“The vicissitudes of fortune . . . buries empires and cities in a common grave.”

Decline & Fall cover“The vicissitudes of fortune, which spares neither man nor the proudest of his works, which buries empires and cities in a common grave.”  Edward Gibbon. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

The history: In 248 A.D., Diocletian split the Roman Empire, taking the East and giving the West to Maximian. There is some discussion as to when the Western Roman Empire finally collapsed; but many say it was the murder of the last ‘Emperor’ Odoacer in his then capital, Ravenna, on 15 March 493 A.D. by Theodoric leading the Goths. Thereafter, the land was known as the Kingdom of Italy. The Eastern Roman Empire had by then become the Byzantine Empire and lasted until 1453 A.D. The goal of the Time Patrol is to make sure our timeline’s history, remains intact, in the face of attempts by the Shadow to change it. Because: “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” George Orwell. 1984 excerpt from Ides of March,:

Ravenna, Capitol of the Western Roman Empire, 493 A.D. Roland slipped in the mud and blood, which saved his life as the Goth spear struck his chest armor obliquely. The Goth didn’t get a second chance as Roland took his head off with one swipe of the sword. They really had to get better with the timing on this time travel thing, Roland thought, as he spun about, ready for more enemies. There was no one on the path other than four bodies. He checked the forest to either side, but no sign of danger. “Centurion!” Several soldiers came running around a bend in the path, swords drawn. Roland went on guard, but then realized they were equipped with the same uniform and armor he wore. While checked the bodies, the other three spread out, providing security. A rider came around the bend. Astride the war horse was a man, a purple robe over his shiny armor. Odoacer, Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, leaned forward in the saddle. “Did you kill all four, Centurion?” “Yes, sir,” Roland said, figuring he, whoever he was before he became aware of being here, had taken out the other three. “I need men like you close to me.” Odoacer raised his right hand, while he pointed with his left at Roland. “You are now a Protector.” Roland liked the sound of that title, as his mind processed the implanted data: it meant he was still roughly the equivalent of a centurion, but in the Emperor’s personal guard, the Palatini. Of course, like every army, it meant more responsibility, but the same pay. Still, a soldier on his way up in rank, except Roland’s future here was limited to 24 hours; and the last Emperor of the Western Roman Empire had even less time than that.

Odoacer statueThe statue to the left is of Odoacer; technically the last Emperor of the Western Roman Empire. It is interesting to note that Ravenna was also the city where Julius Caesar made his decision to lead his legions across the Rubicon, forever changing history, over half a millennia earlier. (BTW, given the title of the book, an agent is also going to the Ides of March, 44 B.C. More on that shortly). What was your favorite book or movie or series about the Roman Empire? I’ve watched the HBO mini-series ROME several times and thought so much of the concept, I based my Duty, Honor, Country trilogy on the concept of two minor figures playing a huge, but unknown role in history. In fact, for those who read this blog to this point, if you’d like the first eBook in that series for free, email us at bobandjen@coolgus.com and tell us what format (mobi for kindle, the rest ePub) and we’ll send it. We would ask that as a return favor, you sign up for my newsletter, but only if you want to. My wife and I also watch I, Claudius annually. It even has a young Patrick Stewart with hair as the conniving and wicked Lucius Aelius Sejanus! What’s yours?


  1. Three favorite movies: Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. OMG. When I was younger I watched it every chance I got. Never gets old. Gladiator because um who doesn’t like Russell Crowe and finally, probably my all time favorite, which might say something interesting about me: THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART 1.

    I’ve never really researched the time period, so don’t really know a lot. I do watch a lot of movies from this time period and LOVED the tv show ROME. But I’ll also watch just about anything.

  2. How did I not know this about I,Claudius and Patrick Stewart? I am such an uncultured barbarian! Jen, THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART 1 is truly one of the all-time greats inre: any era, up there with Lawrence of Arabia for my overall faves. As to the question at hand, I’d second Gladiator as well as the Rome series. I’ve been snaffling up details of the Roman Empire the past few months, so it’s hard to pick just one book as a standout for research or pleasure. The Medicus series is fantastic as far as fiction goes, and anything by Mary Beard is a must-read. Stopping now before I write an essay.

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