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Barbarism and Religion

Volume 3. The First Decline and Fall


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  • Date Published: October 2005
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521672337

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About the Authors
  • 'Barbarism and Religion' - Edward Gibbon's own phrase - is the title of a sequence of works by John Pocock designed to situate Gibbon, and his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, in a series of contexts in the history of eighteenth-century Europe. This is a major intervention from one of the world's leading historians, challenging the notion of any one 'Enlightenment' and positing instead a plurality of enlightenments, of which the English was one. The first two volumes of Barbarism and Religion were warmly and widely reviewed, and won the Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History of the American Philosophical Society. In this third volume in the sequence, The First Decline and Fall, John Pocock offers an historical introduction to the first fourteen chapters of Gibbon's great work, recounting the end of the classical civilisation Gibbon and his readers knew so much better than the worlds that followed.

    • The culmination of a life's work by one of the great historians of our time, writing about the greatest English historian of all time
    • A major reinterpretation of one of the defining cultural moments in European history
    • The third volume of a sequence that has already generated major review coverage and won a highly prestigious American prize in cultural history
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    • Winner of the Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History of the American Philosophical Society (for volumes One and Two)

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This volume is every bit as persuasive as its predecessors and, perhaps because it is as much recit as the others were peintures, it is also rather more compelling a read. More than the first two volumes of his work, volume three of Barbarism and Religion leaves one hanging; like Gibbon and his first readers, we are only at the Milvian Bridge, pondering what will follow with Constantine. One hopes that, unlike those readers, we will not have to wait five years for the next episode.' Daniel Woolf, The American Historical Review

    'It is, in every respect, a masterwork. … Of books about our shared undertaking, about the practice and historical importance of Roman studies, this is the finest I know.' C. Ando, University of Southern California

    'This is a … rewarding book, requiring the reader to mediate on long quotations from the sources as well as to follow a complex argument … The most important thing to say, though, is that this is a work of great intellectual power and distinction, its complex and subtle argument firmly under control, a long book yet one in which every sentence counts.' The European Legacy

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2005
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521672337
    • length: 544 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 162 x 32 mm
    • weight: 0.85kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Gibbon's first volume: the problem of the Antonine moment
    Part I. The First Decline and Fall: Ancient Perceptions:
    2. Alibi quam Romae: the Tacitean narrative
    3. The Gracchan explanation: Appian of Alexandria and the unknown historian
    4. The construction of Christian empire
    Part II. The Ambivalence and Survival of Christian Empire:
    5. Orosius and Augustine: the formation of a Christian anti-history
    6. Otto of Freising and the two cities
    7. The historiography of the translatio imperii
    Part III. The Humanist Construction of Decline and Fall:
    8. Leonardo Bruni: from translatio to declinatio
    9. Flavio Biondo and the decades of decline
    10. Niccolo Machiavelli and the imperial republic
    Part IV. Extensive Monarchy and Roman History:
    11. Pedro Mexia: empire and monarchy
    12. History in the western monarchies: barbarism, law and republican survivals
    13. Lipsius and Harrington: the problem of arms in ancient and modern monarchy
    Part V. Republic and Empire: The Enlightened Narrative:
    14. European Enlightenment and the Machiavellian moment
    15. The French narrative: I: Boussuet and Tillemont, II: Montesquieu and Beaufort
    16. The Scottish narrative: I: David Hume and Adam Smith, II: Adam Ferguson's history of the republic
    Part VI. Gibbon and the Structure of Decline:
    17. The Antonine moment
    18. The Severi and the disintegration of the principate
    19. The Illyrian recovery and the new monarchy
    20. The Constantinean moment.

  • Author

    J. G. A. Pocock, The Johns Hopkins University
    J. G. A. Pocock is one of the world's leading historians of ideas, and is Harry C. Black Emeritus Professor of History at The Johns Hopkins University.


    • Winner of the Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History of the American Philosophical Society (for volumes One and Two)

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