Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Required Daily (from last unit): Summarize and Compare Gibbon to Toynbee on the End of the Roman Empire.

Gibbon explains how the Church and Christianity tied into the fall of the empire. Gibbons said "As the happiness of a future life is the great object of religion, we may hear, without surprise or scandal, that the introduction, or at least the abuse, of Christianity had some influence on the decline and fall of the Roman empire". ( He also states that "if the decline of the Roman empire was hastened by the conversion of Constantine, his victorious religion broke the violence of the fall, and mollified the ferocious temper of the conquerors".( Gibbons is trying to imply that Rome fell because of Christianity, and because of the philosophies that were forming. The empire was in great termoil because it was lasting so long and several emperors were in power. It was only a matter of time before the empire met its demise.

Toynbee describes in his writing the rise of the Church and how it came about. Toynbee ultimately believes that Christianity had no influence on the fall of Rome. This is because Rome fell before Christ was born. Gibbon and him disagree on Rome and how Christianity played a part in its fall. He says, "I think Gibbon's initial error lies in supposing that the ancient civilization of the Graeco-Roman world began to decline in the second century after Christ and that the age of the Antonines was that civilization's highest point." ( Toynbee thinks it started going downhill, fast, in the fifth century B.C. Although, they both agree on the fact the Rome dug its own grave. Toynbee sees the Roman empire as never really coming to a complete end and Gibbon sees the empire as being completely wiped out. The ancient city of Rome today, is left in ruins.

Citation: Gibbon, Edward. "General Observations on the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West." Medieval Sourcebook. 17 March 2010.

Toynbee, Arnold. "Christianity and Civilization". 17 March 2010.

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