The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

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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.

Contents

Introduction

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."[1] 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.[2]

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