A work of almost terrifying scholarship, this compact study by an Italian historian deals with ""the drama of the death of the ancient world"" and analyzes the various theories of decadence Connected by literature and legend with the fall of Rome. The author, who must read Latin classics as he does his morning paper, States his aim in writing the book as two-fold: 1) ""To describe the ... ideas of the decadence and death of Rome as they were understood and transferred from the 2nd century B.C. to our own time"" and 2) ""To make a modern interpretation of the fall of the ancient world through criticism and discussion of the various solutions and hypotheses."" Giving a ""time-chart of the end of the ancient world"" from Marcus Aurelius, 161-80 A.D. to Pope Gregory the Great, 590-604, the author examines theories of the causes and and results of decadence as reported by writers who lived through the long centuries of the slow decline of Rome; quoting also from writers like Machiavelli and Gibbon, he ends with comments from 20th-century historians. In excellent translation, the book will appeal to scholars, classicists and philosopher-historians. Not for un-informed casual readers.