The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, by Houston Stewar

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, by Houston St

Postby admin » Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:00 pm

Part 3 of 4


It is essential to distinguish between philosophy and philosophy, and I think I have above warmly expressed my admiration for the Hellenic philosophy of the great epoch, particularly where it appeared as a creative activity of the human spirit closely related to poetry; in this respect Plato's theory of ideas is unsurpassed, while Aristotle appears to be incomparably great in analysis and method, but at the same time, as a philosopher in the sense given, the real originator of the decay of the Hellenic spirit. But here as elsewhere we must guard against over-simplification; we must not attribute to a single man what was peculiar to his people and only found in him its most definite expression. In reality Greek philosophy from the very beginning contained the germ of its fatal development later; the inheritance which still lies heavily upon us goes back almost to Homer's time. For it will be found upon reflection, that the old Hylozoists are related to the Neoplatonists: whoever, like Thales, without further ado "explains" the world as having arisen from water, will afterwards equally find an "explanation" of God; his nearest successor, Anaximander, establishes as principle the "Infinite" (the Apeiron), the "Unchangeable amid all changes": here in truth we are already in the toils of the most unmimtigated scholasticism and can calmly wait till the wheel of time sets down on the surface of the earth Ramon Lull and Thomas Aquinas. The fact that the eldest among the well-known Greek thinkers believed in the presence of countless daemons, but at the same time from the beginning [72] attacked the gods of the popular religion and of the poets -- Heraclitus would "gladly have scourged" [73] Homer -- serves only to complete the picture. However, one thing must be added: a man like Anaximander, so subordinate as a thinker, was a naturalist and theorist of the first rank, a founder of scientific geography, a promoter of astronomy; all these people are presented to us as philosophers, but in reality philosophy was for them something quite apart; surely we should not reckon the agnosticism of Charles Darwin or the creed of Claude Bernard among the philosophical achievements of our century? Here is a characteristic example of the many traditional consecrated confusions; we find the name of Sankara (certainly one of the greatest metaphysicians that ever lived) in no history of philosophy, while on the other hand the worthy olive-farmer Thales is ever paraded as the "first philosopher." And, if the matter be closely investigated, it will be found that almost all so-called philosophers at the zenith of Hellenic greatness are in a similar position: so far as we can judge from contradictory reports, Pythagoras did not found a philosophic school, but a political, social, dietetic and religious brotherhood; Plato himself, the metaphysician, was a statesman, moralist, practical reformer; Aristotle was a professional encyclopaedist, and the unity of his philosophy is due much more to his character than to his forced, half-traditional, contradictory metaphysics. Without therefore underestimating in any way the achievements of the Greek thinkers, We shall yet, I think, be able to assert (and so put an end to the confusion), that these men have paved the way for our science (including logic and ethics), and for our theology, and that they, through their poetically creative genius, have poured a flood of light upon the paths which speculation and intellectual investigation were afterwards to follow; as metaphysicians, in the real narrower sense of the word, they were, however, with the sole exception of Plato, comparatively of much less importance.

That nothing may remain obscure in a matter so weighty that it strikes into the depths of our life to-day, I should like briefly to refer to the fact, that in the person of the great Leonardo da Vinci we have an example -- closely related to modern thought and feeling -- of the deep gulf which separates poetical from abstract perception, religion from theologising philosophy. Leonardo brands the intellectual sciences as "deceptive" (le bugiarde scientie mentali); "all knowledge," he says, "is vain and erroneous, unless brought into the world by sense-experience, the mother of all certainty"; especially offensive to him are the disputes and proofs regarding the entity of God and of the soul: he is of opinion that "our senses revolt against" these conceptions, consequently we should not let ourselves be deluded: " where arguments of reason and clear right are wanting, clamour takes their place; in the case of things which are certain, however, this does not happen"; and thus he arrives at the conclusion: "dove si grida non e vera scientia," where there is clamour there is no genuine knowledge (Libro di pittura, Part 1., Division 33, Heinrich Ludwig's edition). This is Leonardo's theology! Yet it is this very man -- and surely the only one, the greatest not excepted -- who paints a Christ which comes near being a revelation, "perfect God and perfect man," as the Athanasian creed puts it. Here we have close intrinsic relationship with Homer: all knowledge is derived from the experience of sense, and from this the Divine, proved by no subtleties of reasoning, is formed as free creation, with popular belief as its basis -- something everlastingly true. Thanks to special circumstances and particular mental gifts, thanks above all to the advent of men of great genius who alone give life, this particular faculty had become so intensely developed in Greece that the sciences of experience received a new and greater impulse, as they did later among us through the influence of Leonardo, whereas the reaction of philosophising abstraction was never able to develop freely and naturally, but degenerated either into scholasticism or the clouds of fancy. The Hellenic artist awoke to life in an atmosphere which gave him at the same time personal freedom and the elevating consciousness that he was understood by all; the Hellenic philosopher (as soon as he trod the path of logical abstraction) had not this gift; on the contrary he was hemmed in on all sides, outwardly by custom, beliefs and civic institutions, inwardly by his whole personal education, which was principally artistic, by everything that surrounded him during his whole life, by all impressions which eye and ear conveyed to him; he was not free: because of his talent he did achieve great things, but nothing that satisfied -- as his art did -- the highest demands of harmony, truth and universal acceptance. In the case of Greek art the national element is comparable to pinions that raise the spirit to lofty heights, where "all men become brothers," where the separating gulf of times and races adds to rather than detracts from the charm; Hellenic philosophy, on the contrary, is in the limiting sense of the word fettered to a definite national life and consequently hemmed in on all sides. [74]

It is exceedingly difficult with such a view to prevail against the prejudice of centuries. Even such a man as Rohde calls the Greeks the" most fruitful in thought among nations" and asserts that their philosophers "thought in advance for all mankind"; [75] Leopold von Ranke, who has no other epithet for Homeric religion than" idolatry" (!) writes as follows: "What Aristotle says about the distinction between active and passive reason, only the first of which, however, is the true one, autonomous and related to God, I should be inclined to say was the best thing that could be said about the human spirit, with the exception of the Revelation of the Bible. We may say the same, if I am not mistaken, of Plato's doctrine of the soul." [76] Ranke tells us further that the mission of Greek philosophy was to purge the old faith of its idolatrous element, to unite rational and religious truth; but that the democracy frustrated this noble design, because it "held fast to idolatry" (i. 230). [77] These examples may suffice, though one could quote many others. I am convinced that this is all illusion, indeed baneful illusion, and in essential points the very opposite of truth. It is not true that the Greeks have thought in advance for all mankind: before them, at their time and after them there has been deeper thinking, more acute and more correct. It is not true that the red-tape theology of Aristotle ad usum of the mainstays of society is " the best thing that could be said": this Jesuitical scholastic sophistry has been the black plague of philosophy. It is not true that Greek thinkers have purified the old religion: they have rather attacked in it that very thing that deserved everlasting admiration, namely, its free, purely artistic beauty; and while they pretended to substitute rational for symbolical truth, they in reality only adopted popular superstition and set it, clad in logical rags, upon the throne, from which they -- in company with the mob -- had hurled down that poetry which proclaimed an everlasting truth.

As regards the so-called" thinking in advance," it will suffice to call attention to two circumstances to prove the erroneous nature of this assertion: in the first place, the Indians began to think before the Greeks, their thought was profounder and more consistent, and in their various systems they have exhausted more possibilities; in the second place, our own western European thought only began on the day when a great man said, " We must admit that the philosophy which we have received from the Greeks is childish, or at least that it rather encourages talk than acts as a creative stimulus." [78] To pretend that Locke, Gassendi, Hume, Descartes, Kant, &c., chewed the cud of Greek philosophy is one of the worst sins of Hellenic megalomania against our new culture. Pythagoras, the first great Hellenic thinker, offers a conclusive instance in reference to Hellenic thought. From his Oriental journeys he brought back all kinds of knowledge, significant and trifling, from the idea of redemption to the conception of the ether and the forbidding of the eating of beans: all of it was Indian ancestral property. One doctrine in particular became the central point of Pythagoreanism, its religious lever, if I may say so: this was the secret doctrine of the transmigration of souls. Plato afterwards robbed it of the aureole of secrecy and gave it a place in public philosophy. But among the Indians the belief in the transmigration of souls long before Pythagoras formed the basis of all ethics; though much divided in politics, religion and philosophy, and though living in open opposition, the whole people was united in the belief in the never-ending series of rebirths. "In India one never finds the question put, as to whether the soul transmigrates: it is universally and firmly believed." [79] But there was a class there, a small class, which did not believe in the transmigration of souls, in so far as they considered it to be a symbolical conception, a conception which to those wrapt in the illusions of world-contemplation allegorically conveys a loftier truth to be grasped more correctly by deep metaphysical thinking alone: this small class was (and is to-day) that of the philosophers. "The idea of the soul transmigrating rests on ignorance, while the soul in the sense of the highest reality is not transmigratory": such is the teaching of the Indian thinker. [80] A really "secret doctrine," such as the Greeks following Egyptian example loved, the Indians never knew: men of all castes, even women, could attain to the highest knowledge; but these profound sages knew very well that metaphysical thought requires special faculties and special development of those faculties; and so they let the figurative alone. And this figure, this magnificent conception of the transmigration of souls, which is perhaps indispensable for morals though essentially but a popular belief, while in India it was prevalent among the whole people from the highest to the lowest with the exception of the thinkers alone, became in Greece the most sublime "secret doctrine" of their first great philosopher, never quite disappeared from the highest regions of their philosophical views, and received from Plato the alluring charm of poetical form. These are the people who are said to have paved the way for us in thought, "the richest in thought of nations"! No, the Greeks were no great metaphysicians.


But they have just as little claim to be considered great moralists and theologians. Here too one example instead of many. The belief in daemons is everywhere current; the idea of a special intermediate race of daemons (between the gods in heaven and men on earth) was very probably derived by the Greeks from India (by way of Persia), [81] but that does not matter; in philosophy, or, as it may be called, in "rational religion," these creatures of superstition were first adopted by Plato. Rohde writes on this point as follows: [82] "Plato is the first of many to write about a whole intermediate hierarchy of daemons, entrusted with all that is wrought by invisible powers but seems beneath the dignity of the sublime gods. Thus the Divine itself is freed from everything evil and degrading." So with full consciousness and for the "rational" and flagrantly anthropomorphic purpose of " freeing" God of what seems evil to us men, that superstition which the Hellenes shared with bushmen and Australian blacks was adorned with a philosophical and theological aureole, recommended to the noblest minds by a noble mind and bequeathed to all future generations as an inheritance. The fortunate Indians had long before discarded the belief in daemons; it was retained only by the totally uneducated people; among the Indians the philosopher was bound no longer to any religious ceremony; for without denying their existence, like the superficial Xenophanes, he had learned to see in the gods symbols of a higher truth not able to be grasped by the senses -- what use then had such people for daemons? Homer, however, it should be noticed, had been on the same path. It is true that the hand of Athene stops the hastily raised arm of Achilles, and Here inspires the hesitating Diomedes with courage -- with such divine freedom does the poet interpret, inspiring all ages with poetical thoughts -- but genuine superstition plays a very subordinate part in Homer, and by his "divine" interpretation he raises it out of the sphere of real daemonism; his path was sunnier, more beautiful than that of the Indo-Aryan; instead of indulging in speculative metaphysics like the latter, he consecrated the empiric world and thereby guided mankind to a glorious goal. [83] Then came Socrates; -- old, superstitious, advised by Pythian oracles, taught by priestesses, possessed by daemons, and after him Plato and the others, O Hellenes! if only you had remained true to the religion of Homer and the artistic culture which it founded! If you had but trusted your divine poets, and not listened to your Heraclitus and Xenophanes, your Socrates and Plato, and all the rest of them! Alas for us who have for centuries been plunged into unspeakable sorrow and misery by this belief in daemons, now raised to sacred orthodoxy, who have been hampered by it in our whole intellectual development, who even to this day are under the delusions of the Thracian peasants! [84]


Not one whit better is that Hellenic thought which follows neither the path of mysticism nor that of poetical suggestion, but openly links itself to natural science and with the help of philosophy and rational psychology undertakes to solve the great problems of existence. Here the Greek spirit at once falls into scholasticism, as already hinted. "Words, words, nothing but words!" In this case detailed treatment would unfortunately go far beyond the scope of this book. But if anyone is shy of the higher philosophy, let him take up a catechism, he will find plenty of Aristotle in it. Talk of the Divinity with such a man, and tell him that it " did not come into existence and was not created; that it has been from all time and is immortal," and he will think that you are quoting from the creed of an oecumenical council, whereas, as a matter of fact, it is a quotation from Aristotle! And if you further say to him that God is " an everlasting, perfect, unconditioned being, gifted with life, but without bulk, one who in eternal actuality thinks himself, for (this serves as explanation) thinking becomes objective to itself by the thinking of the thing thought, so that thinking and the thing thought become identical," the poor man will fancy that you are reading from Thomas Aquinas or at least from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, but again it is a quotation from Aristotle. [85] The rational doctrine of God, the rational doctrine of the soul, above all the doctrine of a purposed order of the world suitable to human reason, or teleology (through which Aristotle, by the way, introduced such grotesque errors into his natural science), that was the inheritance in this sphere! How many centuries did it take till there came a brave man who threw this ballast overboard and showed that one cannot prove the existence of God, as Aristotle had made twenty centuries believe: -- till a man came who ventured to write the words, "Neither experience nor conclusions of reason adequately inform us whether man possesses a soul (as a substance dwelling in him, distinct from body and capable of thinking independently of it and therefore a spiritual substance), or whether life may not rather be a property of matter." [86]

But enough. I think I have shown with sufficient clearness that Hellenic philosophy is only genuinely great when we take the word in its widest sense, somewhat in the English sense, according to which a Newton and a Cuvier, or a Jean Jacques Rousseau and a Goethe are called "philosophers." As soon as the Greek left the sphere of intuition -- right from Thales onward-he became fatal; he became all the more fatal when he proceeded to use his incomparable plastic power (which is so strikingly absent in the metaphysical Indian) in giving a seductive shape to shadowy chimeras and in emasculating and bowdlerising deep conceptions and ideas that do not lend themselves to any analysis. I do not blame him because he had mystical tendencies and a plainly expressed need of metaphysics, but because he attempted to give shape to mysticism in a way other than the artistically mythical, and, going blindly past the central point of all metaphysics (I always naturally except Plato), tried to solve transcendent questions by prosaic empirical means. If the Greek had continued to develop his faculties on the one hand purely poetically, on the other purely empirically, his influence would have become an unmixed and inexpressible blessing for mankind; but, as it is, that same Greek who in poetry and science had given us an example of what true creative power can effect, and so of the way in which the development of man has taken place, at a later time proved to be a cramping and retarding element in the growth of the human intellect.


It may be that these last remarks rather trespass on the province of a later part of my book. But I had to face the difficulty. Great as has been the influence which the Hellenic inheritance has exercised upon our century, as upon those which preceded it, there has been no little confusion and no lack of misunderstanding concerning it. In order that the sequel might be understood, it was necessary that the mental condition of the heirs should be set out as clearly as the many-sided and complex nature of the inheritance which they received.

No summary is needed. Indeed what I have said about our rich Hellenic inheritance, which so deeply penetrates our intellectual life, is of itself a mere summary -- a mere indication. If we were to carry this experiment further we should arrive at a point where every concrete idea would become sublimated, where the sinuous lines of Life would shrivel into mere degrees in a scale, and there would remain nothing but a geometrical figure -- a construction of the mind -- instead of the representation of that manifold truth which has the gift of uniting in itself all contradictions. The philosophy of history, even in the hands of the most distinguished men, such as Herder for example, has a tendency rather to provoke contradiction than to encourage the formation of correct opinions. My object, moreover, is not so far-reaching. It is no part of my plan to pronounce judgment upon or to explain historically the spirit of ancient Greece: it suffices for me to bring home to our consciousness how boundless is the gift which it has brought us, and how actively that gift still works upon our poetry, our thought, our faith, our researches. I could not be exhaustive; -- I have contented myself with the endeavour to give a vivid and truthful picture. In so doing I have inflicted upon my readers some trouble, but this could not be avoided.
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Re: The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, by Houston St

Postby admin » Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:01 pm

Part 4 of 4


1. Cf. Aesthetische Erziehung, Bd. 3, 25, 26. Further particulars in chap. ix. Div. 7 of this book (vol. ii.).

2. Cf. Etwas uber die erste Menschengesellschaft, div. I.

3. To avoid misunderstanding, I wish to mention that here at the beginning of my book I have without further criticism joined hands with Schiller, to ensure that what follows may be more easily understood; only in my final chapter can I establish my view that in the case of the Teutonic peoples, in contrast to the Hellenes, the turning-point in "man becoming man" is to be sought not in art, but in religion -- this however does not mean a deviation from Schiller's conception of "art" but purely and simply a particular gradation.

4. See, however, the observations of J. G. Romanes in the case of a female chimpanzee, given in fullest detail in Nature, vol. xi.. p. 160 ff. condensed in the books of the same author. In a short time this ape learned to count up to seven with unfailing accuracy. On the other hand, the Bakairi (South American Indians) are able to count only up to six, and that with great difficulty. (See Karl von Steinen: Unter den Naturvolkern Brasiliens.)

