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The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Overview
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is a non-fiction
Non-fiction
Non-fiction is the form of any narrative, account, or other communicative work whose assertions and descriptions are understood to be fact...

 history book written by English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

 Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon was an English historian and Member of Parliament...

 and published in six volumes. Volume I was published in 1776, and went through six printings. Volumes II and III were published in 1781; volumes IV, V, VI in 1788–89. The original volumes were published in quarto
Quarto (text)
Quarto is a book or pamphlet produced from full 'blanksheets', each of which is printed with eight pages of text, four to a side, then folded two times to produce four leaves...

 sections, a common publishing practice of the time. The work covers the history of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, and the Catholic Church from 98 to 1590 and discusses the decline of the Roman Empire
Decline of the Roman Empire
The decline of the Roman Empire refers to the gradual societal collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Many theories of causality prevail, but most concern the disintegration of political, economic, military, and other social institutions, in tandem with foreign invasions and usurpers from within the...

 in the East
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 and West
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

.
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Quotations

The terror of the Roman arms added weight and dignity to the moderation of the emperors. They preserved peace by a constant preparation for war; and while justice regulated their conduct, they announced to the nations on their confines, that they were as little disposed to endure, as to offer an injury.

Chapter I

Yet Phoenicia and Palestine will forever live in the memory of mankind; since America, as well as Europe, has received :w:alphabet|letters from the one, and religion from the other.

Chapter I

The masters of the fairest and most wealthy climates of the globe turned with contempt from gloomy hills, assailed by the winter tempest, from lakes concealed in a blue mist, and from cold and lonely heaths, over which the deer of the forest were chased by a troop of naked barbarians.

Chapter I

The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful.

Chapter II

But the zeal of fanaticism prevailed over the cold and feeble efforts of policy.

Chapter II

We may be well assured, that a writer, conversant with the world, would never have ventured to expose the gods of his country to public ridicule, had they not already been the objects of secret contempt among the polished and enlightened orders of society.

Chapter II

Opinions of the Academics and :w:Epicureanism|Epicureans were of a less religious cast; but whilst the modest science of the former induced them to doubt, the positive ignorance of the latter urged them to deny, the providence of a Supreme Ruler.

Chapter II
Encyclopedia
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is a non-fiction
Non-fiction
Non-fiction is the form of any narrative, account, or other communicative work whose assertions and descriptions are understood to be fact...

 history book written by English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

 Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon was an English historian and Member of Parliament...

 and published in six volumes. Volume I was published in 1776, and went through six printings. Volumes II and III were published in 1781; volumes IV, V, VI in 1788–89. The original volumes were published in quarto
Quarto (text)
Quarto is a book or pamphlet produced from full 'blanksheets', each of which is printed with eight pages of text, four to a side, then folded two times to produce four leaves...

 sections, a common publishing practice of the time. The work covers the history of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, and the Catholic Church from 98 to 1590 and discusses the decline of the Roman Empire
Decline of the Roman Empire
The decline of the Roman Empire refers to the gradual societal collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Many theories of causality prevail, but most concern the disintegration of political, economic, military, and other social institutions, in tandem with foreign invasions and usurpers from within the...

 in the East
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 and West
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

. Because of its relative objectivity and heavy use of primary sources, at the time, its methodology became a model for later historians. This led to Gibbon being called the first "modern historian of ancient Rome."

Thesis


Gibbon offers an explanation for why the Roman Empire fell, a task made difficult by a lack of comprehensive written sources, though he was not the only historian to tackle the subject. Most of his ideas are directly taken from what few relevant records were available: those of the Roman moralists of the 4th and 5th centuries.

