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vading alike the material universe and the domain of
human life, through obedience to which men found
themselves lifted to a higher level, where they might
" hold well-guarded the tranquil heights upraised by the
learning of the wise," and might aspire to live a life
worthy of the gods ; " a conception which he hailed with
enthusiasm, as revealing a realm of order, free from the
capricious interference of the popular divinities. He
recognized, moreover, with a deep sense of religious
awe, the majesty and omnipotence of Nature, to which
he attributes not only life but creative power. " There
is through all his poem a pervading solemnity of tone, as
of one awakening to the consciousness of a great invisible
power in the world." " The acknowledgment of this
power was at least an advance on the superstition and
idolatry of the popular religion." " His belief is not
atheistic or pantheistic ; it is not definite enough to be
theistic. It is rather the twilight between an old and a
1 Lucretius. H. A. J. Munro.

74 ROME.

new faith." With all the fervour of conviction, Lucre-
tius advocates the duty of "plain living and high think-
ing," and, at the same time, enters his earnest protest
against the baleful passions and the artificial tastes
which, in his age, were rapidly supplanting the sterner
virtues and simpler habits of the olden time. In this
feature of his moral teaching, Lucretius exhibits some-
thing of the satiric spirit so characteristic of the Roman
genius, and which, at a somewhat earlier period, had
found literary expression in the Satires of C. Lucilius,.
B.C. 148-103, to whom must be assigned " the honour of
having introduced a new and permanent form of poetry
into the world." Satire, which, embracing the wide
field of human life, with all its varied interests, social,
religious, and political, criticises the manners and the
morals of the time, and which, while claiming the
greatest liberty of speech, was capable " of passing from
playful ridicule to passionate denunciation," was pecu-
liarly adapted to the practical genius of Rome, and is
accordingly the one literary form which they have
brought to perfection, and bequeathed as a legacy to
succeeding ages.

Numerous fragments from the Satires of Lucilius
have been preserved; according to Horace, "he tore
away the veil from private life, and arraigned high
and low alike, showing no favour but to virtue and
the virtuous." The satirists of the Empire exhibit the
leading characteristics, including the high moral tone,
which distinguished Lucilius, the satirist of the Republic;
nevertheless, of them, as compared with Lucilius, it has
been said, " that the consciousness of his power, as a
good hater, is but faintly represented in the arch-pleasan-
try of Horace, the concentrated intellectual scorn of
Persius, or the declamatory indignation of Juvenal."

The old Roman ideal reflected the qualities which lay
at the root of the national greatness; namely, willing
submission to discipline; self-devoting allegiance to duty ;
profound veneration for the state and for the national re-
ligion, together with the preference of public over private


interests; qualities fostered doubtless by the domestic
institutions of Eome, where, from the cradle, the son was
trained to unswerving submission to paternal authority,
which was as absolute over him as over the slave. Un-
questioning obedience to the father passed into filial de-
votion to the State, which formed so striking an element
in Roman virtue, and which has left its impress on the
earlier Latin literature.

Thus, a very noble passage which has been preserved
from the works of Lucilius, concludes with these words :
"It is true worth to look on our country's weal as the
chief good ; next to that, the weal of our parents ; third,
and last, our own weal." These prime characteristics of
Roman virtue, love of country and filial reverence, are so
strikingly exemplified in the words attributed, by our
great poet, to Cominius, and Coriolanus, that I am
tempted to quote them. Thus Cominius says :

" I do love

My country's good, with a respect more tender,
More holy and profound, than mine own life." Act iii. Sc. 3.

And again, at the approach of Volumnia, Coriolanus ex-
claims :

" My mother bows,
As if Olympos to a molehill should
In supplication nod." Act v. Sc. 3.

