Imperium sine fine

I sometimes see this license plate on a sports car in the parking lot at my bus stop.

SPQR2

It reminded me of a scene in Lest Darkness Fall

The standard [of the Byzantine army] no doubt bore the letters S. P. Q. R.- the Senate and the People of Rome. An army of Hunnish, Moorish, and Anatolian mercenaries, commanded by a Thracian Slav who worked for a Dalmatian autocrat who reigned in Constantinople and didn’t even rule the city of Rome, called itself the Army of the Roman Republic and saw nothing funny in the act.

OTOH, long before the period of this story (c. 530 A.D.), the Roman Empire had ceased to be simply the conquest-state of an Italian city. By 300 A.D. the entire Mediterranean world had been Romanized and the upper classes throughout it had bought into the Roman way of life and enjoyed all the benefits of it. The “Thracian Slav” Belisarius and the “Dalmatian autocrat” Justinian really did think of themselves as Romans. See, for example The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians. Recall that what is usually considered as the “Fall of the Roman Empire” in the late 400’s really means the fall of the Western Empire. The Eastern (Byzantine) Empire lasted for nearly another millenium.

Reading Lest Darkness Fall was what got me interested in Roman and Byzantine history. I can trace other historical interests to science fiction as well. Without SF my education and interests would be much narrower.

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