old Testament prophecy, e.g. Zacharias 14:16 sqq, combining, too, the fact of Christ’s death in Nisan with Daniel’s prophecy of a three and one-half years’ ministry (9:27), he puts the birth in Tisri, i.e. September. As undesirable is it to connect 25 December with the Eastern (December) feast of Dedication (Jos. Ant. Jud., XII, vii, 6).

Natalis Invicti. The well-known solar feast, however, of Natalis Invicti, celebrated on 25 December, has a strong claim on the responsibility for our December date. For the history of the solar cult, its position in the Roman Empire, and syncretism with Mithraism, see Cumont’s epoch-making “Textes et Monuments” etc., I, ii, 4, 6, p. 355. Mommsen (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, 1 2 , p. 338) has collected the evidence for the feast, which reached its climax of popularity under Aurelian in 274. Filippo del Torre in 1700 first saw its importance it is marked, as has been said, without addition in Philocalus’ Calendar. It would be impossible here even to outline the history of solar symbolism and language as applied to God, the Messiah, and Christ in Jewish or Chrisian canonical, patristic, or devotional works. Hymns and Christmas offices abound in instances the texts are well arranged by Cumont (op. cit., addit. Note C, p. 355).

The earliest rapprochement of the births of Christ and the sun is in Cypr., “De pasch. Comp.”, xix, “O quam præclare providentia ut illo die quo natus est Sol . . . nasceretur Christus.” – “O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born . . . Christ should be born.” – In the fourth century, Chrysostom, “del Solst. Et Æquin.” (II, p. 118, ed. 1588), says: “But Our Lord, too, is born in the month of December . . . the eight before the calends of January [25 December] . . ., But they call it the ‘Birthday of the Unconquered’. Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord . . .? Or, if they say that it is the birthday of the Sun, He is the Sun of Justice.” Already Tertullian (Apol., 16 cf. Ad. Nat., I, 13 Orig. c. Cels., VIII, 67, etc) had to assert that Sol was not the Christians’ God Augustine (Tract xxxiv, in Joan. In P. L., XXXV, 1652) denounces the heretical indentification of Christ with Sol. P Sol was not the Christians’ God Augustine (Tract xxxiv, in Joan. In P. L., XXXV, 1652) denounces the heretical indentification of Christ with Sol. Pope Leo I (Serm. xxxvii in nat. dom., VII, 4 xxii, II, 6 in P. L., LIV, 218 and 198) bitterly reproves solar survivals — Christians, on the very doorstep of the Apostles’ basilica, turn to adore the rising sun. Sun-worship has bequeathed features to modern popular worship in Armenia, where Chistians had once temporarily and externally conformed to the cult of the material sun (Cumont, op. cit., p. 356).

But even should a deliberate and legitimate “baptism” of a pagan feast be seen here no more than the transference of the date need be supposed. The “mountain-birth” of Mithra and Christ’s in the “grotto” have nothing in common: Mithra’s adoring shepherds (Cumont, op. cit., I, ii, 4, p. 304 sqq.) are rather borrowed from Christian sources than vice versa.

The astronomical theory. Duchesne (Les origines du culte chrétien, Paris, 1902, 262 sqq.) advances the “astronomical” theory that, given 25 March as Christ’s death-day [historically impossible, but a tradition old as Tertullian (Adv. Jud., 8)], the popular instinct, demanding an exact number of years in a Divine life, would place His conception on the same date, His birth 25 December. This theory is best supported by the fact that certain Montanists (Sozomen, Hist. Eccl., VII, 18) kept Easter on 6 April both 25 December and 6 January are thus simultaneously explained. The reckoning, moreover, is wholly in keeping with the arguments based on number and astronomy and “convenience”, then so popular. Unfortunately, there is no contemporary evidence for the celebration in the fourth century of Christ’s conception on 25 March.

The calendar. The fixing of this date fixed those too of Circumcision and Presentation of Expectation and, perhaps, Annunciation B.V.M. and of Nativity and Conception of the Baptist (cf. Thurston in Amer. Eccl. Rev., December, 1898). Till the tenth century Christmas counted, in papal reckoning, as the beginning of the ecclesiastical year, as it still does in Bulls Boniface VIII (1294-1303) restored temporarily this usage, to which Germany held longest.

Popular merry-making. Codex Theod., II, 8, 27 (cf. XV, 5,5) forbids, in 425, circus games on 25 December though not till Codex Just., III, 12, 6 (529) is cessation of work imposed. The Second Council of Tours (can. xi, xvii) proclaims, in 566 or 567, the sanctity of the “twelve days” from Christmas to Epiphany, and the duty of Advent fast that of Agde (506), in canons 63-64, orders a universal communion, and that of Braga (563) forbids fasting on Christmas Day. Popular merry-making, however, so increased that the “Laws of King Cnut”, fabricated c. 1110, order a fast from Christmas to Epiphany.

