The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Version: Abridged
Author: Edward Gibbon
Narrator: Philip Madoc , Neville Jason
Genres: History
Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks
Published In: November 1995
# of Units: 6 CDs
Length: 8 hours
Tell Your Friends:


Gibbon's masterpiece, which narrates the history of the Roman Empire from the second century a.d. to its collapse in the west in the fifth century and in the east in the fifteenth century, is widely considered the greatest work of history ever written. This abridgment retains the full scope of the original, but in a compass equivalent to a long novel. Casual readers now have access to the full sweep of Gibbon's narrative, while instructors and students have a volume that can be read in a single term. This unique edition emphasizes elements ignored in all other abridgments—in particular the role of religion in the empire and the rise of Islam

Reviews (15)


Written by EWPB on February 16th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Who can't love the rich rolling cadence of Gibbon's style! And the history is fascinating, too.

The Decline and Fall of a Scholar

Written by Mandi Scott Chestler from Lake Oswego, OR on July 20th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 1/5

The acclaimed Edward Gibbon is hailed as the foremost expert on the myriad vices and rare virtues of nearly every Roman emperor from the Empire's violent birth to its pathetic demise. However, his rabid anti-semitism casts doubt over the objectivity of his vast scholarship. Evidently, Gibbon has a dim understanding of exactly why monotheists can't possibly compromise with open-minded pagans and "get along by going along" with the ancient world's willingness to worship "Roman Emperors as Gods." It is curious and disconcerting that the current editors chose to include such hateful remarks and accusations against the Jewish people in a modern abridged edition of Gibbon's 18th-century 5-volume opus. Skip Gibbon and read Will Durant's Caesar and Christ instead.

Overly abridged

Written by Chad from Edgerton, WI on May 27th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Just a vote for a more complete representation, although I seem to be in the minority on this. The casual student of history won't be disappointed by Gibbon's famously engaging style.

Not for normal listener.

Written by Anonymous on March 4th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 2/5

Not for the normal person, set up for a teacher. Pretty boring!

Great Book

Written by Anonymous from Magnolia, TX on June 1st, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I thought this was an excellent read for this type of book. I had to get used to some of the language, but this was very informative and precise. I would recommend this to anyone who wants a brief but in depth knowledge of Roman history.

Heavy yet fascinating reading

Written by Jason Pettys from Moorhead, MN on April 9th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Gibbon writes extremely well; each statement is full of meaning and relevance. This comes across pretty heavy sometimes, and I had to listen carefully and concentrate to get it all. He makes profound insights and if you're not listening carefully you'll miss it. You can listen to it casually and enjoy it, yet one could also study it carefully and find it very educational. The warning is that it is heavy listening, and you'll have to concentrate or it probably will seem dry and dull, but there is good reward in giving it your attention.

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Written by Terry Poling on February 28th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 2/5

I was excited to listen to this book as I am interested in the Roman Empire and its demise. This audio however, was so boring that I had to listen 5 times to the first 2 tracks and just could not stay tuned. I am not sure if it is the book or the person reading it but I sent it back without getting through even one CD and sent the second set in. Such a waste.

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Written by Anonymous on September 21st, 2006

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Breathtaking. I've long wanted to take the time to sit down and read this historic work, but have long been dettered by its length. This abridged audio version was the perfect solution. I'd reccomend it to all readers.

bad narrator

Written by Anonymous from Manhasset, NY on August 8th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 2/5

probably a great peice but the narrator is horrible. he is obviously impressed with the sound of his own voice, which unfortunately varies in volume from one part of the sentence to the next. therefore you have to put the volume up all the way otherwise you cannot hear half of the sentence.

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Written by wlh2040 from Miami, FL on July 10th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 3/5

This was a great narrative. There was so much to be learned from it all, that it could be a bit overwhelming at times. However, it was excellently well written, and the narrator was easy to understand.

Author Details

Author Details

Gibbon, Edward

"He was born in Putney, near London, England into a relatively well-to-do but not wealthy country family. His family had an estate in Hampshire. He was an only child, and after his mother died while he was 10 years old, he was raised by an aunt. His health while a boy was rather poor. He attended Kingston Grammar School. When he was 14 years of age, his father sent him away to the University of Oxford. He later wrote that his father, out of ""perplexity rather than prudence, without preparation or delay, carried me to Oxford, and I was matriculated in the university, as a gentleman commoner of Magdalen College, before I had accomplished the fifteenth year of my age"".

His father became alarmed when young Gibbon began to espouse a belief in the Roman Catholic Church. Religious controversies raged on the Oxford campus. For a proper English gentleman to convert to Catholicism in the 18th century had significant implications for his life. He would have been ostracized by a great deal of society and had many doors of advancement closed to him. To prevent such an event, the elder Gibbon removed him from the University, and sent him instead to M. Pavilliard, a Protestant pastor and private tutor in Lausanne, Switzerland. His education in Lausanne was to have a profound and lasting impact. He wrote in his memoirs, ""Whatsoever have been the fruits of my education, they must be ascribed to the fortunate banishment which placed me in Lausanne... Such as I am, in genius or learning or manners, I owe my creation to Lausanne: it was in that school that the statue was found in the block of marble."" Sir Hugh Trevor-Roper says that ""Without the experience of Lausanne there would have been no Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire"".

In 1758 Gibbon returned to England, and two years later he began a two-year period as a militia officer, gaining experience of military affairs which would be valuable in his later career as a historian. His first book, Essai sur l'?tude de la Litt‚rature (written in French), appeared in 1761. Gibbon later shifted his religious views again, perhaps after conversation with Voltaire, to become one of what Samuel Johnson called the ""infidel wasps."" In 1763-5 he travelled in Europe; this Grand Tour included a visit to Rome, where he conceived the idea of writing his great work; this, however, was not begun until 1773 and the first volume appeared in 1776. It was immediately acclaimed, although Gibbon's treatment of the early history of Christianity was fiercely criticised. Further volumes were published in 1781 and 1788. By this time (after an unimportant venture into Parliament) Gibbon was again living in Lausanne, where he remained until shortly before his death.

His personal habits were peculiar - according to some contemporary comment Gibbon was so filthy that one could not stand close to him, a trait he shared with the Swedish mystic Swedenborg. Gibbon was a short, fat man who had, as Lytton Strachey once delicately put it, ""a protuberance in the lower part of his person, which... had grown to extraordinary proportions..."" Actually, Gibbon had what is known as a hydrocele, which The Merck Manual describes as ""a common intrinsic scrotal mass,"" which ""results from excessive accumulations of sterile fluid within the tunica vaginalis due to overproduction (lymphatic or venous obstruction in the cord or retroperitoneal space)."" To put it in layman's terms, his scrotum filled with fluid until it was the size of a watermelon. When he finally had it dealt with surgically, he died not long after. It is quite possible that inadequate antisepsis, and not the hydrocele, is what killed him.

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is considered to be one of the best known historical works in the English language; it was remarkable for combining an outstanding literary quality with a standard of research and critical judgement which until then had been found only in indigestible reference works."