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Barbarism: Triumph in the West (Barbarism and Religion, by J. G. A. Pocock

By J. G. A. Pocock

This 6th and ultimate quantity in John Pocock's acclaimed series of works on Barbarism and faith examines Volumes II and III of Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, wearing Gibbon's narrative to the tip of empire within the west. It makes basic assertions: first, that this is often in truth a mosaic of narratives, written on diversified premises and not totally synthesized with each other; and moment, that those chapters assert a growth of either barbarism and faith from east to west, leaving a lot heritage at the back of as they achieve this. The value of Barbarism and faith is already obvious. Barbarism: Triumph within the West represents the fruits of a extraordinary try to notice and current what Gibbon used to be announcing, what he intended by means of it, and why he stated it within the ways in which he did, in addition to an exceptional contribution to the historiography of Enlightened Europe.

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FDF, ch. 17. 16 The Constantinian Empire Surveying ‘the age of Constantine’, therefore, is no easy matter; it introduces new kinds of history, and hesitations and ambiguities between them; and the first to appear is the question whether a historical narrative centred on Constantinople can continue that of Rome and the departure of empire from it. 9 As is common with Gibbon, there is death in the pot; the ‘tranquil and prosperous reign’ is to disintegrate in dynastic failure among his sons and unparalleled disaster under the successors to his grandnephew, and it is to be a question what part ‘the innovations which he established’ played in the Decline and Fall’s next climax.

17, n. 129 (i, p. 6: Rolfe, 1939/1986, i, pp. 198–9. Womersley, 1994, iii, pp. 1276–77. 36 The Constantinian Empire himself as the successor to Polybius, narrating a loss of empire as vast and rapid as the conquests recorded by the earlier historian, for which as a pagan he was resolved to hold Constantine to blame. Gibbon thought him as biased and credulous as his Christian opponents, but follows him exactly and interestingly in connecting the separation of civil and military authority with the degeneracy of the armies.

Womersley, 1994, i, p. 3; Rolfe, 1939/1986, ii, pp. 334–5. Brown, 1977b, p. 78. 56 FDF, p. 480. 57 EEG, pp. 28–38. 58 Above, p. 15, n. 6 Constantinople: a new city and a new history 29 as well as Panciroli’s59 – and these describe an immense structure of offices, civil and military, domestic and provincial, in the western empire and in the east. To portray it as a ritualised palace phenomenon, as Gibbon seems to be doing, is to say the least selective. He will a few pages later describe it as the imperial administration it was, leaving the passage quoted an isolated display of rhetoric.

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