Where’s the Colosseum?

This being an election year, I am announcing to all present that I will not—I repeat, not—vote for any candidate who compares the present state of our country to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. I further announce that I will not send donations to any radio or television preacher who makes the same comparison. Believe me, I admire Mr. Gibbon’s classic work, but I will not change my mind. I have spoken.

To begin with, is there anybody around who ever wanted the Roman Empire to continue? I mean, what about Daniel’s prophecies and those grotesque pictures in Clarence Larkin’s book of dispensational charts? The Empire just had to go. (I must be honest and admit that I found one man who wanted the Empire to continue. His name was Lucius Contamulus, and he did a land-office business selling Latin correspondence courses to the Celts and Huns. The last anyone heard of him, he had a shop in Piccadilly Circus and was selling Roman candles.)

Furthermore, is there any direct relationship between what happened to Rome and what is happening to us? Other great empires have fallen; why do we pick on Rome? The United States government hasn’t been providing any games for me and my family. In fact, if taxes keep going up on tickets, we’ll have to stay home and watch reruns on TV. How’s that for a decline and fall?

Another thing: literary scholars are not so sure Gibbon wrote the work. He finished his last volume near midnight on June 27, 1787, and by his own admission “took several turns” in a covered walk. While his manuscript lay unguarded, it is possible that his neighbor, Lord Chumley Rumley, slipped his own material into the manuscript. When Gibbon read the proofs, he thought he had written it himself. After ...

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