While Rome Collapsed, the Citizens Fought Over the Colors Blue and Green
Corruption and bad governance took root everywhere, but people in the streets were more worked up over their favorite color
Why did the Roman Empire collapse? There are at least 210 different theories. (I’m not joking—somebody actually counted them.)
Take your pick. Henri Pirenne tells us that Arab seafarers took control of the Mediterranean and vital trade routes, starving the Empire of capital and goods. William H. McNeill blames plagues and Edward Gibbon points an accusatory finger at Christianity. Some say Rome put too much emphasis on military power, while others say it was too little. And many pundits bemoan the decadence, laziness, greed, and turpitude of the emperors and their citizens.
And that’s just a start.
But the strangest cause of all is a color. Well, actually two colors: blue and green.
Each of these colors had loyal supporters—and they hated fans of the other color. Their rivalry was so fierce that it lasted longer than the Roman Empire itself. Emperors came and went, but Blues still hated Greens, and Greens hated Blues. By the time you get to the late Empire, almost every major social disturbance gets described by commentators in terms of these two factions.
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