5. See, for example, Whitney, The Life of Language (Fr. edit. p. 238 f).

6. Compare especially the instructive remarks of Topinard in his Anthropologie, pp. 159- 62. It is interesting to know that so great and at the same time so extremely cautious a naturalist as Adolf Bastian, with all his abhorrence of everything fantastic. claims for the articulata (with the tentacles with which they touch each other) a language analogous to ours and in keeping with their nature: see Das Bestandige in den Menschenrassen, p. viii. of the preface. In Darwin's Descent of Man, chap. iii., we find an exceedingly interesting review of the facts pertaining to this question and an energetic refutation of the paradoxes of Max Milner and others.

7. See, for example, the Principles of Sociology of the American Professor Franklin H. Giddings (Fr. edit., 1897. p. 189): "Les bases de l'empire de l'homme furent posees sur les associations zoogeniques des plus humbles formes de la vie consciente.

8. See Carl Vogt's amusing Untersuchungen uber die Tierstaaten (1851). In Brehm, Vom Nordpol zum Aequator (1890), we find very noteworthy facts concerning the waging of war by baboons; their tactics change according to the nature of the ground, they divide their forces into definite groups, first line, second line of attack, &c., several work together, so as to roll a large boulder down on the enemy, &c. Perhaps the most amazing social life is that of the farming ants from South America, first reported upon by Belt, Naturalist in Nicaragua, then by the German Alfred Moller; now we can observe these animals in the Zoological Garden in London, where it is especially easy to follow the activity of the large-beaded "overseers," which rush forward and shake up the workers whenever they take things easy!

9. Cf. Huber, Nouvelles observations sur les abeilles, ii. 198, and the fine book by Maurice Maeterlinck, La vie des abeilles, 1901. The best and shortest recent resume of the most important facts pertinent to our case is probably that by J. G. Romanes, Essays on Instinct, 1897: even this distinguished pupil of Darwin is, however, under the constant necessity of referring to the series of observations of the two Hubers as being the most brilliant and reliable; but too little known is another work, that of J. Traherne Moggridge, Observations on harvesting Ants and Trapdoor Spiders (Reeve. London, 1873); in general the psychologists of the animal kingdom should direct more attention to the spiders, which beyond doubt are endowed with special gifts of their own. But see H. C. MacCook, American Spiders (Philadelphia, 1889), and the various volumes of the invaluable Souvenirs entomo logiques by Fabre. Among older writings, Kirby's History, Habits, and Instincts of Animals is of lasting value. Of the more philosophic writings I shall here call attention especially to Wundt's Vorlesungen uber die Menschen- und Tierseele and to Fritz Schulze's Vergleichende Seelenkunde (Second Part, "The Psychology of Animals and Plants," 1897). In this note I should like at the same time to put in an express caveat. namely, that here and further on I do not fail to recognise the deep gulf between the intellect of thinking man and that of the animal; it was high time that a Wundt with all his intellectual keenness should openly oppose our almost ineradicable inclination to anthropomorphic interpretations; but it seems to me that Wundt himself and with him Schulze, Lubbock and others fall into the opposite error: they make indeed a just protest against the uncritical over-estimation of the thought-life of the animals, yet these learned men, accustomed from their earliest years to think and speculate unceasingly, do not seem to have any idea of the minimum of consciousness and reflection with which mankind as a whole manages to go through life; they are in general inclined to attach too great importance to "consciousness" and "reflection"; this manifests itself in their treatises on the elementary conditions of the human [X] and -- perhaps still more clearly -- in their lack of ability to explain the nature of the real act of creative genius (Art and Philosophy). One Wundt having reduced the estimate of animal intelligence to its right level, we should need a second to expose our tendency to overrate enormously our own importance, The following point also seems to me never to have been properly emphasised: that in our observations of animals we, do what we will, remain anthropomorphists; for we cannot even conceive a sense (I mean a physical instrument for acquiring knowledge of the surrounding world) if we do not possess it ourselves, and we must of necessity remain for ever blind and deaf to all manifestations of feeling and understanding, which are not immediately echoed in our own intellectual life. It is all very well for Wundt to warn against "false analogies"; in this whole sphere no conclusions but those of analogy are possible. As Clifford has clearly shown (cf. Seeing and Thinking), we can proceed neither purely objectively nor purely subjectively here; this mixed method of knowing he has therefore termed an "ejective" one. We estimate those animals as most intelligent whose intelligence most closely resembles our own, and is therefore best understood by us, but is not this extremely simple and thoughtless in reference to a cosmic problem such as that of intellect? Is this not disguised anthropomorphism? Most certainly, when Wundt therefore maintains." In this sphere experiment is in a high degree superior to mere observation," one can only very conditionally agree with him.; for experiment is from the outset a reflex of our purely human conceptions, whereas the loving observation of a quite differently organised creature in its own most normal conditions and that with the desire not to criticise its achievements but to understand them -- as far as our human narrow intellectual horizon permits us -- would be bound to lead to many surprising discoveries. And so old blind Huber has taught us much more about bees than Lubbock in his -- nevertheless admirable- -- book on Ants, Bees and Wasps (1883). And so it is that the rough trainers, who demand of each animal only such tricks as they can expect from it on the basis of daily observation of its capabilities, achieve such remarkable results. Here as elsewhere our science of to-day is still in the toils of Helleno-Jewish anthropomorphism, and not least just where it warns us against it. -- Since the above has been written, the sensational book of Bethe, Durfen wir Ameisen und Bienen psychische Qualitaten zuschreiben? has appeared. which in its whole argumentation is a classical example of disguised anthropomorphism. By ingenious (though in my opinion by no means conclusive) tests, Bethe has come to the conclusion that ants recognise by smell that they belong to the nest. and their finding of their way depends on the excretion of a chemical substance, &c. The whole is "Chemoreflex," the whole life of these animals" purely mechanical." One is astonished to find such an abyss of philosophical barbarity. Why, is not the whole sense- life as such inevitably mechanical ? Can I recognise my own father without help of a mechanism? Does not the dog recognise its master almost entirely by smell? Are Descartes' automata always to rise into life again, as though science and philosophy had stood still for three hundred years? Here we have the real ineradicable anthropomorphism. In the case of vertebrates their strict analogy with our own structure lets us draw conclusions about psychical processes; in the insect, on the other hand, a totally strange being is before us, built on a plan which is so fundamentally at. variance with that of our body that we are not in a position to explain with certainty even the purely mechanical working of the organs of sense (see Gegenbaur, Vergleichende Anatomie) and in consequence cannot know at all what a world of sense-impressions and of possibilities of communication, &c., quite closed to us, may surround these creatures. Not to comprehend this fact is to display an ant-like naivete. -- (Addenda of the third edition.) In the opening speech of the fourth International Congress of Zoologists on August 23, 1898, Sir John Lubbock violently attacked the automata theory and said, inter alia: “Many animals possess organs of sense, the meaning of which is inscrutable to us men. They notice sounds which we cannot hear, they see things which remain invisible to us, they receive impressions of sense, which lie beyond the sphere of our power of conception. The world which we know so well must have for them quite a different physiognomy." Montaigne had already expressed the opinion: "Les betes ont plusieurs conditions qui se rapportent aux notres; de celles-la, par comparaison, nous pouvons tirer quelque conjecture: mais ce qu'elles ont en particulier, que savons-nous que c'est ?" The psychiatrician Forel became convinced after thirty years of diligent observation that ants possessed memory, had the capacity of unifying in their brain various impressions of sense and acted with conscious reflection. (Speech delivered on August 13, 1901, at the Congress of Zoologists in Berlin.)

10. It is well known that Aristotle has made a serious mistake here, as he often does: man possesses, neither absolutely nor relatively (that is, in relation to weight of body), the largest brain; the superiority of this apparatus in his case is based on other things, (See Ranke, Der Mensch., second edition. I., pp. 551 and 542 f.).

11. Emin Pasha and Stanley tell about chimpanzees which go out at night with torches on their predatory raids. With Romanes, one would do well to doubt this fact till further information is available. Stanley did not see it himself and Emin Pascha was exceedingly shortsighted. If apes have really discovered the art of lighting fires, to us men there would remain nevertheless the invention of the figure of Prometheus, and that this, and not that, is what makes man man forms exactly the substance of my remarks.

12. We have an excellent example of this in the case of the Indo-Aryans in their original home, where the formation of a language, "which surpassed all others, was completely uniform and wonderfully perfect," apart from other intellectual achievements, pointed to a high culture. These men were nevertheless a race of shepherds who walked abroad almost naked and knew neither cities nor metals. (See in particular Jhering, Vorgeschichte der Indoeuropaer, p. 2.) For a definite distinction between knowledge, civilisation and culture I refer readers to vol. ii. chap. ix. of this book and the synopsis contained in it.

13. See, for example, the small work, Homer noch einmal, of the year 1826.

14. I must take care to avoid even the slightest assumption of a learning which 1 do not possess; a man in my position can only note the results of learned research; but it is his right and his duty to approach these results as a free man, possessing unexceptionable critical power. Indeed, he must, in my opinion, use his critical power above all in the same way as a monarch whose wisdom has especially to prove itself in the choice of his advisers; the layman cannot sit in judgment on the value of learned arguments, he can, however, from style, language and train of thoughts very well form an estimate of the individual scholar and distinguish between mason and architect. It is not therefore in the sense of a material proof, but merely in order that the reader himself may be able, in the sense alluded to, to gauge my ability to form a critical judgment, that I now and then refer in the notes to my “authorities." As I have pointed out in the text, I here in the first place hold with Socrates that musicians are the best judges of flute-playing, poets of poetical works, Goethe's opinion with regard to Homer is worth more to me than that of all the philologists together who have lived since the beginning of the world. I have, however, informed myself, as far as a layman can, in regard to the latter, and in so complicated a question this is very essential. The summary accounts of Niese, Die Entwickeltmg der Homerischen Poesie, 1882, and of Jebb, Homer, 1888, enable us to follow the course of the discussion up to modern times, but nothing more. On the other hand, in Bergk, Griechische Litteraturgeschichte, 1872-84, we have a safe guide. That Bergk was a Hellenist of the first rank is admitted by all Homeric scholars and even the ordinary man is impressed by the comprehensive and penetrating character of his knowledge, combined as it is with a moderation which bordered on the jejune; Bergk is not a fiery spirit: his attitude in this question forms the complement to the lightning intuition of a Schiller. One should read not only the chapter, "Homer an historical personality," but particularly also in the later paragraph, "Homer in modern times,” the remarks on the song-theory, of which Bergk says, “The general premisses, from which the advocates of the song-theory proceed, prove themselves on closer examination, especially when one considers the Homeric poems in connection with the whole development of epic poetry, as quite untenable. This theory could only be formulated by critics by whom the Homeric epic, separated from its surroundings and without any regard to the history of Greek literature, was submitted to their disintegrating criticism" (i. 525). One should read also his proof that the use of writing was common in Homer's time. and that external as well as internal facts testify that Homer actually left his works in writing (i. 527 ff). -- 1905. In the meantime the discoveries in Crete have proved that the use of script was common among the Hellenes long before the Achaeans entered the Peloponnese. In the palace of Minos, the most modern parts of which can be proved to have been built not later than 1550 years before Christ, whole libraries and archives have been discovered (cf. the publications of A. J. Evans in the last volumes of the Annual of the British School at Athens).

15. See in particular Flach, Geschichte der griechischen Lyrik nach den Quellen dargestellt, I. pp. 45 ff, 90 ff.

16. Since the above was written, German science has had to deplore the death of this extraordinary man.

17. Seelenkult und Unsterblichkeitsglaube der Griechen, pp. 35, 36.

18. Gesch, des Altertums, v. 566.

19. Lucretius might be named as a man certainly worthy of admiration both as a thinker and as a poet; but his thoughts are, as he admits, always Greek thoughts, and his poetical apparatus is predominantly Greek. And withal there lies over his great poem the deadly shadow of that scepticism, which sooner or later leads to unproductivity, and which must be carefully distinguished from the deep insight of truly religious minds, which become aware of the figurative element in their conceptions, without for that reason doubting the sublime truth of what they vaguely feel in their hearts but cannot fathom, as when, for example. the Vedish seer suddenly exclaims:

From what it has arisen, this creation
Whether created it has been or not --
Whoever in the heavens watches o'er it,
He knows it well! Or does he too not know?
-- Rigveda, x. 129.

or as Herodotus in the passage quoted a few pages previously, where he expresses the opinion that the poet created the gods. And Epicurus himself, the "atheist," the man whom Lucretius describes as the greatest of all mortals, the man from whom he takes his whole system --- do we not learn that in his case" religious feeling must have been so to speak inborn?" (See the sketch of Epicurus' life by K. L. von Knebel, which Goethe recommends.) "Never,” exclaimed Diocles when he found Epicurus in the temple, "never have I seen Zeus greater than when Epicurus lay at his feet!" The Latin fancied he had spoken the last word of wisdom with his Primus in orbe deos fecit timor: the Greek, on the other hand, as an enlightened being, knelt more fervently than ever before the glorious god-image, which heroism had freely created for itself, and in so doing testified to his own genius.

20. Compare in vol. ii., chap. ix., the remarks about China, &c.

21. With regard to the last point one must, however, remark that many a splendid achievement of Hellenic talent in this sphere remained unknown to us till a short time ago.

22. This is a return to a former view. When the Romans were commanded by an oracle to erect a statue to the wisest of the Hellenes, they put up the statue of Pythagoras (Plutarch, Numa, chap. xi.).

23. Aristarchus of Samos, the discoverer of the so-called Copernican system of the world.

24. One sees that according to Goethe a creative act of the human mind is necessary, in order that life itself may become "living”!

25. A general text-book of botany or of zoology of the year 1875 is, for example, useless to-day, and that not solely or even chiefly because of the new material collected, but because actual relations are viewed differently and exact observations are overthrown by still more exact ones. Trace, for example, the dogma of Imbibition with its endless series of observations from its first appearance in 1838 to its point of highest popularity. about x868; then begins the countermine and in the year 1898 the zealous student hears no more about it/ It is particularly interesting to observe how in zoology, in which at the beginning of the nineteenth century great simplification had been considered possible and in which, under Darwin's influence, there had been an effort to reduce, if possible, all animal forms to one single family, now, as our knowledge has gradually increased, an ever greater complication of the original scheme of types has revealed itself. Cuvier thought four "general structure-plans" sufficient. Soon, however, it was necessary to recognise seven different types, all disconnected, and about thirty years ago Carl Claus found that nine was the minimum. But this minimum is not enough. When we disregard all but the convenience and needs of the beginner (Richard Hertwig's well-known and otherwise excellent textbook is an example), when we weigh structural differences against each other without reference to richness of forms and so on -- we find now that anatomical knowledge is more thorough, that not less than sixteen different groups, all equally important as types, must be taken into account. (See especially the masterly Lehrbuch der Zoologie, by Fleischmann, 1898.) -- At the same time opinions with regard to many fundamental zoological facts have been quite changed by more exact knowledge. For instance, twenty years ago when I studied zoology under Karl Vogt it was considered an established fact that worms stood in direct genetic relation to vertebrates; even such critically independent Darwinists as Vogt considered this settled and could tell many splendid things about the worm, which had developed as high as man. In the meantime much more accurate and comprehensive investigations on the development of animals in the embryo have led to the recognition of the fact that there are two great groups inside the "metazoan” ('which comprises animals that do not consist of simple separable cells), the development of which from the moment of the fecundation of the embryo proceeds on quite different lines, so that every true -- not merely apparent -- relationship between them is out of the question, not only the genetic relationship which the evolutionists assume, but also the purely architectonic. And behold I the worms belong to the one group (which reaches its highest point in the insects), and the vertebrates belong to the other and might as well be said to be descended from cuttle- ishes and sea-urchins! (Cf. especially Karl Camillo Schneider: Grundzuge der tierischen Organisation in the Preussische Jahrbucher, 1900, July number. p. 73ff.) Such facts serve to prove and confirm what has been said on p. 42, and it is absolutely necessary that the layman, who is ever apt to suppose that the science of his time is perfection, should learn to recognise in it only a transition stage between a past and a future theory.

26. See, for example, the standard work of the American zoologist. E. B. Wilson (Professor in Columbia): The Cell in Development and Inheritance, 1896, where we read: "The investigation of cell activity has on the whole rather widened than narrowed the great gulf which separates the lowest forms of life from the phenomena of the inorganic world." Privy Councillor Wiesner lately assured me of the absolute correctness of this statement from the standpoint of pure natural science. Wilson's book has in the meantime (1900) appeared in a second enlarged edition. The sentence quoted stands unaltered on p. 434. The whole of the last chapter, Theories of Inheritance and Development, is to be recommended to all who desire not mere phrases but real insight into the present state of scientific knowledge with reference to the important facts of the animal form. They will find a chaos. As the author says (p. 434), “The extraordinary dimensions of the problem of development, whether ontogenetic or phylogenetic, have been underestimated." Now it is recognised that every newly discovered phenomenon does not bring enlightenment and simplification. but new confusion and new problems, so that a well-known embryologist (see Introduction) lately exclaimed: “ Every animal embryo seems to carry its own law in itself!" Rabl arrives at similar results in his investigations on Der Bau und die Entwickelung der Linse (1900); he finds that every animal form possesses its specific organs of sense, the differences between which are already conditioned in the embryo cell. And thus by the progress of true science -- as distinguished from the nonsense regarding power and matter, with which generations of credulous laymen have been befooled -- our view of life became always "more living," and the day is surely not far distant when it will be recognised as more reasonable to try to interpret the dead from the standpoint of the living than the other way about. (I refer to my Immanuel Kant, p. 482 f.)

