The fall of the Roman Empire did not occur overnight in 476 with the deposition of Romulus Augustulus by the Heruli through a military deed or feat, but it was rather a slow, corroding process of decadence that had began almost three centuries before, with the death of Marcus Aurelius, the last of the Five Good Emperors. He had been succeeded by his son Commodus, a megalomaniac and extravagant emperor who committed all sort of excesses; at the end of his reign, a period of chaos followed. Although order was restored, all the other emperors, including Constantine the Great, lacked the virtues of formers emperors, such austerity, simplicity, and equanimity, as they acquired the extravagant lifestyle, bureaucracy, and autocracy of the Persian kings. Thus, the scaffolding of the old Roman values and morality that had served as patterns of behavior for Generals and emperors had worn away as they became autocrats who used the mighty power of the army as the pillar of legitimacy and not the laws passed by the Senate as this institution had lost the authority it used to have. As true autocrats, Diocletian had established the Middle East custom that every subject had to kneel down and bow when he spoke to the emperor, while Constantine the Great, who converted to Christianity, used the new monotheistic religion as an instrument of mind control of the masses.

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