From Gibbon to Auden Essays on the Classical Tradition

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-10-28
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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For several decades G. W. Bowersock has been one of our leading historians of the classical world. This volume collects seventeen of his essays, each illustrating how the classical past has captured the imagination of some of the greatest figures in modern historiography and literature. The essays here range across three centuries, the eighteenth to the twentieth, and are divided chronologically. The great Enlightenment historian Edward Gibbon is in large part the unifying force of this collection as he appears prominently in the first four essays, beginning with Bowersock's engaging introduction to the methods and genius behindThe Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.Gibbon's profound influence is revealed in subsequent essays on Jacob Burckhardt, the nineteenth-century scholar famous for his history of the Italian Renaissance but whose work on late antiquity is only now being fully appreciated; the modern Greek poet Constantine Cavafy, whose annotations on Gibbon'sDecline andFalltell us much about his own historical poems; and finally W. H. Auden, whose poem and little known essay "The Fall of Rome" were, in quirky ways, tributes to Gibbon. The collection reprints Auden's poem and essay in full. The result is a rich survey of the early modern and modern uses of the classical past by one of its most important contemporary commentators.

Author Biography

G.W. Bowersock is Professor Emeritus of Ancient History at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey. He is the author of more than 300 articles and books on Greek, Roman, and Near Eastern history, as well as the classical tradition in western literature.

Table of Contents

The Eighteenth Century
1. Gibbon's Historical Imagination
2. Gibbon on Civil War and Rebellion in the Decline of the Roman Empire
3. Reflections on Gibbon's Library
4. Watchmen: Gibbon's Autobiographies
5. Suetonius in the Eighteenth Century
6. The Rediscovery of Herculaneum and Pompeii
The Nineteenth Century
7. Sign Language
8. Berlioz, Virgil, and Rome
9. Edward Lear in Petra
10. Burckhardt on Late Antiquity
The Twentieth Century
11. The New Old World
12. The Julian Poems of C. P. Cavafy
13. Cavafy and Apollonios
14. The New Cavafy
15. The Later Momigliano
16. A Modern Aesop
17. Auden on the Fall of Rome

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