27. “A genuine work of art is, like a work of nature, always infinite to our mind; it is seen, felt; it produces its effect, but it cannot really be known, much less can its essence, its merit, be expressed in words." (Goethe.)

28. Cf. on this point Schroeder: Pythagoras und die Inder (1884).

29. The best summary account of recent times that is known to me is that of Garbe in his Samkhya-Philosophie (1894), p. 85 f.; there we also find the most important bibliography.

30. For the comparison between Plato and the Indians in reference to the recognition of the empirical reality and transcendental ideality of experience see specially Max Muller: Three Lectures on the Vedanta Philosophy (1894). p. 128 f. Plato's relation to the Eleatics becomes hereby for the first time clear. Fuller information in Deussen's works, especially in his lecture. "On the Philosophy of the Vedanta in Relation to the Metaphysical Doctrines of the West," Bombay, 1893.

31. “When Bahva was questioned by Vashkali, the former explained Brahmanism to him by remaining silent. And Vashkali said, ‘Teach me, O revered one, Brahmanism!' But the latter remained quite silent. When now the other for the second or third time asked, he said, ‘I am indeed teaching you it, but you do not understand it; this Brahmanism is silence.’” (Sankara in the Sutra’s of Vedanta, iii, 2, 17). And in the Taittiriya Upanishad we read (ii. 4): "From the great joy of knowledge all language and all thought turn away, unable to reach it."

32. Eucken says in his essay, Thomas von Aquin und Kant, p. 30 (Kantstudien, 1901, vi. p. 12): The intellectual work of Aristotle is “an artistic or more accurately speaking a plastic shaping."

33. Ideen zur Geschichte der Menscheit, XIIL. chap. v.

34. According to Quenstedt this hypothesis is due to Avicenna; but it is to be traced back to Aristotle and was taught definitely by Theophrastus (see Lyell, Principles of Geology, 12th ed., i. 20).

35. Quenstedt, Handbuch der Petrefaktenkunde, 2nd ed., p. 2.

36. See Des singularites de la Nature, chaps. xii. to xviii., and L'Homme aux quarante ecus, chap. vi., both written in the year 1768. Similar remarks in his letters (see especially, Lettre sur un ecrit anonyme, 19.4.1772).

37. This same Voltaire had the presumption to describe the great astronomical speculations of the Pythagoreans as "galimatias," on which the famous astronomist Schiaparelli remarks with justice: “Such men do not deserve to understand what great speculative power was necessary to attain to a conception of the spherical form of the earth, of its free floating in space and its mobility: ideas without which we should have had neither a Copernicus nor a Kepler, a Galileo nor a Newton" (see the work mentioned below, p. 16).
38. Zeller, Die Philosophie der Griechen, 5th ed., Pt. I., p. 414 ff. More technical, but explained with remarkable lucidity in the work of Schiaparelli, Die Vorldufer des Kopernikus im Alterium (translated into German from the Italian original by the author and M. Curtze, published in the Altpreussisch Monatsschrift, 1876). "We are in a position to assert that the development of the physical principles of this school was bound by logical connection of ideas to lead to the theory of the earth's motion" (see 5 f.). More details of the "really revolutionary view, that it is not the earth that occupies the centre of the universe," in the recently published book of Wilhelm Bauer, Der altere Pythagoreismus (1897). p. 54 ff. 64 ff. &c. The essay too of Ludwig Ideler, Uber das Verhaltnis des Kopernikus zum Altertum in the Museum fur Altertumswissenschaft, published by Fr. Aug. Wolf. 1810, p. 391 ff., is still worth reading.

39. "Aristarchus puts the sun among the number of the fixed stars and makes the earth move through the apparent track of the sun (that, is the ecliptic), and declares that it is eclipsed according to its inclination," says Plutarch. For this and the other evidences in reference to Aristarchus compare the above-mentioned book of Schiaparelli (pp. 121 ff. and 219). This astronomer is moreover convinced that Aristarchus only taught what was already discovered at the time of Aristotle (p. 117), and here too he shows how the method adopted by the Pythagoreans was bound to lead to the correct solution. But for Aristotle and neo-Platonism the heliocentric system would, even at the time of Christ's birth, have been generally accepted; in truth, the Stagyrite has honestly deserved his position as official philosopher of the orthodox church! On the other hand, the story of the Egyptians having contributed something to the solution of the astrophysical problem has been proved to be quite unfounded, like so many other Egyptian stories (Schiaparelli, pp. 105-6). Moreover Copernicus himself tells us in his introduction dedicated to Pope Paul III.: “I first found in Cicero that Nicetus had believed that the earth moved. Afterwards I found also in Plutarch that some others had likewise been of this opinion. This was what caused me to begin to think about the earth’s mobility.”

41. Cf. Franz Xaver Kraus in the Deutsche Literaturtzeitung, 1900, Nr. 1.

41. What the English scientist, John Tyndall, in his well-known speech in Belfast. 1874, said, "Aristotle put words in the place of things; he preached induction, without practising it," will be considered by later ages as just as apt for many an Ernst Haeckel of the nineteenth century. It should also be mentioned that the system of Tycho de Brahe is also of Hellenic origin; see details in Schiaparelli, (p. 115); and especially p. 115); no possible combination could indeed escape the richness of this imagination.

42. See Leopold von Schroeder: Pythagoras und die Inder, p. 39 ff.

43. Cantor: Vorlesungen uber Geschichte der Mathematik, i. 511 (quoted from Schroeder, p. 56).

44. Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus, Chap. iv.

45. Work and Days, 256.

46. Fragment 4 (quoted from Flach, Geschicte der griechischen Lyrik, p. 419).

47. The principle introduced at the time of the Reformation "cujus est regio, illius est religio" only expresses the old condition of law as it existed from time immemorial.

48. French excavation of the year 1890. (See Peppmuller: Hesiodos 1896, p. 152.) One should note also such passages as Aristophanes, Frogs, 1., 1037 ff.

49. I said "cruel" and in fact this trait is one of the most characteristic of the Hellenes, common to them and the Semites. Humanity, generosity, pardon were as foreign to them as love of truth. When they meet these traits for the first time in the Persians, the Greek historians betray an almost embarrassed astonishment: to spare prisoners, to give a kingly reception to a conquered prince, to entertain and give presents to envoys of the enemy, instead of killing them (as the Lacedaemionians and Athenians did, Herodotus, vii. 113). indulgence to criminals, generosity even to spies, the assumption that the first duty of every man is to speak the truth, ingratitude being regarded as a crime punishable by the State -- all this seems to a Herodotus, a Xenophon, almost as ridiculous as the Persian custom not to spit in presence of others, and other such rules of etiquette (cf. Herodotus i. 133 and 138). How is it possible that in the face of such a mass of indubitable facts our historians can go on systematically falsifying history? Leopold van Ranke, for instance, tells in his Weltgeschichte (Text edition, i. 129) the well known anecdote of the disgraceful treatment of the corpse of Leonidas, and how Pausanias rejected the proposal to avenge himself by a similar sin against the corpse of the Persian commander Mardonius, and continues: "This refusal affords food for endless thought. The contrast between East and West is here expressed in a manner which henceforth was to remain the tradition." And yet the whole of Greek history is filled with the mutilation not only of corpses, but of living people, torture, and every kind of cruelty, falsehood and treachery. And thus, in order to get in a high-sounding empty phrase, to remain true to the old absurd proverb of the contrast between Orient and Occident (how ridiculous in a spherical world!) in order to retain cherished prejudices and give them a stronger hold than ever, one of the first historians of the nineteenth century simply puts aside all the facts of history -- facts concerning which even the most ignorant man can inform himself in Duncker, Geschichte des Altertums; Gobineau, Histoire des Perses; Maspero, Les premieres Melees des peuples, &c. -- and the credulous student is forced to accept a manifest untruth with regard to the moral character of the different human races, on the basis of a doubtful anecdote. Such unscrupulous perfidy can only be explained in the case of such a man by the supposition of a "suggestion" paralysing all judgment. As a matter of fact, from India and Persia we derive the one kind of humanity and generosity and love of truth, from Judea and Arabia the other (caused by reaction) -- but none from Greece, nor from Rome, that is, therefore, none from the "Occident." How far removed Herodotus is from such designed misrepresentation of history! for, when he has told of the mutilation of Leonidas, he adds, "Such treatment is not the custom among the Persians. They more than all other nations are wont to honour brave warriors" (vii. 238).

50. Helvetius remarks exquisitely (De l'Esprit, ed. 1772, II. 52): "La legislation de Lycurgue metamorphosait les hommes en heros."

51. Conversation with Eckermann, Nov. 24, 1824.

52. Since these lines were written, I have received the well known English Hellenist Professor Mahaffy's A Survey of Greek Civilisation, 1897, in which the battle of Marathon is termed "a very unimportant skirmish."

53. See Gobineau: Histoire des Perses, ii. 138-142.

54. Particularly the famous battle of Salamis, of which one gets a refreshing description in the above-mentioned work of Count Gobineau, ii. 205-211): "C'est quand les derniers bataillons de l'arriere-garde de Xerxes eurent disparu dans la direction de la Beotie et que toute sa flotte fut partie, que les Grecs prirent d'eux-memes et de ce qu'ils venaient de faire et de ce qu'ils pouvaient en dire l'opinion que la poesie a si heureusement mise en oeuvre. Encore fallut-il que les allies apprissent que la flotte ennemie ne s'etait pas arretee a Phalere pour qu'ils osassent se mettre en mouvement. Ne sachant on elle allait -- ils restaient comme eperdus. Ils se hasarderent enfin a sortir de la baie de Salamine, et se risquerent jusqu'a la hauteur d'Andros. C'est ce qu’ils appelerent plus tard avoir poursuivi les Perses! Ils se garderent cependant d'essayer de les joindre, et rebroussant chemin, ils retournerent chacun dans leurs patries respectives " (p. 208). In another place (ii, 360) Gobineau characterises Greek history as "la plus elaboree des fictions du plus artiste des peuples."

55. The principal thing is clearly not what is found in learned books, but what is taught in school, and here I can speak from experience, for I was first in a French "Lycee," then in an English "college," afterwards I received instruction from the teachers of a Swiss private school, and last of all from a learned Prussian. I testify that in these various countries even the best certified history, that of the last three centuries (since the Reformation), is represented in so absolutely different ways that without exaggerating I may affirm that the principle of historical instruction is still everywhere in Europe systematic misrepresentation. While the achievements of our own country are always emphasised, those of others passed over or suppressed, certain things put always in the brightest light, others left in the deepest shadow, there is formed a general picture which in many parts differs only for the subtlest eye from naked lies. The foundation of all genuine truth: the absolutely disinterested love of justice is almost everywhere absent; a proof that we are still barbarians!

56. It is the first part (published 1877) of a larger work: Die Demokratie, the second part of which appeared in two volumes in 1891 and1898 under the title Die Romische Massenherrschaft.

57. Schvarcz, loc. cit. p. 394 ft.

58. According to Gomperz, Griechische Denker, ii. 95, this anecdote is an "empty tale": but in all such inventions, as in the eppur si muove, &c., there lives an element of higher truth; they are just the reverse of "empty."

59. Graeco-italische Rechtsgeschichte, pp. 589, 595, &c.

60. It matters little that in Homer's time there may have been no “philosophers"; the fact that in his works nothing is "explained," that not the least attempt at a cosmogony is found, shows the tendency of his mind with sufficient clearness. Hesiod is already a manifest reaction, but still too magnificently symbolical to find favour with any rationalist.

61. Christentum, Volksglaube und Volksbrauch, p. 379. In the second part of this book there is an instructive list of pre-Christian customs and superstitions still prevalent in Europe.

62. "Even the most civilised nations do not easily shake off their belief in magic.” – Sir John Lubbock, The Prehistoric Age (German edition, ii. 278)

63. F. A. Lange used the expression, "medizinisches Pfaflentum," somewhere in his Geschichte des Materialismus.

64. "The Semitic peoples in old times do not seem to have believed in the immortality of the individual soul; but their cults supplied the Hellene, as soon as he grasped this thought, with weighty stimulus. The Phoenician divine system of the Cabiri (i.e., the seven powerful ones) was found by the Greeks on Lemnos, Rhodes and other islands, and with regard to this Duncker writes in his Geschichte des Altertums, 14, 279, "The myth of Melcart and Astarte, of Astarte who was adopted into the number of these gods, and of Melcart, who finds again the lost goddess of the moon in the land of darkness and returns from there with her to new light and life -- gave the Greeks occasion to associate with the secret worship of the Cabiri the conceptions of life after death, which had been growing among them since the beginning of the sixth century."

65. We need not be surprised that this belief (according to Herodotus, iv. 93) was prevalent in the Indo-European race of the Getae and from there found its way into Greece; it was an old racial possession; it is very striking, on the other hand, that the Hellene at the period of his greatest strength had lost this belief or rather was quite indifferent to it. "An everlasting life of the soul is neither asserted nor denied from the Homeric standpoint. Indeed, this thought does not come into consideration at all" (Rohde, Psyche, p, 195); a remarkable confirmation of Schiller's assertion that the aesthetic man, i.e., he in whom the sensual and the moral are not diametrically opposed in aim "needs no immortality to support and hold him" (Letter to Goethe, August 9, 1796). Whether or not the Getae were Goths and so belonged to the Teutonic peoples, as Jacob Grimm asserted, does not here much matter; however, a full discussion of this interesting question is to be found in Wietersheim-Dahn, Geschichte der Volkerwanderung, i. 597; the result of the investigation is against Grimm's view. The story that the Getic King Zalmoxis learned the doctrine of immortality from Pythagoras is characterized by Rohde as an "absurd pragmatical tale" (Psyche, p. 329).

66. On this very important point, the genesis of the belief in immortality among the Greeks, see especially Rohde, Psyche, p. 296.

67. In an old Vedic hymn, which I quoted on p. 35. a verse runs, "The Gods have arisen on this side of creation" ; in their capacity as individuals, however, they too cannot, according to the Indian conviction, possess "sempiternity," and Cankara says in the Vedanta Sutra's, when speaking of the individual gods. "Such words as Indra, &c., signify, like the word 'General,' only occupation of a definite post. Whoever therefore occupies the post in question bears the title lndra" (i. 3, 28, p. 170 of Deussen’s translation).

68. Deussen, Allgemeine Geschichte der Philosophie, i. 39. See also Tylor.

69. See particularly in the eleventh book of the Golden Ass the initiation into the mysteries of Isis, Osiris, Serapis and the admission into the association of the Pastophori. Plutarch's writing On Isis and Osiris should also be read.

70. Bussell, The School of Plato, 1896, p. 345, writes of this philosophical period: "The daemons monopolise a worship, which cannot be devoted to a mere idea, and philosophy breathes out its life on the steps of smoking sacrificial altars and amid the incantations and delusions of prophecy and magic."

71. Giordano Bruno, enraged at this fundamentally wrong and pedantically narrow judgment, writes: "Only insensate bestie et veri bruti would be capable of making such a statement" (Italienische Schriften, ed. Lagarde, p. 534). One should compare also M. W. Visser, Die nicht menschengestaltigen Gotter der Griechen, Leyden, 1903.

72. Authenticated at least from Xenophanes and Heraclitus onwards.

73. I quote from Gomperz: Griechische Denker, i. 50; according to Zeller's account so violent an expression would seem unlikely. If I remember rightly, it is Xenophanes who assigns the words to Heraclitus.

74. Cf., further, vol. ii. pp. 135 and 364.

75. Psyche, p. 104.

76. Weltgeschichte (Text edition), i. 230. This axiom of wisdom reminds one perilously of the well-known story from the nursery: “Whom do you love most, papa or mamma? – Both!" For though Aristotle starts from Plato, one can hardly imagine anything more different than their theories of the soul (as well as their whole metaphysics). How then can both have said the best thing"? Schopenhauer has expressed the matter correctly and concisely. "The radical contrast to Aristotle is Plato."

77. O twenty-fourth century! What sayest thou to this? I for my part am silent -- at least with regard to personalities -- and follow the example if wise Socrates in sacrificing a cock to the idols of my century!

78. Bacon of Verulam: Instauratio Magna, Introduction. "Et de utilitate aperte dicendum est: sapientiam istam, quam a Graecis potissimum hausimus, pueritiam quandam scientiae videri, atque habere quod proprium est puerorum; ut ad garriendum prompta, ad generandum invalida et immatura sit. Controversiarum enim ferax, operum effoeta est."

79. Schroeder, Indiens Litteratur und Kultur, p. 252.

80. Sankara: Stra's des Vedanta, i. 2, 11. Of course Sankara lived long after Pythagoras (about the eighth century of our era) but his teaching is strictly orthodox, he makes no risky assertion which is not based on old canonical Upanishads. It is clear that an actual "transmigration" was, even at the time of and according to the oldest Upanishads, for the man who truly had insight, a conception only serving popular ends. Further proof with regard to this matter will be found in Sankara in the introduction to the Sutra's and in i. 1, 4, but especially in the magnificent passage ii. 1, 22, where the Samsara, in conjunction with the whole creation, is described as an illusion, “which like the illusion of partings and separations by birth and death does not exist in the sense of the highest reality."

81. Colebrooke, Miscellaneous Essays, p. 442.

82. In a short summary, Die Religion der Griechen, published in 1895 in the Bayreuther Blatter (also printed separately in 1902).

