|Publisher||J & HARPER|
J & Harper, 1829. Four Volumes w/ light brown boards (leather), decorated spines, slightly stained loose binding, one cover loose completely. Harper’s Edition with Copperplate Engravings.- Volume 1: Loose cover, frontis sketch of Gibbon, fold out map,former owner’s name in ink. 472 pages, some foxing. Volume 2 Front cover separated, no back cover., attached fold-out map. Former owner’s name in ink and nameplate. 446 pages. Volume 3: Attached fold-out map – 493 pages. Volume 4: 464 pages including ads in the back. Former owners name in ink and name plate. 1875 pages.The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is a major literary achievement of the 18th century written by English historian Edward Gibbon. The books cover the period of the Roman Empire after Marcus Aurelius, from just before 180 to 1453 and beyond, concluding in 1590. They take as their material the behaviour and decisions that led to the decay and eventual fall of the Roman Empire in the East and West, offering an explanation for why the Roman Empire fell. Gibbon is sometimes called the first "modern historian of ancient Rome." By virtue of its mostly objective approach and highly accurate use of reference material, Gibbon's work was adopted as a model for the methodologies of 19th and 20th century historians. His pessimism and detached use of irony was common to the historical genre of his era. Although he published other books, Gibbon devoted much of his life (1772-1789) to this one work. His autobiography Memoirs of My Life and Writings is devoted largely to his reflections on how the book virtually became his life. He compared the publication of each succeeding volume to a newborn child. Gibbon offers an explanation for why the Roman Empire fell, a task made difficult by a lack of comprehensive written sources, though he was not the only historian to tackle to subject. Most of his ideas are directly taken from what few relevant records were available: those of the Roman moralists of the 4th and 5th centuries. According to Gibbon, the Roman Empire succumbed to barbarian invasions because of a loss of civic virtue among its citizens. They had become weak, outsourcing their duties to defend their Empire to barbarian mercenaries, who then became so numerous and ingrained that they were able to take over the Empire. Romans, he believed, had become effeminate, unwilling to live a tougher, "manly" military lifestyle. In addition, Gibbon argued that Christianity created a belief that a better life existed after death, which fostered an indifference to the present among Roman citizens, thus sapping their desire to sacrifice for the Empire. He also believed its comparative pacifism tended to hamper the traditional Roman martial spirit. Lastly, like other Enlightenment thinkers, Gibbon held in contempt the Middle Ages as a priest-ridden, superstitious, dark age. It was not until his own age of reason and rational thought, it was believed, that human history could resume its progress.