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NA0125 - GIBBON, E.: Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 1 (The) (Unabridged)
English 

Edward Gibbon
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume I

 

Summary of the Contents

Chapter 1

The legacy of the first emperor Augustus (27 BC–14 AD) in the age of Nerva (96–98), Trajan (98–117), Hadrian (117–138) and the two Antonines (138–180) • The state of the Empire, its extent, including the acquisition of Britain, and the Empire’s military strength, including the construction of the army and navy

Chapter 2

The Roman Empire at a time of peace and security • The inheritance of beneficial laws, toleration of different religions, acceptance of foreigners in Rome to encourage union with the provinces, the treatment of slaves and their contribution to industry • Architecture of the age, roads etc. • Agriculture • The internal prosperity of the Age of the Antonines

Chapter 3

The Constitution of the Roman Empire in the Age of the Antonines • Development, originally by Augustus, of the power of the senate, officers of state, control of the army etc. • Beneficial rule of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (161–180)

Chapter 4

The seeds of decay as exemplified in the cruelty and follies of Commodus (180–192) • His opposition to the senate • The murder of Commodus • The election of Pertinax as emperor (192–193) and his attempts to reform the State • Affection of the people and disaffection of the Praetorian guard • The assassination of Pertinax by the Praetorian Guards

Chapter 5

The Praetorian Guard abuse their power and publicly sell off the Empire to Didius Julianus (193) • In Britain, the general Clodius Albinus plots to avenge Pertinax and succeed to the throne himself • Pescennius Niger in Syria, and Septimius Severus in Pannonia, also declare against the murderers of Pertinax and seek election • Civil wars and victory of Severus over his rivals • Severus declared emperor (193–211) • His cruelty and scorn of senate • The relaxation of discipline in the army leads to threat of military despotism

Chapter 6

War in Britain (208) • The declining health and death of Severus • The tyranny of his son Caracalla (211–217) • The assassination of Caracalla and usurpation of Macrinus (217–218) • Discontented army supports Elagabalus (218–222) • Corruption, vice and follies of Elagabalus • Virtues of his cousin Alexander Severus (222–235) who is elected by Praetorian guard after the massacre of Elagabalus • New emperor’s lenity leads to licentiousness in the army • The general state of the Roman finances

Chapter 7

The elevation of the ambitious barbarian Maximinus by the army • Death of Alexander Severus (235) • Maximinus’s bloody tyranny (235–238) • Rebellion in Africa and Italy, supported by Gordianus and the senate • Civil Wars and Seditions • The violent deaths of Maximinus and his son (238) • Deaths of Maximinus and Balbinus (238), and of the three Gordians (238) • Usurpation of the Praetorian Philip (244) • He revives and solemnises the Secular Games

Chapter 8

The State of Persia after the restoration of the Monarchy by Artaxerxes (240–254) after servitude under Macedonians and Parthians • The theology of Zoroaster and the power of the Magi • Artaxerxes seeks to expand Persia by conquest, challenging the power of Rome

Chapter 9

The State of Germany till the invasion of the Barbarians, in the time of the emperor Decius (249–251) • The geography and climate of Germany • The ignorance and savagery of the inhabitants • Their warlike nature • The resilience of their women • Their primitive religion

Chapter 10

Calamitous reigns of the emperors Decius (249–251), Gallus (251–253), Aemilianus (253), Valerian (253–259) and Gallienus (253–268) • Decius encounters the first attack of the Goths (250) • Their history • Gallus pays them tribute • Civil wars involving rivals for the throne • Valerian and Gallienus rule as father and son (253–268) • The general eruption of the Barbarians against the Roman Empire • The Persians attack • Weakness of Gallienus encourages a crowd of usurpers, known as the Thirty Tyrants

Chapter 11

Reign of Claudius II (268–270), general and chief of the Illyrian frontier • He reforms the army • His defeat of the Goths • Aurelian (270–275), a general, succeeds after premature death of Claudius II • Treaty with the Goths • Success against barbarian invasions • Defeats domestic rival claimants • Challenges and defeats Zenobia, Queen of the East • His Triumph • Death of Aurelian

Chapter 12

Conduct of the army and senate after the death of Aurelian • The reluctant but productive reign of Tacitus (275–276) • Probus, General of the East, succeeds (276–282) • He delivers Gaul from the barbarians, subdues the Germans, repatriates some of the barbarians and falls victim to the discontent of the Roman army • Carus, Praetorian prefect, elected by legions (282–283) • His premature death prevents attack on Persia • Weak and luxurious reign of his sons, Carinus and Numerian (283–284) • Description of the Circus entertainment

