Johann Joachim Eschenburg.

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Rome, but was assassinated in the senate, by a company of conspirators headed by
Brutus and Cassius, B. C. 43.

A second triumvirate was now formed, on the pretext of avenging this murder, be-
tweenAntony, Lepidus, and Octavius. each aspiring to the power of Csesar. A horrid
proscription sealed in blood this compact. A war with the party of the conspirators
necessarily followed, and the battle of Phihppi, B.C. 42, put an end to the hopes of
Brutus and Cassius, at the head of this party. Octavius. who was the nephew of
Caesar, easily effected the removal of one member of the triumvirate, Lepidus, a man of
feeble talents and insignificant character. His other colleague, Antony, infatuated by
love for Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, soon furnished a pretext for open hostility, and the
fate of battle again decided who should be the master of Rome. The armament of
Antony and Cleopatra was wholly defeated by Octavius at Actium, B.^C. 31. This
battle subjected Egypt to Rome, and Rome, with all her possessions,* to the powei
of Octavius, by whom the imperial government was finally established.



The Roman history, from the fall of Carthage to the battle of Actium, presents but
a melancholy picture, a blood-stained record of sedition, conspiracy, and civil war.

5. We may include in a 5th period the time from the establishment of the Imperial
Gcvernmeiit to the reign of Constantine, A. D. 30fi. As Christianity was introduced
into the world in this period, and was opposed until the end of it by the Roman govern-
ment, we may designate it as the period of the Pagan Emperors.

The reign of Augustus, the name taken by the first Emperor Octavius, has become
proverbial for an age flourishing in peace, hterature, and the arts. It is distinguished,
also, for the birth of our Savior; as the next reign, that of Tiberius, is, for his cruci-
fixion and death. — The four reigns succeeding, viz. those of Tiberius, Caligula, Clau-
dius, and Nero, are chiefly memorable for the tyranny of the emperors, and the profli-
gacy of their families and favoriies.

On the death of Nero, A. D. 69, follows a year of dissension and bloodshed, in which
Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, successively gained the empire and lost their hves. — The
Flavian family, Vespasian and his two sons, Titus and Domitian, next in order receive
the supreme power. Titus is celebrated as the final conqueror of the Jews, whose
obstinacy provoked him to rase their city to the ground, an event exactly fulfilling the
predictions of Christ. His reign is memorable for the eruption of Vesuvius, which
buried the cities Herculaneum and Pompeii in ruins. Domitian, the last emperor of the
family, provokes his own assassination, A. D. 96.

Passing the reigns of the feeble Nerva, the martial Trajan, and the peaceful Adrian,
■we arrive at a brilliant age in the imperial history, the age of the Antonines, extending
from A. D. 138 to 180, a space of about forty years. Their reigns appear in the midst
of the general sterility and desolation of the imperial history like the verdant oasis in
the desert. Literature and the arts of peace revived under their benign influence.

After the death of Marcus, A. D. 180, there follows a whole century of disorder,
profligacy, conspiracy and assassination. The army assumes the absolute disposal of
the imperial crown, which is even sold at public auction to the highest bidder. Within
the last fifty years of the time, nearly fifty emperors are successively proclaimed, and
deposed or murdered. — In the year 284, Diocletian commenced his reign, and attempted
a new system of administration. The empire was divided into four departments or
provinces, and three princes were associated whh him, in the government. This sys-
tem only laid the foundation for rivalship and contention in a new form, and in a few
years Maxentius and Constantine, sons of two of the princes associated with Diocletian,
appealed to the sword to decide upon their respective claims to the imperial purple.
The former fell in the battle, and Constantine secured the throne.

This period is memorable in the history of Christianity. Under the Pagan Emperors,
those who embraced the gospel were constantly exposed to persecution and suffering.
Te7i special persecutions are recorded and described, the first under Nero, A. D. 6i,
and the last under Diocletian, commencing A. D. 303, and continuing ten years, untn
A. D. 313. But, notwithstanding these repeated eflTorts to hinder the progress of the
gospel, it was spread during this period throughout the whole Roman Empire.

6. The 6th period includes the remainder of the Roman history, extending from the
reign of Constantiiie to the Fall of Rome, when captured by the Heruh, A. D. 476.
The reign of Constantine the Great imparts splendor to the commencement of this
period. He embraced the Christian fahh himself, and patronized it in the empire, as
did also most of his successors ; on which account this may be called the period of the
Christian Emperors.

