His legs of iron
A coarser metal than the former, but very strong; and designs the strong and potent monarchy of the Romans, the last of the four monarchies, governed chiefly by two consuls: and was divided, in the times of Theodosius, into the eastern and western empire, which may be signified by the two legs: his feet part of iron and part of clay
F2; or some "of them of iron, and some of them of clay" that is, the ten toes of the feet, which represent the ten kingdoms the western empire was divided into, some of which were potent, others weak; for this cannot be understood of the same feet and toes being a mixture, composed partly of one, and partly of the other; since iron and clay will not mix together, ( Daniel 2:43 ) and will not agree with the form of expression. Jerom interprets this part of the vision of the image to the same sense, who lived about the time when it was fulfilling; for in his days was the irruption of the barbarous nations into the empire; who often speaks of them in his writings F3, and of the Roman empire being in a weak and ruinous condition on the account of them. His comment on this text is this,
``the fourth kingdom, which clearly belongs to the Romans, is the iron that breaks and subdues all things; but his feet and toes are partly iron, and partly clay, which is most manifestly verified at this time; for as in the beginning nothing was stronger and harder than the Roman empire, so in the end of things nothing weaker; when both in civil wars, and against divers nations, we stand in need of the help of other barbarous people.''And whereas he had been blamed for giving this sense of the passage, he vindicates himself elsewhere by saying F4,
``if, in the exposition of the image, and the difference of its feet and toes, I interpret the iron and clay of the Roman kingdom, which the Scripture foreshows should be first and then weak, let them not impute, it to me, but to the prophet; for so we must not flatter princes, as that the truth of the holy Scriptures should be neglected; nor is the general disputation of one person an injury;''that is, of any great moment to the government.