In AD 476, Romulus Augustulus, Emperor in line to Augustus, Trajan and Constantine, was deposed by a German chieftain. It is an event that in most history books is identified as marking the end of the Roman Empire. But did it? The historian explores whether the Romans themselves had any comprehension that their empire could possibly fall. He traces the surprisingly obdurate survival of a Roman imperial identity across the centuries, and attempts to identify a moment in history when the Roman Empire could be said definitively to have come to an end.