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August 18 , 2009

The Sorceress of Rome


The darkness of the tenth century is dissipated by no contemporary historian. Monkish chronicles alone shed a faint light over the discordant chaos of the Italian world. Rome was no longer the capital of the earth. The seat of empire had shifted from the banks of the Tiber to the shores of the Bosporus, and the seven hilled city of Constantine had assumed the imperial purple of the ancient capital of the Cæsars. Centuries of struggles with the hosts of foreign invaders had in time lowered the state of civilization to such a degree, that in point of literature and art the Rome of the tenth century could not boast of a single name worthy of being transmitted to posterity. Even the memory of the men whose achievements in the days of its glory constituted the pride and boast of the Roman world, had become almost extinct. A great lethargy benumbed the Italian mind, engendered by the reaction from the incessant feuds and broils among the petty tyrants and oppressors of the country. Together with the rest of the disintegrated states of Italy, united by no common bond, Rome had become the prey of the most terrible disorders. Papacy had fallen into all manner of corruption. Its former halo and prestige had departed. The chair of St. Peter was sought for by bribery and controlling influence, often by violence and assassination, and the city was oppressed by factions and awed into submission by foreign adventurers in command of bands collected from the outcasts of all nations.
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