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The Man Who Saved Rome

The Man Who Saved Rome-Part One

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Magister Militum Flavius Stilicho was the last great hero of the Western Roman Empire and the man who saved Rome.  At a time when all of the noble Patrician fat cat losers around him were busy being a bunch of obnoxious, lazy, back-stabbing sycophants more obsessed with slaves, jewelry, and top-shelf hair products, this old-school stoic honor-bound barbarian-smiting warhammer of Imperial justice was out there proving that even though she was dying and decaying from the inside, the blood of Caesar, Scipio, Marius, and Agrippa still coursed through the veins of Roman Empire.  He rose from the rank-and-file of the Roman Legions to serve on the Emperor’s bodyguard, marry the Emperor’s daughter, take command of all Roman armed forces, and then defended the Eternal City from barbarian invaders at the gates not once but twice despite being underfunded, outnumbered, and having every single logistical problem in the Ancient World kicking him in the teeth every time he tried to take a leak.  In twenty years of military service to the Empire this dude fought off unstoppable hordes of rampaging enemy soldiers with a handful of legionnaires cobbled together at the last minute, and he defended the realm without ever sacrificing his personal honor or his duty to the Emperor.  Nowadays he goes down in history as the last great warrior of Rome, and his tragic death marks the end of the Western Empire as we know it.

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Flavius Stilicho was born in Germany around 365 AD.  We don’t know a whole lot about his early days because the Romans didn’t really bother writing down information about kids who didn’t come from well-known wealthy Roman families, but we do know that his mother was a Roman provincial and his father was a Vandal, which was a tribe of Germanic barbarian dudes who were super in to smashing mailboxes with baseball bats and tagging graffiti on highway underpasses.  Stilicho’s dad was a cavalry officer serving the Roman army as an auxiliary, and as soon as Stilicho was old enough to heft a gladius over his head he enlisted in the military to get busy with the head-cracking.  He was a badass archer, horseman, and hand-to-hand fighter, a charismatic leader, and a steel-plated tactical genius, and at a time when it was pretty common for soldiers from good families to just pay for military promotions like a dude trying to unlock a Counterstrike skin, Stilicho never once accepted a promotion that wasn’t based purely on merit.

Stilicho first shows up in history in 383 AD, when he was selected to command an honor guard sent by Emperor Theodosius to negotiate and ratify a peace treaty with the King of Persia.  Stilicho negotiated that  like a boss, returned to Constantinople in triumph, flexed his pecs, and married the Emperor’s daughter Serena, who basically fell in love with him as soon as she saw his six-pack.  Marrying the Princess of Rome is pretty ironman by itself, but Serena was a shrewd diplomat herself, and she was deftly able to defend him from the machinations of his enemies.  Her behind-the-scenes political skills are what kept this guy alive and in power at a time in history where most powerful men ended up futilely trying to remove six-inch blades that had just been embedded in their spines by their best friend.

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The Emperor’s son-in-law continued rising through the ranks of the military.  He commanded the Emperor’s personal bodyguard, and then was trusted with a sizeable portion of the Imperial army at the Battle of Frigidus in 394 AD.  Stilicho opened the attack by sending forward his expendable barbarian infantry head-on into the enemy, which resulted in a lot of dead barbarians, which was fine by him, and then while the enemy was busy chopping up the Germans Stilicho flanked around with the cavalry and broke the enemy forces with a pincer move.  The enemy commander – Emperor Theodosius’ brother – was captured and executed on the battlefield.

Well Emperor Theodosius died in 395, and he left his empire to his two young sons, setting up a divide between East and West that would never really be reunified again.   Because the emperors weren’t old enough to rule, Stilicho was put in charge of governing the West, and a total idiot named Rufinius was sent to help manage the East.  Rufinius was a scheming, self-serving jerk who had willingly ordered one of Stilicho’s best friends to his death, so clearly the next logical step was for the brothers to start killing each other.  And that’s totally what was about to happen, but then all of a sudden there was a rebellion by a tribe of long-haired Germanic barbarian warriors called the Goths.

(To Be Continued)

Taken from http://badassoftheweek.com/index.cgi?id=3288888804