Given the ‘heat’ folks have been putting on news outlets for their apparent lack of critical thinking abilities in regards to such things as those lead codices (and plenty of other things which aren’t in our purview), it’s somewhat refreshing to see the Telegraph apparently trying to ‘look good’. First we read of a rather startling claim made by the head of Italy’s National Research Council … here’s the incipit:
Roberto De Mattei, 63, the deputy head of the country’s National Research Council, claimed that the empire was fatally weakened after conquering Carthage, which he described as “a paradise for homosexuals”.
The remarks prompted angry calls for his resignation, with critics saying his comments were homophobic, offensive and unbecoming of his position.
The fall of the Roman Empire was a result of “the effeminacy of a few in Carthage, a paradise for homosexuals, who infected the many.
“The abhorrent presence of a few gays infected a good part of the (Roman) people,” Prof Mattei told Radio Maria, a Catholic radio station.
The Roman Republic achieved domination over Carthage, in present-day Tunisia, during the Punic Wars of the third and second centuries BC, during which Hannibal made his ultimately abortive crossing of the Alps with war elephants. [etc.]
A week or so ago, that would be the end of the story and the ‘fall’ reason would be just another ‘fact’. Now the various newspapers seem to want to made amends and appear legit. The Daily Mail, e.g., has the story and then consults some historians … but then, being the Daily Mail, they disagree … here’s the relevant part:
Historian Emilio Gabba, a leading light in Roman history, said: ‘It is highly improbable homosexuality led to the fall of the Roman Empire.’
Professor Lellia Cracco Ruggini, an expert on Roman history from Turin University, said: ‘There is no proof Rome had a high number of homosexuals. I can safely say Rome did not fall because it was gay.’ However research would seem to suggest homosexuality was rife in ancient Rome.
The 18th century expert Edward Gibbon wrote that ‘of the first 15 emperors, Claudius was the only one whose taste in love was entirely correct’.
Homosexuality is widely portrayed in ancient Roman art and was seen as acceptable 2,000 years ago.
For its part, the Telegraph has a complete column unto itself (by the same journalist) presenting the standard ‘list’ of possible reasons for the ‘fall’ … it begins thusly:
Scholars point out that it was not a single, dramatic event – the decline of the Empire took place over around 300 years.
Historians have variously dated the final collapse to the sack of Rome in AD410 by the Visigoth king Alaric, the deposing of the last Roman emperor by the German chieftain Odoacer in AD476 and the death of Justinian I, the last Roman emperor to try to reconquer the western half of the empire, in AD565.
The reasons for the fall of the empire include military overreach, invasion by emboldened tribes of Huns and Visigoths from northern and central Europe, inflation, corruption and political incompetence.
While historians have examined dozens of reasons for the decline of the greatest empire the world had ever seen, homosexuality is not one of them. [etc.]
… and there’s also this:
… much better job, on the Telegraph side of things. Daily Mail … well, it’s still the Daily Mail.