COMPLETE AND UNABRIDGED 6 VOLUMES: THE HISTORY OF THE DECLINE AND FALL OF ROMAN EMPIRE (The Monumental Worldwide Bestseller) BY EDWARD GIBBON [Nook Edition] The Complete and Unabridged Version! (All 6 Volumes) The Historical Masterpiece by Edward Gibbon [NOOK Book]

Overview

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was written by English historian Edward Gibbon 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 sections, a common publishing practice of the time. It stands as a major literary achievement of the 18th century because it was adopted as a model for the methodologies of modern historians. This led ...
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COMPLETE AND UNABRIDGED 6 VOLUMES: THE HISTORY OF THE DECLINE AND FALL OF ROMAN EMPIRE (The Monumental Worldwide Bestseller) BY EDWARD GIBBON [Nook Edition] The Complete and Unabridged Version! (All 6 Volumes) The Historical Masterpiece by Edward Gibbon

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Overview

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was written by English historian Edward Gibbon 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 sections, a common publishing practice of the time. It stands as a major literary achievement of the 18th century because it was adopted as a model for the methodologies of modern historians. This led to Gibbon being called the first modern historian of Ancient Rome.

The books cover the period of the Roman Empire after Marcus Aurelius, from 180 to 1453. They take as their material the behavior and decisions that led to the decay and eventual fall of the Roman Empire in the East and West, offering an explanation for why the Roman Empire fell.

Gibbon is sometimes called the first "modern historian of ancient Rome." By virtue of its mostly objective approach and highly accurate use of reference material, Gibbon's work was adopted as a model for the methodologies of 19th and 20th century historians. His pessimism and detached use of irony was common to the historical genre of his era.

Although he published other books, Gibbon devoted much of his life to this one work (1772–1789). 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.

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 among its citizens. They had become weak, outsourcing 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 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 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. 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 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.

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. They provide an entertaining moral commentary on both ancient Rome and 18th-century Great Britain. This technique enabled Gibbon to compare ancient Rome to modern times. 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.
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Meet the Author

Edward Gibbon (April 27, 1737 – January 16, 1794) was an English historian and Member of Parliament. His most important work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788. The Decline and Fall is known for the quality and irony of its prose, its use of primary sources, and its open denigration of organized religion.

Gibbon is considered to be a son of the Enlightenment and this is reflected in his famous verdict on the history of the Middle Ages: "I have described the triumph of barbarism and religion." However, politically, he aligned himself with the conservative Edmund Burke's rejection of the democratic movements of the time as well as with Burke's dismissal of the "rights of man."

Gibbon's work has been praised for its style, his piquant epigrams and its effective irony. Winston Churchill memorably noted, "I set out upon...Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [and] was immediately dominated both by the story and the style. ...I devoured Gibbon. I rode triumphantly through it from end to end and enjoyed it all." Churchill modelled much of his own literary style on Gibbon's. Like Gibbon, he dedicated himself to producing a "vivid historical narrative, ranging widely over period and place and enriched by analysis and reflection."

Unusually for the 18th century, Gibbon was never content with secondhand accounts when the primary sources were accessible (though most of these were drawn from well-known printed editions). "I have always endeavoured," he says, "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." In this insistence upon the importance of primary sources, Gibbon is considered by many to be one of the first modern historians:
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.
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2012

    Where's the rest?

    I just purchased this book and expected the full 6 volumes, as advertised. What I got was the first 6 chapters and the first part of chapter 9 of volume 1. Where's the rest of the volumes?

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2012

    Boring

    This is a dry read. In addition, there are so many footnotes that interrupt the reading, that it makes it hard to get back on track. I bought this because it was inexpensive. I got my money's worth, but would not recommend it for a student of history.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    The defining work on Roman history

    basically Gibbon sums up this 6 volume work with the statement "one should not ask why Rome fell, but how did it last so long...."

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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