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Has anyone read Edward Gibbon?
#1
Salve bookworms!

I read Edward Gibbon`s "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" in summer 2004, not abridged, the whole story. Who else has?
Virilis / Jyrki Halme
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#2
I've read it too.
Martin
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#3
I did.
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
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#4
So guys, how did you like it?

I think Gibbon was the first "modern" historian to use footnotes if I remember correctly. His wit is often very entertaining and I can only imagine the turmoil following his comments about the early church...

His strength is in a way his "oldfashionness". By this I mean that nowadays modern historians take always some specific view of point, be it sociological, economical, political etc. It was in my opinion very refreshing to read about events described "as it was", without these frameworks set in advance.

I go back to Gibbon from time to time but I must say that his view of a byzantine empire as a slowly decaying monster was quite a burden to read. Anyway a true classic!

By the way, is there a complete set of "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" in a leather-bound or some other deluxe version available?
Virilis / Jyrki Halme
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#5
I've read it too, very amusing!
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Ivan Perelló
[size=150:iu1l6t4o]Credo in Spatham, Corvus sum bellorum[/size]
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#6
Quote:described "as it was"
I thought it was Leopold von Ranke who did that first. :wink: [/quote]
Greets!

Jasper Oorthuys
Webmaster & Editor, Ancient Warfare magazine
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#7
Quote:By the way, is there a complete set of "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" in a leather-bound or some other deluxe version available?
Are these what you're looking for, especially the second set?

Set 1
Set 2
Set 3

And then there are these Folio Society copies.

Folio Society versions

There is also a digital download available which is searchable by keyword.

Digital E-book

At $2.99 I just bought and downloaded it, and sure enough "Vespasian" brought up about 40 entries in the book.
TARBICvS/Jim Bowers
A A A DESEDO DESEDO!
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#8
Thank you guys!

Yes,Tarbi, this second set looks very interesting. I have the Penguin editions and they look a bit "cheap".
Virilis / Jyrki Halme
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#9
Quote:I think Gibbon was the first "modern" historian to use footnotes if I remember correctly.
Perhaps true for England, but footnotes were common in the sixteenth century in Italy, e.g. Nanni of Viterbo. The Preface of Cervantes' Quichotte contains jokes about this novelty.

Quote:It was in my opinion very refreshing to read about events described "as it was", without these frameworks set in advance.
I am afraid I have to disagree. Gibbon has a clear framework too: liberalism. The Roman empire fell because the Roman elite was not free and had no access to power. If only the Senate would have represented the interests of the (rich) citizens, and would have had a larger share in government, the elite would have had a reason to fight for the empire's survival, which, in the end, the elite did not.

This is Gibbon's position in the great eighteenth century debate, started by Montesquieu: why did Rome fall, and could the present (18th century) prosperity disappear too? Gibbon is optimistic, because since the Glorious Revolution, the Parliament had recognized, real powers. It is absolutely no coincidence that the Decline was published in 1776, in the same year as that other monument of early liberalism: Smith's Wealth of Nations, who says more or less the same. Both men quote each other.
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
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#10
You`re right, Jona!

I meant this: It is a joy to read Gibbon because he doesn`t have a theoretical framework in a MODERN sense in his writing. Of course he has this "enlightened/liberal" vision to history which must have been very radical in it´s time. Of course it too has it`s shortcomings in our eyes. Keeping all this in mind it still is a great work!

To add to this works fascination I always imagine this short overweight dandy walking in the ruins of Rome :wink: ... How can you not like this guy!?
Virilis / Jyrki Halme
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#11
Did you folks read this in English or has it been translated into other languages..? My hat is off to anyone who has read this as a second language..!
Johnny
Johnny Shumate
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#12
I'm halfway through the third volume (so the Western Empire is long gone Smile ). I read the first two volumes while in college, lo these many years ago ... then recently decided to pick up the third volume and finish the series off.

What a treat! Gibbon is so dry, funny, and insightful he puts any modern author that I can think of, to shame. I'm rationing myself, starting a new chapter every business trip. Should be done by the end of the year.

rkmvca/Rich Klein
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#13
I have read it in english because it is not translated it in finnish (I think it is translated in swedish, of course)! One librarian has translated a couple of first books IN HIS OWN EXPENSE. I talked to the guy and he said that publishers ARE NOT INTERESTED IN TRANSLATING THIS BOOK!

Due to this I don`t consider Finland a civilized country anymore. Are there other uncivilized countries out there :wink: ? ...
Virilis / Jyrki Halme
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#14
Quote:Are there other uncivilized countries out there?
An Iranian friend, a refugee, recently wrote to me how the government of the country she had been forced to leave had started to spy on chatboxes and internet fora, and to control e-mail. Very shocking, of course; and we all were indignant.

However, I had to tell her that this has been common practice in Holland for at least ten years, because the official confidentiality of the mail does not apply to electronic mail.

I know that my friend has been physically abused, something that I can not imagine that will happen in Holland. And I know that the Iranian government would have started to spy their citizens earlier if they had the means to do so. Still, I would have liked to see a bit more indignation in Holland about our loss of civil rights. We're angry when it happens in Iran, but fail to see the beam in our own eyes.
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#15
Something has been already told in previous posts. I personally consider Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire as a very valuable reading despite the book is more than 200 years old. I think too that Gibbon is one of first "modern" historians. The book is definitely worth reading.

I am happier than Virilis, because I have Czech translation. Big Grin


Having completed reading of Decline I regret the fall of the Roman Empire. Cry
Martin
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