Some 250 years after its first publication, Gibbon's Decline and Fall is still regarded as one of the greatest histories in Western literature. He reports on more than 1,000 years of an empire which extended from the most northern and western parts of Europe to deep into Asia and Africa and covers not only events but also the cultural and religious developments that effected change during that time. Volume II (Chapters XVI-XXVI) continues his survey of Christianity from Nero to Constantine, and continues with the establishment of Constantinople, the new principal seat of the Empire, on the strategically important site where Byzantium stood, by the Bosphorus. It closes towards the end of the 4th century with the settlement of the Goths in Thrace and Asia. This second volume contains, controversially, Gibbon's sympathetic portrait of Julian, whose reign was short, but whose personality, wisdom, courage and clarity ? despite his antipathy towards the growing influence of Christianity ?bore the hallmarks of a great emperor that Rome needed.
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