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The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by…

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

by Giovanni Battista Piranesi

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I'll review this thoroughly the next time around, but for now, I would just like to direct anyone reading this to three excellent, long, epic works of truly Gibbonian proportions covering Roman History that they may wish to read both before, and after, Gibbon, as I did.

Before Gibbon

I. Theodor Mommsen's [b:A History of Rome|4148167|A History of Rome (Abridged)|Theodor Mommsen|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1218697631s/4148167.jpg|4195413] is a magisterial 5-volume work published 1854-1856, which begins with the founding of Rome in 753 BC and goes down to the reign of Julius Caesar. This work helped Mommsen win the Nobel Prize for Literature; this being the only work of History to receive such an honour. (The edition linked is abridged, and although I strongly agree with Montaigne's view that "every abridgement of a good book is a foolish abridgement.", I would still recommend it; it is intelligently abridged, and beautifully produced. There are unabridged, multi-volume editions available.)

To fill the gap between the reign of Julius Caesar, where Mommsen ends, and the reign of Marcus Aurelius, where Gibbon begins, you could read Suetonius' [b:The Twelve Caesars|29022|The Twelve Caesars|Suetonius|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1347187766s/29022.jpg|372997], and part of the [b:Lives of the Later Caesars|68553|Lives of the Later Caesars|Unknown|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1170693081s/68553.jpg|66428]. (If you would prefer to go more in-depth, add Appian and Tacitus after Suetonius. See below for more . . .)

After Gibbon

II.Thomas Hodgkin's [b:The Barbarian Invasions of the Roman Empire|20613323|The Barbarian Invasions of the Roman Empire|Thomas Hodgkin|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1505849032s/20613323.jpg|39894723]. Originally titled "Italy and her Invaders", and published 1880-1899 in 8 volumes. Beginning with the history of the Goths and Alaric's siege of Rome, it continues on with the Huns and Vandals, the Ostrogoths, Lombards, finally ending with the Franks and the crowning and death of Charlemagne down to 814 AD. It's very thoroughly researched (for it's time of course, just like Gibbon), and made even more impressive by the fact that he worked on it during his spare time as a Banker, working at a house that would eventually become Lloyds, which still exists to this day. (The edition linked is beautifully produced, illustrated throughout, and can be had for cheaper than regular hardback editions of the work, if, like me, you're lucky.)

III. John Julius Norwich's [b:Byzantium: The Early Centuries/The Apogee/The Decline And Fall|6649415|Byzantium The Early Centuries/The Apogee/The Decline And Fall (3 Volumes)|John Julius Norwich|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1364884107s/6649415.jpg|10206587]. An excellent, accessible work opening with Constantine in 274 AD, and going down to the fall of Constantinople in 1453 AD. Great if you enjoyed reading about the Eastern Empire in Gibbon, and would like to learn more.
If, like me, you want to read primary sources of Roman History in a chronological fashion, before moving on to secondary sources (something I can recommend), here's a list of works that I can recommend. It's not exhaustive, but it contains all the major works providing a continuous, almost unbroken narrative, from the foundation of Rome in 753BC, down to the third-century AD, in primary sources. (Editions linked are translations I have read and can recommend; dates bracketed below are periods the works cover, not publication dates)

Livy's Ab Urbe Condita or From the Foundation of the City (753-9 BC (!)) Books 1-10 & 21-45 are fully extant, with epitomes surviving of books 46-142
• Books I-V: [b:The Early History of Rome|68542|The Early History of Rome (The History of Rome, #1-5)|Livy|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1311645504s/68542.jpg|323201] (753-390BC)
• Books VI-X: [b:Rome's Italian Wars: Books 6-10|16685177|Rome's Italian Wars Books 6-10|Livy|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1363585069s/16685177.jpg|13340576] (389-293 BC)
• Books XXI-XXX: [b:The War with Hannibal: Books XXI-XXX of the History of Rome from its Foundation|9817931|The War with Hannibal Books XXI-XXX of the History of Rome from its Foundation|Livy|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1348968999s/9817931.jpg|13340569] (218-202 BC)
• Books: XXXI-XL: [b:The Dawn of the Roman Empire: Books Thirty-One to Forty|6671642|The Dawn of the Roman Empire Books Thirty-One to Forty|Livy|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1348384659s/6671642.jpg|14046065] (201-179 BC)
• V. Books XLI-XLV & the Epitomies of Books XLVI-CXLVII: [b:Rome's Mediterranean Empire: Books 41-45 and the Periochae|7067390|Rome's Mediterranean Empire Books 41-45 and the Periochae|Livy|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1355131674s/7067390.jpg|13340632] (178-9 BC)

Polybius' [b:The Histories|8863880|The Histories|Polybius|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1348235906s/8863880.jpg|68480] (264-146 BC)

Caesar's [b:The Gallic War|3128371|The Gallic War (World's Classics)|Gaius Julius Caesar|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1392521443s/3128371.jpg|1978328] (58-51 BC)

Caesar's [b:The Civil War|4971518|The Civil War|Gaius Julius Caesar|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1347378741s/4971518.jpg|162131] (49-48 BC)

Appian's [b:The Civil Wars|167816|The Civil Wars|Appian|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1407000092s/167816.jpg|162078] (133-35 BC)

Sallust's [b:Catiline's War, The Jugurthine War, Histories|755218|Catiline's War, The Jugurthine War, Histories|Sallust|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1311645706s/755218.jpg|23893197] (86-35 BC)

Suetonius' [b:The Twelve Caesars|29022|The Twelve Caesars|Suetonius|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1347187766s/29022.jpg|372997] (100BC-96 AD)

Tacitus' [b:The Annals: The Reigns of Tiberius, Claudius and Nero|3219856|The Annals The Reigns of Tiberius, Claudius and Nero|Tacitus|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1348129719s/3219856.jpg|1746266] (14-68 AD)

Tacitus' [b:The Histories|5113993|The Histories|Tacitus|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1347396128s/5113993.jpg|3145356] (69-96 AD)

Historia Augusta/Augustan History/ Lives of the Later Caesars: [b:Lives of the Later Caesars|68553|Lives of the Later Caesars|Unknown|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1170693081s/68553.jpg|66428] ( )
  EroticsOfThought | Feb 28, 2018 |
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