One of the most important events of his reign, and one which had a great influence
on the subsequent afl'airs of Rome, was the removal of the Government to a new seat.
He selected Byzantium for his capital, and thither removed with his court, giving it the
name of Constantinople, which it still bears. He left his empire to five princes, three
sons and two nephews; the youngest son, Constantius, soon grasps the whole, A. D.
360. By the death of Constantius, his cousin Julian received the purple, which he
was already on his march from Gaul to seize by force. The reign of Julian, styled the
Apostate, is memorable for his artful and persevering attempts to destroy the Christian
religion, and his unsuccessful efforts to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem, with the ex-
press purpose of casting discredit on the predictions of the Bible.

From the death of Julian, A. D. 363, to the reign of Theodosius the Great, A. D.
379, the history presents little that is important to be noticed, except the jealousies
between the eastern and western portions of the Empire, which grew out of the re-
moval of the court to Constantinople. Theodosius was the last emperor who ruled
over both. Jn 395 he died, leaving to his sons Arcadius and Honorius separately the
east and the west. — From this time the Eastern portion remained distinct, and its his-
tory no longe*- belongs to that of Rome.


The Western portion languishes under ten successive emperors, who are scarcely
able to defend themselves against the repeated attacks of barbarian invaders. At length,
under Augustulus, the 11th from Theodosius, Rome is taken by Odoacer, leader of
the HeruU, and the history of ancient Rome is terminated, A. D. 476.

The vi^hole of the period from Constantine to Augustulus is marked by the continued
inroads of barbarous hordes from the north and the east. But the greatest annoyance
was suffered in the latter part of the time, from three tribes, under three celebrated
leaders; the Goths, under Alaric ; the Vandals, under Genseric; and the Huns,
under Attila ; the two former of which actually carried their victorious arms to Rome
itself (A. D. 410 and 455), and laid prostrate at their feet the haughty mistress of the
world ; and the latter was persuaded to turn back his forces (A. D. 453) only by igno-
ble concessions and immense gifts.

^ 215. It may be proper to add here, that the Eastern Empire, called also the Greek
Empire, was sustained under various fortunes, for a period of almost 1000 years after the
overthrow of the Western. After the fall of Rome nearly sixty different emperors had
occupied the throne at Constantinople, when, A. D. 1202, that city was taken by the
crusaders from France and Venice, By this event the Greek emperors were forced to
estabUsh their court at Nicaea in Asia Minor. After the lapse of sixty years, their
former capital was recovered : and, subsequently to this, eight different emperors held
the sceptre there ; although the empire was gradually reduced in strength and extent,
until it consisted of but a little corner of Europe. Its existence was prolonged to A. D.
1453, when Constantinople fell into the hands of the Turks, who have retained it to
the present day.

For the principal works on the Roman history, see P. V. § 299. 7.— We meDtion here as Taluable, Mex. Fraser Tyller's Universal
History. Bost. 1835. 2 vols. 8.— The student in ancient history will derive advantage also from B i g 1 a n d's Letters on tfte Study
andUie of Hatory, and Priattey't Lecttara on History; also, RUh's FropAdeutik des historiscben Studiums. Berl. ISII. 8.

PART 11.






§ 1. Among the early nations of antiquity, before the art of writing had come
into general use, tradition was the only mode of preserving and spreading the
knowledge of remarkable events. Many circumstances contributed to give to
early traditions a fabulous character. The love of the marvellous, a natural
tendency of the mind to employ symbolical and allegorical images to express
ideas for which no definite words have been appropriated, and a disposition to
eulogize and exaggerate the exploits of ancestors, all conspired to load history
and fact with a mass of fiction, so that it became impossible for later inquirers
to distinguish accurately between the true and false.

§ 2. Traditions of this sort the Greeks distinguished from authentic history
by the name o^ mythi (^v^ot), and they termed their contents or the matter of
them, as well as the knowledge or study of them, mythology (ixv^ov.oyia).
Mythology, however, was not with them, as in modern times, a distinct branch
of study. The term is now used appropriately for that branch of knowledge
which considers the notions and stories, particularly among the Greeks and
Romans, respecting gods and demigods, their pretended origin, their actions,
names, attributes, worship, images, and symbolical representations. It is often
employed also in a wider sense, including the religious fables of all ages and
nations, and thus is made synonymous with the history of fable.