According to Gibbon, the Roman Empire succumbed to barbarian invasions in large part due to the gradual loss of civic virtue
Civic virtue
Civic virtue is the cultivation of habits of personal living that are claimed to be important for the success of the community. The identification of the character traits that constitute civic virtue have been a major concern of political philosophy...

 among its citizens. They had become weak, outsourcing
Outsourcing
Outsourcing is the process of contracting a business function to someone else.-Overview:The term outsourcing is used inconsistently but usually involves the contracting out of a business function - commonly one previously performed in-house - to an external provider...

 their duties to defend their Empire to barbarian mercenaries, who then became so numerous and ingrained that they were able to take over the Empire. Romans, he believed, had become effeminate, unwilling to live a tougher, "manly" military lifestyle. He further blames the degeneracy of the Roman army and the Praetorian guards. In addition, Gibbon argued that Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 created a belief that a better life existed after death, which fostered an indifference to the present among Roman citizens, thus sapping their desire to sacrifice for the Empire. He also believed its comparative pacifism
Pacifism
Pacifism is the opposition to war and violence. The term "pacifism" was coined by the French peace campaignerÉmile Arnaud and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress inGlasgow in 1901.- Definition :...

 tended to hamper the traditional Roman martial spirit. Finally, like other Enlightenment thinkers, Gibbon held in contempt the Middle Ages as a priest-ridden, superstitious, dark age
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

. It was not until his own age of reason and rational thought, it was believed, that human history could resume its progress.

Gibbon sees the primary catalyst of the empire's initial decay and eventual collapse in the Praetorian Guard, instituted as a special class of soldiers permanently encamped in a commanding position within Rome, a seed planted by Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 at the establishment of the empire. As Gibbon calls them at the outset of Chapter V: The Praetorian bands, whose licentious fury was the first symptom and cause of the decline of the Roman empire... He cites repeated examples of this special force abusing its power with calamitous results, including numerous instances of imperial assassination and demands of ever-increasing pay.

Style


Gibbon's style is frequently distinguished by an ironically detached, somewhat dispassionate yet critical tone. He occasionally lapsed into moralization and aphorism.

"[A]s long as mankind shall continue to bestow more liberal applause on their destroyers than on their benefactors, the thirst of military glory will ever be the vice of the most exalted characters". (Chapter One, p.6).

"The influence of the clergy, in an age of superstition, might be usefully employed to assert the rights of mankind; but so intimate is the connection between the throne and the altar, that the banner of the church has very seldom been seen on the side of the people"(Chapter Three p.52).

"History...is, indeed, little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortune of mankind"(ibid p.69).

"If we contrast the rapid progress of this mischievous discovery [of gunpowder] with the slow and laborious advances of reason, science, and the arts of peace, a philosopher, according to his temper, will laugh or weep at the folly of mankind" (Chapter 65,p.68).

Citations


Gibbon provides the reader with a glimpse of his thought process with extensive notes along the body of the text, a precursor to the modern use of footnotes. Gibbon's footnotes are famous for their idiosyncrasies and often, their humor. They provide an entertaining moral commentary on both ancient Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 and 18th-century Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

. This technique enabled Gibbon to compare ancient Rome to modern times. Gibbon's work advocates a rationalist and progressive
Progressivism
Progressivism is an umbrella term for a political ideology advocating or favoring social, political, and economic reform or changes. Progressivism is often viewed by some conservatives, constitutionalists, and libertarians to be in opposition to conservative or reactionary ideologies.The...

 view of history.

Gibbon's citations provide in-depth detail regarding his use of sources for his work, which included documents dating back to ancient Rome. The detail within his asides and his care in noting the importance of each document is a precursor to modern-day historical footnoting methodology.

The work is notable for its erratic but exhaustively documented notes and research. John Bury, following him 113 years later with his own "History of the Later Roman Empire," utilized much of the same research, and commended the depth and accuracy of Gibbon's work. It is notable that Bury, over a century after Gibbon, and Heather, over a century after Bury, both based much of their own work on Gibbon's factual research. Both found little to argue with his facts, though both disagreed with his theories, primarily on Christianity as a prime factor in the Empire's decline and fall. Unusual for the 18th century, Gibbon was notably not content with secondhand accounts when the primary sources were accessible, and used them so well that even today historians still cite his work as the definitive factual history of the western empire. "I have always endeavoured," Gibbon wrote, "to draw from the fountain-head; that my curiosity, as well as a sense of duty, has always urged me to study the originals; and that, if they have sometimes eluded my search, I have carefully marked the secondary evidence, on whose faith a passage or a fact were reduced to depend." The Decline and Fall is a literary monument and a massive step forward in historical method.

