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The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1781)

por Edward Gibbon

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

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3,243424,118 (4.29)2 / 193
The pre-eminent historian of his day, Edward Gibbon (1737-94) produced his magnum opus in six volumes between 1776 and 1788. Reissued here is the authoritative seven-volume edition prepared by J. B. Bury (1861-1927) between 1896 and 1900. Immediately and widely acclaimed, Gibbon's work remains justly famous for its magisterial account of Roman imperialism and Christianity from the first century CE through to the fall of Constantinople and beyond. Innovative in its use of primary sources and notable for its tone of religious scepticism, this epic narrative stands as a masterpiece of English literature and historical scholarship. Volume 4 focuses on the fifth and sixth centuries CE, examining the Vandal sack of Rome and the fall of the Western Empire, the conversion of barbarians to Christianity, the Saxon conquest of Britain, and the wars of the Goths and the Vandals.… (mais)
  1. 21
    Byzantium: The Early Centuries por John Julius Norwich (nessreader)
  2. 00
    On Liberty por John Stuart Mill (themulhern)
    themulhern: Well turned, caustic sentences about human nature.
  3. 00
    Memoirs of My Life por Edward Gibbon (Utilizador anónimo)
    Utilizador anónimo: An obligatory read for anybody who enjoys the Decline and Fall. Gibbon's complex personality is more than palpable in his magnum opus, but it can be experienced with much greater force in his uniquely spiritual (in the secular sense of the word!), exquisitely written, stylishly candid and much too short Memoirs.… (mais)
  4. 00
    The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire {abridged by Lentin and Norman} por Edward Gibbon (Utilizador anónimo)
    Utilizador anónimo: Excellent abridged edition to start with before tackling the real thing. Reprints 28 complete chapters (out of 71, the rest are supplied with short summaries). Gibbon's footnotes are complete, the numerous Latin phrases in them are translated. Very nice introduction (plus occasional footnotes) by the editors, Antony Lentin and Brian Norman. On the downside, the volume is not especially handy in paperback and the font is rather smallish.… (mais)
  5. 01
    An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire, 54 BC - AD 409 por David Mattingly (John_Vaughan)
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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)

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
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. ( )
  bread2u | May 15, 2024 |
My gosh this was a slog! Six books of 600 pages each. It was definitely worth the effort, though. I must admit that the level of detail was daunting, but the patterns that such detail exhibited the rhyming history that Mark Twain remarked upon.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to comprehensively rate the series. My favorite aspects of the series are the comprehensive research against primary sources (I gave up trying to read the footnotes after about the second book) and the double-history perspective of a late-18th-century writer examining Roman and Byzantine history. This is an impressive feat of scholarship!

Another motivation for my reading the series was to fill the gaps of my understanding of this massive span of time. Naturally, the interminable list of emperors' names blended together after a while, but the sweep of the narrative will guide me when I next encounter these names, times, and places. The podcast Hardcore History had already done a pretty comprehensive job covering the Mongolian Empire, so it was satisfying to see that narrative mesh with Gibbon's description of the period. I expect this will happen many times over the course of my future reading.

If you're interested in the history of Western Civilization, I'd recommend putting in the effort to read the entire series. Although I found the level of detail to be tedious at times, I am glad that I persevered. ( )
  cmayes | Dec 21, 2023 |
An 18th century exploration into the events surrounding the Roman Empire and its territories from ca. 180 until the 15th century.

The author is an 18th century Brit who has granted the ancient Romans their conceit, and the work must be read and understood in that light. One of the great opportunities for reflection in reading this work in the early 21st century is to consider what Europe, north Africa, and western Asia must have looked like to someone living in 1776, and the different forms of continuity and discontinuity which are maintained. As an example, Gibbon confesses how there are some areas of Italy which, in his day, had not yet recovered in population from the Byzantine-Gothic wars and the bubonic plague of the middle of the 6th century; we would not be able to make such an observation on the other side of the population boom which has attended to the industrial revolution.

Gibbon does well at considering not just secondary but especially primary sources, and he is rather opaque about his biases and prejudices regarding them. The length of discourse ebbs and flows with the amount and quality of these witnesses: the introductory books set forth the condition of the Empire in the days of the Antonines, the generally confessed high point of the Roman Empire, and fills in some of the details about the infrastructure of the Empire as it had developed from the days of Augustus. Then over a few books Gibbon covers the long/awful "third century" of 180-280 and all of the trials of the Empire. The fourth century resurgence and crisis defeats of 280-400 are covered in many books, including discussions of the development of Christianity, and thus ends the first modern volume. Then Gibbon gets to the collapse of the Empire at the hands of the German tribes in the West, and the maintenance of the Empire in the East. Over many books we read of Justinian, his conquests, and his law code; Gibbon has precious little to say about the Justinian plague beyond its virulence. Gibbon quickly covers Justinian through Heraclius, and the second modern volume ends with his characterization of the various Emperors from Heraclius until Isaac Angelus and the Latin conquest of Constantinople. The third modern volume covers the medieval period, and does so in two phases: from 600-1200, looking in across the world of the former Roman Empire and the exploits in Italy, Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire, Muhammad, the rise of Islam, the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates, the Bulgarians, Russians, Normans, the Turks, and then the Crusades, leading to the Fourth Crusade. Then Gibbon does something similar with the 1200-1450 period: the Greek loss of Constantinople, their fragmented empires, and recovery of Constantinople; the Mongols and the rise of the Ottomans; relationship between Byzantium and the West; the final loss of the Eastern Roman Empire; and Gibbon concludes by considering Rome itself from the tenth century until the end of the Great Schism. He then renders some conclusions.