83. See, for example, in Book XXIV. of the Iliad (verse 300 ff.) the appearance "from the right" of the eagle which presages good. Very significant are the words of Priam in the same book with regard to a vision he has seen (verse 220 ff.): "Had any other of mortal men bidden me believe it, an interpreter of signs or prophet or sacrificial priest, I should have called it deceit and turned from it with contempt." Magnificent, too, is the conception of "spirits" in Hesiod, although he is much nearer to the popular superstition than Homer (Works and Days, 124 ff.): "They defend the right and hinder deeds of impiety: everywhere over the earth they wander, hidden in mist, and scatter blessings; this is the kingly office which they have received.”

84. Dollinger calls the "systematic belief in daemons" one of the “Danaan gifts of Greek imagining" (Akad. Vortrage, i. 182).

85. Metaphysics, Book XII. chap. Vii.

86. Kant: Metaphysische Anfangsgrunde der Tugendlehre, Part I., Ethische Elementarlehre, § 4.
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Re: The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, by Houston St

Postby admin » Wed Oct 19, 2016 4:51 am

Part 1 of 4


Von Jugend auf ist mir Anarchie verdriesslicher gewesen als der Tod.


To define in clear terms what we have inherited from Rome, what out of that vast manufactory of human destinies still exercises a living influence, is certainly impossible, unless we have a clear conception of what Rome was. Even Roman Law in the narrower sense of the word (Private Law), which, as everyone knows, forms the chief material on which all juristical minds are to this day trained, and provides the actual basis even for the freest, most divergent and more modern systems of law, cannot be judged in a way that will give a proper estimate of its peculiar value, if it be simply regarded as a kind of lay Bible, a canon, which has taken a permanent place, hallowed by tens of centuries. If this blind attachment to Roman legal dicta is the result of a superficial historical appreciation, the same may be said of the violent reaction against Roman Law. Whoever studies this law and its slow tedious development, even if only in general outlines, will certainly form a different judgment. For then he will see how the Indo-European races [1] even in earliest times possessed certain clearly expressed fundamental legal convictions, which developed in different ways in the different races, without ever being able to attain to any full development; he will see that they could not do so because no branch could succeed in founding a free and at the same time a lasting State; then he will be surprised to perceive how this small nation of men of strong character, the Romans, established both State and Law -- the State by everyone desiring permanently to establish his own personal right, the Law by everyone possessing the self-control to make the necessary sacrifices and to be absolutely loyal to the common weal; and whoever gains this insight will certainly never speak except with the greatest reverence of Roman Law as one of the most valuable possessions of mankind. At the same time he will certainly perceive that the highest quality of Roman Law and the one most worthy of imitation is its exact suitability to definite conditions of life. He cannot, however, fail to note that State and Law -- both creations of the "born nation of lawyers" [2] -- are here inseparable, and that we cannot understand either this State or this Law, if we have not a clear conception of the Roman people and its history. This is all the more indispensable, as we have inherited from the Roman idea of State as well as from Roman Private Law a great deal that still lives to-day-not to speak of the political relations actually created by the Roman idea of State, relations to which we owe the very possibility of our existence to-day as civilised nations. Hence it may be opportune to ask ourselves, What kind of people were the Romans? What is their significance in history? Naturally only a very hasty sketch can be given here: but it may, I hope, suffice to give us a clear idea of the political achievements of this great people in their essential outlines and to characterise with clearness the somewhat complicated nature of the legacy of politics and of political law that has been handed down to our century. Then and then only will it be feasible and profitable to consider our legacy of private law.


One would think that, as the Latin language and the history of Rome play such an important role in our schools, every educated person would at least possess a clear general conception of the growth and achievements of the Roman people. But this is not the case, and indeed it is not possible with the usual methods of instruction. Of course every person of culture is, to a certain point, at home in Roman history: the legendary Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Brutus, the Horatii and Curiatii, the Gracchi, Marius, Sulla, Caesar, Pompey, Trajan, Diocletian and countless others, are all at least just as familiar to us (i.e., in regard to names and dates) as our own great men; a youth who could not give information about the Second Punic War or confused the different Scipios would feel just as ashamed as if he could not explain the advantages of the Roman legions and maniples over the Macedonian phalanx. One must also admit that Roman history, as it is usually presented to us, is a remarkably rich store of interesting anecdotes; but the knowledge one derives from it is one-sided and absolutely defective. The whole history of Rome almost assumes the appearance of a great and cruel sport, played by politicians and generals, whose pastime it is to conquer the world, whereby they achieve many marvellous results in the art of systematic oppression of foreign peoples and egging on of their own, as well as in the equally noble art of inventing new stratagems of war and of putting them into practice with as large herds of human cattle as possible. There is beyond doubt some truth in this view. There came a time in Rome when those who considered themselves aristocrats chose war and politics as their life-work, instead of taking them up only in time of necessity. Just as with us a short time ago, a man of family could only become an officer, diplomatist or administrative official, so the "upper ten thousand" in later Rome could enter only three professions that did not degrade them socially -- res militaris, juris scientia and eloquentia. [3] And as the world was still young and the province of science not too large to be covered, a man of ability could master all three; if in addition he had plenty of money, his qualifications for politics were complete. It is only necessary to read over again the letters of Cicero to see from his simple confessions, hopelessly entrammelled as he was in the ideas of his time, and unable to look beyond his own nose, how mighty Rome and its destinies became the play-ball of idle dawdlers and how much truth there is in the assertion that Rome was not made but unmade by its politicians. Politics have their peculiarities in other countries as well as in Rome. From Alexander to Napoleon, one can hardly over- estimate the power of criminal obstinacy in purely political heroes. A brief discussion of this point is all the more appropriate in this chapter, as Rome in particular is rightly regarded as a specifically political State and we may therefore hope to learn from it how and by whom great and successful politics are achieved.

What Gibbon says about kings in general, that "their power is most effective in destruction," is true of almost all politicians -- as soon as they possess sufficient power. I am not sure that it was not the wise Solon who made a prosperous development of the Athenian State impossible for all time, by doing away with the historically given composition of the population from various tribes and introducing an artificial class- ivision according to property. This so-called timocracy (honour to him who has money) comes in, it is true, of its own accord almost everywhere to a smaller or greater extent, and Solon at least took the precaution of making duties increase with increase of wealth; nevertheless he it was with his constitution that laid the axe to the root, from which -- however painfully -- the Athenian State had grown. [4] A less important man would not have ventured to make such a revolutionary change in the natural course of development, and that would probably have been a blessing. And can we form a different opinion of Julius Caesar? Of the famous generals in the history of the world as a politician he probably played the greatest part; in the most widely different spheres (think only of the improvement of the calendar, the undertaking of a universal legal code, the founding of the African colony) he revealed a penetrating understanding; as an organising genius he would, I think, not have been surpassed by Napoleon, under equally favourable conditions -- and withal he had the inestimable advantage of being not a foreign condottiere, like Napoleon or Diocletian, but a good genuine Roman, firmly rooted in his hereditary fatherland, so that his individual arbitrariness (as in the case of Lycurgus) would certainly not have erred far from the plumb-line of what suited his nation. And yet it is this very man and no other who bent the tough tree of life of the Roman constitution and gave it over to inevitable decay and ruin. For the remarkable thing in pre-Caesarean Rome is not that the city had to experience so many violent internal storms -- in the Case of a structure so incomparably elastic that is natural, the clash of interests and the never-resting ambition of professional politicians saw to that in Rome as elsewhere -- no, what fills us with wonder and admiration is rather the vitality of this constitution. Patricians and Plebeians might periodically be at each other's throats: yet an invisible power held them firmly together; as soon as new conditions were provided for by a new compromise, the Roman State stood once more stronger than ever. [5] Caesar was born in the midst of one of these severe crises; but perhaps it appears to us in history worse than all previous ones-both because it is nearer to us in time, and we are therefore more fully informed of it, and because we know the issue which Caesar brought about. I for my part consider the interpretation which the philosophy of history gives to these events a pure abstraction. Neither the rough hand of the impetuous, passionate Plebeian Marius nor the tiger-like cruelty of the coolly calculating Patrician Sulla would have inflicted fatal wounds upon the Roman constitution. Even the most critical danger-the freeing of many thousands of slaves and the bestowing of citizenship on many thousands of those freed-men (and that for political, immoral reasons) -- Rome would soon have surmounted. Rome possessed the vitality to ennoble slavery, that is, to give it the definite Roman character. Only a mighty personality, one of those abnormal heroes of will, such as the world scarcely produces once in a thousand years, could ruin such a State. It is said that Caesar was a saviour of Rome, snatched away too soon, before he could finish his work: this is false. When the great man arrived with his army on the banks of the Rubicon, he is said to have hesitatingly commanded a halt and reflected once more on the far- reaching consequences of his action; if he did not cross, he himself would be in danger, if he did cross the boundary marked by sacred law, he would involve the whole world (i.e., the Roman State) in danger: he decided for ambition and against Rome. The anecdote may be invented, Caesar at least lets us see no such inner struggle of conscience in his Civil War; but the situation is exactly described thereby. No matter how great a man may be, he is never free, his past imperatively prescribes the direction of his present; if once he has chosen the worse part, he must henceforth do harm, whether he wills it or not, and though he raise himself to an autocracy, in the fond hope that he henceforth has it in his power to devote himself wholly to doing what is good, he will experience in himself that " the might of Kings is most effective in destruction." Caesar had written to Pompey even from Ariminum to the effect that the interests of the republic were nearer his heart than his own life; [6] and yet Caesar had not long been all-powerful to do good, when his faithful friend Sallust had to ask him whether he had really saved or despoiled the republic? [7] At the best he had saved it as Virginius did his daughter. Pompey, as several contemporary writers tell us, would allow no one beside him, Caesar no one over him. Imagine what might have been the result for Rome if two such men, instead of being politicians, had acted as the servants of the Fatherland, as had been Roman custom hitherto!

It is not my business to enter more fully into the subject briefly sketched here; my only object has been to show what a superficial knowledge we have of a people, if we study only the history of its politicians and generals. This is particularly the case with Rome. Whoever studies Rome merely from this point of view, no matter how industriously he may examine its history, can certainly arrive at no other result than did Herder, whose interpretation therefore will remain classic. To this man of genius Roman history is "the history of demons." Rome a "robbers' cave," what the Romans give to the world "devastating night," their "great noble souls, Caesars and Scipios," spend their life in murdering, the more men they have slaughtered in their campaigns, the warmer the praise that is paid them. [8] This is from a certain point of view correct; but the investigations of Niebuhr, Duruy and Mommsen (especially the last), as well as those of the brilliant historians of law in our century -- Savigny, Jhering and many others -- have brought to light another Rome, to the existence of which Montesquieu had been the first to call attention. Here the important thing was to discover and put in its right light what the old Roman historians, intent on celebrating battles, describing conspiracies, slandering enemies and flattering politicians who paid well, had passed by unnoticed or at any rate had never duly appreciated. A people does not become what the Romans have become in the history of mankind by means of murder and robbery, but in spite of it; no people produces statesmen and warriors of such admirably strong character as Rome did, if it does not itself supply a broad, firm and sound basis for strength of character. What Herder and so many after him call Rome can therefore be only a part of Rome, and indeed not the most important part. The exposition of Augustine in the fifth book of his De civitate Dei is, in my judgment, far happier; he calls attention particularly to the absence of greed and selfishness among the Romans and says that their whole will proclaimed itself in the one resolution, "either to live free or die bravely" (aut fortiter emori aut liberos vivere); and the greatness of the Roman power, as well as its durability, he ascribes to this moral greatness.

In the general introduction to this book I spoke of "anonymous" powers, which shape the life of peoples; we have a brilliant example of this in Rome. I believe we might say without exaggeration that all Rome's true greatness was such an anonymous "national greatness." If in the case of the Athenians genius unfolded itself in the blossom, here it did so in the trunk and the roots; Rome was of all nations that with the strongest roots. Hence it was that it defied so many storms, and the history of the world required almost five hundred years to uproot the rotten trunk. Hence too, however, the peculiar grisaille of its history. In the case of the Roman tree everything went to wood, as the gardeners say; it bore few leaves, still fewer blossoms, but the trunk was incomparably strong; by its support later nations raised themselves aloft. The poet and the philosopher could not prosper in this atmosphere, this people loved only those personalities in whom it recognised itself, everything unusual aroused its distrust; "whoever wished to be other than his comrades passed in Rome for a bad citizen." [9] The people were right; the best statesman for Rome was he who did not move one hair's-breadth from what the people as a whole wished, a man who understood how to open the safety valve now here, now there, to meet the growing forces by the lengthening of pistons and by suitably arranged centrifugal balls and throttles, till the machine of State had quasi-automatically increased its size and perfected its administrative power; he must be, in short, a reliable mechanician: that was the ideal politician for this strong, conscious people whose interests lay entirely in the practical things of life. As soon as anyone overstepped this limit, he necessarily committed a crime against the common weal.

Rome, I repeat -- for this is the chief point to grasp, and everything else follows from it -- Rome is not the creation of individual men, but of a whole people; in contrast to Hellas everything really great is here "anonymous"; none of its great men approaches the greatness of the Roman people as a whole. And so what Cicero says in his Republic (ii. I) is very correct and worth taking to heart: "The constitution of our State is superior to that of others for the following reason: in other places it was individual men who by laws and institutions founded the constitution, as, for example, Minos in Crete, Lycurgus in Lacedaemonia, in Athens (where change was frequent) at one time Theseus, at another Draco, then Solon, Clisthenes and many others l on the other hand, our Roman Commonwealth is founded not on the genius of a single man but of many men, nor did the span of a fleeting human life suffice to establish it, it is the work of centuries and successive generations." Even the General in Rome needed only to give free play to the virtues which his whole army possessed -- patience, endurance, unselfishness, contempt of death, practical common sense, above all the high consciousness of civic responsibility -- and he was sure of victory, if not to-day, then to-morrow. Just as the troops consisted of citizens, their commanders were magistrates who only temporarily changed the office of an administrator or councillor and judge for that of commander-in-chief; in general too it made little difference when in the regular routine of office the one official relieved the other in command; the idea "soldier" came into prominence only in the time of decline. It was not as adventurers but as the most domiciled of citizens and peasants that the Romans conquered the world.


The question here forces itself upon us: is it at all admissible to apply the term conquerors to the Romans? I scarcely think so. The Teutonic peoples, the Arabians and the Turks were conquerors; the Romans, on the other hand, from the day they enter history as an individual, separate nation are distinguished by their fanatical, warm-hearted, and, perhaps, narrow-minded love for their Fatherland; they are bound to this spot of earth -- not particularly healthy nor uncommonly rich -- by inseverable ties of heart, and what drives them to battle and gives them their invincible power is first and foremost the love of home, the desperate resolve to yield up the independent possession of this soil only with their lives. That this principle entailed gradual extension of the State does not prove lust for conquest, it was the natural outcome of a compulsion. Even to-day might is the most important factor in international law, and we have seen how in our century the most peaceful of nations, like Germany, have had unceasingly to increase their military power, but only in the interests of their independence. How much more difficult was the position of Rome, surrounded by a confused chaos of peoples great and small -- close at hand masses of related races constantly warring against each other, farther afield an ever- threatening unexplored chaos of barbarians, Asiatics and Africans! Defence did not suffice; if Rome wished to enjoy peace, she had to spread the work of organisation and administration from one land to the other. Observe the contemporaries of Rome and see what a failure those small Hellenic States were owing to the lack of political foresight; Rome, however, had this quality as no people before or after. Its leaders did not act according to theoretical conceptions, as we might almost be inclined to believe to-day when we see so strictly logical a development; they rather followed an almost unerring instinct; this, however, is the surest of all compasses -- happy he who possesses it! We hear much of Roman hardness, Roman selfishness, Roman greed; yes! but was it possible to struggle for independence and freedom amid such a world without being hard? Can we maintain our place in the struggle for existence without first and foremost thinking of self? Is possession not power? But one fact has been practically disregarded, viz., that the unexampled success of the Romans is not to be looked upon as a result of hardness, selfishness, greed-these raged all around in at least as high a degree as among the Romans, and even to-day no great change has taken place -- no, the successes of the Romans are based on intellectual and moral superiority. In truth a one-sided superiority; but what is not one-sided in this world? And it cannot be denied that in certain respects the Romans felt more intensely and thought more acutely than any other men at any time, and they were in addition peculiar in this, that in their case feeling and thinking worked together and supplemented each other.