Controversy: chapters XV, XVI


Volume I was originally published in sections, as was common for large works at the time. The first two were well received and widely praised. The last quarto in Volume I, especially Chapters XV and XVI, were highly controversial, and Gibbon was attacked as a "paganist
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

". Gibbon challenged Church history by estimating far smaller numbers of Christian martyrs
Christian martyrs
A Christian martyr is one who is killed for following Christianity, through stoning, crucifixion, burning at the stake or other forms of torture and capital punishment. The word "martyr" comes from the Greek word μάρτυς, mártys, which means "witness."...

 than had been traditionally accepted. The Church's version of its early history had rarely been questioned before. For Gibbon, however, the Church writings were secondary source
Secondary source
In scholarship, a secondary source is a document or recording that relates or discusses information originally presented elsewhere. A secondary source contrasts with a primary source, which is an original source of the information being discussed; a primary source can be a person with direct...

s, and he shunned them in favour of primary source
Primary source
Primary source is a term used in a number of disciplines to describe source material that is closest to the person, information, period, or idea being studied....

s contemporary to the period he was chronicling. This is why Gibbon is referred to as the "first modern historian".

He compared the reigns of Diocletian
Diocletian
Diocletian |latinized]] upon his accession to Diocletian . c. 22 December 244  – 3 December 311), was a Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....

 (284–305), and Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 (1519–1556) and the electorate of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

, making the argument that the two were remarkably dissimilar. Both emperors were plagued by continuous war and compelled to excessive taxation; both chose to abdicate as Emperors at roughly the same age; and both chose to lead a quiet life upon their retirement. However, Gibbon argues these similarities are only superficial and the underlying context and character of the two rulers is markedly different.

Criticism


Numerous tracts were published criticizing his work, and Gibbon was forced to defend his work in reply. He left London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 to finish the following volumes in Lausanne
Lausanne
Lausanne is a city in Romandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and is the capital of the canton of Vaud. The seat of the district of Lausanne, the city is situated on the shores of Lake Geneva . It faces the French town of Évian-les-Bains, with the Jura mountains to its north-west...

, where he could work in solitude. Gibbon's remarks on Christianity aroused particularly vigorous attack. However, in the mid-twentieth century, at least one author claimed that "church historians allow the substantial justness of [Gibbon's] main positions."

Christianity as a contributor to the fall and to stability


"As the happiness of a future life is the great object of religion, we may hear without surprise or scandal that the introduction, or at least the abuse of Christianity, had some influence on the decline and fall of the Roman empire. The clergy successfully preached the doctrines of patience and pusillanimity; the active virtues of society were discouraged; and the last remains of military spirit were buried in the cloister: a large portion of public and private wealth was consecrated to the specious demands of charity and devotion; and the soldiers' pay was lavished on the useless multitudes of both sexes who could only plead the merits of abstinence and chastity. Faith, zeal, curiosity, and more earthly passions of malice and ambition, kindled the flame of theological discord; the church, and even the state, were distracted by religious factions, whose conflicts were sometimes bloody and always implacable; the attention of the emperors was diverted from camps to synods; the Roman world was oppressed by a new species of tyranny; and the persecuted sects became the secret enemies of their country. Yet party-spirit, however pernicious or absurd, is a principle of union as well as of dissension. The bishops, from eighteen hundred pulpits, inculcated the duty of passive obedience to a lawful and orthodox sovereign; their frequent assemblies and perpetual correspondence maintained the communion of distant churches; and the benevolent temper of the Gospel was strengthened, though confirmed, by the spiritual alliance of the Catholics. The sacred indolence of the monks was devoutly embraced by a servile and effeminate age; but if superstition had not afforded a decent retreat, the same vices would have tempted the unworthy Romans to desert, from baser motives, the standard of the republic. Religious precepts are easily obeyed which indulge and sanctify the natural inclinations of their votaries; but the pure and genuine influence of Christianity may be traced in its beneficial, though imperfect, effects on the barbarian proselytes of the North. If the decline of the Roman empire was hastened by the conversion of Constantine, his victorious religion broke the violence of the fall, and mollified the ferocious temper of the conquerors." (chap. 39).


