History

Gibbon: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Edward_Emily_GibbonThe History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon is an influential enlightenment account of Roman history from the peak of prosperity under the Antonine Emperors in the second century CE. Originally published in six volumes between 1776 and 1789, the later books bring the story all the way up to the fall of Constantinople in the fifteenth century, taking in the rise of Islam and the Crusades on the way.

Although his methods were soon overtaken by new standards of historical criticism emanating from Germany, Gibbon's preference for primary sources was notable by the standards of his own day. Then and later, most controversy attached to his assessment of the role of Christianity in Rome's decdine. More recently, scholarship of the period now known as Late Antiquity has defined itself against the image of the Dark Ages which Gibbon helped to popularise.

Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire at Amazon

Free online texts
Gutenberg: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, edited by H.H. Milman. 
Internet Archive: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Vol I | Vol II, edited by J. B. Bury (1914). EPUB, MOBI, PDF and TXT formats.
University of Adelaide: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, with Notes by the Rev. H.H. Milman. EPUB, HTML and MOBI formats.
Wikisource: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Multiple editions, though each currently incomplete. HTML and other formats.

Continue reading "Gibbon: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" »


John Aubrey: Brief Lives

John_AubreyThe Brief Lives by John Aubrey (1626-1697) are a collection of short biographies of his contemporaries, chosen on eclectic grounds which allowed for the inclusion of personal friends as well as prominent figures from science, philosophy, the arts, politics and high society.

The Brief Lives have long been appreciated for the intimate tone, and personal insights based on interviews with the subjects' acquaintances.

The Brief Lives at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Gutenberg: Brief Lives Vol. I | Vol. II, edited Andrew Clarke (1898). HTML, EPUB, Kindle and TXT formats.

Internet Archive: Brief Lives Vol . I (Incomplete | Vol. II. PDF, EPUB, TXT and Kindle formats.

Other Resources

Librivox: Brief Lives Vol. I | Vol. II - public domain audiobooks.

Wikipedia: John Aubrey - Brief Lives

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Harold Bloom's Western Canon: The Brief Lives are included.


Michael Psellos: Chronographia

Michael_PsellosThe Chronographia (Greek: Χρονογραφία) by Michael Psellos is a history of the Byzantine Empire in the century from 976 CE by Michael Psellos, who was himself an active courtier and political advisor during the latter part of this period. His chief interest is in the character of individual rulers, which he considers in fourteen biographies of individual emperors and empresses, from Basil II 'The Bulgar-Slayer' to Michael VII Doukas.

Chronographia at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

English translations

Documenta Catholica Omnia: Chronographia, translated by E.R.A. Sewter (1953). PDF format.

Fordham University Medieval History Sourcebook: Chronographia, translated by E.R.A. Sewter (1953). HTML format.

Greek texts

Internet Archive: The History of Psellus, edited by Constantine Sathas (1899). PDF, EPUB, DJVU, Kindle and other formats.

Continue reading "Michael Psellos: Chronographia" »


Anna Comnena: The Alexiad

Alexios_I_KomnenosThe Alexiad (Greek: Ἀλεξιάς) by Anna Comnena, is a history of the Byzantine Empire during the reign of her father Alexios I Comnenus from 1048-1118. Written in around 1148, it is significant as an important source for the period leading up to the First Crusade, and as one of the earliest historical works by by a woman.

The Alexiad at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts
English Translations

Fordham University Medieval Sourcebook: The Alexiad, translated by Elizabeth A. Dawes (1928). HTML format.

Wikisource: The Alexiad, translated by Elizabeth A. Dawes. HTML and other formats.

York University: The Alexiad, translated by Elizabeth A. Dawes. PDF format.

Greek texts

Greek Wikisource: Αλεξιάς. HTML and other formats.

Internet Archive: Anna Comnena Vol I (edited by Schopen). | Vol II (edited by Reifferscheid). Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae.

Continue reading "Anna Comnena: The Alexiad" »


Vico: The New Science

GiambattistaVicoThe New Science (Italian: La Scienza Nuova) is a work by the Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico, originally published in 1725 and expanded in several later editions. It provides a history of civil society, interpreted, in opposition to contemporary Cartesian rationalism, through the principle of verum factum that what has been made by humans can be understood by humans.

