April 07, 2016

Today in History: Roman Emperor Honorius bans pants (407 AD)

John RobsonArchive

What’s that you’re wearing?

It’s now over 1600 years since the feeble Roman Emperor Honorius banned pants in Rome. Not to promote orgies but because they were a proud, open, even insolent badge of barbarian contempt for Roman traditions. 

Within three years, barbarians had sacked Rome for the first time in almost eight centuries, but not the last.

Perhaps they should have worried sooner.

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commented 2016-04-10 04:49:11 -0400
Interesting. Can’t help but see how we are doomed to repeat the mistake.
commented 2016-04-09 00:28:43 -0400
“There are but two ways to rule men….by force or by hypocrisy….I am no hypocrit”….Ghengis Khan
commented 2016-04-08 14:43:28 -0400
Well Lloyd, there is a world of difference between being educated and being schooled: no one should care “where you studied”, what matters is what you know.

The information is there for Glenn to educate himself, because he is basing his knowledge of history upon what someone in the 18th C. wrote, someone who was actually a fairly crappy historian by our standards, and who had 0 recourse to archaeological evidence…
commented 2016-04-08 13:32:33 -0400
Peter…..get a concordance or find one on line and look up the words “person” and “personal”….all you will find is “GOD IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS

The church was always represented as Christ’s bride….any relationship with Christ is through the agency of “the Church”

Christ is no man’s “personal saviour”
commented 2016-04-08 11:43:59 -0400
I love John’s historic glimpses – they remind us of how little things have changed in politics.

Centuries ago a lame emperor bans barbarian garb after he has already opened the gates to them – fast forward to Europe and Quebec banning Islamic garb after they have allowed them in the gates.

History repeats itself John, glad you are here to remind us.
commented 2016-04-08 09:48:10 -0400
Glen Craig said, “Nowhere in the scriptures will you find the phrase “personal relationship with Christ””
“… nor will you find it in any church history nor record of sermons preached prior to the 1740.s”
“My reason for leaving the Church was ever expanding peer pressure to suck cocks.”

Wow! Your misunderstanding of and lack of knowledge of the scriptures is astounding. Truly astounding. Each of these things you said are completely wrong. No wonder you have such problems with the scriptures. If I have your poor knowledge of the the scriptures, I too would be as angry as you are.
commented 2016-04-08 08:54:34 -0400
Spencer - Gibbons dead !
You got lost in Tetlock’s hedges along with the little hogs
JOHN ROBSON ‘S alive and to he was making a salient point relative to our cultural history!
Oh academia , academia
Plus I am going with his version, ain’t going to plow all the way back through the Holy Roman Empire ,—-to bloody
commented 2016-04-08 05:13:58 -0400
Glenn, no historian takes Gibbon seriously, his thesis is completely outdated and isn’t supported by the evidence. He was a man with one big idea (one of Tetlock’s “hedgehogs”), and as is usually the case, his big idea wasn’t all that relevant.

Gibbon’s basic idea was that Rome fell because of Christianity (he talks about Christian morality creating a pacifist culture which depleted the army, weakened their political leadership etc.): this is complete rubbish.

The thesis falls prey to the rather obvious logical fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc. He saw that Christianity was adopted, then Rome fell roughly 150 years later, and concluded that the prior event caused the latter.

This is a false causal attribution. The first Christian Emperor, Constantine completely reinvigorated the Empire, by strengthening the military and rebuilding Rome, and creating a new capital at Byzantium (Constantinople), which became the largest and most fortified city in the world. Christianity rejuvenated and united the Empire, which for the first time in its history had a uniting element (it was divided by language, Latin and Greek; by religion, various pagan cults etc.). In fact, the adoption of Christianity probably allowed the Empire to creak on longer than it should have.

I will point out that it was the Eastern Empire (which was more thoroughly Christianized than the West) which survived the barbarian conquests, lasting another thousand years.

I have written about this in the past, and I believe that Dr. Robson and I are on the same page, that the Western Empire never actually fell in the sense that Gibbon would have you believe, it evolved. This evolution was driven by a changing and admixed population.

