Monday, October 15, 2012
English historian Edward Gibbon claimed October 15, 1764, as the date on which he was inspired to write his monumental History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (six volumes, 1776- 1788). On his Grand Tour of Europe, he had a “Capitoline vision” in Rome, while listening to friars sing vespers in the ruins of the Temple of Jupiter, whereby he resolved to write a history of the Eternal City, later extended to the entire Empire. His great work maintains that the Roman Empire fell to barbarians largely due to a gradual loss of civic virtue and martial spirit among citizens who had outsourced their military defense to mercenaries. Gibbon also argued that Christian belief in an afterlife fostered Roman indifference to the present, undermining their allegiance to the Empire. Pictured: Temple of Jupiter, Capitoline Hill, Rome.