Vico's account of human progress and his insight into the difference between ancient and modern ways of thinking has led many to credit him with being the first true philosopher of history.

The New Science at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Internet Archive: The New Science, translated by Thomas Goddard Bergin and Max Harodl Frisch (Cornell, 1948). Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Italian text. HTML and other formats.

Continue reading "Vico: The New Science" »


Curtius: Histories of Alexander the Great

Medaglioni_aurei_romani_da_tesoro_di_aboukir _inv._2426_alessandro_con_diadema
Image by Wikimedia user Sailko (CC3.0)

The Histories of Alexander the Great (Latin: Historia Alexandri Magni Libri) is an account of Alexander's conquests in ten books, of which only eight survive. The surviving part begins with book three, which describes the Macedonian army's passage through Phrygia and the famous episode of the cutting of the Gordian knot.

Little is known for certain about the author, Quintus Curtius Rufus, who is generally thought to have lived in the first century CE. The work's dramatic but uncritical tone has suggested to some that is was conceived to serve a Roman imperial propaganda purpose.

The Histories of Alexander the Great at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Hathi Trust: History of Alexander, Latin text and English translation by John C. Rolfe. Two Volumes. PDF format. See also the contents page for this edition at Attalus.

Internet Archive: History of Alexander, Latin text and English translation by John C. Rolfe. Volume 1 | Volume 2. Multiple formats. Loeb edition, although facing pages do not correspond to one another in this scan.

Internet Archive: Historia Alexandri Magni Libri Qui Supersunt. Latin text, Teubner edition (1908). Multiple formats.

Latin Library: Historia Alexandri Magni Libri Qui Supersunt. Latin text. HTML format.

PHI Latin texts: Historiae Alexandri Magni. Latin text. HTML format.

Wikisource: Historia Alexandri Magni regis Macedonum. Latin text. HTML and other formats.

Continue reading "Curtius: Histories of Alexander the Great" »


Gregory of Tours: History of the Franks

Saint_Grégoire_Sacramentaire_de_Marmoutier_à_l'usage_d'AutunThe Ten Books of Histories (Latin: Decem Libri Historiarum), more commonly known as The History of the Franks (Latin: Historia Francorum) are the major work of St Gregory of Tours (538-594 CE).

The first major historian of post-Roman Western Europe, Gregory relates the Christianization of Gaul and the rule of Merovingian Frankish kings down to his own time. He is less concerned with the interests of the Frankish Kingdom as such than with those of the church, and some modern historians have therefore seen the History of the Franks title, which was not Gregory's own, as something of a misnomer.

The History of the Franks at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Internet Archive: History of the Franks, translated by Ernest Brehaut (1916). Multiple formats.

Internet History Sourcebook: History of the Franks, Books I-X, abridged translation by Ernest Brehaut (1916). HTML format.

Latin Library: Libri Historiarum. Latin text. HTML format.

Wikisource: Historiarum Francorum libri X. Latin text. HTML and other formats.

Other Resources

Wikimedia Commons: Division of Gaul  511 CE, map of Gaul at the death of King Clovis.

Wikipedia: Gregory of Tours

YouTube: Clovis and The Franks. YaleCourses. The Early Middle Ages, 284--1000 (HIST 210), with Paul Freedman.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Virgil: The Aeneid

Sallust: The War with Catiline - one of the classical works known to have been read by Gregory.

Martianus Capella

Orosius: Seven Books of History Against the Pagans.

Latin Resources: Online materials for learning Latin.


Machiavelli: Discourses on Livy

OrigenDeLaRepublicaRomana_CastoPlasenciaThe Discourses on the First Ten Book of Titus Livius, (Italian: Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio), often known simply as The Discourses, were written by Niccolo Machiavelli in the second decade of the sixteenth century, in the sme period as his most famous book, The Prince. In contrast to the monarchical concerns of that work, Machiavelli focuses in The Discourses on the political of republican government, through a commentary on Livy's account of the early history of Rome. Many scholars have argued that The Discourses provide a fuller picture of Machiavelli's political beliefs than The Prince.

