THE great work of Gibbon is indispensable to the student of history. The literature of Europe offers no substitute for "The'. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. OF THEODORIC. AFTER the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, an interval of fifty years, till the memorable reign of Justinian, is faintly marked by the obscure. the declineand fall of the Eastern empire; and oureyesare i curiouslyintent on one of the most memorablerevolutions which have impresseda new and lasting.
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EBook PDF, MB, This text-based PDF or EBook was created from the HTML The second period of the Decline and Fall of Rome may be supposed to. as a very ingenious and specious, but very disgraceful extenuation of the cruelties perpetrated by the Roman magistrates against the Christians It is written in the. THE great work of Gibbon is indispensable to the student of history. The literature of Europe offers no substitute for “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
He can lapse into moralisation 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. The decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Retrieved 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.
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. Citations and footnotes[ edit ] 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 idiosyncratic and often humorous style, and have been called "Gibbon's table talk. This technique enabled Gibbon to compare ancient Rome to his own contemporary world. Gibbon's work advocates a rationalist and progressive 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. In response, Gibbon defended his work with the publication of A Vindication He outlined in chapter 33 the widespread tale of the Seven Sleepers ,  and remarked "This popular tale, which Mahomet might learn when he drove his camels to the fairs of Syria, is introduced, as a divine revelation, into the Quran.
A special revelation dispensed him from the laws which he had imposed on his nation: the female sex, without reserve, was abandoned to his desires; and this singular prerogative excited the envy, rather than the scandal, the veneration, rather than the envy, of the devout Mussulmans.
Views on Jews and charge of antisemitism[ edit ] Gibbon described the Jews as "a race of fanatics, whose dire and credulous superstition seemed to render them the implacable enemies not only of the Roman government, but also of humankind". The Church's version of its early history had rarely been questioned before.
Gibbon, however, knew that modern Church writings were secondary sources , and he shunned them in favor of primary sources. Foster says that Gibbon: blamed the otherworldly preoccupations of Christianity for the decline of the Roman empire, heaped scorn and abuse on the church, and sneered at the entirety of monasticism as a dreary, superstition-ridden enterprise.
The Decline and Fall compares Christianity invidiously with both the pagan religions of Rome and the religion of Islam. The first two were well received and widely praised. Gibbon thought that Christianity had hastened the Fall, but also ameliorated the results: 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.
However, in the mid-twentieth century, at least one author claimed that "church historians allow the substantial justness of [Gibbon's] main positions.
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.
Potter and Fergus Millar 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. Bury, who wrote The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 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. 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 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. Although he published other books, Gibbon devoted much of his life to this one work His autobiography 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. The complexities of the problem are addressed in Womersley's introduction and appendices to his complete edition.
In-print complete editions J. Bury, ed. Hugh Trevor-Roper, ed. David Womersley, ed. 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 which Gibbon wrote in response to attacks on his caustic portrayal of Christianity. The print includes minor revisions and a new chronology. Includes all footnotes and eleven of the original seventy-one chapters.
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. Notes  see for example Henri Pirenne's famous thesis published in the early 20th century.
As for sources more recent than the ancients, Gibbon certainly drew on Montesquieu's short essay, Considrations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains et de leur dcadence, and on previous work published by Bossuet in his Histoire universelle Monseigneur le dauphin In accuracy, thoroughness, lucidity, and comprehensive grasp of a vast subject, the History is unsurpassable.
It is the one English history which may be regarded as definitive.
Whatever its shortcomings, the book is artistically imposing as well as historically unimpeachable as a vast panorama of a great period. IV, eds. Jackson, et al. Grand Rapids, Mich.
London and New York: Macmillan and Co. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, ; Thomas S. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press,