What do I mean? Two things:

1) The Western Empire never really “fell”, although there was a last emperor based in Rome, the title was adopted by various “barbarian” kingdoms, but life largely continued as it had: people still lived in the same cities, the trade networks continued as they always did, people still paid taxes, coins were still minted (in Latin), people still learned Latin, and in many cases the same patrician families continued to remain rich and powerful, living in their villas etc. For example, Gregory of Tours, a 5th/6th C. bishop was descended from a senatorial family which had held that diocese for hundreds of years, he spoke Latin, read all the classical authors etc.

Roman society evolved, and there was much more continuity than was previously thought (this is supported both by texts, which Gibbon didn’t have access to, and by the archeological record, which Gibbon also couldn’t access). The barbarian invasions in the 5th C. changed the West mostly in name: it was actually the Arab conquests (which closed off the Mediterranean, and cut West from East), and the Viking and Magyar raids which fundamentally transformed Europe, and birthed our modern world.

2) What changed Western Rome was not Christianity, but immigration. Germanic peoples settled in Roman territories, and had been doing so since the mid 4th C. Small initial populations grew and did not integrate, they formed parallel societies within the Empire. In many cases entire tribes relocated south of the Rhine.

The Romans allowed this for various reasons: they couldn’t afford to stop them, they thought they could help defend the borders against other barbarians, they needed allies against invaders such as the Huns etc. Either way, Rome was slowly resettled, and by the 5th C. it was no longer Roman anyways.

When a population replaces another, even when it adopts the host’s culture and language (as was largely the case with the Franks in France, the Visigoths in Spain, the Vandals in N. Africa), that society is no longer what it was; it was no longer Roman.

So when Dr. Robson says that Honorius banned pants, it’s because he was trying, in a sense, to turn the Germans into Romans, but this was not possible. Rome learned the hard way that people are not interchangeable parts, you can’t simply bring in Germans and Goths and pretend they’re Romans.

Likewise, this is exactly what’s happening in Europe today. And no, Christianity isn’t the problem: I would argue that it’s because Europe has abandoned its Christian foundations (and therefore it’s grasp of absolute morality, and absolute truth) that it’s disintegrating as we speak.

History repeats itself, in this case it’s fairly obvious.

If you like I can expand on this topic, I am penning a book on it which will hopefully be done by the middle of next year. My education is in history, religion, and law.


Spencer Morrison
commented 2016-04-08 03:52:41 -0400
Peter Netterville…..the word “persona” means the mask worn by an actor in a classical greek play……restorationist protestants created all manner of apostate non-sense. Nowhere in the scriptures will you find the phrase “personal relationship with Christ” nor will you find it in any church history nor record of sermons preached prior to the 1740.s

My reason for leaving the Church was ever expanding peer pressure to suck cocks.
commented 2016-04-08 00:42:24 -0400
Point taken. I just wish the guys who are supposed to be attending to our national security could understand it.
commented 2016-04-07 21:09:09 -0400
So professor ROBSON , you’re telling us Romans to get with it before it’s to late
Thanks for the heads off , er i mean the " heads up "
commented 2016-04-07 19:19:55 -0400
John Robson, your monologue sounds like a warning for Canada vs. Islamists, the “barbarians”.

Glenn Craig said, “Let the scripture scoldings from the fundies begin….”

Why? To a large degree you are correct. It is because of the failure of the Christian community that a lot of the current societal problems exist.

Is that what you wanted to hear?

Does that justify your leaving the Christian church? Isn’t it rather childish to blame the Christian church for the failure in your personal relationship with Christ? Don’t worry, you are not the only one to blame someone else for your own private and personal relationship failure with Christ.
commented 2016-04-07 19:03:18 -0400
I read Gibbons Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire when I was still a precotious 13 year old…..a point that the author seemed to miss when he attributed it to decline in morality was that the Roman Empire was nowhere near declining before it adopted Christianity as it’s state religion.

The reason why I left the Christian Church was because I foresaw what is happening now….so while it is the Islamic barbarians who will sack this civilization…..it was the Christians who paved that road for them.

Let the scripture scoldings from the fundies begin….
commented 2016-04-07 18:55:19 -0400
You could slap current western leaders upside the head with this post and they wouldn’t see any connection to the current state of affairs.