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Gibbon on literary travel

Rome: Ruins of the Forum, Looking towards the Capitol by Canaletto, 1742

Edward Gibbon on the ‘strong emotions which agitated my mind as I first approached and entered the eternal city’ in 1764:

“I have already found such a fund of entertainement for a mind somewhat prepared for it by an acquaintance with the Romans that I am really almost in a dream. Whatever ideas books may have given us of the greatest of that people, their accounts of the most flourishing state of Rome fall infinitely short of the picture of its ruins. I am convinced that there never before existed such a nation, and I hope that for the happiness of mankind there never will again.”

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