chapter
7 Pages

Introduction

Between these two kinds of death

The Rome of Gildas' chronicle was no longer the world-spanning superpower of Cincinnatus, Caesar, and Severus, but a shrunken and exhausted realm which had barely survived the 200s AD. The Crisis of the Third Century was undeniably real, a period when the Roman world was tested by a series of changes and calamities in all aspects of society: constitutional, military, financial, diplomatic, commercial, religious, societal, and even environmental. How our societies are adapting, and will continue to adapt, to current dynamics is unclear and fiercely contested, little different from the attempted adaptations of post-Crisis Rome. There is no universal answer, but one thing is certain – neither empire nor the nation-state, as we have conceived them, offer solutions. Empire pushes us back to the nation-state, the nation-state pushes us back to empire; between these two kinds of death we are either drowned or slaughtered. And we have no Emperor Honorius, no General Aetius, to ask for a solution.