Gradually, however, with the growth of the Republic, the
old Roman ideal, with its grave and austere virtue, suc-
cumbed to the ever-growing lust of conquest, of luxury,
and of wealth. Moreover, with the establishment of the
Empire, embracing, as it did, a vast number of nationali-
ties, the ideal of the State, which had been the object of
passionate devotion alike to the Greek and to the early
Roman, ceased to exist. Thus the occupation of the
ordinary citizen, to whom political life had been the one
object of interest, was gone, while every branch of indus-
try being carried on by slaves, no legitimate sphere was
open for the exercise of his powers. Under these circum-
stances, when men had ceased to be citizens, and when
public life was impossible, the nobler minds of the com-

76 ROME.

munity found refuge in stoicism, which, in the second
century B.C. had been introduced into Home, by Panae-
tius, and which, under the practical Roman genius,
laying aside its theoretic speculations, had become an
ethical system, applicable to the conduct of everyday
life, and which, in some striking particulars, carried
on the tradition of the old Roman virtue, with its
simplicity, gravity, and manly austerity. Striking
indeed is the contrast between " the fathomless corrup-
tion," which prevailed in Rome under the Caesars, and
the exalted morality inculcated by the Stoics, which
found expression in the Satires of Persius, and in
the still nobler teachings of Epictetus and Marcus
Aurelius. The fundamental principle underlying their
system was that enunciated by Plato, namely, that
man's highest well-being consists in bringing his reason
into harmony with the reason which governs the uni-
verse, and which they identified with eternal truth,
and eternal justice. Accordingly, they taught that it
is the part of the wise man, making himself indepen-
dent of external things, and unmindful of happiness,
to yield himself, with absolute self-surrender, to the
divinity within, given to him to be his guardian and
his guide. Thus Epictetus exclaims : " For I esteem
what God wills to be better than what I will ; to Him
I yield myself, as a servant and follower."

Considerable interest attaches to the tenth satire of
Lucilius as having, it is said, so strongly impressed the
mind of Persius, A.D. 34-62, the one Stoic poet together
with Lucan, whom Rome can boast, that he was thereby
induced to adopt satire as the vehicle of his muse.

His Satires, which are distinguished by their high
moral tone, give some ghastly pictures of the corrupt
Roman world by which he was surrounded. Very
characteristic is the punishment which he assigns, in
his third satire, to the oppressors of mankind. " Great
Father of the Gods, be it thy pleasure to inflict no other
punishment on the monsters of tyranny, after their
nature has been stirred by fierce passion, that has the


taint of fiery poison, let them look upon virtue and
pine that they have lost her for ever." J

For the most part, however, his Satires are devoted to
the exposition of practical morality, " to the art of
skilful driving in the chariot-race of life." Thus, his
third satire is an appeal to the youthful idler, who, in
harvest time, snores in the broad noon, who calls for his
books only to quarrel with them, and who appears, at
last, as the lost profligate ; a striking illustration of the
punishment awaiting those who will not be warned in

We find in Persius no trace of the religious develop-
ment which formed one of the most striking charac-
teristics of the later stoicism, and which found its
highest exponent in Marcus Aurelius, who, haunted for
ever by the sense of a divine presence, a comforter and
guide, believed that these celestial visitations were not
his own exclusive privilege, but were the heritage of
every human being. The simple piety of Persius finds
expression in the second satire, on right and wrong
prayers to the Gods, wherein he inveighs against those
who, " inferring what the gods like from this sinful
pampered flesh of ours," think to propitiate them with
gold and costly sacrifices : " Give me," he adds, " duty
to god and man well blended in the mind, purity in the
shrine of the heart, and a racy flavour of nobleness
pervading the bosom ; let me have these to carry to the
temple, and a handful of meal, shall win me acceptance."

In the fifth satire, after a most touching tribute to his
old tutor, Cornutus, he discusses the subject of freedom,
which he characterizes as " the one thing needful; "
" not, however, the freedom of the enfranchised slave,
which could be obtained by the touch of the Praetor's
rod." He shows how the votaries of avarice, of luxury,
and of ambition, are slaves to their own evil passions
and low desires, and hints that the only genuine en-

1 " The Satires of A. Persius Flaccus." Translated by John
Conington, M.A. Edited by H. Nettleship, M.A.

78 ROME.

franchisement is that of the mind ; a doctrine enforced
with such earnestness of conviction, and variety of illus-
tration, by Epictetus. One of the noblest utterances of
stoicism is Cleanthes' "Hymn to Zeus" (B.C. 200).
" Hail to thee, most glorious of immortals, thou of
many names, Almighty Zeus, Nature's first cause,
governing all things by law. It is the right of mortals
to address thee, for we who live and creep upon the
earth are all thy children, and to us only is given power
of speech like unto thine. Therefore will I sing of thee,
and praise thy power for ever.

