Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. The opening paragraph of "Decline and Fall" states: "In the second century of the Christian era, the Empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilised portion of mankind. The frontiers of that extensive monarchy were guarded by ancient renown and disciplined valour. The gentle but powerful influence of laws and manners had gradually cemented the union of the ..."
2. He continues: "Their peaceful inhabitants enjoyed and abused the advantages of wealth and luxury. The image of a free constitution was preserved with decent reverence: the Roman senate appeared to possess the sovereign authority, and devolved on the emperors all the
executive powers of government. During a happy period (A.D. 98-180) of more than fourscore years, the public administration was conducted by the virtue and abilities of Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the two Antonines." By what name are these five emperors collectively known?
3. "If a man were called to fix the period in the history of the world, during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name that which elapsed from the death of Domitian to the accession of ..."
4. Perhaps Gibbon's most famous quote: "But the power of __________ is seldom of much efficacy, except in those happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous."
5. Which emperor's reign inspired the following quote? "As long as mankind shall continue to bestow more liberal applause on their destroyers than on their benefactors, the thirst of military glory will ever be the vice of the most exalted characters."
6. Who was the successor of Commodus, thus described by Gibbon? "The measures of the conspirators were conducted with the deliberate coolness and celerity which the greatness of the occasion required. They resolved instantly to fill the vacant throne with an emperor whose character would justify and maintain the action that had been committed. They fixed on ___________
, praefect of the city, an ancient senator of consular rank, whose
conspicuous merit had broke through the obscurity of his birth,
and raised him to the first honors of the state. He had
successively governed most of the provinces of the empire; and in
all his great employments, military as well as civil, he had
uniformly distinguished himself by the firmness, the prudence,
and the integrity of his conduct. He now remained almost
alone of the friends and ministers of Marcus; and when, at a late
hour of the night, he was awakened with the news, that the
chamberlain and the praefect were at his door, he received them
with intrepid resignation, and desired they would execute their
master's orders. Instead of death, they offered him the throne
of the Roman world. During some moments he distrusted their
intentions and assurances. Convinced at length of the death of
Commodus, he accepted the purple with a sincere reluctance, the
natural effect of his knowledge both of the duties and of the
dangers of the supreme rank."
7. This emperor was killed after a short reign of less than three months. Which faction, described by Gibbon in the quote below, was responsible for his death?
"They had reluctantly submitted to [the emperor of question 6]; they dreaded the
strictness of the ancient discipline, which he was preparing to
restore; and they regretted the license of the former reign.
Their discontents were secretly fomented by Laetus, their
praefect, who found, when it was too late, that his new emperor
would reward a servant, but would not be ruled by a favorite."
8. Who established himself as the eventual successor to the emperor of question 6? Gibbon describes him as "a native of Africa, who, in the gradual ascent of
private honors, had concealed his daring ambition, which was never diverted from its steady course by the allurements of pleasure, the apprehension of danger, or the feelings of humanity. On the first news of the murder of [the emperor of question 6], he assembled his troops, painted in the most lively colours the crime, the insolence, and the weakness of the Praetorian guards, and animated the legions to arms and to revenge."
9. The emperor of question 8 married Julia Domna, and his successor was to be his son whose name was?
"Two sons, _________ and Geta, were the fruit of this
marriage, and the destined heirs of the empire. The fond hopes
of the father, and of the Roman world, were soon disappointed by
these vain youths, who displayed the indolent security of
hereditary princes; and a presumption that fortune would supply
the place of merit and application. Without any emulation of
virtue or talents, they discovered, almost from their infancy, a
fixed and implacable antipathy for each other."
10. This emperor was killed by his soldiers and succeeded by his son. (This is actually a bone of contention: Julia Domna's sister claimed he was the son due to an uncanny resemblance with the emperor.) Which cousin of his would eventually become emperor?
"The most worthless of mankind are not afraid to condemn in
others the same disorders which they allow in themselves; and can
readily discover some nice difference of age, character, or
station, to justify the partial distinction. The licentious
soldiers, who had raised to the throne the dissolute son of
[the emperor of question 9], blushed at their ignominious choice, and turned with
disgust from that monster, to contemplate with pleasure the
opening virtues of his cousin ___________"
Source: Author pvk
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