§ 3. It is important to distinguish the point of view in which these mytholo-
logical narratives were contemplated by the ancients, from that in which we are
to regard them. To the former they were closely connected with their national
history and their religious faith, were indeed parts of them ; to us they are only
monuments and evidences of the state of culture of the human mind, if we view
them philosophically. They exhibit the reflections, upon nature and deity, of
men guided by sense and imagination, affected much by external appearances,
and mistaking physical effects for independent or voluntary powers. But they
afford much valuable and even necessary aid in understanding the Greek and
Roman authors, especially the poets, and in judging of ancient opinions, usages,
and art.

§ 4. The traditions of mythology, in passing down through many centuries,
were multiplied and augmented, and experienced various changes in respect to
their general dress, aim, and application. Originally they consisted in part of
actual occurrences, in part of arbitrary fiction, springing from fear, reverence,
gratitude, patriotism, credulity and love of the marvelous, or duplicity, cun-
ning, and ambition. They were, it is probable, sometimes of native origin, but
more frequently were introduced from foreign sources, by settlers and other-
wise. By the poets they were woven into epic song ; by early philosophers
they were clothed in mystery and allegory ; and by the later interpreted in
divers conflicting ways ; while artists found in them an ample range of subjects
for the chisel and the pencil.

§ 5. Some of the modern writers on Greek and Roman mythology have
merely stated the fables as reported among the ancients. Others have, in addi-
tion, sought to trace them to their origin, either by making conjectures of alle-
gorical, historical, and physical meanings in the stories, or deducing them from
the events of early ages recorded in the Bible. But as these traditions arose
in various ways, and often accidentally, there will of course be error in every
system which attempts to refer them all to one common source and purpose.



^ 5 u. The foundation of very many of the fictions of mythology is laid in the idea,
which arose from the simplicity and inexperience of the hrsl ages, conversant only
v/ith objects of sense ; viz. that every thing in nature was endued with an appropriate
activity and spontaneity hke that in man. In consequence of this idea, wherever an
unusual appearance or agency was observed, it was ascribed to a distinct being or
existence operating directly or immediately. This creation of personal existences out
of natural phenomena, this personification of physical objects and events was, in all
probabiHty, one of the most prolific sources of fable and of idolatry; for vvhich the stara
and the elements seem to have furnished the first and the most common occasion.

Many of the pagan stories are ingeninusly solved by referring their origiu to symbolical or allegorical descriptions of physical prin-
ciples and changes. Cf. P. IV. § 41.— On the rise of idolatry, we refer to faier. Origin of Pagan Idolatry. I^ond. Ifcl6. 3 vols. 4.
Cf. also ShuAford, Sac. and Prof. Hist. bk. v.-£anier, cited § 12. 2. (a).— See references, P. V. § 364, 3.

The following remarks, on the sources o{ fable, are from the Traif.e des Etudes of RoUin. They
were translated by Mr. Wellington H. Tyler, who has consented to their insertion here.

1. ''One source of Fable is the perversion or alteration of facts in Sacred History;
and, indeed, this is its earUest and principal source. The family of Noah, perfectly
instructed by him in rehgious matters, preserved for considerable time the worship of
the true God in all its purity. But when, after the fruitless attempt to build the tower
of Babel, the members of this family were separated and scattered over different
countries, diversity of language and abode was soon followed by a change of worship.
Truth, which had been hitherto intrusted to the single channel of oral communication,
subject to a thousand variations, and which had not yet become fLxed Dy the use of
writing, that sure guardian of facts, became obscured by an infinite number of fables,
the latter of which greatly increased the darkness in which the more ancient had en-
veloped it. — The tradition of great principles and great events has been preserved
among all nations; not, indeed, without some mixture of fiction, but yet with traces
of truth, marked and easy to be recognized ; a certain proof that these nations had a
common origin. Hence the notion, diffused among all people, of a sovereign God, all-
powerful, the Ruler and Creator of the universe : and consequently the necessity of
external worship by means of ceremonies and sacrifices. Hence the uniform and
general assent to certain great facts ; the creation of man by an immediate exertion of
Divine power ; his state of felicity and innocence, distinguished as the golden age, in
which the earth, without being moistened by the sweat of his brow or cultivated by
painful labor, yielded him all her fruit in rich abundance ; the fall of the same man,
the source of all his woe, followed by a deluge of crime, which brought on one of
water; the human race saved by an ark, which rested upon a mountain; and after-
wards the propagation of the human race from one man and his three sons. — But the
detail of particular actions, being less important, and for that reason less known, was
soon altered by the introduction of fables and fictions, as may be clearly seen in the
family of Noah itself. The historical fact that he was the father of three sons, and
that their descendants after the flood were dispersed into three different parts of the
earth, has given rise to the fable of Saturn, whose three sons, if we may believe the
poets, shared between them the empire of the world."