Historians such as David S. Potter and Fergus Millar
Fergus Millar
-External links:* staff page at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford* announcement of "History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ."...

 dispute claims that the Empire fell as a result of a kind of lethargy towards current affairs brought on by Constantine's adoption of Christianity as the official state religion. They claim that such a view is "vague" and has little real evidence to support it. Others such as J.B. Bury, who wrote a history of the later Empire, claimed there is "no evidence" to support Gibbon's claims of Christian apathy towards the Empire:

"It has often been alleged that Christianity in its political effects was a disintegrating force and tended to weaken the power of Rome to resist her enemies. It is difficult to see that it had any such tendency, so long as the Church itself was united. Theological heresies were indeed to prove a disintegrating force in the East in the seventh century, when differences in doctrine which had alienated the Christians in Egypt and Syria from the government of Constantinople facilitated the conquests of the Saracens. But after the defeat of Arianism, there was no such vital or deep-reaching division in the West, and the effect of Christianity was to unite, not to sever, to check, rather than to emphasise, national or sectional feeling. In the political calculations of Constantine it was probably this ideal of unity, as a counterpoise to the centrifugal tendencies which had been clearly revealed in the third century, that was the great recommendation of the religion which he raised to power. Nor is there the least reason to suppose that Christian teaching had the practical effect of making men less loyal to the Empire or less ready to defend it. The Christians were as pugnacious as the pagans. Some might read Augustine's City of God with edification, but probably very few interpreted its theory with such strict practical logic as to be indifferent to the safety of the Empire. Hardly the author himself, though this has been disputed."


Today, historians tend to analyze economic and military factors in the decline of Rome.

Furthermore, Gibbon has been criticized for his portrayal of Paganism as tolerant and Christianity as intolerant. In an article that appeared 1996 in the journal Past & Present
Past & Present
Past & Present is a British historical academic journal, which was a leading force in the development of social history. It was founded in 1952 by a combination of Marxist and non-Marxist historians. The Marxist historians included members of the Communist Party Historians Group, including E. P...

, H.A. Drake challenges an understanding of religious persecution in ancient Rome, which he considers to be the "conceptual scheme" that was used by historians to deal with the topic for the last 200 years, and whose most eminent representative is Gibbon. Gibbon had written:
"The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosophers as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful".


Drake counters:
"With such deft strokes, Gibbon enters into a conspiracy with his readers: unlike the credulous masses, he and we are cosmopolitans who know the uses of religion as an instrument of social control. So doing, Gibbon skirts a serious problem: for three centuries prior to Constantine, the tolerant pagans who people the Decline and Fall were the authors of several major persecutions, in which Christians were the victims. ...Gibbon covered this embarrassing hole in his argument with an elegant demur. Rather than deny the obvious, he adroitly masked the question by transforming his Roman magistrates into models of Enlightenment rulers — reluctant persecutors, too sophisticated to be themselves religious zealots."

Misinterpretation of Byzantium


Others such as John Julius Norwich
John Julius Norwich
John Julius Cooper, 2nd Viscount Norwich CVO — known as John Julius Norwich — is an English historian, travel writer and television personality.-Early life:...

