And what was the end of this vile old man? " And so there we have popular writer, historian andAugustus himself all unconsciously verifying Daniel the prophet who, six hundred years before, hadsaid that a "vile person" would obtain the kingdom by " flatteries." The next verse, Daniel 11: 22 toldhow the " Prince of the Covenant " (identified in Daniel 9: 26, 27 as being the Messiah) would dieduring this emperor's reign, and the Book of Luke, chapter 3, and history make it plain that that was thetime of Christ's death.My eyes roved round the skyline trying to absorb in minutes the history of the centuries. Herewas some modern government building and there a famous old arch. Yonder stood the beautiful Victor Emanuel Monument and close by, the traditional tower on which Nero stood when he watched the burning of Rome on the night of 18th June, 64 AD. The fire served a two-fold purpose for Nero; itwiped out the slums of Rome where he had looked forward to building, for despite his megalomania, Nero was a promoter of modern town planning. It also allowed him to put the blame on the Christiansand thus organize a systematic persecution against them.Although the remains of Republican Rome are fairly few, the reminders of Imperial Rome'sgreatness are on every hand. There are monuments to Titus, conqueror of Jerusalem, and to Nerva,Trajan and Hadrian, !he latter being remembered in Britain because of the remains of Hadrian's Wall.There are monuments to the wise Antoninus Pius (A.D. 138-161), builder of mighty Baalbek in Lebanon, to Marcus Aurelius, Septimus Severus (193-211), Diocletian (284-305), Constantine theGreat (311-337), and many others. It was Constantine who, in 3,13, popularised Christianity in theEmpire by professing to have become a convert. There is very real reason to doubt the genuineness of his conversion and many real proofs that his heart still lay with Mithraism, the sun-worshippingreligion of the Roman Legions, but his so-called conversion was elastic enough to keep him popular with his troops and with the Christians as well. For political ends, Constantine sought to weld together these two great religious systems. The Christian Church which had been founded by Christ and theapostles and which had successfully weathered many storms of persecution found herself unable tostand against the compromise that came with popularity. The Church sank quickly into an abyss of corruption and simony, although one must not forget that in more outlying regions of the world primitive Christianity still continued.
It was during the reign of these last emperors that the Bishop of Rome succeeded in asserting hisauthority over the four bishops of the Christian Church-the bishops of Jerusalem, Antioch,Constantinople and Alexandria. This primacy was further strengthened by the Sack of Rome in 410AD. by the Goths under Alaric the first capture of Rome by a foreign foe in more than eight centuries.Then came the raids of Genseric and his vandals in 455 and finally in 47~6 the deposition of thewestern emperor by the, Teuton, Odoacer. As each barbarian incursion took place, the position of theemperor declined, while the power of the bishop, who became known as the pope, was enhanced. ACatholic writer tells how the Popes of Rome succeeded to the seat of the Caesars: "Long ages ago whenRome through the neglect of the Western emperors was left to the mercy of the barbarous hordes, theRomans turned to one figures for aid and protection and asked him to rule them; and thus commencedthe temporal sovereignty of the Popes. And meekly stepping to the throne of Caesar, the Vicar of Christtook up the sceptre to which the emperors and kings of Europe were to bow in reverence through somany ages." American Catholic Quarterly Review, April, 191 LWith the fall of Western Rome, there was no sudden break with the Eastern emperor atConstantinople, or New Rome. Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths who revered the ancient city, tried toestablish an Italian state to carry on the Roman tradition. After his death in 526 the Eastern emperor Justinian reconquered Italy at great cost. Rome was captured and recaptured five times in eighteenyears and by the middle of the sixth century the city finally came under the control of the Easternemperor and was administered by the Exarch of Ravenna as part of the Byzantine empire.As civic powers waned, the popes gradually gained in authority. Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) assumed very great power and others followed on. Tiring of the restraints of Byzantine rule, PopeLeo III turned to the Frankish king Charlemagne and on Christmas Day of the year 800 crowned himhead of the Holy Roman Empire which, as some wit has remarked, was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.The next few centuries were dark for Rome. The forces of Islam were knocking on her gates.In the ninth century the Saracens plundered two of her outer churches. Then followed years of bitter contest between popes and emperors and popes with rival popes. The sixteenth century dawned brilliantly, with Raphael and Michelangelo both working on their beautiful frescoes in the Vatican, butRome soon again became the pawn in the struggle between rival powers. The French kings and the