Excerpts From E.B. Elliott's



Thus was the final catastrophe preparing, by which the Western emperors and empire were to become extinct. The glory of Rome had long departed; its provinces one after another been rent from it; the territory still attached to it become like a desert; and its maritime possessions, and its fleets and commerce, been annihilated. Little remained to it but the vain titles and insignia of sovereignty. And now the time was come when these too were to be withdrawn. Some twenty years or more from the death of Attila, and much less from that of Genseric, (who, ere his death, had indeed visited and ravaged the eternal city, in one of his maritime marauding expeditions, and thus yet more prepared things for the coming consummation,) about this time, I say, Odoacer, chief of the Heruli,—a barbarian remnant of the host of Attila, left on the Alpine frontiers of Italy,—interposed with his command that the name and the office of Roman emperor of the West should be abolished. The authorities bowed in submission to him. The last phantom of an emperor,—one whose name, Romulus Augustulus, was singularly calculated to bring in contrast before the reflective mind the past glories of Rome and its present degradation,—abdicated: and the Senate sent away the imperial insignia to Constantinople; professing to the Emperor of the East that one Emperor was sufficient for the whole of the empire.—Thus of the Roman imperial sun that third which appertained to the Western empire was eclipsed, and shone no more. I say that third of its orb which appertained to the Western empire: for the Apocalyptic fraction is literally accurate. In the last arrangement between the two courts, the whole of the Illyrian third had been made over to the Eastern division.