, despite their admiration for his furthering of historical methodology, consider Gibbon's hostile views on the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 flawed and blame him somewhat for the lack of interest shown in the subject throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. This view might well be admitted by Gibbon himself: "But it is not my intention to expatiate with the same minuteness on the whole series of the Byzantine history." However one recent scholar of Byzantium says, "For Gibbon and Lebeau were genuine historians — and Gibbon a very great one — and their works, in spite of factual inadequacy, rank high for their presentation of their material."

Gibbon's reflections


Although he published other books, Gibbon devoted much of his life to this one work (1772–1789). His autobiography
Autobiography
An autobiography is a book about the life of a person, written by that person.-Origin of the term:...

 Memoirs of My Life and Writings is devoted largely to his reflections on how the book virtually became his life. He compared the publication of each succeeding volume to a newborn child.

Maps



Beginning with the fourth edition of Volume 1, issued in quarto in 1781 along with the first edition of Volumes 2 and 3, the Decline and Fall included three original fold out maps. The larger ones, a matched pair, both measuring 17X19", were titled, respectively, “A Map of the Eastern Part of the Roman Empire” and “A Map of the Western Part of the Roman Empire.” Both were drawn by Thomas Kitchin
Thomas Kitchin
Thomas Kitchin was an English engraver and map-maker, who became hydrographer to the king.-Life:He was born in Southwark, and was apprenticed to Emanuel Bowen in 1732. Originally based in Clerkenwell, by late 1755 Kitchin was established on Holborn Hill. From 1773 Kitchin was royal hydrographer...

 (1718-1784); were dated January 1781; and referred to the publisher of the Decline and Fall, Strahan and Cadell. There is considerable overlap in coverage. The smaller of the three maps is 10X8" and was likewise labeled under the title “A Map of the Parts of Europe and Asia adjacent to Constantinople.” These maps were clearly customized for the Decline and Fall; they do not appear in Kitchin's General Atlas or World Atlas. The maps together with the 1781 text bridge the fall of the Western Empire and the rise of the Eastern Empire; the text of Volume 2 begins with an extended description of Constantinople; the corresponding map was inserted at page 22.

Geography was of great importance to Gibbon; the History is thick with little known place names, many but not all of which appear on his maps. To aid readers, numerous places are designated with both the ancient and 18th century names. Despite their importance, Gibbon’s maps appear in few later editions of the Decline and Fall by other publishers, perhaps for reasons of cost and reproducibility of foldouts. (Quartos are large by modern standards.) There is no explicit mention of the maps in the text, the Prefaces or the Advertisement. The maps were omitted from the standard 20th century editions of the Decline and Fall by Bury and Womersley.

Many of the maps in Kitchin's Atlases were expressly based on those of Jean Baptist Bourguignon d’Anville (1697 – 1782), who was Gibbon’s chief geographic reference. d’Anville’s Atlas General was published in 1771. It included a matched pair of Empire maps comparable to Gibbon’s but with greater detail. They were titled "Orbis Romani Pars Orientalis" and "Orbis Romani Pars Occidentalis." These and other maps by d'Anville identify many places referred to by Gibbon in the text but not noted on the Decline and Fall maps. Gibbon's injunction in Chapter 50, note 2, applies to the entire work: "d’Anville’s Maps … should lie before the reader."

