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They sought a better life, and despite their numbers, they appeared to be no immediate threat, at first.However, as Rome failed to act to their requests, tensions grew.
This massive size presented a problem and called for a quick solution, and it came with the reign of Emperor Diocletian.
The empire was divided into two with one capital remaining at Rome and another in the east at Nicomedia; the eastern capital would later be moved to Constantinople, old Byzantium, by Emperor Constantine.
This anxiety on the part of the Goths was due to a new menace further to the east, the Huns.
During the reign of the eastern emperor Valens (364 -378 CE), the Thervingi Goths had congregated along the Danube-Rhine border - again, not as a threat, but with a desire only to receive permission to settle.
Although historians generally agree on the year of the fall, 476 CE, they often disagree on its causes.
English historian Edward Gibbon, who wrote in the late 18th century CE, points to the rise of Christianity and its effect on the Roman psyche while others believe the decline and fall were due, in part, to the influx of 'barbarians' from the north and west.
Odovacar easily dethroned the sixteen-year-old emperor Romulus Augustalus, a person he viewed as posing no threat.
Romulus had recently been named emperor by his father, the Roman commander Orestes, who had overthrown the western emperor Julius Nepos.
The Senate, long-serving in an advisory capacity to the emperor, would be mostly ignored; instead, the power centered on a strong military. In time Constantinople, Nova Roma or New Rome, would become the economic and cultural center that had once been Rome.
Despite the renewed strength that the division provided (the empire would be divided and united several times), the empire remained vulnerable to attack, especially on the Danube-Rhine border to the north.