Talk:Edward Gibbon

From Wikiquote
Jump to: navigation, search


I frequently see this quote attributed to Edward Gibbons:

"In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all — security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again. " — EDWARD GIBBON [On ancient Athens]

After some Googling, I think this is actually a quote from an edited version of a lecture Margaret Thatcher gave at Hillsdale College in 1994. ( )

Sir Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, wrote tellingly of the collapse of Athens, which was the birthplace of democracy. He judged that, in the end, more than they wanted freedom, the Athenians wanted security. Yet they lost everything-security, comfort, and freedom. This was because they wanted not to give to society, but for society to give to them. The freedom they were seeking was freedom from responsibility. It is no wonder, then, that they ceased to be free.

Whether or not she was accurately summarizing Gibbon's thoughts or not, I do not know. -- 19:31, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

  • She attributed the sentiments to Gibbon, but it's actually a paraphrasing of something written by classicist and educator Edith Hamilton. A nice discussion of the matter is HERE. - Embram (talk) 14:10, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
The above comments by various users were apparently ignored by (talk · contributions) who inserted this remark above them:
Note: The following comments made by another user are factually inaccurate. The quote in question was commonly used in political speeches during the mid-1970s. I deleted the portion of the page that made these assertions.
I have moved that comment to its current placement within mine, and restored the section to the page, as the comments and findings of the previous editors do seem accurate. ~ Kalki·· 11:57, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
Thatcher might have been using a misattribution which began in the 1970s, either with herself or others, but it continues to seem a misattribution. ~ Kalki·· 12:00, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

— A subsequent anonymous editor wrote into the article that this quotation "appeared in The Wall Street Journal about 1969 or 1970 in an article referencing Sir Winston S. Churchill's visit during World War II" but the editor gives no supporting evidence or citation. Should it be reverted if no citation is forthcoming? How long should it remain without citation? - Embram (talk) 20:22, 13 July 2015 (UTC)


  • Every man who rises above the common level has received two educations: The first from his teachers; the second, more personal and important, from himself.
  • From my childhood, I had been fond of religious disputation.