I have already mentioned their love of home. That was a fundamental trait of the old Roman character. It was not the purely intellectual love of the Hellenes, bubbling over and rejoicing in song, yet ever prone to yield to the treacherous suggestions of selfishness; nor was it the verbose love of the Jews: we know how very pathetically the Jews sing of the "Babylonian captivity," but, when sent home full-handed by the magnanimous Cyrus, prefer to submit to fines and force only the poorest to return, rather than leave the foreign land where they are so prosperous; no, in the case of the Romans it was a true, thoroughly unsentimental love that knew few words, but was ready for any sacrifice; no man and no woman among them ever hesitated to sacrifice their lives for the Fatherland. How can We explain so unmeasured an affection? Rome was (in olden times) not a wealthy city; without crossing the boundaries of Italy one could see much more fruitful regions. But what Rome gave and securely established was a life morally worthy of man. The Romans did not invent marriage, they did not invent law, they did not invent the constitutional freedom-giving State; all that grows out of human nature and is found everywhere in some form and to some degree; but what the Aryan races had conceived under these notions as the bases of all morality and culture had nowhere been firmly established till the Romans established it. [10] Had the Hellenes got too near Asia? Were they too suddenly civilised? Had the Celts, who were by nature endowed with almost as much fire, become so savage in the wild North that they were no longer able to construct anything, to organise anything, or to found a State? [11] Or was it not rather that blood-mixtures within the common mother race, and at the same time the artificial selection necessitated by geographical and historical conditions tended to produce abnormal gifts (naturally with accompanying phenomena of reversion)? [12] I do not know. Certain it is, however, that previous to the Romans there was no sacred, worthy and at the same time practical regulation of matters relating to marriage and family; no more was there a rational law resting on a sure foundation capable of being widened, or a political organisation able to resist the storms of a chaotic time. Though the simply constructed mechanism of the old Roman State might frequently be awkward in its working and require thorough repairs, it was yet a splendid structure well adapted to the time and to its purpose. In Rome, from the first, the idea of Law had been finely conceived and finely carried into effect; moreover its limitations were in keeping with the conditions. Still more was this the case with the family. This institution was to be found in Rome alone -- and in a form more beautiful than the world has ever since seen! Every Roman citizen, whether Patrician or Plebeian, was lord, yea, king in his house: his will extended even beyond death by the unconditional freedom of bequest, and the sanctity of the last testament; his home was assured against official interference by more solid rights than ours; in contrast to the Semitic patriarchate he had introduced the principle of agnation [13] and thereby swept entirely aside the interference of mothers-in- aw and women as a whole; on the other hand, the materfamilias was honoured, treasured, loved like a queen. Where was there anything to compare with this in the world at that time? Outside of civilisation perhaps; inside it nowhere. And so it was that the Roman loved his home with such enduring love and gave his heart's blood for it. Rome was for him the family and the law, a rocky eminence of human dignity in the midst of a surging sea.

Let no one fancy that anything great can be achieved in this world unless a purely ideal power is at work. The idea alone will of course not suffice; there must also be a tangible interest, even should it be, as in the case of the martyrs, an interest pertaining to the other world; without an additional ideal element the struggle for gain alone possesses little power of resistance; higher power of achievement is supplied only by a "faith," and that is what I call an "ideal impulse" in contrast to the direct interest of the moment -- be that last possession or anything else whatever. As Dionysius says of the ancient Romans, "they thought highly of themselves and could not therefore venture to do anything unworthy of their ancestors" (i. 6); in other words, they kept before their eyes an ideal of themselves. I do not mean the word "ideal" in the degenerate, vague sense of the "blue flower" of Romance, but in the sense of that power which impelled the Hellenic sculptor to form the god from out the stone, and which taught the Roman to look upon his freedom, his rights, his union with a woman in marriage, his union with other men for the common weal, as something sacred, as the most valuable gift that life can give. A rock, as I said, not an Aristophanic Cloud-cuckoo-land. As a dream, the same feeling existed more or less among all Indo-Europeans: we meet with a certain holy awe and earnestness in various forms among all the members of this family; the persevering power to realise things practically was, however, given to no one so much as to the Roman. Do not believe that" robbers " can achieve results such as the Roman State, to the salvation of the world, achieved. And when once you have recognised the absurdity of such a view, search deeper and you will see that these Romans were unsurpassed as a civilising power, and that they could only be that because, though they had great faults and glaring intellectual deficiencies, they yet possessed high mental and moral qualities.


Mommsen tells (i. 321) of the alliance between the Babylonians and the Phoenicians to subdue Greece and Italy, and is of opinion that "at one stroke freedom and civilisation would have been swept off the face of the earth," We should weigh carefully what these words mean when uttered by a man who commands the whole field as no one else does; freedom and civilisation (I should rather have said culture, for how can one deny civilisation to the Babylonians and Phoenicians, or even to the Chinese?) would have been destroyed, blotted out for ever! And then take up the books which give a detailed and scientific account of the Phoenician and Babylonian civilisation, in order to see clearly what foundation there is for such a far-reaching statement. It will not be difficult to see what distinguishes a Hellenic "Colony" from a Phoenician Factory: and from the difference between Rome and Carthage we shall readily understand what an ideal power is, even in the sphere of the driest, most selfish politics of interest. How suggestive is that distinction which Jhering (Vorgeschichte, p. 176) teaches us to draw between the "commercial highways" of the Semites and the "military roads" of the Romans: the former the outcome of the tendency to expansion and possession; the latter the result of the need of concentrating their power and defending the homeland. We shall also learn to distinguish between authentic" robbers," who only civilise in as far as they understand how to take up and utilise with enviable intelligence all discoveries that have a practical worth and to encourage in the interests of their commerce artificial needs in foreign peoples, but who otherwise rob even their nearest relations of every human right -- who nowhere organise anything but taxes and absolute slavery, who in general, no matter where they plant their foot, never seek to rule a country as a whole under systematic government, and, being alive only to their commercial interests, leave everything as barbarous as they find it: we shall, as I say, learn to distinguish between such genuine robbers and the Romans, who, in order to retain the blessings that attend the order reigning in their midst, are compelled -- beginning from that unchanging centre, the home -- slowly and surely to extend their ordering and clearing influence all round; they never really conquer (when they can help it); they spare and respect every individuality; but withal they organise so excellently that people approach them with the prayer to be allowed to share in the blessings of their system; [14] their own splendid "Roman law" they generously make accessible to ever- ncreasing numbers, and they at the same time unite the various foreign legal systems, taking the Roman as a basis, in order gradually to evolve therefrom a "universal international law." [15] This is surely not how robbers act. Here we have rather to recognise the first steps towards the permanent establishment of Indo-European ideals of freedom and civilisation. Livy says with justice: "It was not only by our weapons but also by our Roman legislation that we won our far-reaching influence."

It is clear that the commonly accepted view of Rome as the conquering nation above all others is very one-sided. Indeed even after Rome had broken with its own traditions, or rather when the Roman people had in fact disappeared from the earth, and only the idea of it still hovered over its grave, even then it could not depart far from this great principle of its life: even the rough soldier-emperors were unable to break this tradition. And thus it is that the real military hero -- as individual phenomenon -- does not occur at all among the Romans. I will not make any comparisons with Alexander, Charles XII. or Napoleon; I ask, however, whether the one man Hannibal, as an inventive, audacious, arbitrary prince of war, has not displayed more real genius than all the Roman imperators taken together.

It need scarcely be stated that Rome fought neither for a Europe of the future nor in the interests of a far-reaching mission of culture, but simply for itself; but thanks to this very fact, that it fought for its own interests with the reckless energy of a morally strong people, it has preserved from sure destruction that "intellectual development of mankind which depends upon the Indo-Teutonic race." This is best seen clearly in the most decisive of all its struggles, that with Carthage. If Rome's political development had not been so strictly logical up till then, if it had not betimes subdued and disciplined the rest of Italy, the deadly blow to freedom and civilisation mentioned above would assuredly have been dealt by the allied Asiatics and Carthaginians. And how little a single hero can do in the face of such situations of world-wide historical moment, although he alone, it may be, has taken a comprehensive view of them, is shown by the fate of Alexander, who having destroyed Tyre meditated embarking on a campaign against Carthage, but at his early death left nothing behind but the memory of his genius. The long-lived Roman people, on the other hand, was equal to that great task, which it finally summed up in the monumental sentence, delenda est Carthago.

What laments and moralisings we have had on the destruction of Carthage by the Romans, from Polybius to Mommsen! It is refreshing to meet a writer who, like Bossuet, simply says: "Carthage was taken and destroyed by Scipio, who in this showed himself worthy of his great ancestor," without any moral indignation, without the well-worn phrase that all the suffering which later befell Rome was a retribution for this misdeed. I am not writing a history of Rome and do not therefore require to sit in judgment on the Romans; but one thing is as clear as the noonday sun; if the Phoenician people had not been destroyed, if its survivors had not been deprived of a rallying-point by the complete destruction of their last city, and compelled to merge in other nations, mankind would never have seen this nineteenth century, upon which, with all due recognition of our weaknesses and follies, we yet look back with pride, justified in our hopes for the future. The least mercy shown to a race of such unparalleled tenacity as the Semites would have sufficed to enable the Phoenician nation to rise once more; in a Carthage only half-burned the torch of life would have glimmered beneath the ashes, to burst again into flame as soon as the Roman Empire began to approach its dissolution. We are not yet free of peril from the Arabs, [16] who long seriously threatened our existence, and their creation, Mohammedanism, is the greatest of all hindrances to every progress of civilisation, hanging like a sword of Damocles over our slowly and laboriously rising culture in Europe, Asia and Africa; the Jews stand morally so high above all other Semites that one may hardly name them in conjunction with these (their ancestral enemies in any case from time immemorial), and yet we should need to be blind or dishonest, not to confess that the problem of Judaism in our midst is one of the most difficult and dangerous questions of the day; now imagine in addition a Phoenician nation, holding from the earliest times all harbours in their possession, monopolising all trade, in possession of the richest capitals in the world and of an ancestral national religion (Jews so to speak who had never known Prophets) ... ! It is no fantastic philosophising on history but an objectively demonstrable fact that, under such conditions, that which we to-day call Europe could never have arisen. Once more I refer to the learned works on the Phoenicians, but above all, because available to everyone, to the splendid summary in Mommsen's Romische Geschichte, Book III. chap. i., "Carthage." The intellectual barrenness of this people was really horrifying. Although destiny made the Phoenicians brokers of civilisation, yet this never inspired them to invent anything whatever; civilisation remained for them altogether something absolutely external; of what we call "culture" they had not the least notion, even to the last: clad in magnificent garments, surrounded by works of art, in possession of all the knowledge of their time, they continued as before to practise sorcery, offered human sacrifices and lived in such a pit of unspeakable vice that the most degraded Orientals turned in disgust from them. With regard to their share in the spread of civilisation Mommsen says: "This they have done more as the bird scatters the seed [17] than as the sower sows the corn. The Phoenicians absolutely lacked the power, possessed by the Hellenes and even the Italic peoples, of civilising and assimilating the nations capable of being educated, with whom they came in contact. In the sphere of Roman conquest the Iberian and Celtic languages have disappeared before the Romance tongue; the Berbers of Africa speak the same language to-day as they did at the time of Hanna and the Barcidae. But the Phoenicians like all Aramaic peoples, in contrast to the Indo-Teutonic, lack above all the impulse to form States -- the brilliant idea of freedom that's self-governing." Where the Phoenicians settled, their constitution was, fundamentally, merely a "government of capitalists, consisting on the one hand of a city mob, without property, living from hand to mouth, treating the conquered people in the country districts as mere slave-cattle without rights, and on the other hand of merchant princes, plantation-owners and aristocratic governors." These are the men, this the fatal branch of the Semitic family, from which we have been saved by the brutal delenda est Carthago. And even if it should be true that the Romans in this case listened more than was their wont to the mean promptings of revenge, perhaps even of jealousy, all the more am I bound to admire the unerring certainty of instinct which induced them, even where they were blinded by evil passions, to strike down that which any cool, calculating politician gifted with the eye of the prophet would have been bound to urge them to destroy for the salvation of mankind. [18]

A second Roman delenda has for the history of the world an almost equally inestimable importance: the delenda est Hierosolyma. Had it not been for this achievement (which we certainly owe as much to the Jews who have at all times rebelled against every system of government as to the long-suffering Romans) Christianity would hardly ever have freed itself from Judaism, but would have remained, in the first instance, a sect among sects. The might of the religions idea, however, would have prevailed in the end; as to that there can be no question: the enormous and increasing spread of the Jewish Diaspora [19] before the time of Christ proves it; we should therefore have received a Judaism reformed by Christian influence and ruling the world. Perhaps the objection may be urged that that has come to pass, and that it correctly describes our Christian Church. Certainly, the objection is in part justifiable; no rightly thinking man will deny the share that Judaism has in it. But when we see how in earliest times the followers of Christ demanded the strict observance of the Jewish "law," how they, less liberal than the Jews of the Diaspora, took into their community no " heathens" who had not submitted to the mark of circumcision common to all Semites; when we think of the struggles which the Apostle Paul (the Apostle of the heathen) had to wage till his death with the Jew-Christians, and that even much later, in the Revelation of St. John (iii. 9) he and his followers are scorned as being "of the synagogue of Satan which say they are Jews and are not, but do lie"; when we see the authority of Jerusalem and its temple continue to be simply invincible, even inside the Pauline Christendom, so long as both actually did stand intact, [20] then we cannot doubt that the religion of the civilised world would have pined under the purely Jewish primacy of the city of Jerusalem, if Jerusalem had not been destroyed by the Romans. Ernst Renan, certainly no enemy of the Jews, has in his Origines du Christianisme (iv. chap. xx.) eloquently shown what an "immense danger" would have lain therein. [21] Still worse than the commercial monopoly of the Phoenicians would have been the religious monopoly of the Jews; under the leaden weight of these born dogmatists and fanatics all freedom of thought and faith would have disappeared from the world; the flatly materialistic view of God would have been our religion, pettifoggery our philosophy. This too is no imaginary picture, only too many facts speak for it; for what is that rigid, illiberal, intellectually narrow dogmatising of the Christian Church -- a thing undreamt of by the Aryan -- what is that disgraceful, bloodthirsty fanaticism which runs through all the ages down to our own nineteenth century, that curse of hatred that has clung to the religion of love from the beginning and from which Greeks and Romans, Indians and Chinese, Persians and Teutonic peoples turn with horror? What is it, if not the shadow of that temple, in which sacrifices were offered to the god of anger and vengeance, a dark shadow cast over the youth of the heroic race "that from out the darkness strives to reach the light"?

Without Rome it is certain that Europe would have remained a mere continuation of the Asiatic chaos. Greece always gravitated towards Asia, till Rome tore it away. It is the work of Rome that the centre of gravity of culture has been once and for all removed to the west, that the Semitic-Asiatic spell has been broken and at least partly cast aside, that the predominantly Indo-Teutonic Europe became henceforth the beating heart and thinking brain of all mankind. While this State fought for its own practical (but, as we saw, not unideal) interests without the least regard for others -- often cruelly, always sternly, but seldom ignobly -- it has put the house in readiness, the strong citadel in which our race, after long aimless wanderings, was to settle down and organise itself for the salvation of mankind.

For the accomplishment of Rome's work so many centuries were necessary, and in addition so high a degree of that unerring, self-willed instinct, which hits the mark, even where it seems to be going senselessly astray, doing good even where its will is baneful, that it was not the fleeting existence of pre-eminent individuals but the dogged unity of a steel- hardened people, working almost like a force of nature, that was the right and only efficacious thing. Hence it is that so-called "political history," that history which tries to build up the life of a people from the biographies of famous men, the annals of war and diplomatic archives, is so inappropriate here; it not only distorts, but fails to reveal in any way those things that are the most essential. For what we, looking back and philosophising, regard as the office or vocation of Rome in the history of the world, is surely nothing else than an expression for the bird's-eye view of the character of this people as a whole. And here we must admit that the politics of Rome moved in a straight and -- as later times have shown -- perfectly correct line, so long as they were not in the hands of professional politicians. Caesar's period was the most confused and most productive of evil; both people and instinct were then dead, but the work continued to exist, and, embodied with it, the idea of the work, but it was nowhere capable of being set apart as a formula and as a law for future actions, for the simple reason that the work had not been reasoned, considered and conscious, but unconscious and accomplished of necessity.
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Re: The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, by Houston St

