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The gathering hordes

Rome, Italy - CE 400

Proponents of the so-called "barbarian invasion" theory today warned of the "potentially disastrous" effects of hundreds of thousands of Visigoths, Huns, and Vandals plundering the imperial capital, including death, despoilment and dismemberment of the populace, and destruction of the city's ancient architecture and temples.

Senator Titus Claudius scoffed at the authors of the Foreign Barbarian Invasion: Impacts, Mitigation, and Risk Management report, saying, "Obviously, these people have warned of barbarian invasions before - and look - Rome is as rich and prosperous as ever." The Senator went on to proclaim that because of the unlimited amounts of land left to conquer and the unparallelled might of the Imperial army, no barbarians could ever pierce the walls of Rome. Additionally, the Senator said that preparing for an imminent invasion would divert needed funds from temple building and wine production.

The Foreign Barbarian Invasion report is the most strongly-worded warning yet about the conquering hordes problem, and was issued by a respected think tank commissioned by the Roman Legions to study the Barbarian issue. Lead author Consul Maximus Romeus comments, "We don't know the precise date at which the barbarian horde(s) will invade. We do know, however, that other cities in the empire have been sacked and burned, and that barbarian forces maintain a quick, mobile force on the edges of our imperial reach. An attack on Rome is inevitable. The effects of such an invasion are so severe that we should begin to prepare for when the barbarians decide to attack."

Consul Maximus Romeus goes on to list recommendations such as planning for strategic evacuation of the populace, limiting further imperial expansion, land reforms for farming sustainability, and a halt to the building of additional temples, public baths, coliseums, and palaces which have drained the treasury and taxed the peasants into extreme poverty.

Foreign Barbarian Invasion is the third report concerning destructive invading hordes released this year. Other reports from the Vestal Virgins and the Apollonian Order were issued in the spring and were similarly downplayed by the Senate.

Several high-profile Roman groups commented on the report. Roman Empire Research Associates (RERA) issued this: "We refuse to believe that Rome could be invaded, despite any overwhelming so-called evidence to the contrary. Rome is the center of the universe, blessed by the Gods, and has never been conquered in modern history. Rome cannot fall."

Another respected group, the Roman Defense Institute, had a different perspective. "Although the threat of barbarian invadors is real, we simply need to expand the army and build higher walls. These innovative steps will address the problem without disruption to our way of life or economy."

Representatives of Transition Rome, a small but growing group of citizens concerned about the "barbarian invasion" problem, commented, "This paper only confirms testimonies which have been gathered from across the empire. While we don't know when the barbarians will invade, our low levels of grain storage, depleted farmland and treasury, expensive costs of maintaining a standing imperial army, and high levels of debt and poverty make Rome more vulnerable than ever to attack, and so it only makes sense to prepare for the inevitable. Plus, preparing for an invasion will be fun."

Editorial Notes: Sometimes you just gotta add some humor, and for some reason it feels especially appropriate this week. Thanks, Christine. -KS

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