The three Masses. The Gelasian and Gregorian Sacramentaries give three Masses to this feast, and these, with a special and sublime martyrology, and dispensation, if necessary, from abstinence, still mark our usage. Though Rome gives three Masses to the Nativity only, Ildefonsus, a Spanish bishop, in 845, alludes to a triple mass on Nativity, Easter, Whitsun (Pentecost), and Transfiguration (P.L., CVI, 888). These Masses, at midnight, dawn, and in die, were mystically connected with aboriginal, Judaic, and Christian dispensations, or (as by St. Thomas, Summa Theologica III:83:2) to the triple “birth” of Christ: in Eternity, in Time, and in the Soul. Liturgical colours varied: black, white, red, or (e.g. at Narbonne) red, white, violet were used (Durand, Rat. Div. Off., VI, 13). The Gloria was at first sung only in the first Mass of this day.

The historical origin of this triple Mass is probably as follows (cf. Thurston, in Amer. Eccl. Rev., January, 1899 Grisar, Anal. Rom., I, 595 Geschichte Roms . . . im Mittelalter I, 607, 397 Civ. Catt., 21 September, 1895, etc.): The first Mass, celebrated at the Oratorium Præsepis in St. Mary Major — a church probably immediately assimilated to the Bethlehem basilica — and the third, at St. Peter’s, reproduced in Rome the double Christmas Office mentioned by Etheria (see above) at Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The second Mass was celebrated by the pope in the “chapel royal” of the Byzantine Court officials on the Palatine, i.e. St. Anastasia’s church, originally called, like the basilica at Constantinople, Anastasis, and like it built at first to reproduce the Jerusalem Anastasis basilica — and like it, finally, in abandoning the name “Anastasis” for that of the martyr St. Anastasia. The second Mass would therefore be a papal compliment to the imperial church on its patronal feast. The three stations are thus accounted for, for by 1143 (cf. Ord. Romani in P. L., LXXVIII, 1032) the pope abandoned distant St. Peter’s, and said the third Mass at the high altar of St. Mary Major. At this third Mass Leo II inaugurated, in 800, by the coronation of Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Empire. The day became a favourite for court ceremonies, and on it, e.g., William of Normandy was crowned at Westminster.

Dramatic presentations. The history of the dedication of the Oratorium Præsepisin the Liberian basilica, of the relics there kept and their imitations, does not belong to this discussion [cf. . The data are well set out by Bonaccorsi (Il Natale, Rome, 1903, ch. iv)], but the practice of giving dramatic, or at least spectacular, expression to the incidents of the Nativity early gave rise to more or less liturgical mysteries. The ordinaria of Rouen and of Reims, for instance, place the officium pastorum immediately after the Te Deum and before Mass (cf. Ducange, Gloss. med. et inf. Lat., s.v. Pastores) the latter Church celebrated a second “prophetical” mystery after Tierce, in which Virgil and the Sibyl join with Old Testament prophets in honouring Christ. (For Virgil and Nativity play and prophecy see authorities in Comparetti, “Virgil in Middles Ages”, p. 310 sqq.) “To out-herod Herod”, i.e. to over-act, dates from Herod’s violence in these plays.

The crib (creche) or nativity scene. St. Francis of Assisi in 1223 originated the crib of today by laicizing a hitherto ecclesiastical custom, henceforward extra-liturgical and popular. The presence of ox and ass is due to a misinterpretation of Isaias i:3 and Habacuc 3:2 (“Itala” version), though they appear in the unique fourth-century “Nativity” discovered in the St. Sebastian catacombs in 1877. The ass on which Balaam rode in the Reims mystery won for the feast the title (Ducange, op. cit., s.v. Festum).

Hymns and carols. The degeneration of these plays in part occasioned the diffusion of noels, pastorali, and carols, to which was accorded, at times, a quasi-liturgical position. Prudentius, in the fourth century, is the first (and in that century alone) to hymn the Nativity, for the “Vox clara” (hymn for Lauds in Advent) and “Christe Redemptor” (Vespers and Matins of Christmas) cannot be assigned to Ambrose. “A solis ortu” is certainly, however, by Sedulius (fifth century). The earliest German Weihnachtslieder date from the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the earliest noels from the eleventh, the earliest carols from the thirteenth. The famous “Stabat Mater Speciosa” is attributed to Jacopone da Todi (1230-1306) “Adeste Fideles” is, at the earliest, of the seventeenth century. These essentially popular airs, and even words, must, however, have existed long before they were put down in writing.

