The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire   -     By: Edward Gibbon, David Womersley
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The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Penguin Classics / 2001 / Paperback

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In the greatest work of history in the English language, Edward Gibbon compresses thirteen turbulent centuries into a gripping epic narrative. It is history in the grand eighteenth-century manner, a well-researched drama charged with insight, irony, and incisive character analysis. In elegant prose, Gibbon presents both the broad pattern of events and the significant revealing detail. He delves into religion, politics, sexuality, and social mores with equal authority and aplomb. While subsequent research revealed minor factual errors about the early Empire, Gibbon's bold vision, witty descriptions of a vast cast of characters, and readiness to display his own beliefs and prejudices result in an astonishing work of history and literature, at once powerfully intelligent and enormously entertaining. Based on David Womersley's definitive three-volume Penguin Classics edition of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, this abridgement contains complete chapters from all three volumes, linked by extended bridging passages, vividly capture the style, the argument, and the architecture of the whole work.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 848
Vendor: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: 2001
Dimensions: 0.00 X 0.00 X 0.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0140437649
ISBN-13: 9780140437645
UPC: 051488016007
Availability: In Stock

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Author Bio

Edward Gibbon was born in 1737 in Putney, England, and was the only child of his parents to survive infancy. Although his education was frequently interrupted by ill health, his knowledge was far-reaching. His brief career as an undergraduate at Magdalen College, Oxford, ended when he joined the Catholic Church. His father sent him to Lausanne, in Switzerland, where, while studying Greek and French for the next five years, he re-joined the Protestant Church. In 1761 he published his Essai sur l'étude de la Littérature; the English version appeared in 1764. Meanwhile, Gibbon served as a captain in the Hampshire Militia until 1763, when he returned to the Continent. It was while he was in Rome in 1764 that he first conceived the work that was eventually to become The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

In 1774, after the death of his father, Gibbon settled in London and was elected to Parliament where he sat for the next eight years, although he never once spoke in the Commons. He also took his place among the literary circles of London. The first volume of his famous History was published in 1776; it was highly praised for its learning and style but incurred some censure for its treatment of the early Christians. The second and third volumes appeared in 1781 and the final three, which were written in Lausanne, in 1788. He died while on a visit to his friend, Lord Sheffield, who posthumously edited Gibbon's autobiographical papers and published them in 1796.


David Womersley teaches at Jesus College, Oxford, and edited Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire for Penguin Classics.


David Womersley teaches at Jesus College, Oxford, and edited Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire for Penguin Classics.

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