Chapter 13

The reign of Diocletian (284–305) and his three associates, Maximian (286–305) Galerius, and Constantius (305) • Diocletian’s prudent character • Insurrection in Britain • Revolt in Africa • War with Persia, victory and triumph • Armenia, Rome’s ally • The new form of administration • Reduction of powers of the senate • Increase in ostentation of court • Abdication and retirement of Diocletian and Maximian

Chapter 14

Troubles after the abdication of Diocletian • Contrasting characters of Constantius and Galerius • Death of Constantius in Britain • Elevation of Constantine (306–337) • His origins • Maxentius elevated to rule with Constantine (306–311) • Six emperors at the same time • Conflicts and death of Maximian (305) and Galerius (311) • Victories of Constantine over Maxentius (312) and Licinius (324) • Reunion of the Empire under the authority of Constantine

Chapter 15

The Progress of the Christian Religion, its success derived from:

1. The zeal derived from the Jewish religion
2. The appealing doctrine of a future life after death
3. The miraculous powers attributed to the primitive church
4. The pure and austere morals of Christians
5. The union of a Christian republic within the Empire Gradual separation of individual sects: Nazarenes, Ebionites, Gnostics, Manichaeans etc. • The abjuring of pagan idolatry by Christians • The sentiments, manners, numbers and condition of the primitive Christians, including the separation of laity and clergy • The introduction of Synods • The punishment of apostasy by excommunication • The structure of the Roman Empire facilitates the spread of Christianity

Emperors of Rome

AUGUSTUS: 27 BC–14 AD
TIBERIUS: 14–37
CALIGULA: 37–41
CLAUDIUS I: 41–54
NERO: 54–68
GALBA: 68–69
OTHO: 69
VITELLIUS: 69
VESPASIAN: 69–79
TITUS: 79–81
DOMITIAN: 81–96
NERVA: 96–98
TRAJAN: 98–117
HADRIAN: 117–138
ANTONINIUS PIUS: 138–161
MARCUS AURELIUS: 161–180
With Lucius Verus: 161–169
With Commodus: 177–180
COMMODUS: 180–192
PERTINAX: 193
DIDIUS JULIANUS: 193
SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS: 193–211
With Caracalla: 198–209
With Caracalla and Geta: 209–211
CARACALLA: 211–217
With Geta: 211
MACRINUS: 217–218
ELAGABALUS: 218–222
ALEXANDER SEVERUS: 222–235
MAXIMINUS THRAX : 235–238
GORDIAN I & GORDIAN II: 238
PUPIENUS & BALBINUS: 238
GORDIAN III: 238–244
PHILIP: 244–249
DECIUS: 249–251
TREBONIANUS GALLUS: 251–253
AEMILIANUS: 253
Valerian: 253–260
With Gallienus: 253–260
GALLIENUS: 260–268
CLAUDIUS II: 268–270
QUINTILLUS: 270
AURELIAN: 270–275
TACITUS: 275–276
FLORIANUS: 276
PROBUS: 276–282
CARUS: 282–283
CARINUS: 283–285
With Numerian: 283–284
DIOCLETIAN: 284–305
With Maximian: 286–305
With Galerius 293–305
GALERIUS: 305–311
With Constantius I: 305–306
With Constantine I: 306–311
With Maxentius: 306–311
With Licinius: 307–311
With Maximinus II: 308–311
CONSTANTINE I: 311–337
With Maxentius: 311–312
With Licinius: 311–324
CONSTANTINE II, CONSTANTIUS II &
CONSTANS: 337–340
CONSTANTIUS II: 340–361
With Constans: 340–350
JULIAN: 361–363
JOVIAN: 363–364
VALENTINIAN I: 364–375
With Valens: 364–375
With Gratian: 367–375
VALENS: 364–378
With Gratian and Valentinian II: 375–378
THEODOSIUS I: 379–395
With Gratian: 379–383
With Valentinian II: 379–392
With Arcadius: 383–395
With Honorius: 392–395

Emperors of the Western Empire after Theodosius I

HONORIUS: 394–423
VALENTINIAN III: 423–455
PETRONIUS MAXIMUS: 455
AVITUS: 455–456
MAJORIAN: 457–461
LIBIUS SEVERUS: 461–465
(No Emperor: 465–467)
ANTHEMIUS: 467–472
OLYBRIUS: 472
GLYCERIUS: 473–474
JULIUS NEPOS: 474–475
ROMULUS AUGUSTULUS: 475–476