On several of the points above suggested by RoUin, the pagan mythology exhibits striking coinr'.dedCKi with facts in sacred history
These are pointed out by several writers; we mention particularly Crotius, De veritate Rel. Chr'.st (L i. c. 17.)— De Lavaur, His
toire de la Fable conferee avec I'Hisloire Sainte. Amst. 1731.— /aier, Horje Mosaicje.— CoiZj/CT', /^ctures on Scripture Facts. 2d ed
Lend. lim.—SiaiinsficU't Origines Sacrae.— Cf. Mattriu, History of Hindostan. Lend. 1820. 2 vols. 4. (bk. i.)

2. "A second source of Fable was furnished by the ministry of angels in human
affairs. God had associated the angels with his spiritual nature, nis intelligence and his
immortahty ; and he was farther desirous of associating them with his providence in
the government of the world, as well in the departments of nature and the elements,
as in reference to the conduct of men. The Scriptures speak of angels, who, armed
with their gUttering swords, ravage all Egypt, destroy by pestilence in Jerusalem an
innurnerable multitude of people, and entirely extirpate the army of an impious prince.
Mention is made of an angel, the prince and protector of the Persian empire ; of
another, prince of the Grecian empire ; and of the Archangel Michael, prince of the
people of God {Ba7i. x. 20, 21). The visible ministration of angels is as ancient as the
world, as we learn from the Cherubim stationed at the gate of the terrestrial paradise
to guard its entrance. — Noah and the other patriarchs were perfectly instructed in this
truth, which to them had an intense interest : and they took pains, no doubt, to instruct
their famihes on a subject of such importance; but these by degrees losing the more
pure and spiritual notions of a divinity concealed and invisible, attended only to the
agents through whom they received their blessings and punishments. Hence it is
that men formed the idea of gods, some of whom preside over the fruits of the earth,
others over rivers, some over war and others over peace, and so of all the rest ; of
gods whose power and agency were confined to certain countries and nations, and who
were themselves under the dominion of the supreme God.

_3. "A third source of Fable may be in a native principle deeply fixed in the minds
of all people j this is the persuasion which has always prevailed, tha.', Proiidtnce pre


sides over all human events great and small, and that each, without exception, expe-
riences his attention and care. But men, frightened by the immense detail to which the
Divine Being must condescend, have i'ek bound to relieve him, by giving to each of a
number of deities some particular, appropriate, personal duty ; Singulis rebus propria
dispertientes officia numinum. The oversight of the whole field would devolve too
many concerns upon a single deity; the soil was intrusted to one, the mountains to
another, the hills to a third, and the valleys to another still. St. Augustin {de Civitate
Dei, iv. 8) recounts a dozen different deities, all occupied upon a stalk of grain, of which
each, according to his office, takes a special care at different times, from the first mo-
ment that the seed is cast into the ground, until the grain is perfectly ripened. — Besides
the crowd of deities destined to perform the inconsiderable duties of such affairs, there
were others which were regarded as of a higher grade, because supposed to take a
more noble part in the government of the world."

The number of gods admitted in the Greek mythology was immense, if we may take Hesiod's
testimony for authority. He says there are 30,000 gods on eartfi, guardians of men.

Warburton (in the work cited'P. IV. § 12. 3) contends that the fables respecting metamorphoses,
which are recorded by ancient authors, had their origin in the common belief oi' the doctrine of
metempsychosis; and the latter he affirms to have been a " method of e.xplaining the ways of
Providence, which, as they were seen to be unequal liere, were supposed to be rectitied here-
after;" lUus, he sa.ys, metempsychosis naturally suggested metamorphosis; "as the way of pu-
nishing in another state was by a transmigration of the soul; so in this, it was by a transforma-
tion of the body."

