Roman Empire; Enlgihtenment; Edward Gibbon
J.G.A. Pocock analysed The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a six volume work written by the English historian Edward Gibbon, as an echo to the world view of theLate Enlightenment.
Pocock, J.G.A., "Gibbon's Decline and Fall and the World View of the Late Enlightenment", in Virtue, Commerce and History, Cambridge 1985, 143-156
[...] As an instance, the luxury created by the consumption of goods corrupted the government who were supposed to be ideally as virtuous and equal as other citizens. Actually, it appeared that Gibbon's interpretation of virtue was complex and undefined. One would wonder what the limit was from which a Republic became an Empire and consumption became corruption among other questions. Beyond the re-invention of historical analysis which corresponded to a shift in the intellectual interpretation of history in the 18th century, Gibbon displayed a new perspective to analyse his own time within his contemporary historical context. [...]
[...] Pocock analysed The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a sixvolume work written by the English historian Edward Gibbon, as an echo to the world view of the Late Enlightenment. Published between 1776 and 1788, Gibbon's work was an analysis of the decay and fall of the Roman Empire (180-1453), mainly based on the loss of civic virtue. It appeared that Gibbon's analytical method was “historical sociology” and an “ideology” highlighting the threats and the fears for the future of civilization (p.144). [...]
[...] Besides, the “ideal city” was to be a Republic wherein imperialist expansion was limited as the latter involved professionalization of armies, the revival of barbarism and the institution of a principate; the origins of the instability of (civic) virtue for Gibbon (p.1467). Furthermore, the Republic was supposed to rest on equality and composed of virtuous men who were simultaneously citizens, proprietors of land -that gave them independence-, able to bear arms in city's cause and obedient to the laws they made themselves. Responsibility, independence and loyalty were the cornerstones of civic virtue in Gibbon's opinion. [...]
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