Cards and presents. Pagan customs centering round the January calends gravitated to Christmas. Tiele (Yule and Christmas, London, 1899) has collected many interesting examples. The strenæ (eacutetrennes) of the Roman 1 January (bitterly condemned by Tertullian, de Idol., xiv and x, and by Maximus of Turin, Hom. ciii, de Kal. gentil., in P. L., LVII, 492, etc.) survive as Christmas presents, cards, boxes.

The yule log. The calend fires were a scandal even to Rome, and St. Boniface obtained from Pope Zachary their abolition. But probably the Yule-log in its many forms was originally lit only in view of the cold season. Only in 1577 did it become a public ceremony in England its popularity, however, grew immense, especially in Provence in Tuscany, Christmas is simply called ceppo (block, log — Bonaccorsi, op. cit., p. 145, n. 2). Besides, it became connected with other usages in England, a tenant had the right to feed at his lord’s expense as long as a wheel, i.e. a round, of wood, given by him, would burn, the landlord gave to a tenant a load of wood on the birth of a child Kindsfuss was a present given to children on the birth of a brother or sister, and even to the farm animals on that of Christ, the universal little brother (Tiele, op. cit., p. 95 sqq.).

Greenery. Gervase of Tilbury (thirteen century) says that in England grain is exposed on Christmas night to gain fertility from the dew which falls in response to “Rorate Cæli” the tradition that trees and flowers blossomed on this night is first quoted from an Arab geographer of the tenth century, and extended to England. In a thirteenth-century French epic, candles are seen on the flowering tree. In England it was Joseph of Arimathea’s rod which flowered at Glastonbury and elsewhere when 3 September became 14 September, in 1752, 2000 people watched to see if the Quainton thorn (cratagus præcox) would blow on Christmas New Style and as it did not, they refused to keep the New Style festival. From this belief of the calends practice of greenery decorations (forbidden by Archbishop Martin of Braga, c. 575, P. L., LXXIII — mistletoe was bequeathed by the Druids) developed the Christmas tree, first definitely mentioned in 1605 at Strasburg, and introduced into France and England in 1840 only, by Princess Helena of Mecklenburg and the Prince Consort respectively.

The mysterious visitor. Only with great caution should the mysterious benefactor of Christmas night — Knecht Ruprecht, Pelzmärtel on a wooden horse, St. Martin on a white charger, St. Nicholas and his “reformed” equivalent, Father Christmas — be ascribed to the stepping of a saint into the shoes of Woden, who, with his wife Berchta, descended on the nights between 25 December and 6 January, on a white horse to bless earth and men. Fires and blazing wheels starred the hills, houses were adorned, trials suspended and feasts celebrated (cf. Bonaccorse, op. cit., p. 151). Knecht Ruprecht, at any rate (first found in a mystery of 1668 and condemned in 1680 as a devil) was only a servant of the Holy Child.

In England, Christmas was forbidden by Act of Parliament in 1644 the day was to be a fast and a market day shops were compelled to be open plum puddings and mince pies condemned as heathen. The conservatives resisted at Canterbury blood was shed but after the Restoration Dissenters continued to call Yuletide “Fooltide”.”

The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.


Moses Harris’ the Aurelian and the Mania for Insects and Tulips

Moses Harris, (left) “Plate XXI: Unicorn Hawk-Moth and Small Heath Butterfly” and (right) “Plate XXIII: Goat Moth,” The Aurelian: A Natural History of English Moths and Butterflies, 1766, handcolored engraving, 11 x 15″. Purchase made possible by Betsy A. and Bruce R. Stefany 󈨋, Gettysburg College Special Collections & College Archives. (Click the titles of the prints to view a larger version)

By the mid-to-late eighteenth century, many wealthy collectors across Europe were interested in gardens and the study of insects. The first society dedicated to the study and collecting of insects in England was the Aurelian, founded in 1743.[1] Most of the society was made up of well-known members of English society and the naturalist community, who chose the name Aurelian after the seventeenth century term “aurelia” to describe the chrysalis stage of a butterfly.[2] Moses Harris was introduced to the Aurelian Society and taught how to collect insects by his uncle.[3] Harris was the secretary of the society when he made the most note-worthy publication for the society, The Aurelian. Published originally as a series of pamphlets and finally as a book in 1766, The Aurelian illustrates accounts of butterflies and moths and how to keep them.[4] The moths and butterflies were shown with the plants that the caterpillar would feed on, inspired by Merian’s pioneering work portraying ecologically related species, as can be seen elsewhere in the exhibition.

