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Explain the following quote by St Jerome.St. Jerome- This early Church leader did not...

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animallover | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 2) Honors

Posted November 8, 2009 at 12:44 PM via web

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Explain the following quote by St Jerome.

St. Jerome- This early Church leader did not live to see the empire's (Rome's) end, but he vividly describes his feelings after a major event in Rome's decline-the attack and plunder of the city by Visigoths in 410.

"It is the end of the world...Words fail me. My sobs break in...The city which took captive the whole world has itself been captured."

Specifically, what does he mean by "the city which took captive the whole world has itself been captured"?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 8, 2009 at 12:48 PM (Answer #1)

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He's saying that Rome had been the most powerful city in all the world.  It had taken captive the whole world in a couple of ways.  First, it had conquered the Roman Empire (not the whole world, but close to the whole of the known world at that time).  Then, it had been the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, which had been in charge of all Christians everywhere in the world.

So he's commenting on or lamenting the fact that this city that had been so powerful could itself be captured.

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 8, 2009 at 10:26 PM (Answer #2)

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The last time Rome was sacked was in 390 BC by the Gauls. After this, Rome had great success in almost every way. They expanded geographically, politically, economically, educationally, socially, etc. By the time of the 4th century there was even the thought that Rome was the eternal city. Ammianus, the great Roman historian, uses this phrase in his works often. So, at least from an ideological point of view, Rome was glorious and eternal. I say, "ideological," because in truth, the Roman empire was past its prime.  That said, when Rome was sacked  in 410, this was an incredible psychological blow. The world would never be the same. Jerome's quote is proof of this point.

It is not a perfect illustration, but 410 AD was like 911 to us. Jerome, then, is lamenting the fall of Rome.

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