The Discourses at Amazon: United StatesUnited Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Biblioteca Philosophica: Discorsi sopra la Prima Deca Di Tito Livio. Italian text. HTML format.
Gutenberg: Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius, translated by Ninian Hill Thomson. Multiple formats. 
Internet Archive: Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio. Vol I | Vol II. Italian text. Multiple formats.
Internet Archive: The Prince and the Discourses. The Discourses translated by Christian E. Detmold. With an Introduction by Max Lerner. Modern Library (1940). Multiple formats.
Marxists.org: Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, translated by Christian Detmold (1882). HTML format.
Online Library of Liberty: Niccolo Machiavelli, The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 2 (The Prince, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, Thoughts of a Statesman). Translated by Christian Detmold. Multiple formats.
University of Adelaide: Discourses of Niccolo Machiavelli on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy. English translation. Multiple formats.
Wikisource: Italian text and English translation by Henry Neville. HTML and other formats.

Continue reading "Machiavelli: Discourses on Livy" »


Herodotus: The Histories

Greece_persian_war_500_479The Histories of Herodotus is the founding work of the Greek historical tradition, documenting the rise of the Persian Empire, the Ionian revolt and the subsequent war between the Persians and the Greeks led by Athens and Sparta. Through his frequent digressions on the various cultures of the known world Herodotus, known as the 'father of history', imparted to the discipline a broad anthropological focus, rivalling the predominantly political and military interests of his successor, Thucydides.

The Histories at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free Online Texts

Gutenberg: Herodotus author page. Multiple formats.

Gutenberg: The History of Herodotus, Volume 1. Translated by G.C. Macaulay.

Gutenberg: The History of Herodotus, Volume 2. Translated by G.C. Macaulay.

Inquiries by Herodotus, translated by Shlomo Felberbaum, with photographs by Shane Solow. Online text.

Internet Archive: Herodotus.

Internet Classics Archive, The History of Herodotus, translated by George Rawlinson.

Loebulus. L117 - Herodotus -- Herodotus I: Books 1-2. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English. 

Loebulus. L118 - Herodotus -- Herodotus II: Books 3-4. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.

Loebulus. L119 - Herodotus -- Herodotus III: Books 5-7. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English. 

Loebulus. L120 - Herodotus -- Herodotus IV: Books 8-9. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.

Pax Librorum: The Histories by Herodotus. Pdf download.

Perseus: Herodotus, Greek text (Godley ed., 1920). English translation (Godley, 1920). Online texts.

Sacred Texts: The History of Herodotus, parallel English/Greek, translated by G. C. Macaulay, (1890). Online with zipped text download.

 Wikisource: The Histories  - Online Translations by A. D. Godley, George Rawlinson and G. C. Macaulay. Downloads via Book Creator.

Continue reading "Herodotus: The Histories" »


Mommsen: The History of Rome

The History of Rome (German: Römische Geschichte) by Theodor Mommsen is one of the most important works of nineteenth century classical scholarship. Mommsen moved beyond the criticism of literary sources pioneered by Niebuhr, rejecting much of the traditional narrative of Rome's foundation as mythical, and introducing other forms of evidence such as inscriptions painstakingly collected from around the former Roman world. Still occasionally cited today, Mommsen's history combines an extended narrative of Rome's internal and external political development from its earliest years to the reign of Augustus, with frequent digressions on the culture and society of the republic and its neighbours. 

E.H. Carr conjectured that Mommsen's admiration for Caesar reflected his frustration with the failure of the revolution of 1848 in Germany. It may be that very sense of involvement that brings this work to life.

The History of Rome at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

ClassicLiterature.co.uk: History of Rome. English text, HTML format.

Gutenberg: The History of Rome (Volumes 1-5). English text, Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The History of Rome, translated by W.P Dickson - Vol I - Vol II - Vol III - Vol IV - Vol V. English text, multiple formats.

Wikisource: The History of Rome (Mommsen). English text, HTML format. Currently first few chapters only.

Zeno.org: Römische Geschichte. German text, html format.

Other Resources

Librivox: Römische Geschichte. German language audiobook.

Wikipedia: Theodor Mommsen - History of Rome (Mommsen).

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Polybius: The Histories

Livy: From the Founding of the City

Butler: Atlas of Ancient Geography.