Special Forces veteran, but he looks like a hippie or a biker.nThe small Oregon town where he gets into trouble with thenlaw treats him first with contempt and then hunts him downnlike an animal. When he turns on his tormentors, henwreaks a horrible revenge.nThe hiry of his actions is avresome, but no more so thannthe rage of his final tirade to commanding officer RichardnCrenna: “Who are they to protest me?” This wrath is notndirected particularly against the elite. It is a small town innrural America that is blown away in Sly Stallone’s vision.nThe rot in America is deep, and no superficial balm willnquiet the throbbing cancer. The financial success of thenmovie was a surprise, but reviewers gave conventionallynnegative responses and chose to ignore the meaning of itsnpopularity. They did not pause to ask themselves thenquestion: Why would people, especially younger people,npay money to see such a picture when they stayed away inndroves from such artistic successes as Costa-Gavras’nMissing.nThe overwhelming financial success this past summer ofnRambo: First Blood 11 awoke many, news commentatorsnand editorial writers as well as reviewers, from their dogmaticnslumbers. When I saw the movie on Memorial Day,nevery teenager in the audience got up at the end andnapplauded. The older viewers looked on in impotentnamazement. Rambo, however, is a rather different movie,nRestoring Ordern221 CHRONICLES OF CULTUREnImagine a civilization in collapse.nWaves of barbarians flooding thenfrontiers, rampant inflation and andevalued currency, a series of administrationsnthat do not last longnenough to implement their reformnproposals, an inefficient and corruptnbureaucracy, rapacious andnunfair tax collections, the armednforces rebellious and in disarray, annalmost complete collapse of faith innthe national ideals. It is not thenUnited States in 1979, but thenRoman Empire at the end of thenthird century A.D. To many Romans,nwho turned increasingly tonthe refuge offered by religion, itnseemed that “the long glories ofnancient Rome” were about to endnwhen, quite unexpectedly, Diodes,na competent (although not brilliant)nsoldier of Illyrian peasant stock,ntook the pieces of the empire andnreassembled them into a new structure.nLike all Roman revolutions, itnwas called a restoration.nIn a new biography {Diocletiannand the Roman Recovery; Methuen;nin tone and themes, from First Blood, and the difference isndue to another and very different movie, also a sleeper.nGene Hackman starred in Uncommon Valor, and thatnbilling alone attracted notice. An aging officer whose sonnnever returned from the war, he is convinced that his son isnstill alive there, held as a slave by the Vietnamese. Nonofficial will listen, so he rounds up a group of Vietnamesenvets, many of them bizarre misfits, made that way by theirnwartime experience, and rescues his son and other POW’snand MIA’s. The movie is moving, sensitive, far fromnabrasive, and the industry was caught by surprise at thenaudiences it attracted.nThe success of Uncommon Valor did not escape thenattention of Chuck Norris, a karate champ who hadnparlayed the early death of Bruce Lee into some moneymakingnkarate movies. Norris saw himself as the truensuccessor to John Wayne and seized the chance to succeednwhere Wayne had failed. His Missing in Action was anblockbuster. Norris played a POW who had escaped fromnan illegal Vietnamese prison camp and had now returnednwith an official U.S. delegation to uncover what thenCommunists had been doing. There are some effectivenverbal confrontations, much action, some revenge, and anfinale in which he breaks up a self-righteous Vietnamesenmedia event by crashing in with a number of rescuednPOW’s. Norris followed up MIA with another film on hownREVISIONSnLondon and New York), StephennWilliams traces the remarkable careernof the ancient Franco, whonlengthened his name to Diocletiannafter a successful coup (in 284) thatnput him on the throne of thenCaesars—the 27th emperor sincenthe death of Septimus Severus inn211. The new emperor proceedednto reestablish the empire on thenmodel of the only social institutionnhe was familiar with: the army. Henreorganized the bureaucracy alongnmilitary lines but took away fromnthe army most of its old civiliannresponsibilities—like tax collection.nHis successful rehabilitationnof the imperial revenue collectionngrew out of his recognition that thenold system was a failure. He basednthe new order on the needs of thenarmy. Throughout the third century,nprovisioning had been a haphazardnaffair, which came down tonthe soldiers taking whatever theynneeded. Under the new system,nevery estate in the Roman worldn—rich and poor—was assessed onnthe basis of number of persons andnnumber of iugera (5/8 acre), innnnwhich all forms of wealth could benexpressed—at least theoretically.nDiocletian, to his credit, recognizednthat so vast a bureaucraticnempire could not be governed bynone man. His solution was obvious,nalthough risky: a system of two seniornemperors (Augusti) each with anjunior colleague (a Caesar). Henthen merged the old provincial administrativenstructure into manageablendioceses divided into smallernprovinces — an arrangement thatnhved on in the church long afternthe Western empire had collapsed.nIn only 10 years, the energeticnruler and his colleagues managed tongive the Persians their biggestnthrashing since Alexander thenGreat, to restore Roman Britainn—which had grown independentnduring the time of troubles—to thenempire, improve the currency, andnrestore the badly shaken confidencenof the Roman world. The signs ofnhis efforts are still apparent all overnEurope: massive fortifications andngrandiose churches like his famousnpalace in Split. What all the monumentsnof the period convey is a newn