Detail of the Unicorn Hawk Moth (Agrius Convolvu) on “Plate XXI” (left), with a specimen (right). Didier Descouens, Wikimedia Commons.

“Plate XXI: Unicorn-Hawk Moth and Small Heath Butterfly” depicts a moth and a butterfly species in their various stages on morning glories. The Unicorn Hawk-Moth commonly feeds on morning glories.[5] The Hawk moth adult flies to light purple morning glories, as the caterpillar sits on the stem or twig that peaks out from the morning glory. The heath butterfly life cycle is depicted to the right of the Hawk moth caterpillar, with the adults flying in the sky. Harris’ inspiration from Merian can be seen here. Elsewhere in the book, Harris stated that when he did not know a species well enough to engrave it, he turned to “Mariana” or “Merian” for references, illustrating her influence on his work.[6]

Detail of the Goat Moth (Cossus Cossus) on “Plate XXIII” (left), with a specimen (right). Wikimedia Commons.

In “Plate XXIII: Goat Moth,” the goat moth species is illustrated on either willow or oak wood, which the caterpillar eats. Harris depicts the caterpillar as it eats its way through the wood in the lower right of the composition (fig. b). Harris also depicts the goat moth’s chrysalis partially out of the tree, depicted by the black mass below the caterpillar (fig. d).[7]

The Goat Moth Caterpillar eating wood (left), similar to Harris’ version of the caterpillar (right). Photo from Teunie on Wikimedia Commons.

To the left, the adult goat moth flies to the yellow tulip with red and black streaks. The Goat moth does not feed on the tulip, and Harris does not state why he chose to depict the tulip in this print.

Harris may have included the flower in his composition because tulips were still considered luxury items in the eighteenth century after the extreme “tulipmania” in the Netherlands between 1634-37.[8] During “tulipmania,” prices of tulips rose to exorbitant amounts the most alluring tulip, the Semper Augustus (a white tulip with maroon streaks) cost 5,500 guilders at one point, an enormous sum given the annual salary of a craftsman at the time was 300 guilders. After this peak, tulips continued to be viewed as the queen of annual flowers. They were often exchanged by elite Europeans in the eighteenth century. Harris may have put this marbled tulip in “Plate XXIII” because of its allure, as other artists similarly have depicted tulips in still life paintings.

Below the illustrations, the prints include a dedication to a patron, usually a person of notable wealth or reputation, which was part of Harris’ attempt to broaden his influence and appeal to those of wealth or reputation.[9] It is likely “Plate XXI” refers to Nathaniel Curzon (1726-1804), 5 th Baronet of Kedleston. “Plate XXIII” is dedicated to the Earl of Suffolk. Possibly this was an appeal to the nobles more generally to become patrons.

Harris’ career flourished between 1766-1785, when he collected all sorts of English insects and published his two most famous books, The Aurelian and an Exposition of English Insects in 1776.[10] With The Aurelian Moses Harris combines the new tradition of depicting nature, following the steps of Merian, and the tastes of the aristocrats.

Moses Harris, Frontispiece Self-Portrait, from Exposition, engraving, Faber Birren Collection, Yale University.

[1] T. R. E. Southwood, “Entomology and Mankind: Insects over the Ages have Greatly Affected Man’s Health and Food Supply and have Played an Important Role as Religious and Cultural Symbols,” American Scientist, 65, no. 1 (January-February 1977), 31, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27847640.

[2] Southwood, “Entomology and Mankind,” 31.

[3] Harry B. Weiss, “Two Entomologists of the Eighteenth-Century–Eleazar Albin and Moses Harris,” The Scientific Monthly 23, no. 6 (December 1926): 561. http://www.jstor.org/stable/7678.

[4] Southwood, “Entomology and Mankind,” 31.

[6] Sharon Valiant, “Maria Sibylla Merian: Recovering an Eighteenth-Century Legend,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 26, no. 3 (Spring 1993): 473, doi:10.2307/2739414.

[7] Moses Harris, The Aurelian: A Natural History of English Moths and Butterflies, Together with the Plants on which they Feed, (London: 1840), 34, Smithsonian Libraries, Biodiversity Heritage Library. https://archive.org/details/Aurelian00Harr/page/n5

[8] Anne Goldgar, “Nature as Art: The Case of the Tulip,” in Pamela Smith and Paula Findlen, Merchants and Marvels: Commerce, Science, and Art in Early Modern Europe, 324, 330 (New York: Routledge, 2002).