Postby admin » Wed Oct 19, 2016 4:52 am

Part 2 of 4


After the fall of the true Roman people this idea -- the idea of the Roman State -- came again to life in very different ways in the brains of individuals who were called to power. Augustus, for example. seems really to have been of the opinion that he had restored the Roman republic, otherwise Horace would certainly not have gone the length of praising him for it. Tiberius, who transformed "the insult to the majesty of the Roman people, "the crimen majestatis, which was punished even in former times, into quite a new crime, viz., "the insult to his own Caesarean person," took thereby a very great step towards dissipating into a mere idea the actual free State created by the people of Rome -- a step from which in the nineteenth century we have not yet gone back. But so firmly was the Roman idea planted in every heart that a Nero took his own life, because the Senate had branded him an "enemy of the republic." Soon, however, the proud assembly of Patricians found itself face to face with men who did not tremble before the magic words senatus populusque Romanus: the soldiers chose the bearer of the Roman Imperium; it was not long before Romans, and Italians as well, were excluded for ever from this dignity: Spaniards, Gauls, Africans, Syrians, Goths, Arabs, Illyrians followed one another; not one of them probably was even distantly related to those men who with sure instinct had created the Roman State. And yet the idea lived on; in the Spaniard Trajan it even reached a climax of brilliancy. Under him and his immediate followers it worked so expressly as an ordering civilising power, resorting to conquest only where the consolidation of peace unconditionally demanded it, that we are justified in saying that during the Antonine century Roman imperialism -- which had lived in the people previously only as an impulse, not as an end in view -- came to be conscious of itself, and that in a manner which was only possible in the minds of nobly thinking foreigners, who found themselves face to face with a strange idea, which they henceforth embraced with full objectivity, in order to set it in operation with loyalty and understanding. This period had a great influence on all future time; wherever with noble purpose the idea of a Roman Empire was again taken as a starting-point, it was done under the influence and in imitation of Trajan, Hadrian, Antoniuus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. And yet there is a peculiar soullessness in this whole period. Here the sway of understanding is supreme, the heart is dumb; the passionless mechanism affects even the soul, which does right not from love but from reason: Marcus Aurelius' "Monologues" are the mirror of this attitude of mind, and the inevitable reaction appears in the sexual aberrations of his wife Faustina. The root of Rome, the passionate love of the family, of the home, was tom out; not even the famous law against bachelors, with premiums for children (Lex Julia et Papia Poppaea) could again make marriage popular. Where the heart does not command, nothing is enduring. And now other foreigners usurped supreme power, this time men full of passion but devoid of understanding, African half-breeds, soldier Emperors, who saw in the Roman State nothing more than a gigantic barracks, and had no idea why Rome in particular should be the permanent headquarters. The second of them, Caracalla, even extended the Roman franchise to all the inhabitants of the Empire: thereby Rome ceased to be Rome. For exactly a thousand years the citizens of Rome (with whom those of the other cities of Italy and of other specially deserving States had gradually been put on an equal footing) had enjoyed certain privileges, but they had gained them by burdensome responsibility as well as by restless, incomparably successful, hard work; from now onward Rome was everywhere, that is, nowhere. Wherever the Emperor happened to be was the centre of the Roman Empire. Diocletian transferred his residence to Sirmium, Constantine to Byzantium, and even when a separate Western Roman Empire arose, the imperial capital was Ravenna or Milan, Paris, Aachen, Vienna, never again Rome. The extension of the franchise to all had another result: there were no longer any citizens. Caracalla, [22] the murderous, pseudo-Punic savage, used to be commended for his action and even to-day he has his admirers (see Leopold von Ranke, Weltgeschichte, ii, 195). In reality, however, he had, by cutting the last thread of historical tradition, i.e., of historical truth, destroyed also the last trace of that freedom, the indomitable, self-sacrificing and thoroughly ideal power of which had created the city of Rome and with it Europe, Political law was, of course, henceforth the same for all; it was the equality of absolute lawlessness. The word citizen (civis) gave way now to the term subject (subjectus): all the more remarkable, as the idea of being subject was as strange to all branches of the Indo-Europeans as that of supreme kingship, so that we see in this one transformation of the legal idea the incontestable proof of Semitic influence (according to Leist, Graco-italische Rechtsgeschichte, pp. 106, 108). The Roman idea certainly still lived on, but it had concentrated itself or, so to speak, become merged in one person -- the Emperor; the privileges of the Romans and their summary powers had not disappeared from the world, they had all been delegated to a single man: that is the course of events from Augustus to Diocletian and Constantine. The first Caesar had been satisfied with uniting in his own hands all the most important offices of State, [23] and that had been granted to him only for one definite object limited in respect of time, namely, to restore legal order in the civilised world (restauratio orbis); within three centuries things had come to this, that a single individual was invested not only with all offices but with all the rights of all the citizens. Just as in early times (at the time of the first successor to Augustus) the "majesty of the people" had become the "majesty" of one man, so gradually each and every power, each and every right passed over to him. Augustus had, like every other citizen, still given his vote in the Comitia; now there sits a monarch on the throne, whom one may only approach "reverentially" on one's knees, and before him all men are alike, for all, from the foremost statesman to the lowest peasant, are his subjects. And while thus the "great king" and with him all that belonged to his Court continually increased in riches and dignity, the rest sank ever lower: the citizen could no longer even choose his profession; the peasant, formerly the free proprietor of his ancestral estate, was the bondman of a master and bound to the soil; but death looses all bonds, and the day came when the tax-collector had to mark what were formerly the most fertile parts of the Empire in their papers as agri deserti.

It is not my intention to trace further through history the idea of the Roman State; something will still have to be said on this matter in a later chapter; I shall restrict myself to reminding the reader that a Roman Empire -- in idea a direct continuation of the old Imperium -- legally existed till August 6, 1806, and that the oldest Roman office, that of Pontifex maximus, which was held by Numa Pompilius himself, is still in existence; the Papal stool is the last remnant of the old heathen world which has continued to live to the present day. [24] If what I have briefly pointed out is known to all, it has been brought forward in the hope that I might be able to demonstrate more vividly and suggestively than could be done by theoretical analysis the peculiarly complicated form of the political legacy which our century received from Rome. Here as elsewhere in this book learned considerations have no place; these are to be found in histories of constitutional law; here I bring forward only general observations, which are accessible and stimulating to all. In purely political matters we have inherited from Rome not a simple idea, not even anything so simple as what is embraced by the phrase "Hellenic art," however full of meaning that may be, but on the other hand there has come down to us a remarkable mixture of possessions of the greatest reality -- civilisation, law, organisation, administration, &c.; and at the same time of ideas which, though we may not comprehend them, are yet all- powerful; of notions which no one can fully grasp and which, nevertheless, for good and for evil, still influence our public life. We certainly cannot understand our own century thoroughly and critically, if we have not clear conceptions regarding this double political legacy.


Now that we have discussed political matters in the narrower sense, let us, before passing on to the consideration of Private Law, cast a glance at the constitutional and ideal legacy in general.

So long as Rome was effectively engaged in positively creative work -- more than five hundred years before Caesar and then for more than a century in its agony [25] -- it might seem to us totally destitute of ideas; it only creates, it does not think. It creates Europe and destroys, as far as possible, Europe's nearest and most dangerous enemies. That is the positive legacy of this time. The countries, too, which Rome never subdued, as for example the greatest part of Germany, have received from Rome all the germs of constitutional order, as the fundamental condition of every civilisation. Our languages still show us that all administration goes back to Roman teaching or suggestion. We live to-day in conditions so securely established by order that we can scarcely conceive that it was ever otherwise; not one among ten thousand of us has the faintest idea of the organisation of the machine of State; everything seems to us necessary and natural, law, morals, religion, even State itself. And yet the establishment of this, the ordered, secure State, worthy of free citizens, was -- as all history proves -- a task extremely difficult to accomplish; India had a most noble religion, Athens perfect art, Babylonia a wondrous civilisation -- everything had been achieved by the founding of a free and at the same time stable State that guaranteed conditions of law; for this Herculean task an individual hero did not suffice, a whole nation of heroes was necessary -- each one strong enough to command, each one proud enough to obey, all unanimous, each one standing up for his own personal right. When I read Roman history I feel compelled to turn away with horror; but when I contemplate the two incomparable creations of this people, the ordered State and private law, I can only bow in silent reverence before such intellectual greatness.

But this heroic people died out, and after its complete extinction there came, as we saw, a second period of Roman politics. Foreigners occupied the supreme power and foreign lawyers became the masters of public law and constitutional law as well as of the incomparable private law which had grown like a living thing, and which they preserved, so to speak, in alcohol, in the wise conviction that it could not be made more perfect but at most might degenerate. These advisers of the crown were mostly natives of Asia Mirror, Greeks and Semites, that is to say, the recognised masters in the handling of abstractions and in juristic subtleties. And now there came an episode of the Roman constitution in which, if nothing absolutely new was invented, there were many new interpretations, which were sublimated to principles, and then crystallised into rigid dogmas. The process is very analogous to that described in the passage dealing with Hellenic art and philosophy. The Roman republic had been a living organism, in which the people was constantly and industriously introducing improvements; the formal question of leading "principles" had never arisen, the present had never wished to hold the future in bondage. That went so far that the highest officials of the law-court, the praetors, nominated for a year, each issued on his entry into office a so-called "praetorian edict," in which he published the principles which he intended to follow in his administration of the law; and thus it became possible to adapt the existing code to changing times and conditions. Similarly everything in this State was elastic, everything remained in touch with the needs of life. But exactly as the poetical inspirations of the Greek philosophers and their mystical interpretations of the Inscrutable had been transformed in Helleno-Semitic Alexandria to dogmas of faith, so here State and law were changed to dogmas, and pretty much by the same people. We have inherited these dogmas, and it is important that we should know whence they come and how they arose.

For example, our idea of the monarch is derived neither from the Teutonic nations, nor from the Oriental despots, but from the learned Jurists who were in the service of the Illyrian shepherd Diodetian, of the Illyrian cowboy Galerius and of the Illyrian swineherd Maximinus, and is a direct parody -- if the truth must be told -- of the greatest State-ideas of Rome. "The State-idea among the Romans," writes Mommsen, "rests upon the ideal transmission of the individual's capacity for action to the whole body of citizens, the populus, and upon the submission on the part of each physical member of the community of his individual will to this universal will. The repression of individual independence in favour of the collective will is the criterion of a constitutional community." [26] To picture to oneself what is implied by this "transmission," this "repression of individual independence," one must recall to memory the uncontrollable, individual love of freedom characteristic of each Roman. Of the oldest legal monument of the Romans, the famous twelve bronze tables (450 B.C.), Esmarch says, "The most pregnant expressions in these tables are the guarantees of the autocracy of the private rights of Roman citizens," [27] and when three hundred and fifty years later the first detailed system of law was compiled and written down, all the storms of the intervening period had caused no difference in this one point. [28] As a free self-governing man the Roman accordingly transmits to the collective will, whose spontaneous member he is, as much of his freedom as is necessary for the defence of that freedom. "The collective will is now in itself, if one is permitted to apply to it an expression of Roman private law, a fiction of constitutional law. Representation is in fact required for it. The action of will of the one man who represents it in the special case is equivalent constitutionally to the action of the collective will. The constitutional act of will in Rome is always the act of one man, since will and action in themselves are inseparable; collective action by majority of votes is from the Roman point of view a contradictio in adjecto." In every clause of this Roman constitutional law one sees a nation of strong, free men: the representation of the common cause, that is, of the State, is entrusted for a definite time to individual men (consuls, praetors, censors); they have absolutely plenary power and bear full responsibility. In case of need this conferring of absolute power goes so far that the citizens nominate a dictator, all in the interest of the common weal and in order that the freedom of each individual may remain unimpaired. -- Now the later emperors, or rather their advisers, did not, as one might have expected, overthrow this constitutional idea; no, they made it the legal foundation for monarchical autocracy, a thing unprecedented in history. Elsewhere despots had ruled as the sons of gods, as for instance in Egypt and even at the present day in Japan -- others, in former times and to-day, as representatives of God (I need only mention the Jewish kings and the Khalifs) -- others again by the so-called jus gladii, the right of the sword. But the soldiers who had usurped what had once been the Roman Empire founded their claims to rule as absolute autocrats upon Roman constitutional law! They had not in their opinion usurped the power like a Greek tyrant and overthrown the constitutional order; on the contrary, the all-powerful monarch was the flower, the perfection of the whole legal development of Rome: this the Oriental jurists had by their subtlety contrived to establish. With the help of the transmission theory just explained, the trick had been accomplished -- in the main as follows. One of the main pillars of Roman constitutional law is that no enactment has the force of law, if it is not approved by the people. Under the first emperors appearances were still maintained in this respect. But after Caracalla "Rome" had come to mean the whole civilised world. And now all rights of the people were" transmitted" to the Senate to simplify the issuing of new laws, &c. In the Corpus juris it stands thus: "As the Roman people has grown to such an extent that it would be difficult to call it together to one spot for the purpose of approving laws, it was held to be right to consult the Senate instead of the people." As we now speak of a Viceroy, so the Senate was called henceforth vice populi. The approval of the Senate too had become purely a matter of form -- once in possession of so beautiful an abstract principle, Here was no stopping half-way; and so the text continues: "but that also which it pleases the Prince to decree has the power of law, for the people has transmitted to him its whole plenitude of power and all its rights." [29] We have here accordingly the strictly legal derivation of an absolute monarchy and that too in the way in which it certainly could be developed from the Roman constitution alone -- with its rejection of the principle of majority and with its system of transmitting supreme power to individual men. [30] And this Roman "principate," as it is called, for the title of King was borne by no Caesar, forms to the present day the basis of all European kingships. By the introduction of constitutionalism, but still more by tlie manipulation of the law there is at present in many countries a movement back to the free standpoint of the ancient Romans; but everywhere "monarchical rule" is still in principle what the legal authorities of the fallen Roman State had made it. an institution which stands in direct contradiction to the true spirit of genuine Rome. The army is not even at the present day the army of the people, defending the home of that people, it is everywhere (even in England) called the army of the king; the officials are not appointed and invested with authority by the collective will, they are servants of the king. That is all Roman, but, as has been said, Roman of the cowboy, shepherd and swineherd age. I unfortunately cannot go into greater detail here, but must refer my readers to the classical works of Savigny, Geschichte des romischen Rechtes im Mittelalter, and Sybel, Entstehung des deutschen Konigtums, as also to Schulte, Deutsche Reichs- und Rechtsgeschichte. Among us the absolute monarchy has everywhere arisen through contact with the Roman Empire. Formerly the Teutonic Kings had everywhere limited rights; the touchstone of high treason was either not recognised as a crime or punished simply by a "wergild" (Sybel, 2nd ed., p. 352); the nomination of counts as officials of the king does not occur till the conquest of Roman lands, in fact there is a long period in which the Teutonic kings have greater authority over their Roman subjects than over their free Franks (Savigny, 1., chap. iv. div. 3). -- Above all the idea of a subject, the Roman subjectus, is a legacy which still clings fast to us, and which should let us see very clearly what to this day connects us with the Roman Empire at the time of its fall, and how much still separates us from the genuine heroic people of Rome.

In all this I have no wish to moralise in the interests of any tendency. The old Roman forms of government would not have been applicable to new conditions and new men; indeed they no longer sufficed even for Rome itself when once it had extended its boundaries. Add to this that Christianity had arisen, making the suppression of slavery an obvious command. All that made a strong kingdom a necessity. But for the kings, slavery would never have been abolished in Europe, the nobles would never have set their slaves free, they would rather have made free-born men their bondmen. The strengthening of the kingly office has everywhere for a thousand years been the first condition of the strengthening of an ordered state of society and civic freedom, and even to-day there is probably no country in Europe where an absolutely free plebiscite would proclaim as the will of the people any other form of government than the monarchical. Public consciousness, too, is penetrating through the deceptive veils which sophists and pettifoggers have hung round it, and is recognising the genuine legal meaning of the King, namely, the old Roman view of the first official of State, glorified by that sacred element which finds a not unsuitable mystical expression in the words, "by the Grace of God." Many things which we have noticed around us in the nineteenth century justify us in believing that without a kingship and without a special grace of God we could not, even to- day, rule ourselves. For that possibly not only the virtues but also the faults of the Romans, and above all their excessive intellectual sobriety, were necessary.

However that may be, we see that the legacy of political and constitutional law which Rome has given us forms a complicated and confused mass, and that principally for two reasons: first of all, because Rome, instead of flourishing like Athens for a short time and then disappearing altogether, lived on for 2500 years, first as a world-ruling State, later as a mighty State-idea, whereby what had been a single impulse broke up into a whole series, which frequently neutralised each other; in the second place, because the work of an incomparably energetic, Indo-European race was revised and manipulated by the subtlest minds of the West-Asiatic mixed races, this again leading to the obliteration of unity of character.

I hope that these brief allusions with regard to the extraordinarily complicated conditions of universal history have sufficed to guide the reader. For clear thinking and lucid conception it is above all indispensable to separate rightly and to connect rightly. This has been my endeavour, and to this I must needs confine myself.


Besides this legacy which we have more or less unconsciously carried along with us, we Europeans possess an inheritance from Rome that has become more than any other inheritance from antiquity an essential element in our life and science, viz., Roman law. By that we have to understand public law (jus publicum) and private law (jus privatum). [31] To write about this is an easy task, inasmuch as this law is available to us in a very late codification, that of the Emperor Justinian, dating from the middle of the sixth century A.D. Besides, the efforts of jurists and historians have succeeded in tracing far back the growth of this law, and in recent years they have even been able on the one hand to demonstrate the connection of its origins with old Aryan law, and on the other to follow its fate in the various countries of Europe through centuries of vague ferment up to the present day. Here we have accordingly definite and clearly sifted material, and a legal expert can easily prove how much Roman law is contained in the law-books of our States to-day; it must also be easy for him to prove that the thorough knowledge of Roman law will for indefinite ages remain the canon of all strictly juridical thought. Here too in the Roman legacy we have to distinguish between two things: actual legal tenets, which have stood for centuries and to some extent are still valid, and besides this a treasure of ideas and methods. The legal expert can explain all this easily, but only when he is speaking to those who know law. Now I am no authority on law (though I have industriously and lovingly studied its fundamental principles and the general course of its history), nor am I entitled to suppose that my readers are informed on the subject; my task is therefore different and quite clearly defined by the purpose of this book. It is only from a summary and universally human standpoint that I can venture briefly to indicate in what sense Roman law was in the history of the Indo-European nations a factor of such unparalleled significance that it has remained a part of our culture to the present day.

Why is it utterly impossible to speak of jurisprudence except to an audience equipped with a large store of technical juristical knowledge? This preliminary question will lead us at once to the heart of our subject, and will point the way to a perhaps not detailed, but at any rate accurate, analysis of what the Romans have accomplished in this department.

Law is a technical subject: that is the whole answer. Like medicine, it is neither pure science nor pure art; and while every science in its results and every art by the impression which it makes can be communicated to all and so is in its essentialities common property, a technical subject remains accessible only to the expert. Cicero indeed compares jurisprudence with astronomy and geometry and expresses the opinion that "all these studies are in pursuit of the truth," [32] but this is a perfect example of a logically false comparison. For astronomy and geometry investigate actual, fixed, unchangeable conditions, some outside of, others inside the mind, [33] whereas legal decisions are derived first of all from the observation of variable, contradictory and ever undefinable tendencies, habits, customs and opinions, and jurisprudence as a discipline must according to the nature of things confine itself to the subject before it, formulating it more definitely, expressing it more exactly, making it more intelligible by comparison, and -- above all -- classifying it accurately by the finest analysis and adapting it to practical needs. Law is, like the State, a human, artificial creation, a new systematic arrangement of the conditions arising out of the nature of man and his social instincts. The progress of jurisprudence does not imply by any means an increase of knowledge (which must surely be the object of science), but merely a perfecting of the technical art; that is, however, a great deal and may presuppose high gifts. An abundant material is thus consistently and with increasing skill employed by the human will in working out the life-purpose of man.

