Paul Bryant's Reviews > The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
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Oct 18, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: history-will-teach-us-nothing
Recommended for: fans of perfect English prose

Well, it's not actually the last word on the Empire. Gibbon hated the Byzantines, thought they were appallingly religious and ineluctably corrupt. So he didn't have a good word to say on the Eastern Empire which lasted 1000 years after the fall of the Western Empire. Modern historians have rehabilitated the Byzantines to a great extent.

You have to give it up for Mr Gibbon and his grossly distended testicles - he smuggled into the universities and libraries of the west a most refreshingly undermined version of Christianity. I hold him partially responsible for the inside-out version of religion you see in the modern Church of England (aka Anglicans, aka Episcopalians). All the supernatural has been bled right out of the thing. They are not Byzantines any more.

I only read vols 1-3 but intend to finish the whole thing one day. Hey, half of Gibbon is still twice as long as anyone else!
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 18, 2007 – Shelved
November 28, 2007 – Shelved as: history-will-teach-us-nothing

Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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midnightfaerie lol! love ur imagry! this got added to my to-read list this year, and i've finally picked up a copy...i want to finish most of shakespeare, dickens, austen, and ayn rand before i dive into this and also another i want to read, in search of lost time by proust. this book/set is a lifetime achievement for anyone to read. congrats on getting thru the first 3 volumes.


Paul Bryant if you get through even half of your reading list in the next 5 years you should get a medal!


midnightfaerie lol! *grin* maybe i'll make myself one...i was already ambitious and said i'd read thru dickens and shakespeare this year, not having a clue as to how much they both wrote! holy cow! i'll get there tho...they're all sitting on my shelf, lovingly arranged and rearranged calling to me...


message 4: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Schirmer A great PB economical review. I've held off on Gibbon for too long. My Russian prof--a Brit--kept this in his bathroom. I love Byzantium, but am tired of Christians. But the examples of Gibbon's prose I've seen are enticing...


Paul Bryant His prose is the uttermost of exquisite. Persons who have zero interest in Rome have read Gibbon with delight.


message 6: by Jan (new)

Jan Rice Food for thought!


message 7: by Lukáš (new)

Lukáš Meravý Well did you finish it?


Paul Bryant no, and thanks for the reminder!


message 9: by Eric (new) - added it

Eric I think my favorite review I have read

"You have to give it up for Mr Gibbon and his grossly distended testicles - he smuggled into the universities and libraries of the west a most refreshingly undermined version of Christianity"

Bravo sir


message 10: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Bryant and every word a true one. Thanks Eric


message 11: by Ray (new)

Ray I feel sheepish but I must ask ....... "his grossly extended testicles"??


message 12: by Paul (last edited Sep 08, 2017 11:17AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Bryant all too true. This is from Wiki :

Gibbon is believed to have suffered from an extreme case of scrotal swelling, probably a hydrocele testis, a condition which causes the scrotum to swell with fluid in a compartment overlying either testicle. In an age when close-fitting clothes were fashionable, his condition led to a chronic and disfiguring inflammation that left Gibbon a lonely figure. As his condition worsened, he underwent numerous procedures to alleviate the condition, but with no enduring success. In early January 1794, the last of a series of three operations caused an unremitting peritonitis to set in and spread, from which he died.


message 13: by Sud666 (new)

Sud666 considering the state of medicine in in 1700's I shudder to think of the operation.


message 14: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Bryant yes, the whole thing does not bear thinking about!


message 15: by Sud666 (new)

Sud666 and you diod state that he did this multiple times? After the first one I'd have called it quits...


message 16: by Neil (new)

Neil Mach Your last point is so true, his condensed sentence and paragraph structure is the best there has ever been


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