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The labor of the editor has been somewhat more called for in this volume than in the “History of Rome.” More points seemed to need note and illustration, it being a period less familiar. In some places, too, owing to the confusion of authorities, errors of dates, &c., had crept in, all of which have been carefully altered. In this case, the alterations have been made without any distinctive mark. In all other cases, the same marks of addition or alteration as have been used in the other volumes of this series of historical works have been here used. That series, comprising the Histories of Greece, Rome, and England, is completed with this volume.
J. T. S. Boston, December 1, 1840.
The present work completes my History of Rome. Instead, however, of entitling it a second volume, I have made it a distinct work; for, having been induced to depart from my original plan, and write a History of England after the completion of that of the Roman Republic, and fearing lest some event might occur to prevent my completing my design, I was desirous that a work on which I had employed so much time and thought should not present an imperfect appearance. A further motive was, that some persons were of opinion that the History of the Empire would not be read so generally in schools as that of the Republic; and I wished to shun the imputation of forcing any one to buy a volume that he might not want.
This last opinion I am disposed to regard as erroneous. There is no part of the Roman history more necessary to be read in classical schools than the reigns of Augustus and his successors to the end of that of Domitian; for, without a knowledge of the history of that period, the writers of the Augustan age, and Juvenal, cannot be fully understood. Of this period we have actually no history, at least none adapted to schools; and hence arises the imperfect acquaintance with the historic allusions in Horace and the other poets which most readers possess, in consequence of being obliged to derive their information piecemeal from annotations. I have, therefore, taken especial care, in the present volume, to obviate this inconvenience; and I believe that scarcely any historic allusion in those poets will be found unnoticed.
Another feature of this work is, the sketch of the history of the church, its persecutions, sects, and heresies, during the first four centuries, with brief notices of the principal Fathers and their writings. To write a history of the Roman Empire without including that of the church, would have been absurd; but, as readers might not have sufficient confidence in me as an ecclesiastical guide, and as my works are chiefly designed for youth, I have deemed it the safer course to take as my usual authority the learned and candid Mosheim, whose works have stood the test of nearly a century, and are always included in the list of those recommended to students in divinity. It is the work De Rebus Christianis ante Constantinum, in the excellent translation of Mr. Vidal, that I have chiefly used. At the same time, I must declare that I am by no means a stranger to the Fathers. Many years ago, I had occasion to read them a good deal ; and the opinions which I then formed of them as writers and teachers have been confirmed by my renewed acquaintance with their works.
The advantages, therefore, to be derived by students from this volume are, illustrations of the Latin poets, some knowledge of the early history of the church, and tolerably correct ideas of the causes and course of the decline and fall of the mighty empire whose rise and progress have been traced in the History of Rome. Nearly one half of it, it will be observed, is devoted to the history anterior to the commencement of Gibbon's work, which begins with the reign of Commodus. As I have already said, that part of the history is not generally accessible; and with respect to the remainder, few, I believe, would willingly put Gibbon into the hands of youth.
The same attention has been directed to chronology and geography as in my other histories. The Roman proper names had become so confused in this period, that it was not possible for me to mark the prænomina, and arrange names under their gentes, as I have so carefully done in the History of Rome. I have further employed the modern forms of the names, as it would have seemed mere affectation to use Vespasianus, Constantinus, etc.
London, August 26, 1840.
THE FLAVIAN FAMILY,
A. U. 823-849.
A. D. 70–96.
State of affairs at Rome. - German war. - Capture and destruc-
tion of Jerusalem. — Return of Titus. — Vespasian. — Character