Gibbon is often criticized for how he blames the fall of Rome on Christianity. I did not perceive in his work any truly monocausal explanation of this sort. In places where he would presume Christianity would have loosened the "martial spirit" of the Romans, he would be misguided. While Gibbon is a man of the Enlightenment - and in his notes you can tell he is a big fan of Hume and the Scottish Enlightenment in particular - his explorations of the various doctrinal controversies are well expressed and reasoned, and he seems less condemnatory of the religion itself and much more fatigued with the constant in-fighting over ultimately speculative matters. And in truth the divisions within Christianity absolutely weakened the standing of the Empire: when the Coptic Christians of Egypt welcomed the conquest of the Muslims so they would no longer be under the yoke of Constantinople, that tells you something; a big part of the ultimate end of the Byzantine Empire was the division and hostility engendered between them and the Catholics to the west.

What should stand out about this narrative, both as told by Gibbon and in general, is not about how Rome declined and fell, as if we can thus read the tea leaves about how such powers decline and fall in order to ameliorate our own, because all powers invariably rise, decline, and fall. Instead, it should be about the resilience of the Roman Empire: the miracle is not that it collapsed, but that it endured for so long in reality, and has never been exorcised from the mentality of Europeans ever since. "Caesars" as Kaisers and Czars and Sultans ruled in Europe until only a century ago; one cannot understand medieval and modern European history without grappling with how the Roman Empire continually captured their imagination.

The most modern research leads us to put far more weight on the role of climate change and its attendant consequences: more challenging food growing conditions which can quickly lead to greater ravaging and repine, the ferret and the transmission of the bubonic plague, and thus a devastation in the 6th century which leaves its mark in the archaeological record for over a century and which the world of Late Antiquity could not adequately recover (and, as seen above, in some respects, had not even recovered by the time the United States of America came into being!). If we're looking for a big lesson from Rome about how powers fall, that's the one we should heed. ( )
  deusvitae | Jun 12, 2023 |
Best narrative history ever written. Gibbon had so many fewer sources and tools than we have today, but his basic conclusions from the late 18th century information he had are still largely correct today.

A weakened military and political state that relied heavily on barbarian mercenary soldiers for defense was doomed. The different internal barbarian factions just served to divide the military and political and religious structures to a point to where they were easy pickin's from both inside and outside the empire. The western empire falling first while the eastern (Greek) Byzantine empire, under less external pressure, survives much longer. (Until their Roman Christian Crusader brothers came to sack them.)

Gibbons details the whole ugly mess down to minute detail and doesn't leave anything out, from incest to slaughter. His narrative is lively and opinionated, full of both shock and humor.

Read the whole damned thing, footnotes and all, not some abridged abomination. This is a literary work as much as an historical work.

Anyone who needs an abject lesson on how the modern western world is going to go, should read these books. We're already in the age of bread and circuses. ( )
  Gumbywan | Jun 24, 2022 |
The first four volumes are highly intriguing and very interesting. Gibbon has a very interesting take on Rome’s fall and its connection to what he was experiencing in the 1770s. Given this connection to him, it’s hard to separate his bias, but the bias makes sense. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and I can’t wait to read the last four volumes. ( )
  historybookreads | Jul 26, 2021 |
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Edward Gibbonautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Bury, John BagnellEditorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Bury, John BagnellIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Guedalla, PhilipPrefácioautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Low, D.M.Editorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Piranesi, Giovanni BattistaIlustradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Radice, BettyEditorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Smith, Sir WilliamEditorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Trevor-Roper, HughIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Williams, RosemaryEditorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Womersley, David P.Contribuidorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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In the second century of the Christian Æra, the empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilized portion of mankind. The frontiers of that extensive monarchy were guarded by ancient renown and disciplined valor. The gentle but powerful influence of laws and manners had gradually cemented the union of the provinces. Their peaceful inhabitants enjoyed and abused the advantages of wealth and luxury. The image of a free constitution was preserved with decent reverence: the Roman senate appeared to possess the sovereign authority, and devolved on the emperors all the executive powers of government. During a happy period of more than fourscore years, the public administration was conducted by the virtue and abilities of Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the two Antonines. It is the design of this, and of the two succeeding chapters, to describe the prosperous condition of their empire; and after wards, from the death of Marcus Antoninus, to deduce the most important circumstances of its decline and fall; a revolution which will ever be remembered, and is still felt by the nations of the earth.
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The pre-eminent historian of his day, Edward Gibbon (1737-94) produced his magnum opus in six volumes between 1776 and 1788. Reissued here is the authoritative seven-volume edition prepared by J. B. Bury (1861-1927) between 1896 and 1900. Immediately and widely acclaimed, Gibbon's work remains justly famous for its magisterial account of Roman imperialism and Christianity from the first century CE through to the fall of Constantinople and beyond. Innovative in its use of primary sources and notable for its tone of religious scepticism, this epic narrative stands as a masterpiece of English literature and historical scholarship. Volume 4 focuses on the fifth and sixth centuries CE, examining the Vandal sack of Rome and the fall of the Western Empire, the conversion of barbarians to Christianity, the Saxon conquest of Britain, and the wars of the Goths and the Vandals.

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