[9] Janice Neri, “Conclusion: Discipline and Specimenize,” in The Insect and the Image: Visualizing Nature in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1700 (Minneapolis: University of Minnnesota Press, 2011), 185.


The Roman Empire

The Roman Empire (Latin: Imperium Romanum [ɪmˈpɛri.ũː roːˈmaːnũː] Koinē Greek: Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, romanized: Basileía tōn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity it included large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, Northern Africa, and Western Asia ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus to the military anarchy of the 3rd century, it was a principate with Italy as metropole of the provinces and the city of Rome as sole capital (27 BC – AD 286). After the military crisis, the empire was ruled by multiple emperors who shared rule over the Western Roman Empire and over the Eastern Roman Empire (also known as the Byzantine Empire). Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until AD 476, when the imperial insignia were sent to Constantinople, following the capture of Ravenna by the barbarians of Odoacer and the subsequent deposition of Romulus Augustulus. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, conventionally marks the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.

The predecessor state of the Roman Empire, the Roman Republic (which had replaced Rome’s monarchy in the 6th century BC) became severely destabilized in a series of civil wars and political conflicts. In the mid-1st century BC, Julius Caesar was appointed as perpetual dictator and then assassinated in 44 BC. Civil wars and proscriptions continued, culminating in the victory of Octavian, Caesar’s adopted son, over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. The following year Octavian conquered Ptolemaic Egypt, ending the Hellenistic period that had begun with the conquests of Alexander the Great of Macedon in the 4th century BC. Octavian’s power then became unassailable, and in 27 BC the Roman Senate formally granted him overarching power and the new title Augustus, effectively making him the first Roman emperor.

The first two centuries of the Empire saw a period of unprecedented stability and prosperity known as the Pax Romana (“Roman Peace”). Rome reached its greatest territorial expanse during the reign of Trajan (AD 98–117). A period of increasing trouble and decline began with the reign of Commodus (177–192). In the 3rd century the Empire underwent a crisis that threatened its existence, as the Gallic Empire and Palmyrene Empire broke away from the Roman state, and a series of short-lived emperors, often from the legions, led the empire. The empire was reunified under Aurelian (r. 270–275). In an effort to stabilize it, Diocletian set up two different imperial courts in the Greek East and Latin West in 286. Christians rose to positions of power in the 4th century following the Edict of Milan of 313. Shortly after, the Migration Period, involving large invasions by Germanic peoples and by the Huns of Attila, led to the decline of the Western Roman Empire. With the fall of Ravenna to the Germanic Herulians and the deposition of Romulus Augustus in AD 476 by Odoacer, the Western Roman Empire finally collapsed the Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno formally abolished it in AD 480. Nonetheless, some states in the territories of the former Western Roman Empire would later claim to have inherited the supreme power of the emperors of Rome, most notably the Holy Roman Empire. The Eastern Roman Empire survived for another millennium, until Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks of Sultan Mehmed II in 1453.

Due to the Roman Empire’s vast extent and long endurance, the institutions and culture of Rome had a profound and lasting influence on the development of language, religion, art, architecture, philosophy, law, and forms of government in the territory it governed, and far beyond. The Latin language of the Romans evolved into the Romance languages of the medieval and modern world, while Medieval Greek became the language of the Eastern Roman Empire. The Empire’s adoption of Christianity led to the formation of medieval Christendom. Greek and Roman art had a profound impact on the Italian Renaissance. Rome’s architectural tradition served as the basis for Romanesque, Renaissance and Neoclassical architecture, and also had a strong influence on Islamic architecture. The corpus of Roman law has its descendants in many legal systems of the world today, such as the Napoleonic Code, while Rome’s republican institutions have left an enduring legacy, influencing the Italian city-state republics of the medieval period, as well as the early United States and other modern democratic republics.


Biology [ edit | edit source ]

In 1940 Earth received a transmission from space. The humans at the time were unable to translate it, but Dr. Saul Fredricks managed to decipher the message. Within the message contained advanced technological blueprints, including for faster than light travel from an alien species known as the Aurelians. lso inclued in the message was a warning:

"We are finished, and they are coming for you next. Use our technology and get the hell out of there!".

The message the Aurelians sent referred to an species that the UN would identify as the Dark Ones. After hearing this message The Discovery was built, humanity's first ever FTL vessel. To hide the discovery of a hostile alien presence heading to Earth, the UN covered the discovery, making Fredricks the 'inventor' of the FTL formula. While the motivation of The Discovery was exploration, its true mission was to seek out new worlds and races and possibly make them allies.

Earth eventually sent out a visit the Aurelian homeworld, only to find it ravaged by the Dark Ones and its populace dead.