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From the Wikipedia article on Edward Gibbon

The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a major literary achievement of the 18th century published in six volumes, was written by the celebrated English historian Edward Gibbon.

According to Gibbon, the Roman Empire succumbed to barbarian invasions because of a loss of civic virtue among its citizens. They had become lazy and soft, 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 pointed to Christianity. Christianity, he says, created a belief that a better life existed after death. This fostered indifference to the present among Roman citizens, thus sapping their desire to sacrifice for the Empire. He also believed its comparative pacifism tended to sap the traditional Roman martial spirit. Finally, 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.

Comments

  1. Rufus McCain says

    Atqui, lotio est?

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