January 2nd, 2011


Gibbon's General Observations On The Fall Of The Roman Empire In The West

I had been expecting a consolidated set of conclusions as to what we have learned from three volumes and 38 chapters; but less than half of this short essay consists of Gibbon's brief (though penetrating) general observations on what has happened so far. Gibbon the diverges from his usual topic to apply the experience of the Roman Empire to contemporary Europe. I found this absolutely fascinating, partly because I am interested in Gibbon's very English and Enlightenment articulation of the early stages of the European ideal as it has developed, partly also because he is a useful reality-based antidote, even after more than two centuries, to the neurotic apocalypticism one sometimes hears about the imminent fall of Western civilisation.

More here.