"Thee doth all this Cosmos obey, rolling about our
earth as thou dost guide it, and by thee willingly ruled . . .
Thou dost fulfil that universal plan which goes through
all things, shining in all the greater and the lesser lights.
. . . Thou knowest how to make transgression righteous-
ness, confusion order, and things not lovely are lovely to
thee, for thou dost shape to one end all things both good
and bad, till one eternal law is brought to light from
all ... Grant us," he continues, " to share that wisdom
with which thou dost thyself guide all things . . . There
is no greater glory for men or gods than for ever fittingly
to sing hymns in praise of thy universal law." l Epic-
tetus, one of the latest, as Cleanthes was one of the
earliest, expounders of stoicism, cherished also an exalted
conception of the Divine Being, " from whom we come
and whose children we are," and, like his predecessor, he
exhorted men " to sing the praises of the Deity, both in
private and in public, and to rehearse his benefits."

Thus, at a time when, with the decline of paganism,
the national worship had degenerated into a mere life-
less ritual, and while Christianity was looked down upon
with supreme contempt by the upper classes of society,
stoicism, as inculcated by its highest representatives,
might truly be regarded no longer as a philosophy, but
as a religion ; it is, moreover, deeply interesting to learn
that, though in its direct influence confined apparently

1 Translated by Prof. J. G. Croswell, quoted in " The Unknown
God." C. Loring Brace.


within very narrow limits, this noble ethical system
contributed an important element to human progress.

4 'From the stoical principle of the brotherhood of man,"
which finds such forcible expression in the utterances
of Epictetus, "came forth," it has been said, "the
greatest influence of stoicism that upon the ideas of
Eoman jurists, in international law." " These ideas
have profoundly influenced modern political thought,
and even practical institutions of government ; they are
the one great bequest of stoicism to modern times."
Doubtless also, familiarity with the sublime doctrine of
the Stoics respecting the Supreme Being, together with
their noble moral teaching, would be instrumental in
preparing the upper classes of society for the adoption
of Christianity. Nevertheless, noble as was, in many
respects, the religion of the Stoics, it brought no gospel
to earth's suffering millions ; it held out no assured
belief in the life beyond the grave ; it offered no grand
individuality, in whom, beholding the realization of their
loftiest ideal, men found a common object for their
reverence and love : from these and other causes, into
which it is here unnecessary to enter, stoicism, while
exerting a purifying and elevating influence over the
minds of its votaries, never penetrated to the masses of
the community, and was utterly inadequate to stem the
deep-seated corruption of the Eoman Empire, already
smitten with irremediable decay.

For the spirit which was to survive the ruin of ancient
civilization, consequent upon the Fall of Eome, and
which, breathing new life into its scattered fragments,
was to reunite them into a living unity, we must look to
Christianity, as embodied in the Mediaeval Church, of
which, in the " Divina Commedia " of Dante, we possess a
poetical epitome.

Before passing, however, from the poets and poetry
of classical antiquity, as illustrating the progress of
humanity, to those of more modern times, we must return
to the East, and consider the sources whence issued the
life-giving energy destined to revolutionize the world.


WHILE the poets and artists of Hellas, in fulfilment of
their high mission, as " Prophets of the beautiful," were
giving birth to their immortal creations ; and while
Kome was elaborating her system of jurisprudence, and
laying the foundation of her vast empire, which rendered
possible the diffusion of Christianity ; the Hebrew poets,
psalmists and prophets, were, from age to age, develop-
ing those fundamental truths of religion upon which
Christianity is based.

That various elements of Chaldaean mythology entered
largely into the Homeric hierarchy of the Olympian
divinities ; that many Hellenic myths, notably those of
Adonis and Aphrodite, of Zeus and Europa, of Perseus
and Andromeda, are of Semitic origin ; that the culture
of the prehistoric Hellenes was stimulated by the higher
culture of the Babylonians, to which they had access
through Phoenician channels, 1 are considerations which
would alone suffice to invest, with the deepest interest,
the sacred books of Babylonia. That interest is, how-
ever, intensified by the remarkable affinity which is found
to exist not only between the poetry of the Chaldaeans
and that of the Hebrews, but also between many of
their traditions and religious observances, as having
been derived from a common source.

