28+ quotes from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

Quotes from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Edward Gibbon ·  1312 pages

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“The most worthless of mankind are not afraid to condemn in others the same disorders which they allow in themselves; and can readily discover some nice difference in age, character, or station, to justify the partial distinction.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“The policy of the emperors and the senate, as far as it concerned religion, was happily seconded by the reflections of the enlightened, and by the habits of the superstitious, part of their subjects. The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful. And thus toleration produced not only mutual indulgence, but even religious concord.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“Revenge is profitable, gratitude is expensive.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“War, in its fairest form, implies a perpetual violation of humanity and justice.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“The theologian may indulge the pleasing task of describing Religion as she descended from Heaven, arrayed in her native purity. A more melancholy duty is imposed on the historian. He must discover the inevitable mixture of error and corruption which she contracted in a long residence upon Earth, among a weak and degenerate race of beings.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“The army is the only order of men sufficiently united to concur in the same sentiments, and powerful enough to impose them on the rest of their fellow-citizens; but the temper of soldiers, habituated at once to violence and to slavery, renders them very unfit guardians of a legal, or even a civil constitution.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“The ascent to greatness, however steep and dangerous, may entertain an active spirit with the consciousness and exercise of its own power: but the possession of a throne could never yet afford a lasting satisfaction to an ambitious mind.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“Edward Gibbon, in his classic work on the fall of the Roman Empire, describes the Roman era's declension as a place where "bizarreness masqueraded as creativity.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“Active valour may often be the present of nature; but such patient diligence can be the fruit only of habit and discipline.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“the vicissitudes of fortune, which spares neither man nor the proudest of his works, which buries empires and cities in a common grave.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“If the empire had been afflicted by any recent calamity, by a plague, a famine, or an unsuccessful war; if the Tiber had, or if the Nile had not, risen beyond its banks; if the earth had shaken, or if the temperate order of the seasons had been interrupted, the superstitious Pagans were convinced that the crimes and the impiety of the Christians, who were spared by the excessive lenity of the government, had at length provoked the divine justice.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“It was an inflexible maxim of Roman discipline that good soldier should dread his own officers far more than the enemy”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“he forgot that the best of omens is to unsheathe our sword in the defence of our country.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“The uncommon abilities and fortune of Severus have induced an elegant historian to compare him with the first and greatest of the Cæsars. The parallel is, at least, imperfect. Where shall we find, in the character of Severus, the commanding superiority of the soul, the generous clemency, and the various genius, which could reconcile and unite the love of pleasure, the thirst of knowledge, and the fire of ambition? ⁴⁴

⁴⁴ Though it is not, most assuredly, the intention of Lucan to exalt the character of Cæsar, yet the idea he gives of that hero, in the tenth book of the Pharsalia, where he describes him, at the same time making love to Cleopatra, sustaining a siege against the power of Egypt, and conversing with the sages of the country, is, in reality, the noblest panegyric.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“religious controversy is the offspring of arrogance and folly; that true piety is most laudably expressed by silence and submission; that man, ignorant of his own nature, should not presume to scrutinize the nature of his God; and that it is sufficient for us to know, that power and benevolence are the perfect attributes of the Deity.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“but his days were shortened by poison, perhaps the most incurable of poisons; the stings of remorse and despair, and the bitter remembrance of lost glory.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“Justice, humanity, or political wisdom, are qualities they are too little acquainted with in themselves, to appreciate them in others. Valor will acquire their esteem, and liberality will purchase their suffrage; but the first of these merits is often lodged in the most savage breasts; the latter can only exert itself at the expense of the public; and both may be turned against the possessor of the throne, by the ambition of a daring rival.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“In the reign of the emperor Caracalla, an innumerable swarm of Suevi appeared on the banks of the Main, and in the neighbourhood of the Roman provinces, in quest either of food, of plunder, or of glory. The hasty army of volunteers gradually coalesced into a great and permanent nation, and, as it was composed from so many different tribes, assumed the name of Alemanni, or Allmen, to denote at once their various lineage and their common bravery.31 The latter was soon felt by the Romans in many a hostile inroad. The Alemanni fought chiefly on horseback; but their cavalry was rendered still more formidable by a mixture of light infantry selected from the bravest and most active of the youth, whom frequent exercise had enured to accompany the horsemen in the longest march, the most rapid charge, or the most precipitate retreat.32”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“The terror of the Roman arms added weight and dignity to the moderation of the emperors. They preserved peace by a constant preparation for war;”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“the race of men born to the exercise of arms, was sought for in the country rather than in cities; and it was very reasonably presumed, that the hardy occupations of smiths, carpenters, and huntsmen, would supply more vigour and resolution, than the sedentary trades which are employed in the service of luxury.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“Such refinements, under the odious name of luxury, have been severely arraigned by the moralists of every age; and it might perhaps be more conducive to the virtue, as well as happiness, of mankind, if all possessed the necessaries, and none the superfluities, of life. But in the present imperfect condition of society, luxury, though it may proceed from vice or folly, seems to be the only means that can correct the unequal distribution of property. The diligent mechanic, and the skilful artist, who have obtained no share in the division of the earth, receive a voluntary tax from the possessors of land; and the latter are prompted, by a sense of interest, to improve those estates, with whose produce they may purchase additional pleasures.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“لقد حكمت البلاد لمدة أربعين عاما ... مرهوبا من أعدائي ... محبوبا من أصدقائي ... محترما من خصومي ... لم يعوزني شيء من النعيم الأرضي ... و لكن لقد قمت باحصاء عدد الأيام التي كنت سعيدا فيها سعادة حقيقية بدقة بالغة ... لقد أربت علي الأربعة عشر يوما ... أيها الانسان لا تضع ثقتك في هذا العالم الأرضي"
عبد الرحمن (الناصر) نقلا عن جيبون”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“Five times was Athanasius expelled from his throne; twenty years he passed as an exile or a fugitive; and almost every province of the Roman empire was successively witness to his merit, and his sufferings in the cause of the Homoousion, which he considered as the sole pleasure and business, as the duty, and as the glory, of his life. Amidst the storms of persecution, the archbishop of Alexandria was patient of labour, jealous of fame, careless of safety; and”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“and it was an inflexible maxim of Roman discipline, that a good soldier should dread his officers far more than the enemy. ”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“During many ages, the prediction, as it is usual, contributed to its own accomplishment. ”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“In their censures of luxury, the fathers are extremely minute and circumstantial;89 and among the various articles which excite their pious indignation, we may enumerate false hair, garments of any colour except white, instruments of music, vases of gold or silver, downy pillows (as Jacob reposed his head on a stone), white bread, foreign wines, public salutations, the use of warm baths, and the practice of shaving the beard, which, according to the expression of Tertullian, is a lie against our own faces, and an impious attempt to improve the works of the Creator.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“When Christianity was introduced among the rich and the polite, the observation of these singular laws was left, as it would be at present, to the few who were ambitious of superior sanctity. But it is always easy, as well as agreeable, for the inferior ranks of mankind to claim a merit from the contempt of that pomp and pleasure, which fortune has placed beyond their reach. The virtue of the primitive Christians, like that of the first Romans, was very frequently guarded by poverty and ignorance.”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


“He who sows the ground with care and diligence acquires a greater stock of religious merit than he could gain by the repetition of ten thousand prayers." ^15”
― Edward Gibbon, quote from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


About the author

Edward Gibbon
Born place: in Putney, Surrey, England, The United Kingdom
Born date May 8, 1737
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