Saturday, 16 January 2010

On this day...










British historian, Edward Gibbon, died in 1794 at the age of 56. Although a sickly and weak child, Gibbon showed himself to be a voracious reader from a young age; so much so, that he was sent to Oxford University at the age of 15. Yet, perhaps unusually for such a great academic, he found it the 'most idle and unprofitable' time of his life. Instead, under the tutelage of a pastor, he journeyed to Switzerland and began to write, namely about his foreign experiences. Upon his return to England, he published his first book 'Essai sur l'Étude de la Littérature', yet his flowering literary career was, for the time being, to be cut short by his enrolement and subsequent service in the military, for 3 years. It was but one year later, that he visited Rome and so conceived his 'magnus opus', 'The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'; its six volumes now regarded for the quality of primary source usage as well as its prose. The achievement, for which Gibbon received over £1000 at the first publication, has led to him being called the first modern historian of Ancient Rome.

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