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Vandalism and an unromantic Valentinian story

By Debra Dobbins

Since we all have hearts and flowers on our minds, I hate to be a spoilsport, but a check of Wikipedia and Answers.com reveals this highly unromantic bit of history:

In the 400s Roman emperor Valentinian III and Genseric, leader of the Vandals, a Germanic tribe, had betrothed their daughter and son. The match was seen as a way to strengthen relationships between the two powers. Unfortunately, when Valentinian III was killed in 455, Petronius Maximus took over, married his predecessor’s widow and had his own son marry Valentinian’s daughter.

This change in plans did not set well with Genseric, also called Gaiseric. He took it as a breach of contract of sorts, at least a good enough excuse to lay waste to Rome and capture Valentinian’s daughter. Genseric's son then married her, after all. Historians do not say how happy she was about the marriage, but to modern sensibilities, it does not sound like a match made in heaven.

As sacks go, historians have concluded that it wasn’t Rome’s most riotous rout, but apparently the Vandals did enough looting, pillaging and ravishing for Renaissance and Early Modern writers to put the blame for Rome’s destruction mostly on them, according to Wikipedia.

Webster’s says that vandalism now means “malicious or destruction of public or private property, esp. that which is beautiful or artistic.”

Vandalism in the news recently has been the destruction of priceless artifacts in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Military troops are guarding the museum against further destruction.

Perhaps now that President Hosni Mubarek has agreed to turn over power to Egypt’s army, Cairo, another ancient city, will be spared further acts of vandalism.

For more on this breaking news, go to http://www.gjsentinel.com/breaking/articles/mubarak-resigns-hands-power-to-military.

Genseric Sacking Rome
Karl Briullov (1799–1852)
Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Sack of Rome by the Vandals
Heinrich Leutemann (1824–1905)
Courtesy of Wikipedia

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