4. ^' A fourth source of Fable was the corruption of the human heart, which ever
strives to authorize its crimes and passions. The more important and renowned of
these gods are the very ones whom Fable has most disparaged and defamed by attri-
buting to them crimes the most shameful and debauchery the inost detestable, murders,
aduheries, incests. And thus it is that the huinan heart has been ready to multiply,
distort, and pervert the fictions of mythology, for the purpose of palliating and excusing
practices the most vicious and frightful by the example of the gods themselves. There
is no conduct so disgraceful, that it has not been authorized and even consecrated by
the worship which was rendered to certain deities. In the solemnities of the mother
of the sods, for instance, songs were sung at which the mother of a comedian would
have blushed ; and Scipio Nasica, who was chosen by the senate as the most virtuous
man in the republic, to go and receive her statue, would have been much grieved that
his own mother should have been made a goddess to take the place and honors of

5. " I do not propose to introduce here all the sources from which Fable takes its
rise, but merely to point out some of those best understood. And as a fffh source,
we may refer to a natural sentiment of admiration or gratitude, which leads men to
associate the idea of something hke divinity with all that which particularly attracts
their attention, that which is nearly related to them, or which seems to procure for them
some advantage. Such are the sun, the moon, and the stars; such are parents in view
of their children, and children in that of their parents ; persons who have either in-
vented or improved arts useful to the human family ; heroes who have distinguished
themselves in war by an exhibition of extraordinary courage, or have cleared the land
of robbers, enemies to public repose ; in short such are all who, by some virtue or
by some illustrious action, rise conspicuous above the common level of mankind. It
then giving the titles to more modern works.

1 11. Almost all the Greek and Roman poets make use of, or at least touch upon, mythological
subjects ; although these are not by any means treated in the same manner in the different kinds
of poetry, epic, lyric, dramatic, and didactic. We have properly mythic poetry in the Theogony
of Hesiod and the Cassandra of Lycophron (P. V. $ 67), the Metamorphoses of Ovid, and in two
poems of Claudian, the GIgantomachy, and the Rape of Proserpine (P. V. J 386).— Many histo-
rians have introduced into their narratives mythological traditions, without presenting them,
however, as fully entitled to credence, while they have also recorded much that appertained to
the worship of the gods and to works of art connected with mythology. Herodotus, Diodorus,
Strabo, Pausanias, and the elder Pliny, may be mentioned particularly. — There were also ancient
writers who made mythology their tlieme, or treated the subject more at length ; as, among the
Greeks, ^pollodorus, Conon, Hephcpstion, Parthenius, Jintovinus, Liberalis, Palwphatiis, Heracli-
des, Phurnutus (P. V. $ 221 ss) ; among the Romans, Hyginus and Fulgentius (P. V. $ 502 ss).
Notices ofl this subject are found also in the works of some of the early writers of the church,
and also in the notes of most of the Greek scholiasts.

2 m. Of the numerous modern works on Mythology, some treat the subject more at large, others
more compendiously ; some present the subject in an alphabetical order; there are also works
accompanied with plates and drawings for illustration.

(a) The following are some of the works which go into more
full details on the whole subject, or on particular parts.

Lit. Greg. Gyraldi, Historiae Deor. Gentil Syntagmata xvii.
Bas. 1548. fol. Also iu his 0pp. Omn. (ed. J. Jensius), Lugd.
Bat. 1606. fol.

Vine. Cartari, le imagini degli dei degli antichi. Lion. I5SI. 4.
Aloo in Latin, Lugd. 1581. 4. oft. repr.

Natalia Comitit Mythologiae s. Explicationis Fabulanim libri
X. Gen. 1651. 8.

Gtrh. I. Vvisius, De theologia Gentili et physiologia Christiana,
II. de origine et progressu idolatria libri IX. Amst. 1668. fol.

Ant. Banier, La mythologie et les fables expliquees par I'his-

Online LibraryJohann Joachim EschenburgManual of classical literature : from the German of J.J. Eschenburg, with additions → online text (page 21 of 153)