I shall introduce a comparison to make this clearer.

How conditional and, consequently, how little to the purpose would be the statement that the God who formed iron also caused the smithy to be built! In a certain sense the remark would be undeniably correct: without definite tendencies which impelled him to search further and further, without definite capacities for invention and manipulation, man would never have attained to the working of iron; he did live long on the earth before he reached that stage. By acuteness and patience he at last succeeded: he learnt how to make the hard metal pliant and serviceable to himself. But here we have clearly not to deal with the discovery of any eternal truth, as in the case of astronomy and every genuine science, but on the one hand with patience and skill, on the other hand with suitability to practical purposes; in short, working iron is no science but, in the true sense of the Greek word, a technique, i.e., a matter of skill. And the conditions of this technique, since they depend on the human will (showing their relationship with art), vary with the times, with the tendencies and the habits of races, just as on the other hand they are influenced by the progress of knowledge (showing their relationship with science). In the nineteenth century, for example, the working of iron has passed through great changes which would have been inconceivable but for the progress of chemistry, physics, mechanics and mathematics; a practical art may thus demand manifold scientific knowledge from those who pursue it -- but it does not for all that cease to be a practical art. And because it is a practical art, it can be learned by anyone, however poor his mental endowments, provided only he has some skill, whereas on the other hand it is a dead letter even for the more gifted of men if he has not made himself familiar with its methods For while science and art contain something which is of interest to every intelligent person, an applied art is merely a method, a procedure, a manipulation, something artificial and not artistic, an application of knowledge, not really knowledge itself, a power, yet not a creative power, and so only that which is produced by it, i.e., the finished object, in which there is nothing technical left, can claim universal interest.

It is exactly the same with jurisprudence, with this one difference, that the material here to be worked up is purely intellectual. In principle jurisprudence is and remains an applied art, and many an almost ineradicable misunderstanding would have been avoided if the legal authorities had not lost sight of this simple fundamental truth. From Cicero to the present day [34] excellent jurists have only too often looked upon it as their duty to claim for their branch of study the designation "science," cost what it might; they seem to fear that they will be degraded if their claims are held to be absurd. Naturally people will continue to speak of a " science of law"; but only in the derived sense; the mass of the material on law, history of law, &c., is so gigantic that it, so to speak, forms a little world for itself, in which research is made and this research is called science (Wissenschaft). But this is obviously an improper use of the word. The root "vid" denotes in Sanscrit to find; if language is not to pale into colourless ambiguity, we must see to it that a knowing (Wissen) always denotes a finding. Now a finding presupposes two things: in the first place, an object which is and exists before we find it; and secondly, the fact that this object has not yet been found and discovered; neither of the two things can be said of jurisprudence; for "law" does not exist till men make it, nor does it exist as a subject outside of our consciousness; besides, the science of law does not reveal or find anything but itself. And so those ancient authorities were perfectly right who, instead of speaking of juris scientia, preferred to say juris notitia, juris peritia, juris prudentia, that is, practically, knowledge, skill, experience in the manipulation of law.


This difference is of far-reaching importance. For it is only when we have recognised what law essentially is, that we can follow its history intelligently and comprehend the decisive importance of Rome in the development of this applied art. Now and now only can we not merely cut but untie that Gordian knot, the question of natural law. This great question, which has been the subject of dispute for centuries, arises solely and simply from a misunderstanding of the nature of law; whether we answer it by yes or no does not help us out of the maze. Cicero, in the confused manner peculiar to him, has used all sorts of oratorical flourishes on this subject; at one time he writes: in order to explain law, one must investigate the nature of man -- there he seemed to be on the right track; immediately after he says that law is a "sublime reason" which exists outside of us and is "implanted in us"; then again we hear that law" arises out of the nature of things"; finally, that it was "born simultaneously with God, older than mankind." [35] I do not know why these quibbling platitudes are quoted everywhere; I do so merely lest I should be reproached with having heedlessly passed by so famous a fount of wisdom; however, I would draw the reader's attention to Mommsen's verdict: "Cicero was a journalist in the worst sense of the term, over-rich in words, as he himself confesses, and beyond all imagination poor in thoughts." [36] It was worse when their Asiatic love of dogmatism and stickling for principle induced the really important legal teachers of the so-called "classical jurisprudence" to formulate clearly the quite un-Roman idea of a natural law and to introduce it systematically. Ulpian calls natural law that "which is common to animals and men." A monstrous thought! Not merely in art is man a free creator, in law too he proves himself a magnificent inventor, an imcomparably skilled, thoughtful workman, the forger of his own fate. Roman law is as characteristic a creation of the one individual human spirit as Hellenic art. What would be said of me if I were to speak of a "natural art" and then tried to draw an analogy, however far-fetched, between the spontaneous chirping of a bird and a tragedy of Sophocles? Because the jurists form a technical guild, many of them have for centuries talked nonsense like this without the world noticing it. Gaius, another classical authority whom the Jews claim as their countryman and who, history tells us, was "not deep but very popular," gives a less extravagant but equally invalid definition of natural law: he identifies it with the so-called jus gentium, that is, with the "common law" which grew out of the legal codes of the various races of the Roman provinces; in ambiguous words he explains that this law was common to "all nations of the earth": a fearful assertion, since the jus gentium is just as much the work of Rome as its own jus civile and represents only the result of the systematising activity of Roman jurisprudence amidst the confusion of contradictory and antagonistic codes. [37] The very existence of the jus gentium beside and in contrast to the Roman jus civile, as well as the confused history of the origin of this "Law of nations," should have made clear to the dullest eye that there is not one law but many; also that law is not an entity, which can be scientifically investigated, but a product of human skill, which can be viewed and carried out in very different ways. But the ghost of natural law still merrily haunts certain brains; for example, legal theorists, as far apart as Hobbes and Rousseau, agree in this one idea; but the greatest achievement was the famous Hugo Grotius' division in natural, historical. and divine law, which makes one ask whether then the divine law was unnatural? or the natural a work of the devil? It needed the brilliant intellect and the outspoken Impertinence of a Voltaire to venture to write: "Rien ne contribue peut-etre plus a rendre un esprit faux, obscur, confus, incertain, que la lecture de Grotius et de Pufen dorf." [38] In the nineteenth century, however, this pale abstraction has been sharply attacked; the historians of law, and with them the brilliant theorist Jhering, have dealt the finishing blow. For this all that was really necessary was to understand that law is an applied art.

Considered from this point of view it is easy to comprehend that in reality the idea "natural law" (jus naturae) contains a flagrant contradictio in adjecto. As soon as a legal agreement is come to among men -- it does not at all need to be written, a convention silent or by word of mouth is in principle the same thing as a bulky civil code of law -- for the state of nature has ceased; but if the pure natural impulse still prevails, eo ipso there is no law. For even if men in a natural state were to live together in association, no matter how mild and humane they might be towards one another, there would be no law, no jus; there would be just as little law as if the brutal power of the fist were the decisive factor with them. Law is a regulation of the relations of an individual to others, artificially arranged and enforced upon him by the community. It is an employment of these instincts which impel man to live together in societies, and, at the same time, of that necessity which forces him nolens volens to unite with his like: love and fear, friendship and enmity. If we read in the dogmatic metaphysicians, "Law is the abstract expression of the general will, existing of its own accord and for its own benefit," [39] we feel that we are getting air instead of bread to eat; when the great Kant says, "Law is the essence of the conditions under which the arbitrary will of the one can be harmonised with that of the other according to a universal law of freedom," [40] we must at once see that this is the definition of an ideal, the definition of a possible or at least thinkable state of law, but not an all-embracing definition of law ill general, as it presents itself to us; besides, it contains a dangerous error. It is indeed a fallacy to suppose arbitrary will in the soul of the individual and then to construe law into a reaction against it; rather every individual manifestly acts according to the necessity of his nature, and the element of arbitrariness only comes in with the measures whereby this natural action is restricted; it is not the natural man that is arbitrary, it is the man of law. If we wished to attempt a definition with Kant's ideas as basis, we should have to say: Law is the essence of the arbitrary conditions, which are introduced into a human society, in order that the necessary action of one man may be counterbalanced by the necessary action of another and so harmonised as to give as large an amount of freedom as possible. The simplest formulation of the idea would be as follows: Arbitrariness in place of instinct in the relations of men to men is law. And by wav of explanation it would have to be added that the non plus ultra of arbitrariness consists in declaring an arbitrarily established form (for punishment, buying, marriage, testaments, &c.,) to be henceforth and for ever unchangeable, so that all actions thereby covered are invalid and have no legal support, whenever the prescribed form is not observed. Law is accordingly the lasting rule of definite arbitrary relations between men. Moreover, it is unnecessary to enter into speculations with regard to quite unknown prehistoric times, in order to see jus in simple forms, where this central element of arbitrariness clearly appears; we need only to look at the inhabitants of the Congo State to- day. Every little tribe has its chief; he alone decides matters of law and his decision is irrevocable. The legal disputes which occupy him are under such simple conditions of a very simple nature; they have to deal mostly with crimes against life and property; the penalty is death, seldom slavery; if the chief by motion of hand has given his decision against the accused, the latter is hacked into a hundred pieces by the bystanders and then eaten. The ideas of law therefore are very elementary on the Congo; and yet the idea of law is there; the natural man, that is, the man acting instinctively, would himself kill the supposed murderer or thief; here he does not do that, the criminal is dragged to the place of assembly and judged. Similarly the chief decides disputes of inheritance and the regulation of boundaries. The unlimited arbitrary power of the chief is accordingly the "law" of the land, it is the cement by which society is held together, instead of falling to pieces in a lawless condition of nature. [41] The progress of law lies in the practical development and the ethical clarification of this arbitrary element. [42]
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Re: The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, by Houston St

Postby admin » Wed Oct 19, 2016 4:53 am

Part 3 of 4


I think we have now sufficient material to enable us without technical discussions, and at the same time without phrase-making, to understand the special merits of the Roman people in regard to law, or at least the special character of those merits. The nature of our legacy will at the same time be exactly characterised.

If law is not an inborn principle nor an exact science capable of investigation, but a useful adaptation of human capabilities to the building up of a society fitted for civilisation, then it is clear from the first that there will be and must be codes of law varying very much in value. Fundamentally a law will be influenced principally by two forces from which it will receive its characteristic colouring: first, by the moral character of the people in whose midst it comes into force, and, secondly, by the analytical acuteness of that people. By the happy union of both -- a union occurring only once in the history of the world -- the Roman people found themselves in a position to build up a legal code of great perfection. [43] Mere egoism, the greed of possession, will never suffice to found a lasting code of law; we have rather learned from the Romans that the inviolable respect for the claims of others to freedom and possession is the moral foundation upon which alone we can build for all time. One of the most important authorities on the Roman law and people, Karl Esmarch, writes: "The conscience of the Italian Aryans in regard to right and wrong is strong and unadulterated; in self-control and, when necessary, self-sacrifice, that virtue of theirs which springs from inner impulse and is supported by a most profound inner nature reaches its culmination." Because he knew how to rule himself the Roman was qualified to rule the world and to develop a strong idea of the State; by the fact that he could sacrifice his own interests to the universal weal, he proved his capacity to establish valid principles in regard to the rights of private property and of individual freedom. But these high moral qualities had to be supported by exceptional intellectual qualities. The Romans, quite insignificant in philosophy, were the greatest masters in the abstraction of firm principles from the experiences of life-a mastery which becomes specially remarkable when we compare other nations with them, as, for example, the Athenians, who, though marvellously gifted, and delighting in legal quarrels and sophistical law riddles, never were anything but blunderers in this branch of thought. [44] This peculiar capacity, to elevate definite practical relations to clearly defined principles implies a great intellectual achievement; for the first time order and lucidity of arrangement were brought into social conditions, just as language, by the formation of abstract collective words, had made higher systematic thinking possible. It is no longer a question of vague instincts nor of obscure and changing conceptions of justice and injustice; all relations stand definitely grouped before our eyes, and these relations are to be regulated by the invention of new legal rules or the further development of those already existing. And since life gradually widens experience, or itself assumes more complicated forms, the Roman acuteness little by little inside the individual It groups" discovers the "species." "In point of fine,. carefully pondered ideas of right, Roman law is and will remain the permanent teacher of the civilised world," says Professor Leist, the very man who has done more than any other to prove that the Universities should give up the present one-sided Roman standpoint of history of law and should teach students to recognise Roman law as a link in the chain, as one of the steps "which the Aryan mind has mounted in the clearing up of legal conceptions." The more carefully we study the numerous attempts at legislation previous to and contemporary with the Roman, the more we recognise what incomparable services were rendered by Roman law and realise that it did not fall from heaven but was the creation of the intellects of grand and sturdy men. One thing must not be overlooked: in addition to the qualities of self-control, of abstraction, and the finest analysis, the Roman possessed a special gift of plastic shaping. Here appears their relationship to Hellenism, which we seek in vain elsewhere. The Roman too is an artist of mighty creative power -- an artist in the clear, plastic shaping of the complicated machine of State. No theorist in the world could have thought out such an organism of State, which perhaps should rather be pointed to as a work of art than as a work of reason. He is still more an artist in the plastic working out of his conceptions of law. Highly characteristic too is the manner in which the Roman strives to give visible expression to his artistically moulded conceptions even in legal actions, everywhere "to give an outward expression to the inner diversity, to bring what is inward, so to speak, to the surface." [45] Here we have a decidedly artistic instinct, the outcome of specifically Indo-European tendencies. In this artistic element too lies the magic power of the Roman legacy; that is the indestructible and ever incomparable part of it.

On one point indeed we must be quite clear; -- Roman law is just as incomparable and inimitable as Hellenic art. Our ridiculous Germanomania will make no change in that. People tell marvels about a "German law," supposed to have been stolen from us by the introduction of the Roman; but there never was a German law, but merely a chaos of rude contradictory laws, a special one for each tribe. It is also absolutely inaccurate to speak of "adopting" Roman law between the thirteenth and the sixteenth centuries; for the Teutonic peoples have "adopted" continuously from the time when they first came into contact with the Roman Empire. Burgundians and East Goths as early as the fifth century of the Christian era (or at the very beginning of the sixth) introduced modified (corrupted) forms of Roman law, [46] and the oldest sources of Saxon, Frankish, Bavarian and Alemannic law, &c., are so interlarded with Latin words and half-understood principles, that the need of it reasoned codification of law is only too apparent. One might well relegate German law as an ideal to the future, but to seek it in the past is hypocritical twaddle. [47] Another hindrance to the proper estimation of Roman law is due to the frenzy produced by the dogma of evolution, which has led to such confusion of thought in the nineteenth century. The feeling for the Individual, the established view that the Individual alone has everlasting importance, has been seriously injured by it. Although the only effective powers that history reveals are absolutely individualised nations and great personalities that never recur, the theory of evolution leads to the idea that capacities and beginnings were everywhere identical and that essentially analogous structures must "develop" from these same germs. The fact that this never happens and that Roman law, for example, came into being once for all, does not disturb our dogmatists in the least. With this is con nected the further conception of unceasing progress towards "perfection," in consequence of which our law must as a matter of course surpass the Roman, because it is later, and yet nature never offers an example of development taking place in anything living without entailing a corresponding loss. [48] Our civilisation stands high above the Roman; in respect of the vividness of our legal sense, on the other hand, an educated man of the nineteenth century can certainly not come up to a Roman peasant of the year 500 B.C. No one who has any thinking power and knowledge will dispute that. I said in relation to law, not to justice. When Leist writes, "The unprejudiced inquirer will not find that the present age as compared with the Roman has made such glorious advance in the practice or even in the knowledge of real justice," [49] he makes a remark well worth taking to heart; but I quote these words to make it clear that I do not here speak of justice, but of law, and to ensure that the difference between the two may be obvious. Our noble conception of the duties of humanity points, I am sure, to more enlightened ideas with regard to justice; the legal sense is, however, quite a different thing and is neither proved nor promoted even by the possession of the most perfect and yet imported systems of law.