End of the Western Empire: Odoacer, King of Italy

Emperors of the Eastern Roman Empire

CONSTANTINE I: 306–337
CONSTANTIUS II: 337–361 (sole emperor after 350)
JULIAN: 361–363 (sole emperor)
JOVIAN: 363–364 (sole emperor)
VALENS: 364–378

Dynasty of Theodosius

THEODOSIUS I, the Great: 379–395 (sole emperor after 392)
ARCADIUS: 395–408
THEODOSIUS II: 408–450 (Anthemius, regent: 408–414)
MARCIAN: 450–457 (married to Pulcheria, daughter of Arcadius)

Dynasty of Leo

LEO I, the Thracian: 457–474
LEO II: 474
ZENO: 474–491
ANASTASIUS I, Dicorus: 491–518

Dynasty of Justinian

JUSTIN I: 518–527
JUSTINIAN I: 527–565
JUSTIN II: 565–574 (Sophia, regent)
TIBERIUS II, Constantine: 574–582
MAURICE: 582–602
PHOCAS: 602–610

Dynasty of Heraclius

HERACLIUS: 610–641
CONSTANTINE III: 641
CONSTANS II: 641–668
CONSTANTINE IV: 668–685
JUSTINIAN II: 685–695 (banished)
LEONTIUS: 695–698
TIBERIUS III: 698–705
JUSTINIAN II (restored): 705–711
PHILIPPICUS: 711–713
ANASTASIUS II: 713–715
THEODOSIUS III: 715–717

Syrian or Isaurian Dynasty (the Iconoclasts)

LEO III, the Isaurian: 717–741
CONSTANTINE V, Copronymus: 741–775
LEO IV, the Khazar: 775–780
CONSTANTINE VI: 780–797 (blinded and murdered by mother Irene, wife of Leo IV)
IRENE: 797–802
NIKEPHOROS I: 802–811
STAURACIUS: 811
MICHAEL I, Rhangabe: 811–813
LEO V, the Armenian: 813–820

Phrygian or Amorian Dynasty

MICHAEL II, the Amorian: 820–829
THEOPHILUS: 829–842
MICHAEL III: 842–867

Macedonian Dynasty

BASIL I, the Macedonian: 867–886
LEO VI, the Wise: 886–912
ALEXANDER: 912–913
CONSTANTINE VII, Porphyogenitus: 913–959
With Romanus I, Lekapenos: 920–944
ROMANUS II: 959–963
BASIL II: 963–1025
With Nikephoros II: 963–969
With John I Zimiskes: 969–976
CONSTANTINE VIII: 1025–28
ROMANUS III, Argyros: 1028–1034
MICHAEL IV, the Paphlagonian: 1034–1041
MICHAEL V, Kalaphates: 1041–1042
CONSTANTINE IX, Monomachus: 1042–1055
THEODORA: 1055–1056
MICHAEL VI, Bringas: 1056–1057
ISAAC I, Comnenus: 1057–1059 (abdicated)
CONSTANTINE X, Doukas: 1059–1067
ROMANUS IV, Diogenes: 1068–1071
MICHAEL VII, Doukas: 1071–1078
NIKEPHOROS III, Botaneiates: 1078–1081

Dynasty of the Comneni

ALEXIOS I, Komnenos: 1081–1118
JOHN II, Komnenos: 1118–1143
MANUEL I, Komnenos: 1143–1180
ALEXIUS II, Komnenos: 1180–1183
ANDRONICUS I, Komnenos: 1183–1185

Dynasty of the Angeli

ISAAC II, Angelos: 1185–1195 (dethroned)
ALEXIOS III, Angelos: 1195–1203
ISAAC II (restored): 1203–1204
With Alexios IV, Angelos: 1203–1204
ALEXIOS V, Doukas: 1204

Capture of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade and establishment of Latin emperors in the city

Latin Emperors of the East

BALDWIN I: 1204–1205
HENRY: 1206–1216
PETER OF COURTENAY: 1216–1217
ROBERT: 1221–1228
BALDWIN II: 1228–1261
With John of Brienne: 1229–1237

Eastern Emperors in Nicaea

THEODORE I, Laskaris: 1204–1222
JOHN III, Doukas Vatatzes: 1222–1254
THEODORE II, Laskaris: 1254–1258
JOHN IV, Laskaris: 1258–1261
With Michael VIII, Palaiologos: 1259–1261

