In my introduction to Meditations, Edward Gibbon is quoted as saying that the period between the death of Domitian and the accession of Commodus was the happiest and most prosperous in human history. But I'm also aware that during Marcus Aurelius's lifetime there were several wars and even a plague that affected Rome. What is the basis for Edward Gibbon's statement? What made the period so happy and prosperous, and how does this compare/contrast with Roman eras before and after? Is this perhaps based on a common Roman expression or idea?
If a man were called to fix the period in the history of the world during which the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name that which elapsed from the death of Domitian to the accession of Commodus.1
I would be interested in your thoughts as well as Roman sources.
1 The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. J.B. Bury (London, 1909), 1.85-6