Editions


Gibbon continued to revise and change his work even after publication. The complexities of the problem are addressed in Womersley's introduction and appendices to his complete edition.
  • In-print complete editions
    • J.B. Bury, ed., 7 volumes (London: Methuen, 1909–1914), currently reprinted (New York: AMS Press, 1974). Until Womersley, this was the essential edition, but now nearing age 100, the historical analysis/commentary is dated. [ISBN 0-404-02820-9].
    • Hugh Trevor-Roper, ed., 6 volumes (New York: Everyman's Library, 1993–1994). from the Bury text and with Gibbon's own notes, but without Bury's, many of which are superseded by more recent research. [ISBN 0-679-42308-7 (vols. 1–3); ISBN 0-679-43593-X (vols. 4–6)].
    • David Womersley, ed., 3 volumes. hardback-(London: Allen Lane, 1994); paperback-(New York: Penguin Books, 2005;1994). The current essential edition, the most faithful to Gibbon's original text. The ancient Greek quotations are not as accurate as in Bury, but an otherwise excellent work with complete footnotes and bibliographical information for Gibbon's cryptic footnote notations. Includes the original index, and the Vindication (1779) which Gibbon wrote in response to attacks on his caustic portrayal of Christianity. The 2005 print includes minor revisions and a new chronology. [ISBN 0-7139-9124-0 (3360 p.); ISBN 0-14-043393-7 (v.1, 1232 p.); ISBN 0-14-043394-5 (v.2, 1024 p.); ISBN 0-14-043395-3 (v.3, 1360 p.)]
  • In-print abridgements
    • David Womersley, ed., 1 volume (New York: Penguin Books, 2000). Includes all footnotes and eleven of the original seventy-one chapters. [ISBN 0-14-043764-9, 848 p.]
    • Hans-Friedrich Mueller, ed., one volume abridgment (New York: Random House, 2003). Includes excerpts from all seventy-one chapters. It eliminates footnotes, geographic surveys, details of battle formations, long narratives of military campaigns, ethnographies and genealogies, but retains the narrative from start to finish. Based on the Rev. H.H. [Dean] Milman edition of 1845 (see also Gutenberg etext edition). [ISBN 0-375-75811-9, (trade paper, 1312 p.); ISBN 0-345-47884-3 (mass market paper, 1536 p.)]

Legacy


Variations on the series title (including using "Rise and Fall" in place of "Decline and Fall") have been used by other writers:
  • An Inquiry into the Permanent Causes of the Decline and Fall of Powerful and Wealthy Nations. Designed To Shew How The Prosperity Of The British Empire May Be Prolonged. 2nd edition, 1807. 1805, William Playfair
    William Playfair
    William Playfair was a Scottish engineer and political economist, the founder of graphical methods of statistics....

  • The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government
    The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government
    The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government is a book written by Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. Davis wrote the book as a straightforward history of the Confederate States of America and as an apologia for the causes that he...

     (1868), Jefferson Davis
    Jefferson Davis
    Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

  • Decline and Fall
    Decline and Fall
    Decline and Fall is a novel by the English author Evelyn Waugh, first published in 1928. It was Waugh's first published novel; an earlier attempt, entitled The Temple at Thatch, was destroyed by Waugh while still in manuscript form. Decline and Fall is based in part on Waugh's undergraduate years...

     (1928), Evelyn Waugh
    Evelyn Waugh
    Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh , known as Evelyn Waugh, was an English writer of novels, travel books and biographies. He was also a prolific journalist and reviewer...

  • The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody (1950), by the satirist Will Cuppy
    Will Cuppy
    William Jacob "Will" Cuppy was an American humorist and literary critic, known for his satirical books about nature and historical figures.-Early life:...

  • The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
    The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
    The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is a 1960 non-fiction book by William L. Shirer chronicling the general history of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945...

     (1959), William Shirer
  • The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler (1961), William Shirer
  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church
    The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church
    The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church is a 1981 book by Catholic priest and author Malachi Martin.-Content:Malachi, a Vatican insider, wrote this non fiction book to analyse the sudden and rapid decline of the Roman Catholic Church in its ecclesiastical organization and doctrinal unity since the...

     (1983), Malachi Martin
    Malachi Martin
    Malachi Brendan Martin Ph.D. was a Catholic priest, theologian, writer on the Catholic Church, and professor at the Vatican's Pontifical Biblical Institute. He held three doctorates and was the sole author of sixteen books covering religious and geopolitical topics, which were published in eight...

  • Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire (1986), Hans Eysenck
    Hans Eysenck
    Hans Jürgen Eysenck was a German-British psychologist who spent most of his career in Britain, best remembered for his work on intelligence and personality, though he worked in a wide range of areas...