It is to the valley of the Euphrates that the Hebrews
looked as the cradle of their race ; Ur of the Chaldees
being the reputed birthplace of their father, Abraham ;
moreover, during the Captivity, a period of seventy years,

1 See "The Origin of the Aryans," by Isaac Taylor.


they came more directly under the influence of the
religious conceptions of Babylonia ; hence, the affinity
above alluded to, is sufficiently accounted for, and cannot
excite surprise. 1

Thus there is a curious parallelism between the exposure
of Sargon, King of Accad, in his basket of rushes on the
Euphrates, and the similar exposure of Moses in his ark
of bulrushes, upon the Nile ; light is also thrown by the
cuneiform inscriptions upon many names and ritual
practices recorded in the Old Testament ; the observance
of the sabbath, for example, was practised alike by the
Hebrews and by the Chaldaeans, in whose vocabulary it
was explained as " a day of rest for the heart." Both
had a history of the creation, and a narrative of the
deluge, as a punishment for the wickedness of mankind ;
both also had a story of the building of the Tower of
Babel, of God's wrath against the builders, and his
consequent confounding of their counsel.

Deep interest, moreover, attaches to the "Penitential
Psalms " preserved in the sacred books of Babylonia, on
account of their similarity, in spirit and in form, to
those contained in the Psalter of the Old Testament.
Considering this remarkable coincidence between the
sacred poetry of Chal.dsea and of Palestine, some notice,
necessarily very meagre, of the more ancient literature,
may form a not unfitting prelude to a brief consideration
of the inspired utterances of the Hebrew bards.

In prehistoric times, the Tigris and Euphrates valleys
appear to have been occupied by Turanian settlers, known
as Accadians, or "Mountaineers, from the mountainous
region in the north-west, whence they probably issued."

While enjoying a certain amount of material prosperity,
this primaeval population were in a state of profound
spiritual darkness, their religion being a system of
degrading superstition.

1 For the following brief account of the religion and poetry of
Babylonia, I am indebted to the "Hibbert Lectures " by A. H. Sayce,
1887 ; also to " Chaldaea," " Story of the Nations," by Zenaide a



Their emergence from this spiritual degradation was
doubtless accelerated by the immigration of the Semites,
who, intermingling with the older inhabitants of the
country, received from them the art of writing in a
rudimentary form, together with other elements of civili-
zation, while communicating, in return, the rudiments
of a higher spiritual culture.

In the sacred books of Babylonia we are introduced to
the earliest manifestation of the religious instinct in
man, and can follow the religion of the Chaldseans
through its successive stages of development, before and
subsequently to the arrival of the Semites.

These books consist of three collections of sacred
texts ; one containing magic incantations and exorcisms ;
another hymns to the gods ; and the third consisting of
penitential psalms.

The magical texts, the earliest sacred literature of the
Accadians, reveal a stage of religious development, where-
in there was, as yet, no definite conception of God, while
the moral element was entirely wanting.

Movement being identified with life, the universe was
regarded as peopled by spirits innumerable, powerful for
good or for evil, who were entirely beyond the ordinary
control of man; to the agency of the latter, who were
ever on the watch to do mischief, were attributed the
various calamities to which men were subject, especially
disease ; one of the most dreaded of these spirits being
the demon of pestilence ; hence arose a body of sorcerers,
or medicine-men, who claimed to know the spells and
incantations by which these evil spirits could be con-
trolled ; accordingly, the main object of the magical texts
is the cure and prevention of disease. Gradually, how-
ever, the superiority of the good over the evil spirits
came to be recognized by the Accadians, who rose at
length to the conception of creative gods, endowed with
power to control and overawe supernatural beings of an
inferior order ; an advance which has been characterized
as " the culminating point of the old Accadian religion."
" Gods and spirits alike were still amenable to the spells


and exorcisms used by the sorcerer-priest, who had,
however, lost much of his old character." " The very
conception of a creative and beneficent deity brought
with it a service of prayer and adoration/' " We leave
the era which witnessed the rise of the magical texts,
and enter on the era of the hymns." Some of these
hymns are still partly magical in character ; while some
are of Semitic and some of Accadian origin. There are
certain ancient litanies which bear witness to the higher
level of religious thought to which the later Accadians
had attained. The Litany, we are told, is earlier than the
age of Sargon, of Accad, who flourished B.C. 3700, and
whose reign inaugurated the supremacy of the Semitic
over the Accadian population.

