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This programme looks at people and events in the life of Edward Gibbon and shows many of the Roman ruins that inspired him to write 'The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A204, The Enlightenment
Item code: A204; 05
First transmission date: 24-04-1980
Published: 1980
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:05
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Producer: Roger Thompson
Contributors: Michael Hordern; Toni Lentin
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Gibbon; History; Rome
Footage description: The programme opens with shots of Fletching church in Sussex, where Gibbon is buried. Shot of his tombstone. A caption gives the date of his burial. Hordern reads Gibbons' views on old age in voice-over. Shots of the first edition of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, over which Hordern quotes Gibbon's brief description of the book's success. The dates of the first and last volumes are displayed in caption form. Tony Lentin, from the studio, contrasts the success of Gibbon's book with the inadequacies of his private life. Prints show Gibbon's aunt with his tribute to her quoted over. Painting and film show the Wiltshire house where Gibbon developed his interest in classical history. His description of his time there is quoted in voice-over. His dislike of Oxford is read over prints and film of the University. A caption is used to give the date of Gibbon's conversion to Roman Catholicism. Lentin describes his subsequent visit to Lausanne, which is in an 18th century painting. Over a portrait of Mlle. Churchod an extract from her love letter to Gibbon is read. Shots of his letter to Mlle. Churchod in which he broke the relationship. An extract is quoted in voiceover. Lentin describes the reaction to Gibbon's first work, the Essay on the Study of Literature. Portrait of Rousseau whose attack on the work is quoted over. Lentin briefly describes Gibbon's servce in the militia. Shots of the portable libraries he owned at this time. Hordern read Gibbon's views on the death of his father and his decision not to enter Parliament. Prints of Parliament in the 18th century are shown. Portraits of Gibbon are shown over which Lentin describes his financial problems and social activities. An attack on Gibbon by Boswell is quoted over a portrait of the latter. Further portraits of Gibbon over which Lentin describes his unattractive appearance. A painting of Lausanne is Shown, over which Gibbon's own description of his life in Lausanne is read. Numerous views of 18th century Rome are shown over which Lentin comments on the significance of Gibbon's visit there. A long extract from a letter to his father is read in which he enthuses about Rome. Film of classical ruins in Rome. Lentin assesses Gibbon's achievements as a historian. A very long passage is read in which Gibbon extolles the virtues and triumphs of ancient Rome. Footage is shown of the following: the forum at Rome; Trajans column, the baths at Caracalla, the Colosseum, as well as many unidentified ruins from around the Empire. Over a painting of l8th century Rome Lentin explains Gibbon's hostility towards Christianity. Film of a number of ruined temples over which Gibbon's views on the destruction of such temples are quoted. Lentin outlines Gibbon's reasons for the decline of Rome. Film of Roman villas, with Gibbon quoted in voice over on the decadence of the Roman nobility. The programme ends with shots of the first edition of The Decline and Fall, Gibbon's portrait, and of the churchyard where he was buried. Over these Gibbon's own remarks on the significance of his work are read.
Production number: FOUA008K
Videofinder number: 2262
Available to public: no