Although it covers no less than thirteen centuries of history, writes David Womersley, Gibbon's Decline and Fall 'is never routine, always alert with humanity and intelligence, often surprising in its sympathies'. It counts, quite simply, as 'one of the greatest narratives in European literature'. This definitive three-volume edition presents a complete and unmodernized text, the author's own comments and notes, and his famous Vindication. The second volume reveals how waves of barbarian invaders, under commanders such as Alaric and Attila, overran and eventually destroyed the west. Later sections look further east, where even the legislative and administrative achievements of Justinian and the campaigns of Belisarius could not conceal the fundamental weaknesses of the Byzantine state.