  • The Decline and Fall of Roman Britain (2000), Neil Faulkner
    Neil Faulkner (archaeologist)
    Dr. Neil Faulkner is an archaeologist, historian, Editor of Military Times, Features Editor of the magazine Current Archaeology, a tour guide and a lecturer.- Biography :...

  • The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America (2003), David Carlin
    David Carlin
    David R. Carlin, Jr. is a politician and sociologist. He was a Democratic majority leader of the Rhode Island Senate. His total period of service in the state Senate ran from 1981 to 1992. He made an unsuccessful bid for the Rhode Island's 1st congressional district in 1992...

  • The Decline and Fall of the British Empire (2007), Piers Brandon
  • Decline and Fall of the American Republic (2010), Bruce Ackerman
    Bruce Ackerman
    Bruce Arnold Ackerman is an American constitutional law scholar. He is a Sterling Professor at Yale Law School and one of the most frequently cited legal academics in the United States....



and the music album:
  • Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
    Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
    Arthur is the seventh studio album by English rock band The Kinks, released in October 1969. Kinks frontman Ray Davies constructed the concept album as the soundtrack to a Granada Television play and developed the storyline with novelist Julian Mitchell; however, the television programme was...

     (1969), The Kinks
    The Kinks
    The Kinks were an English rock band formed in Muswell Hill, North London, by brothers Ray and Dave Davies in 1964. Categorised in the United States as a British Invasion band, The Kinks are recognised as one of the most important and influential rock acts of the era. Their music was influenced by a...

  • The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
    The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
    The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is a 1972 concept album by English musician David Bowie, which is loosely based on a story of a rock star named Ziggy Stardust. It peaked at number five in the United Kingdom and number 75 in the United States on the Billboard Music...

     (1972), David Bowie
    David Bowie
    David Bowie is an English musician, actor, record producer and arranger. A major figure for over four decades in the world of popular music, Bowie is widely regarded as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s...



and the films:
  • The Fall of the Roman Empire
    The Fall of the Roman Empire (film)
    The Fall of the Roman Empire is a 1964 English-language epic film produced by Samuel Bronston Productions and the Rank Organisation, and released by Paramount Pictures. It was directed by Anthony Mann and produced by Samuel Bronston with Jaime Prades and Michal Waszynski as associate producers. The...

     (1964)
  • The Decline of Western Civilization
    The Decline of Western Civilization
    The soundtrack was released in December 1980 by Slash Records on LP. In the late 1990s it was released on CD as well. It is currently out of print. Germs singer Darby Crash appears on the soundtrack album cover. He died shortly before the film was released, though the promotional images for the...

     (1981), Penelope Spheeris
    Penelope Spheeris
    Penelope Spheeris is an American director, producer and screenwriter. She is best known as a documentary film director whose works include the trilogy titled The Decline of Western Civilization...

  • The Decline of the American Empire
    Le Déclin de l'empire américain
    The Decline of the American Empire is a 1986 Québécois comedy/drama film directed by Denys Arcand. It was followed by a sequel, The Barbarian Invasions in 2003.-Synopsis:...

     (1986), Denys Arcand
    Denys Arcand
    Georges-Henri Denys Arcand, is a Canadian film director, screenwriter and producer. He has won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 2004 for The Barbarian Invasions...



The title and author are also cited in Noel Coward
Noël Coward
Sir Noël Peirce Coward was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called "a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise".Born in Teddington, a suburb of London, Coward attended a dance academy...

's comedic poem "I Went to a Marvellous Party
I Went to a Marvellous Party
"I Went to a Marvellous Party" is a song with words and music by Noël Coward, written in 1938, and included in the review Set to Music. Although a melody exists, the text is most often recited over a piano accompaniment...

". And in the poem "The Foundation of Science Fiction Success", Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

 acknowledged that his Foundation series—an epic tale of the fall and rebuilding of a galactic empire—was written "with a tiny bit of cribbin' / from the works of Edward Gibbon".