Recapture of Constantinople and reestablishment of the Eastern emperors there

Dynasty of the Palaiologi

(Seven-year civil war: 1390, 1391–1425, 1425–1448, 1449–1453, 1453)

MICHAEL VIII, Palaiologos: 1261–1282
ANDRONIKOS II, Palaiologos: 1282–1328
With Michael IX: 1294–1320
ANDRONICUS III, Palaiologos: 1328–1341
JOHN V, Palaiologos: 1341–1376
With John VI, Kantakouzenos: 1347–1354
With Andronikos IV, Palaiologos: 1354–1373
ANDRONIKOS IV, Palaiologos: 1376–1379
JOHN V, Palaiologos (restored): 1379–1390
JOHN VII, Palaiologos: 1390
JOHN V, Palaiologos (restored): 1391
MANUEL II, Palaiologos: 1391–1425
JOHN VIII, Palaiologos: 1425–1448
CONSTANTINE XI, Palaiologos: 1449–1453

Capture of Constantinople by Mahomet II

End of the Roman Empire

The Life of Edward Gibbon

It was at Rome, on the 15th of October, 1764, as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the barefoot friars were singing vespers in the Temple of Jupiter, that the idea of writing the decline and fall of the city first started to my mind

Memoirs of My Life and Writings, 1796

Gibbon was born at Putney, Surrey, on 8 May 1737, into a comfortable, though not particularly wealthy, family. At the age of ten, his mother died and he was brought up by an aunt. During childhood he was always sick and of a weak disposition. This interrupted any regular attendance at school and led to his being privately educated at home, where he had access to his father’s extensive library. This developed the natural scholar in Gibbon at an early age.

At age 15, he went to Magdalen College, Oxford, and he ‘arrived with a stock of erudition that might have puzzled a doctor’ (Gibbon, Memoirs).

Ever curious, Gibbon challenged the Anglican clergymen who were his tutors as to the true faith. His inclination was towards the Roman Catholic faith, and after consultation with a Roman Catholic student, he converted to Catholicism. It was a rash decision, for by English law, Roman Catholics were excluded from public office and ostracised from many rights available to their Anglo-Catholic brethren.

When Gibbon’s father learnt of his son’s actions he was furious and insisted that his son should be sent to Lausanne, Switzerland, which was a centre of Calvinism, to be re-indoctrinated to the Protestant faith.

Gibbon studied there under the Calvinist minister Daniel Pavilliard for nearly five years (1753–1758). During this time he renounced his conversion, became fluent in French and Latin, had a meeting with Voltaire, and for the one and only time in his life, fell in love, with a beautiful and highly intelligent girl, Suzanne Curchod. Once again, Gibbon was thwarted by his father who would not countenance ‘this strange alliance’, and Gibbon reluctantly returned to England. Reflecting on this in his Memoirs, Gibbon wrote:

‘I sighed as a lover, I obeyed as a son.’

With the advent of the Seven Years War in 1760, Gibbon dutifully joined, with his father, the local militia, which was assembled in response to the possibility of a French invasion. He does not seem to have shone as an officer. At the end of his term of service he embarked on a grand tour of Europe, an obligatory experience for educated young men in the 18th century. Arriving in Rome early in October 1764, he was overwhelmed by its magnificence and antiquities, and as he said in his memoirs it was here he first began to conceive his magnum opus, but it would be nine years before he began to write it. The first volume of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, shortened here to The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was published in 1776. It was an instant success and quickly ran into three editions. Volumes II and III appeared in 1781, with equivalent success. In the same year, Gibbon was elected as an MP for Lymington, but despite a dead end job in the board of trade in Lord North’s declining government, his parliamentary career was uneventful.

Resorting to his true vocation, he moved back to Lausanne and shared accommodation with an old student friend, George Deyverdun, and completed the last three volumes of his Decline and Fall, which were all published in 1788, to coincide with his 51st birthday.

In 1793, when the effects of the French Revolution began to intrude on his Swiss idyll, he returned to England. His health had begun to fail, an enlarged scrotum caused him considerable pain and despite several unsuccessful operations, he died in his sleep on 16 January 1794, at the age of 56.

A Note on the Text

The text used in this recording of Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is the standard Everyman edition of 1910, with additional notes by Oliver Smeaton. It is a clean text unabridged and unedited, and in six volumes it reflects the division of chapters of the original edition of the 1780s.


Notes by David Timson


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