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THE DECLINE AND FALL
By EDWARD GIBBON
With Notes by
IN SIX VOLUMES.-VOL. I.
NEW YORK AND LONDON
HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
PREFACE BY THE EDITOR.
This edition of the “History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” is distinguished by a correct text, the verification of the references to ancient writers, and corrective and supplementary notes. On each of these points a few words of explanation are necessary.
I. The text is carefully reprinted from the last quarto edition corrected by the Author. The work was originally published in six volumes quarto; of which the first appeared in 1776, the second and third in 1781, and the three last in 1788. The first edition of the three last volumes was the only one revised by Gibbon, and in the reprints of the second and third volumes he made hardly any alterations; but the later editions of the first volume differ considerably from the earlier ones.
The edition of the first volume, published in 1782, is the one from which that portion of the work is here reprinted; but as it contains several typographical errors which do not occur in the first edition, it has been collated with the latter. It is almost unnecessary to state that the text of the original has been faithfully preserved; and the editor has not allowed himself to introduce any changes even in orthog. raphy, except in the case of evident misprints, and of a few modern names, of which the more correct forms are now substituted for those employed by the Author. It seemed pedantic to retain, for instance, such words as Niester and Teyss, when custom had sanctioned the use of the correct orthography.
II. The references to the ancient writers in Gibbon's notes are of great value to the scholar and the historical student. Their value, however, is considerably diminished by their being frequently made to old editions, the divisions of which
no longer correspond to those in general use. Moreover, notwithstanding Gibbon's extreme accuracy, the numerals in his references are not always correct; at which no one will feel surprised who has had experience in the composition or printing of a work containing numerous references, and who knows the difficulty, or rather the impossibility, of guarding against such mistakes, even with the exercise of the utmost vigilance. It has been, therefore, thought desirable to verify afresh all Gibbon's references to ancient writers, and to insert in brackets [ ], by the side of the original quotations, the books and chapters of the best modern editions. This is the first time that this laborious task has been executed; and it is evident that for the purposes of the student it gives the present edition an advantage over all others.
III. It is perhaps not too much to say that the “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” is the greatest historical production, whether in ancient or in modern literature; and, at all events, few will be found to demur to the justice of Niebuhr's opinion, that " Gibbon's work will never be excelled.” But this very excellence—the fact that a new History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is never likely to supersede Gibbon's immortal work-renders it the more necessary that the successive editions of such a history should contain in the form of notes the advances that have been made in historical knowledge since the time at which it was written. The researches of Niebuhr, Savigny, and the other great philologers and jurists of Germany, the investigations of modern Oriental scholars, both in this country and on the Continent, and the discoveries of our enterprising countrymen in the East, have thrown a new and unexpected light upon many of the subjects comprehended in Gibbon's vast work. In annotating a history which embraces a period of more than twelve centuries it would be easy to multiply notes to any extent; but the present editor has thought it right to contine his remarks to the correction of the positive errors of Gibbon, and to giving such additional information as the progress of our knowledge requires. He conceives it to be the duty of an editor, in annotating a work like the