Among the beneficent deities, worshipped by the Acca-
dians, the most potent were Ana, the spirit of Heaven,
and Ea, the spirit of Earth and god of the deep ; to the
latter especially they appealed for protection when in
terror of the malignant demons by whom they imagined
themselves surrounded. Merodach, the son of Ea, whose
office it was to act as mediator between his father and
suffering mankind, was another favourite object of Acca-
dian worship. " He was originally a solar deity, the sun-
god, and in this capacity is represented in the Assyrian
myths and bas-reliefs, as champion of the bright powers
of day, in their eternal struggle against night and
storm. He is the same as the Baal of the Old Testament,
and his temple at Babylon, as described by Herodotus,
was regarded as one of the wonders of the world."

To Ud, another name of the sun-god, the Accadians
looked up with infinite trust ; to them the sun, " in all
its midday glory, was a very hero of protection, the
source of truth and justice, the supreme judge in heaven
and on earth, who knows lie from truth, who knows the
truth that is in the soul of man."

One of these Accadian hymns describes how, " at the
sun's appearance in the brilliant portals of the heavens,
and during his progress to their highest point, all the
great gods turn to his light, all the good spirits of


heaven and earth gaze up to his face, surround him
joyfully and reverently, and escort him in solemn pro-

Invocations were addressed also to other divine beings,
impersonations, for the most part, if not entirely, of the
great Nature-powers. This higher conception of the
gods, not merely as beneficent beings, but as taking cog-
nizance of right and wrong, as the guardians among
mankind of righteous law, harmonizes with the religious
convictions embodied in the Vedic hymns ; a resemblance
which led Lenormant to characterize the collection of
Babylonian hymns as the Chaldaean Kig-Veda. These
hymns, while written, for the most part, in Accadian, are
nevertheless profoundly influenced by Semitic ideas.
The consciousness of sin is a new feature of Chaldaean
religion. Disease, and other evils incident to humanity,
are no longer regarded as resulting merely from the
capricious anger of malevolent spirits, but as the chas-
tisement of the gods for impiety and sin; heartfelt
contrition being considered essential to give effect to rites
of purification. The following passages may serve to
illustrate the connection subsisting in the Chaldaean
mind between impiety and disease, as a token of divine

" He who honours not his god is broken like a twig."

" He who has not his goddess for guardian, his flesh is ulcerated ;

He disappears as a star of Heaven ; as the dew of evening he

passes away in a moment."

The higher stage of religious development attained by
the Accadians, as revealed in the later Babylonian
hymns, bears witness, as we have seen, to the influence
of the Semites, the gradual fusion between whom and
the original inhabitants of the country became so com-
plete as to weld them into one nation, known as the

There was yet a third class of sacred Babylonian
literature, namely, their Penitential Psalms, which
also bear witness to the profound influence exercised by


Semitic ideas over the religious conceptions of the Acca-
dians. To us, however, these " Lamentations of the
humbled heart," as they are called, are chiefly interest-
ing from their resemblance, in form, to the Psalms of
the Old Testament, exhibiting the same parellelism of
ideas and clauses, which forms so striking a feature
of Hebrew poetry. They are, moreover, highly poetic,
and remind us not unfrequently of passages from the
Psalms and from the Prophets.

The following few lines are selected from one of
the longest and one of the most important of these
penitential psalms; its poetic division into regular
stanzas, into strophe and ante-strophe, cannot be
shown in these extracts. "As it is written in Acca-
dian, its composition must be referred to a period
anterior to the seventeenth century B.C., when that
language became extinct."

" The anger of my lord's heart

May it be appeased !

The god who is wrath with me

May he be appeased !

The goddess who is wrath with me

May she be appeased !

Lord my faults are very great,

Very great my sins.

God, who knoweth what is unknown,

My faults are very great, very great my sins.

I am cast down,

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