Gibbon, Part 9: Justinian’s Wars in the East and Consolidation of the West

The Avars and the Persian War The Avars came from the people of the nation of the Ogors or Varchonites, originally living on the banks of the river Til. According to Gibbon’s footnotes, the Til or Tula river, which I cannot find the modern name for, is a black-colored river in the desert that flows to the … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 9: Justinian’s Wars in the East and Consolidation of the West”

Gibbon, Part 8: Justinian’s Reign and Belisarius’ Western Expeditions

Compared to the pitiful decline of the Western Empire in the preceding decades, the reign of Justinian was a resurgence. Under the command of the great general Belisarius, Roman forces defeated and reconquered the Vandal kingdom in Africa and the Gothic kingdom in Italy, including Rome. The Goths and other barbarians were defeated multiple times, … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 8: Justinian’s Reign and Belisarius’ Western Expeditions”

Gibbon, Part 7: Theodoric and the Rise of Justinian

The Rise of Theodoric The Western Roman Empire ended officially with the deposition of Augustulus by Odoacer in 476, but it gave way to the rise of a truly great barbarian king, one that Gibbon speaks of in the same breadth as Theodosius and even Constantine, perhaps for the first time in The Decline and Fall. Theodoric … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 7: Theodoric and the Rise of Justinian”

Gibbon, Part 6: The Rise of the Franks, and Assessing the Decline of the West

The Establishment of the Frankish Kingdom Clovis was the illegitimate son of Childeric and the queen of the Thuringians. After his father died, he became chief of the Salian tribe. Clovis came to attract the different tribes of the Franks to unite under his banner through a combination of military genius and keen prudence. He then defeated … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 6: The Rise of the Franks, and Assessing the Decline of the West”

Gibbon, Part 5: Attila and the End of the Western Empire

From last time, we saw that the reign of Honorius resulted with the loss of Britain and all of the territory beyond the Alps. For the first time in its history, Rome was besieged, defeated and sacked. Here we continue examining Gibbon’s narrative of the Eastern Empire under Arcadius and the Western Empire after the death … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 5: Attila and the End of the Western Empire”

Gibbon, Part 4: Theodosius and the Last Roman General

In the last two posts, we reflected on the latter half of Volume I of Gibbon. Struggling under its immense size and the frequent civil strife of the 3rd century (including a period so tumultuous that it is known as the Crisis of the Third Century), the empire finally found some long-term stability during the reign of … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 4: Theodosius and the Last Roman General”

Gibbon, Part 3: The Rise of Christianity

Here we shall continue with the second half of Volume I, but focusing on Gibbon’s chapters on the progress of religion in the Roman Empire. Gibbon’s General Reflections on Christian Persecution Chapters 15 and 16 of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall have historically been denounced for their critical attitude towards Christianity, and Gibbon in general was infamous for his … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 3: The Rise of Christianity”

Gibbon, Part 2: Constantine and His Sons

Having covered Rome’s Golden Age and the chaotic succession of short-lived or tyrannical emperors during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD in Part 1 (chapters 1-14), we now continue in Part 2 with the remainder of Volume I of Decline and Fall (chapters 15-26), describing the reign of Constantine the Great and his descendants, and the increasing importance of … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 2: Constantine and His Sons”

Gibbon, Part 1: Golden Age and First Signs of Decline

The time has finally come for the last part of the trio of Great Books volumes in our 5-year reading schedule for this semester: Edward Gibbon’s massive The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon’s tome is a monumental work in the history of historical writing. Although its scholarship might be outdated … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 1: Golden Age and First Signs of Decline”

Aristophanes: The Thesmophoriazusae, The Frogs

Finally we encounter the last two plays in Aristophanes’ surviving body of works. I’ve chosen to group these two together because both have prominent references to Greek tragedians and literature in general. We have already seen several instances of reference to Euripedes, for example in The Acharnians, where the playwright is enlisted to help the main … Continue reading “Aristophanes: The Thesmophoriazusae, The Frogs”