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Edward Gibbon (1737–1794)

Author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

657+ Works 14,971 Members 141 Reviews 37 Favorited

About the Author

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Series

Works by Edward Gibbon

Memoirs of My Life (1796) 399 copies
Der Sieg des Islam (2003) 9 copies
The Works 2 copies
Charlemagne (2012) 2 copies
Man and society (1982) 2 copies
Der Sieg des Islam. (1985) 1 copy
Milman's Gibbon's Rome (1883) 1 copy

Associated Works

Extraordinary Tales (1955) — Contributor — 277 copies
Eighteenth-Century English Literature (1969) — Author — 188 copies
Candide [Norton Critical Edition, 1st ed.] (1966) — Contributor — 155 copies
Classic Essays in English (1961) — Contributor — 22 copies
The Decline and Fall (1967) 6 copies
Book handbook, no. 2, 1947 (1947) — Contributor — 2 copies

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Common Knowledge

Members

Discussions

EP Decline and Fall for sale/swap in Easton Press Collectors (November 2013)
Gibbon's "Decline and Fall" footnote in Ancient History (July 2010)

Reviews

This book is full of names that are unfamiliar to me as a modern reader. Here are a few notes that I copied out as I read it. There are many more that I highlighted, but didn’t copy.

It reminded me of the Book of Mormon. It is a often repeated scene of someone coming to power and then being overthrown by a rival party. It is a story of many cruel and tyrannical rulers interspersed with an occasional mediocre ruler and rarely a good one. It seems like the good rulers did not last long because of jealousies stirred up by rivals, perhaps aided by their own missteps.

The theme is familiar: Corrupt rulers and people. Just like in the Old Testament and in the Book of Mormon. In our New Testament Institute class we are learning lots of connections that we don’t see when we quickly read the English translation, but would be obvious to someone reading in the original tongue. In the Greek and the Hebrew of the Bible there are things that don’t make it into the English translation. If we don't read these old books (and old languages), we miss those connections.

One example of the precarious situation prominent people were often in.
"It was dangerous to trust the sincerity of Augustus; to seem to distrust it was still more dangerous." (Kindle Location 4706).

The language of 1776 to 1788 is quite different than ours. I find it delightful to read even though it is at time hard to follow quite what the meaning is.
"Quintilius, who possessed not sufficient moderation or courage to descend into the private station to which the patriotism of the late emperor had condemned him. Without delay or reflection, he assumed the purple at Aquileia, where he commanded a considerable force; and ... his reign lasted only seventeen days," (Location 10082) "The general design of this work will not permit us minutely to relate the actions of every emperor after he ascended the throne," (Location 10087)

"Yet if the memory of its champions is almost buried in oblivion, we need not repine; since every age, however destitute of science or virtue, sufficiently abounds with acts of blood and military renown." (Location 39818)

Arthur used to be a prominent hero. Now his name as an actual person has been largely erased.
"But every British name is effaced by the illustrious name of Arthur," (Location 39833) "At length the light of science and reason was rekindled; the talisman was broken; the visionary fabric melted into air; and by a natural, though unjust, reverse of the public opinion, the severity of the present age is inclined to question the existence of Arthur." (Location 39847)

Belisarius
I have been reading this book with interest, but not involvement. Halfway though the book, Rome's greatness is past, the barbarians are winning, there are several chapters about the general Belisarius. I found myself emotionally involved in rooting for him. He was not only a great general; he was also a good man. Several times, he would win battles against the barbarians, and then court jealousies would call him back to Rome, effectively leaving the field for the barbarians to come back in. Yet, he obeyed. And then to find out that his wife was not only unfaithful, but a multiple murderer who tortured her victims, including her son - ouch.

It seemed to go on for many chapters about the apostasy of the Christian church, the warfare between the various factions, and the atrocities the party in power committed against people who believed differently than them. And when the persecuted party came to power, they were often just as cruel as the ones they replaced.

In chapter XXI: Persecution of Heresy: "Every year, nay, every moon, we make new creeds to describe invisible mysteries. We repent of what we have done, we defend those who repent, we anathematize those whom we defended. We condemn either the doctrine of others in ourselves, or our own in that of others; and reciprocally tearing one another to pieces, we have been the cause of each other's ruin." (Location 21821)

"Oppressed by this painful dialogue, the Persian complained of intolerable thirst, but discovered some apprehension lest he should be killed whilst he was drinking a cup of water. "Be of good courage," said the caliph; "your life is safe till you have drunk this water:" the crafty satrap accepted the assurance, and instantly dashed the vase against the ground." (Location 55947)

Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION: GIBBON BY JAMES COTTER MORISON HISTORY OF THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE BY EDWARD GIBBON
Volume 1 Introduction
Chapter I: The Extent Of The Empire In The Age Of The Antonines.
Chapter II: The Internal Prosperity In The Age Of The Antonines.
Chapter III: The Constitution In The Age Of The Antonines.
Chapter IV: The Cruelty, Follies And Murder Of Commodus.
Chapter V: Sale Of The Empire To Didius Julianus.
Chapter VI: Death Of Severus, Tyranny Of Caracalla, Usurpation Of Marcinus.
Chapter VII: Tyranny Of Maximin, Rebellion, Civil Wars, Death Of Maximin.
Chapter VIII: State Of Persia And Restoration Of The Monarchy.
Chapter IX: State Of Germany Until The Barbarians.
Chapter X: Emperors Decius, Gallus, Aemilianus, Valerian And Gallienus.
Chapter XI: Reign Of Claudius, Defeat Of The Goths
Chapter XII: Reigns Of Tacitus, Probus, Carus And His Sons.
Chapter XIII: Reign Of Diocletian And This Three Associates.
Chapter XIV: Six Emperors At The Same Time, Reunion Of The Empire.
Chapter XV: Progress Of The Christian Religion.
Chapter XVI: Conduct Towards The Christians, From Nero To Constantine.
Volume 2
Chapter XVII: Foundation Of Constantinople.
Chapter XVIII: Character Of Constantine And His Sons.
Chapter XIX: Constantius Sole Emperor.
Chapter XX: Conversion Of Constantine.
Chapter XXI: Persecution Of Heresy, State Of The Church.
Chapter XXII: Julian Declared Emperor.
Chapter XXIII: Reign Of Julian.
Chapter XXIV: The Retreat And Death Of Julian.
Chapter XXV: Reigns Of Jovian And Valentinian, Division Of The Empire.
Chapter XXVI: Progress of The Huns.
Volume 3
Chapter XXVII: Civil Wars, Reign Of Theodosius.
Chapter XXVIII: Destruction Of Paganism.
Chapter XXIX: Division Of Roman Empire Between Sons Of Theodosius.
Chapter XXX: Revolt Of The Goths.
Chapter XXXI: Invasion Of Italy, Occupation Of Territories By Barbarians.
Chapter XXXII: Emperors Arcadius, Eutropius, Theodosius II.
Chapter XXXIII: Conquest Of Africa By The Vandals.
Chapter XXXIV: Attila.
Chapter XXXV: Invasion By Attila.
Chapter XXXVI: Total Extinction Of The Western Empire.
Chapter XXXVII: Conversion Of The Barbarians To Christianity.
Chapter XXXVIII: Reign Of Clovis.
Volume 4
Chapter XXXIX: Gothic Kingdom Of Italy.
Chapter XL: Reign Of Justinian.
Chapter XLI: Conquests Of Justinian, Character Of Balisarius.
Chapter XLII: State Of The Barbaric World.
Chapter XLIII: Last Victory And Death Of Belisarius, Death Of Justinian.
Chapter XLIV: Idea Of The Roman Jurisprudence.
Chapter XLV: State Of Italy Under The Lombards.
Chapter XLVI: Troubles In Persia.
Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.
Chapter XLVIII: Succession And Characters Of The Greek Emperors.
Volume 5
Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.
Chapter L: Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants. (The rise to prominence and warfare of Mahomet.)
Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.
Chapter LII: More Conquests By The Arabs.
Chapter LIII: Fate Of The Eastern Empire.
Chapter LIV: Origin And Doctrine Of The Paulicians.
Chapter LV: The Bulgarians, The Hungarians And The Russians.
Chapter LVI: The Saracens, The Franks And The Normans.
Chapter LVII: The Turks.
Chapter LVIII: The First Crusade
Volume 6
Chapter LIX: The Crusades.
Chapter LX: The Fourth Crusade.
Chapter LXI: Partition Of The Empire By The French And Venetians.
Chapter LXII: Greek Emperors Of Nice And Constantinople.
Chapter LXIII: Civil Wars And The Ruin Of The Greek Empire.
Chapter LXIV: Moguls, Ottoman Turks.
Chapter LXV: Elevation Of Timour Or Tamerlane, And His Death
Chapter LXVI: Union Of The Greek And Latin Churches.
Chapter LXVII: Schism Of The Greeks And Latins.
Chapter LXVIII: Reign Of Mahomet The Second, Extinction Of Eastern Empire
Chapter LXIX: State Of Rome From The Twelfth Century.
Chapter LXX: Final Settlement Of The Ecclesiastical State.
Chapter LXXI: Prospect Of The Ruins Of Rome In The Fifteenth Century.

Gibbon, Edward. History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Annotated) Kindle Edition.

Goodreads tells me that I have 364 Kindle Notes and Highlights. This reading captured my interest much more than the last edition that I read, which was in 2012. I like this edition.
… (more)
 
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bread2u | 41 other reviews | May 15, 2024 |
Rare edition from 1830, all four of four volumes. Full leather.
 
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DavidWeiding | May 5, 2024 |
Reread, spring 2024. Like most history of the time Gibbon concentrates on leaders, wars and battles and politics. He does, however, expand on the influence of Christianity including the battles between different sects. Not strong on the effects of geography, he attributes a lifestyle of herding to indolence rather than recognizing that the Eurasian steppes do not support the same type of agriculture as the Mediterranean or of Western Europe. It is still a pleasure to read his fluent, detailed, yet comprehensible prose style.… (more)
 
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ritaer | 2 other reviews | Mar 7, 2024 |
Edward Gibbon€™s classic timeless work of ancient Roman history in 6 volumes collected into 2 boxed sets, in beautiful, enduring hardcover editions with elegant cloth sewn bindings, gold stamped covers, and silk ribbon markers.
 
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AG0900 | Feb 26, 2024 |

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