Back about five years ago, I booklogged my progress in Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire , at which point I was in the middle of what I called the second volume, but think was actually what I’m now calling the third.
(Explanation: The edition I have has three physical volumes, each of which is divided into two logical volumes, so that it’s a six-volume edition in three physical volumes. It makes more sense to me at this point to refer to logical volumes than physical ones.)
Anyway, the point is, I did finish up the third volume, which makes me officially halfway through Gibbon’s enormous history, and I’m starting to feel like the thing is mistitled, because at this point, the Roman Empire has collapsed and fallen, and we’ve even traced the rise of Frankish kingdoms in Gaul. Decline? Check. Fall? Check. And yet, there are some 1500 pages to go before it’s all over. I suppose much of it will be Byzantine history, which I guess is technically Roman, sort of, but this definitely makes a good stopping point for now.
Oh, and it continues to be an excruciatingly well-written and thoroughly interesting work, and even if the history is centuries out of date, it’s well worth reading as an artifact in its own right. (And besides, my experience is that it’s easier to learn the modern version of history if you know the stuff that the modern scholars are reacting against first. Reading a book on the Renaissance without being familiar with Burckhardt, say, ends up feeling like you’re reading somebody pushing against a wall you don’t see.) Recommended to classical history fans, or people who enjoy erudite diatribes against monks.