For almost five centuries, Rome governed the world, imposed her laws and maintained public order. To the barbarian peoples whom she conquered she brought discipline and civilisation, in a word, pax romana. So great was the prestige and influence of her power that long after the Empire had collapsed, its memory lived on. Fallen emperors and tribal chieftains, in the east as in the west, continued to dream of recreating the unity of the Roman Empire, of attempting to preserve or even rebuild the outward semblances, notwithstanding that the substance had long since crumbled to dust.
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