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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire

It seems on my recent mission to return to some of the classics of English literature I may have overdone it. It wasn't the several volumes of Edward Gibbons fascinating exposition of Rome's downfall.  It was the annotated edition of that famous book which I purchased for my Nook. The notes and quotes mostly in Latin added substantially to the total volume of words.  Needless to say, I don't read Latin and each Chapter in English was followed by tons of mostly obscure references and explanations. However, my stubborn German (barbarian according to Gibbon) heritage compeled me to finish the four thousand page annotated version in only three months. :)
Edward Gibbon

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was written by the English historian Edward Gibbon in the late eighteenth century. It traces Western civilization (as well as the Islamic and Mongolian conquests) from the height of the Roman Empire to the fall of Byzantium. The author is often regarded as the first modern historian for style, method and substance.

I think ancient history is my favorite period to read about though I’ve often tended toward well researched historical fiction of the kind that Collen McCullough wrote.  Roman began as a republic and created an empire which eventually evolved into autocracy.  Modern historians have often debated over the many causes of it decline and fall. There is much to learn from this subject and even apply to the similarities and differences to our own country.   For reasons of length I would highly recommend an abridged unless you’re literate in the language of the Romans. On that score my wife Barb had a even simpler example in her explanation of the decline and fall….

She reminded me of her upbringing in a girls Catholic high school  Our Lady of Peace (a.k.a. Old Ladies Penitentiary).  Studying Latin she and her classmate decided that “Latin is a dead language. As dead as it can be. First it killed the Romans. And now it’s killing me


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@Barrie Summy


Lucy said...

Wow, that's dedication to finish a four thousand page book - not sure I could do that. Thanks for reviewing!

Stacy Nyikos said...

Wooh, 4,000 pages - that is dedication. I remember this title from college. Congratulations on finishing it! There should be a prize, like, instant latin fluency ;-)

Linda McLaughlin said...

I've heard about this book my whole life, but never considered tackling it. I'm impressed by your dedication. 4,000 words is a lot! It does sound interesting, though, and I love your wife's comments about Latin. LOL.

Sarah Laurence said...

I'm impressed you got through it all! Your wife is hilarious!

pattinase (abbott) said...

As a history major, I took three courses on Rome. It has always fascinated me. From republic to empire. But maybe not enough to read this very long book.

Arkansas Patti said...

That has always been on my to do list. Reading about the 4000 pages might be why it keeps being shoved to the bottom of the pile. Admire your tenacity.
Loved your wife's view on Latin. I took two years of it and remember very little.

Barrie said...

Four thousand word annotated version!?! You are brave and persistent! Love your wife's take. Actually, I was surprised at how popular The Decline and Fall is...based on Amazon numbers. Thank you for reviewing!

Anonymous said...

Byzantium fell? What next?

I think reading those classics gives you a lot of good insight on how Westerners like us and Europeans think. So many of the people who have run our civilization and who have influenced how we think have the same basic body of knowledge which is contained in the classics and a human arts degree. They who attended the especially the fancy schools all pretty much did the outside reading and got the same education, so they have a shared world view and vision that forms the basis for a lot of what we believe as members of this civilization and of this historical narrative.

Reading this has been on my to do list for a few decades. I see that has recorded all six volumes so if they've recorded something I'm a more likely to get to it. Even retired I'm doing a lot of driving. Audio books can be a good experience depending on the reader. These large projects are done collaboratively so you have one person reading a few chapters then someone else takes over. A recording like that is how I finally read War and Peace and that was great.

Thanks for that interesting and thought provoking review Sr T.

Out on the prairie said...

That is a major read, I am reading one now that has Henry VIII marrying a Spanish princess and Latin was the only language to communicate since he knew no Spanish and she no English. The only Latin I have retained is plant names.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Oh my, 4000 pages. I assume that it wasn’t at one sitting or you would have worn a hole in the chair.

It has been taught that we learn from history. I am not sure of that as we keep repeating our mistakes. We tell ourselves that we are civilized now and the horrors of the past will not happen again, yet they do, but in more modern ways.

Like your wife, I also went to a girls Catholic school and took three years of Latin. The only thing I remember is something about going up the Apian Way.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Opps, Appian Way.

Jenn Jilks said...

Holy Hannah. Good for you!