"The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, because of all the manuscripts (inedible green tomatoes) submitted to Cavendish-Redux"
Edward Gibbon (1737–1794) painting by Joshua Reynolds
Public DomainEdward Gibbon (1737–1794)   Credit: Sir Joshua Reynolds

Refers to Edward Gibbon's six volume work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776). It has been observed by contemporary scholar Glen W. Bowersock that 'From the eighteenth century onward we have been obsessed with the fall: it has been valued as an archetype for every perceived decline, and, hence, as a symbol for our own fears.' This is especially true for Cavendish who rues the fact that 'England has gone to the dogs, oh, the dogs, the ruddy dogs.' Gibbon's theory that the Roman Empire fell victim to barbarians also echoes Cavendish' circumstances, whose physical decline is attributable to the barbaric figures found in Dermot, his brothers and the staff of the nursing home.