See also

  • Edward Gibbon
    Edward Gibbon
    Edward Gibbon was an English historian and Member of Parliament...

  • Decline of the Roman Empire
    Decline of the Roman Empire
    The decline of the Roman Empire refers to the gradual societal collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Many theories of causality prevail, but most concern the disintegration of political, economic, military, and other social institutions, in tandem with foreign invasions and usurpers from within the...

  • Outline of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
    Outline of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
    This is an outline of the six-volume work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, authored by the celebrated English historian Edward Gibbon...


Further reading

  • Brownley, Martine W. "Appearance and Reality in Gibbon's History," Journal of the History of Ideas 38,4(1977), 651–666.
  • Brownley, Martine W. "Gibbon's Artistic and Historical Scope in the Decline and Fall," Journal of the History of Ideas 42,4(1981), 629–642.
  • Cosgrove, Peter. Impartial Stranger: History and Intertextuality in Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Newark: Associated University Presses, 1999); [ISBN 0-87413-658-X].
  • Craddock, Patricia. "Historical Discovery and Literary Invention in Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall'," Modern Philology 85,4(May 1988), 569–587.
  • Drake, H.A., "Lambs into Lions: explaining early Christian intolerance," Past and Present 153(1996), 3–36. Oxford Journals
  • Furet, Francois. "Civilization and Barbarism in Gibbon's History," Daedalus 105,3(1976), 209–216.
  • Gay, Peter. Style in History (New York: Basic Books, 1974); [ISBN 0-465-08304-8].
  • Ghosh, Peter R. "Gibbon's Dark Ages: Some Remarks on the Genesis of the Decline and Fall," Journal of Roman Studies 73(1983), 1–23.
  • Homer-Dixon, Thomas "The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization", 2007 [ISBN 978-0-676-97723-3] Chapter 3 pp. 57–60
  • Kelly, Christopher. "A Grand Tour: Reading Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall'," Greece & Rome 2nd ser., 44,1 (Apr. 1997), 39–58.
  • Momigliano, Arnaldo. "Eighteenth-Century Prelude to Mr. Gibbon," in Pierre Ducrey et al., eds., Gibbon et Rome à la lumière de l'historiographie moderne (Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1977).
  • Momigliano, Arnaldo. "Gibbon from an Italian Point of View," in G.W. Bowersock et al., eds., Edward Gibbon and the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1977).
  • Momigliano, Arnaldo. "Declines and Falls," American Scholar 49(Winter 1979), 37–51.
  • Momigliano, Arnaldo. "After Gibbon's Decline and Fall," in Kurt Weitzmann, ed. Age of Spirituality : a symposium (Princeton: 1980); [ISBN 0-89142-039-8].
  • Pocock, J.G.A. Barbarism and Religion, 4 vols. all Cambridge Univ. Press.
    • vol. 1, The Enlightenments of Edward Gibbon, 1737–1764, 1999 [hb: ISBN 0-521-63345-1]. cited as "Pocock, EEG";
    • vol. 2, Narratives of Civil Government, 1999 [hb: ISBN 0-521-64002-4];
    • vol. 3, The First Decline and Fall, 2003 [pb: ISBN 0-521-82445-1]. cited as "Pocock, FDF."
    • vol. 4, Barbarians, Savages and Empires, 2005 [hb: ISBN 0-521-85625-6].
    • The Work of J.G.A. Pocock: Edward Gibbon section.
  • Trevor-Roper, H.R. "Gibbon and the Publication of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1776–1976," Journal of Law and Economics 19,3 (Oct. 1976), 489–505.
  • Womersley, David. The Transformation of 'The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' (Cambridge: 1988).
  • Womersley, David, ed. Religious Scepticism: Contemporary Responses to Gibbon (Bristol, England: Thoemmes Press, 1997).
  • Wootton, David. "Narrative, Irony, and Faith in Gibbon's Decline and Fall," History and Theory 33,4 (Dec., 1994), 77–105.

External links