He was now over fifty and his sight showed serious symptoms of enfeeblement.
In 424 B.C. the contingent which the Thespians had been compelled to furnish sustained heavy losses at Delium, and in the next year the Thebans took advantage of this temporary enfeeblement to accuse their neighbours of friendship towards Athens and to dismantle their walls.
These are, briefly speaking, the decay of those great fabrics, church and empire, which ruled the middle ages both as ideas and as realities; the development of nationalities and languages; the enfeeblement of the feudal system throughout Europe; the invention and application of paper, the mariner's compass, gunpowder, and printing; the exploration of continents beyond the ocean; and the substitution of the Copernican for the Ptolemaic system of astronomy.
The consequence of this enfeeblement of the empire was that the governors of Armenia asserted their independence.