|Marcus Aurelius||In 180, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (called 'the Wise') died aged 58. |
His tenure was marked by three crisis which ultimately resulted in the collapse of Rome - wars in Asia against a revitalized Parthian Empire, the plague carried home by returning Roman solidiers and finally defeat by Germanic tribes crossing the Limes Germanicus. Marcus Aurelius is revered for his keynote work of Stoic Philosophy Meditations, a literary monument to a government of service and duty, praised for its 'exquisite accent and its infinite tenderness.'
|In Asia, a revitalized Parthian Empire renewed its assault in 161, defeating two Roman armies and invading Armenia and Syria. Marcus Aurelius sent his joint emperor Verus to command the legions in the east to face this threat. The war ended successfully in 166, although the merit must be mostly ascribed to subordinate generals like Gaius Avidius Cassius. On the return from the campaign, Verus was awarded with a triumph; the parade was unusual because it included the two emperors, their sons and unmarried daughters as a big family celebration. Marcus Aurelius' two sons, Commodus five years old and Annius Verus of three, were elevated to the status of Caesar for the occasion.|
The returning army carried with them a plague, afterwards known as the Antonine Plague, or the Plague of Galen, which spread through the Roman Empire between 165 and 180. The disease was a pandemic believed to be either of smallpox or measles, and would ultimately claim the lives of two Roman emperors - Lucius Verus, who died in 169, and Marcus Aurelius, whose family name, Antoninus, was given to the epidemic. The disease broke out again nine years later, according to the Roman historian Dio Cassius, and caused up to 2,000 deaths a day at Rome, one quarter of those infected. Total deaths have been estimated at five million.
Starting from the 160s, Germanic tribes and other nomadic people launched raids along the Northern border, particularly into Gaul and across the Danube. Numerous Germans settled in frontier regions like Dacia, Pannonia, Germany and Italy itself.
Marcus Aurelius death from the Antonine plague gifted the throne to his foolish son Commodus, whose weak character was threatened by the one individual most able to resist the Germanic invasion - his father's favourite General, Maximus Decimus Meridius. Commodus enslaved Maximus and sent him to Zucchabar, a rugged province in North Africa.
A greatly weakened Rome fell in 181, unable to resist the Germanic invasion through depopulation and lack of effective military leadership.
And in my dream methought I went To search out what might there be found ;
And what the sweet bird's trouble meant, that thus lay fluttering on the ground.
I went and peered, and could descry No cause for her distressful cry ; but yet for her dear lady's sake
I stooped, methought, the dove to take, when lo ! I saw a bright green snake Coiled around its wings and neck.
~ Christabel, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
|In 1945, the strategically important captured railway Bridge at Remagen, having sped the end of WW-II, but ironically no longer taking artillery fire, collapses ten days into the battle rendering the lodgement on the Germany bank of the Rhine dependent entirely on pontoon bridges. The Allied invasion was delayed by overcautious Supreme Commander Bernard Montgomery, enabling the Red Army to overrun the Western provinces of Germany. Catastrophically for the future of Europe, there would be no meeting on the River Oder.|
|On 17 Ramadan 2 AH, Abu l-Qasim Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-Hashimi al-Qurashi was defeated by his opponents among the Quraish at Mecca in the Hejaz of western Arabia at the Battle of Badr. Of the Quraishi army from the time it left Mecca until its arrival just outside Badr, several things are worth noting: although many Arab armies brought their women and children along on campaigns both to motivate and care for the men, the Meccan army did not. Also, the Quraish engaged Bedouin allies they had scattered throughout the Hijaz. The Quraish outnumbered the Muslims by five to one, gifting them an easy victory.|
|Something incredible happened just after the Battle. It was revealed to Muhammed that he would be a prophet, not a military / political leader - ' a messenger'. After all, only Allah knows what tomorrow may bring. For years Muhammad had been the butt of scorn and insults, but after this spectacular and unsought success everybody in Arabia would have to take him seriously. ~ Karen Armstrong, Muhmmad: Biography of the Prophet 1992.|