"Balance" and "Excess" as Gibbon's Explanation of the Decline and Fall

Gibbon's explanation of the decline and fall consists in his applying to political phenomena the concepts of "balance" and "excess" which preoccupied the Whig aristocrat. For example, at its best foreign policy preserves the balance of power among nations. Excessive Roman domination led to cultural uniformity and mediocrity, which invited the barbarians. Scholars minimize the presence of a consistent causal explanation in Gibbon's work largely because of Gibbon's own inconsistencies in dating the beginning of the decline, and because Gibbon's account begins with the later Antonine period, whereas the excesses causing the decline and fall occurred in the late Republic.

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