To understand how incomparable was the achievement of the Romans, one circumstance must certainly not be overlooked: the Justinian corpus juris with which we are familiar is only the embalmed corpse of Roman law. [50] For centuries skilled legal authorities kept in it a semblance of life by galvanic means; now all civilised nations have worked out a law of their own; but this would not have been possible without the Roman, we all lack the necessary talent. A single observation will suffice to show the cleft between the Romans and ourselves: Roman law of the real heroic period was firm as a rock but nevertheless incredibly elastic -- incredibly," I mean, to our modern, timid conceptions, for we have taken everything from that law, except its living character. The Roman law was always" in a state of growth," and capable, thanks to certain brilliant contrivances, of adapting itself to the changing needs of the times. The law, which in the fifth century B.C. was in its general outlines engraved in bronze tables by the decemvirs nominated for that purpose, was not a new and improvised code, nor one which from that time forth was immutable, but was more or less a codification of already existing laws which had grown up historically; the Romans knew how to invent ways and means to keep it even then from crystallising. In dealing with the Twelve Tables, for example, the officials did good service by their acumen in "interpreting" -- not with the object of twisting the statutes to suit some special purpose, but of adapting them half-automatically to wider conditions; brilliant inventions-as, for example, that of the legal" fiction," by which means were found (if I may express myself as a layman) of putting to use existing legal norms to forestall others that were not yet existent -- and constitutional arrangements, like those of the Praetors, by which a place was assured to that law of custom which is so necessary in a living organism, till the best law has been provided by practice, arrangements by means of which the jus gentium also gradually developed in close touch with the narrower Roman jus civile -- all these things brought about a fresh pulsating life in law -- a life which no one can appreciate unless he has studied law, inasmuch as we have nothing of the kind, absolutely nothing. [51] Moreover, in order to estimate the gulf between us and the Romans, we must remember that real scholarly and trained jurists did not come into existence till the end of the republic, and that this splendid, and in most parts most delicately chiselled product of legal applied art is the work of peasants and rude warriors. The reader should try to make clear to an average philistine of the present day the juristical difference between property and possession, to bring home to him that a thief is the legal possessor of the stolen object, and as such enjoys legal protection for his possession, as does also the pawnbroker and the hereditary landlord; he will not succeed, I know it from experience; I purposely choose this as a simple example. The Roman peasant, on the other hand, who could neither read nor write, knew all this quite accurately five hundred years before Christ. [52] He certainly did not know much more, but his law he knew and employed with as exact knowledge as he did his plough or his oxen; and by knowing it and thinking about it, [53] by striving to obtain for himself, his possessions, and his relatives an ever firmer and more definite legal protection, he built up that legal structure, under which at a later time other races found shelter in stormy days, and which we at the present day with more or less success, with more or less changes, seek to extend, finish and perfect. No people but the Romans could of themselves have created and built it up, for nowhere else was there present the necessary conjunction of qualities of character and of intellect, and this law had to be lived before it was thought, before the arrival of those worthies who could tell us so much that was edifying in regard to a "natural law," and thought it comparable to the geometry which the scholar puzzles out in his lonely room.

In later times Hellenes and Semites have rendered great services as dogmatists and advocates, Italians as teachers of law, Frenchmen as systematisers, Germans as historians; in none of the races mentioned, however, could one have found the soil that could bring that tree to maturity. In the case of the Semites, for instance, the moral subsoil was wanting, in the case of the Germans acumen. The Semites have great moral qualities, but not those tram which a law for civilised nations could have been developed. For the disregard of the legal claims and the freedom of others is a feature that ever reappears in all races strongly imbued with Semitic blood. Already in ancient Babylon they had a finely worked out law of commerce and obligations; but even in this limited branch nothing was done to suppress the frightful exaction of usury, and as for safeguarding personal rights, that of freedom, for instance, no one ever even thought of it. [54] But even under more favourable circumstances, for instance, among the Jews, there is not even the beginning of a genuine formation of law; strange as that may appear, a single glance at the legal clauses of the greatest Jewish thinker, Spinoza, solves the riddle. In his Political Tractate (ii. 4 and 8) we read, "The right of each one is in proportion to his power." Here we might of course imagine that it was merely a question of establishing actual relations, for this second chapter bears the title "On Natural Law." [55] However, in his Ethics (Part IV., Supplement, 8) we find in black and white: "According to the highest law of nature every man has unlimited power to do that which in his opinion will be in his interest ": and in the treatise On True Freedom we find the words: "To obtain that which we demand for our salvation and our peace, we need no other principle than this, to lay to heart what is for our own interests." [56] That it does not disconcert so honest a man to build up a pure theory of morals upon such foundations is the finest testimony to his inborn casuistical gifts; but it proves that Roman law could never have grown on Jewish soil. No, there would have been at the most a simplified code, such as King Tippu Tib, for instance, may use on the Congo. [57] It was only on the foundation of a law invented and worked out in detail by Indo- Europeans that the Jew could display his astonishing juristical abilities. -- The drawbacks in the case of the German lie in quite a different direction. Self-sacrifice, the impulse "to build from within outwards," the emphasising of the ethical moment, the unswerving love of freedom, in short, all the requisite moral qualities they would have possessed in abundance; -- not the intellectual ones. Acumen was never a national possession of the Teutons; that is so manifest that it requires no proof. Schopenhauer asserts that "the real national characteristic of the German is dul1wittedness (Schwerfalligkeit)." Moreover, the peculiar gifts of the Germans are a hindrance in the formation of law -- his incomparable fancy (in contrast to the flat empiricism of the Roman imagination), the creative passion of his mind (in contrast to the cool sobriety of the Roman), his scientific depth (in contrast to the practical political tendencies of the born legal race), his lively sense of fairness (in social relations always a weak reed in comparison with the strictly legal attitude of the Roman). No, this people could never have brought the applied art of law to high perfection; it resembles too closely the Indo-Aryans, whose "complete lack of the juristical power of distinguishing" is demonstrated by Jhering in his Vorgeschichte der Indoeuropaer, § 15.


I should like to introduce another national comparison with regard to the formation of law, that between the Hellenes and the Romans. It reveals the essence of Roman law, the one point to which I may call special attention in this book. At the same time it will make us feel how deeply our civilisation is indebted to the Roman legacy. My discussion will be brief, and though it deals with the simple beginnings of the remote past, it will also introduce us to the burning questions of the immediate present.

Every educated person knows that the Greeks were not only great politicians but at the same time great theorists in law. The" lawsuit about the shadow of the ass" [58] is an ancient Attic witticism, which satirises excellently the love of this thoughtless, litigious people for actions at law. I recall too the Wasps of Aristophanes with the heartrending prayers of Philocleon when shut in by his son: "Let me out, let me out -- to judge!" But we should look further around. Homer has a court scene represented on the shield of Achilles (Iliad, xviii. 497 ff.), Plato's largest works are on politics and the theory of law (the Republic and the Laws), Aristotle's Rhetoric is in parts simply a handbook for advocates beginning their profession; notice, for example, how in chap. xv. of the first book he expounds a detailed theory of deceptive sophistry for hedge-lawyers, gives them hints how to twist the law to the advantage of their clients, and advises them to let their clients swear false oaths in court, whenever it is to their advantage. [59] ... We see that, except in Sparta (where according to Plutarch's assurance there were absolutely no cases), the Hellenic atmosphere was charged with questions of law. The Romans, always ready to recognise the merits of others, had, from time immemorial, recourse to the Greeks, particularly to the Athenians, for advice in the development of their law. Even when they were about to fix their fundamental legal principles (in the Twelve Tables) for the first time, they sent a commission to Greece, and in the final editing of this earliest monument, an Ephesian, Hermodorus, who was banished from his native city, is said to have been of considerable service. Time made no change in this. The great authorities on law, a Mucius Scaevola, a Servius Sulpicius, have a thorough knowledge of Hellenic legal enactments; Cicero, and all that this name stands for, derives his obscure remarks on divine justice, natural law, &c., from Greek philosophers: in the pseudo-Platonic Minos he might have read that law is the discovery of an objective thing, not a human invention, and from Aristotle he quotes the words, "The universal law, because it is the natural law, never changes, but the written law, on the other hand, often does." [60] In the later period of the imperial decay, when the Roman people had disappeared from the face of the earth, the so-called "classical jurisprudence" was founded and put into shape almost entirely by Greeks more or less of Semitic descent. There is a remarkable want of information with regard to the antecedents and history of the most famous teachers of law in the later Roman ages; all of a sudden they appear in office and dignity, no one knowing whence they have come. [61] But at the beginning of the Imperial rule with its inevitable influence upon the life of law the passionate struggle between Labeo, the irrepressible, free old plebeian, and Capito the upstart, who is striving for wealth and honour, is truly pathetic; it is the struggle for organic free development in opposition to the faith in authority and dogma. And dogma conquered in the legal sphere as in that of religion. -- But in the meantime, as we have said, the practical Romans had learned a great deal in Greece, especially from Solon, who had, as a builder of States, achieved little that lasted, but accomplished all the more in the sphere of law. Whether Solon was the originator of written legislation and the momentous principle of actiones (the division of suits according to definite principles), or whether he merely systematised and fixed them -- I know not: at any rate both are derived from Athens. [62] This I mention only as an instance of the great importance of Greece in the development of Roman law. Later, when all Hellenic countries were under Roman administration, the Greek cities contributed most to the formation of the jus gentium and in that way to the perfecting of Roman law. Here we may ask, how is it that the Hellenes, so superior intellectually to the Romans, created nothing in the branch of knowledge that was lasting or perfect, but shared in the great civilising work of the formation of law solely through the medium of the Romans?

A single but fatal mistake was at the bottom of it: the Roman started from the family, on which basis he erected State and law; the Greek, on the other hand, took as his starting- point the State, his ideal being always the organisation of the "polis," while family and law remained subordinate. All Greek history and literature prove the correctness of this assertion, and the fact that the greatest Hellene of post-Homeric times, Plato, considered the complete abolition of the family in the upper classes a desirable aim, shows to what fatal confusions such a fundamental error must in time lead. With perfect right Giordano Bruno says (I forget where), "The very smallest mistake in the way in which a thing is attacked leads finally to the very greatest erroneous discrepancies; thus the most trifling mistake in the ramification of thought can grow as an acorn does into an oak." [63] And this was not" the very smallest mistake" but a very great one. Herein lies all the misery of the Hellenic peoples; here we have to seek the reason of their inability to develop either State or Law in a lasting and ideal manner. If we take up a careful individual account, for example Aristotle's book The Athenian Constitution, discovered a few years ago, this succession of constitutions, all different and all breathing an essentially different spirit, makes us giddy: the pre-Draconian, those of Draco, Solon, Cleisthenes, Aristeides, Pericles, the Four Hundred, &c. &c., all within two hundred and fifty years! Such a state of things would have been impossible where there existed a firmly knit family life. Without that it was easy for the Greeks to arrive at that characteristically unhistorical view of theirs, that law was a subject for free speculation; and so they lost all feeling for the fact that in order to live, law must grow out of actual conditions. [64] And how striking it is that even the most -- important questions of family law are regarded as subordinate, that Solon, for example, the most prominent Athenian as a lawyer, leaves the law of inheritance so obscure, that it is left to the caprice of the law-courts to interpret it (Aristotle, as above, division IX). -- With Rome it was different. The strong tendency to discipline here finds its first expression in the firm organisation of the family. The sons remain under the control of the father, not merely till their fourteenth year, as in Greece, but till the death of the father; by the exclusion of relationship on the mother's side, by the legal recognition of the unlimited power of the paterfamilias, even in regard to the life and death of his children, (although his son might have risen in the meantime to the highest offices in the State), by the greatest freedom and the most accurate individual enactments in reference to the law of wills and legacies, by the strictest protection of all the father's rights of property and legal claims (for he alone possessed a right to property and was a persona sui juris, i.e., a person with full rights at law) -- by these things and many more the family became in Rome an impregnably firm, indissoluble unity, and it is essentially to this that we are indebted for the particular form of the Roman State and Roman law. One can easily imagine how such a strict conception of the family must affect the whole life, the morals of the men, the character of the children, the anxiety to retain and to bequeath what had been acquired, the love of country, which did not need to be artificially nourished, as in Greece: for the citizen fought for what was assured to him for ever, he fought for his sacred home, for the future of his children, for peace and order.


The intimate conception of marriage and the position of women in society are naturally connected with all this. Here we have evidently the positive element in the formation of the Roman family, that which could not be fixed by law but which on the contrary determined the forms of law. Among old Aryans marriage was already regarded as a "divine institution," and when the young wife crossed the threshold of her new home she was received with the cry, "Come into the house of thy husband, that thou mayest be called mistress; be therein as one who commands!"[65] In this very point, Greeks and Romans, otherwise so manifoldly related, differed from one another. In Homer's time we certainly see the woman highly respected by the Greeks, and the comrade of the man; but the Ionians who emigrated to Asia Minor took strange wives, "who did not venture to call the Greek husband by his name, but addressed him as master -- this degeneration of the Asiatic Ionians has reacted on Athens." [66] The Roman, on the other hand; regarded his wife as his companion and equal, his life's mate, one who shared everything, divine as well as human, with him. The wife has, however, this position in Rome not because she is wife, but because she is a woman, i.e., because of the respect which the Roman pays to the female sex as such. In all relations where the natural difference of sex does not make a distinction necessary, the Roman puts woman on an equality with himself. There is no more convincing proof of this than the old Roman law of inheritance, which makes absolutely no difference between the two sexes: the daughter receives exactly the same as the son, the kinswoman the same as the kinsman; if there are no children, the widow receives the whole inheritance and excludes the male line; the sister does the same when there is no widow. We must be acquainted with the slighting treatment to which the female sex is subjected in the laws of so many other nations to understand the significance of this point; in Greece, for instance, the nearer male relation excluded the wife altogether, and the lot of a daughter was indeed lamentable, the nearest male relation having the power to take her from her husband. [67] The Roman wife was honoured in her house as princess, princeps familiae, and the Roman law speaks of the matronarum sanctitas, the sacredness of wives who are blessed with children. Children who in any way sinned against their parents fell under the ban of gods and men; no penalty was enacted for the murder of a father, because, as Plutarch tells us, this crime was considered unthinkable -- in fact it was more than five hundred years before a case of parricide occurred. [68] To form a right conception of this old Roman family, we must keep one other fact in view: that in Roman life the sacred element, that is, the reverence for divine commands, played a great part. While the paterfamilias was, according to human law, an absolute despot in his house, the divine command forbade him to abuse this power. [69] The home was indeed a sanctuary, the hearth comparable to an altar; and while it is somewhat revolting to our feelings to-day to hear that parents in very great poverty sometimes sold their children as slaves, yet all histories of law give one the firm impression that any cruelty, according to ideas of that age, towards wife or children was almost or quite unknown. Indeed at law the wife is in relation to her husband filioe loco (equal to a daughter) in relation to her own children sororis loco (equal to a sister): but this is done in the interests of the unity of the family, and in order that, in constitutional as well as in private law relations, the family may appear as a sharply defined, autonomous, organic entity, represented at law by a single person, not as a more or less firm conglomerate of merely individual fragments. We have already seen in the political part of this chapter that the Roman loved to transmit power to single individuals, confident that from freedom united to responsibility, both focussed, so to speak, in a personality conscious of its individuality, moderate, and at the same time energetic and wise action would result. It is the same principle that prevails here. Later this family life degenerated; cunning means were invented to bring into usage substitutes for genuine marriage, in order that the wife should no longer come into the legal power of the husband; "marriage became a money matter like everything else; not in order to found families, but to improve shattered fortunes by means of dowries, were marriages contracted, and existing ones dissolved, in order to form new unions"; [70] but in spite of this Publius Syrus could in Caesar's time still express the Roman conception of marriage by the line:

Perenne animus conjugium, non corpus facit.
The soul, not the body, makes marriage eternal.


This is the central point of Roman law; the contrast with Greece (and with Germany) gives us an idea of the importance of such an organic central point. Here too the Roman proves himself far from unideal, though he is absolutely without sentiment and almost painfully devoid of phantasy. Indeed, his "idea" is so strong, that what he really in his heart desired never again altogether disappeared. We have already seen in the preceding section that ideas are immortal, and though the Roman State was destroyed, yet the idea of it lived on through the centuries, a still powerful influence; at the end of the nineteenth century four mighty monarchs of Europe still bear the title of Caesar, and the idea of res publica is still moulding the greatest State of the new world. But Roman law does not live on merely as a Justinian mummy or a technical secret, revealed only to members of the craft; no, I believe that the life-giving germ from which that law had fundamentally grown was never totally destroyed, but continues to live on among us as a most valuable possession, in spite of the darkness of disgracefully wicked centuries and the disintegrating ferment that followed them. We still talk of the sacredness of the family; anyone who, like certain Socialists, denies it is struck from the list of politicians capable of forming a judgment, and even those who are not pious Catholics will a hundred times rather become reconciled to the conception that marriage is a religious sacrament (as it indeed was in ancient Rome; the Pontificate in this as in so much else being directly, based on old Roman Pontifical law and proving itself the last official representative of Heathendom), than admit that marriage is, as the learned Anarchist leader Elisee Reclus elegantly says, "merely legal prostitution." That we feel thus is a Roman legacy. The high position of woman too, which makes our civilisation rank far above the Hellenic and the various degenerate Semitic and Asiatic types, is not, as Schopenhauer and so many others have taught, a "Christian-Teutonic," but a Roman creation. As far as one can judge, the old Teutons cannot have treated their women particularly well; here Roman influence appears to have first brought about a change; the oldest German lawbooks are, in reference to the legal position of the wife, full of phrases taken literally from Roman law (see Grimm: Deutsche Rechtsaltertumer, II. chap. i., B. 7 and ff.). It was the work of the Romans to give woman a firm, secure, legal position in Europe. The "fair sex" was indeed first glorified in song by Germans, Italians. French, English and Spaniards; the Roman people had not thought of that. [71] But I ask, whether without the keen penetration and sense of justice, above all without the incomparable State-building instinct of the Romans, we should ever have advanced so far as to take woman into our political system as our life's comrade and the cornerstone of the family? I think I may answer a decided no. Christianity in no wise signifies a strengthening of the idea of the family. On the contrary, its real essence is to destroy all political and legal bonds and make every single individual rely upon himself. And it was from the Christian Emperor Constantine, who annulled the sovereignty of the paterfamilias, that the Roman family in fact received its death-blow. Christianity, moreover, being derived from Judaism, is from the first an anarchic, anti-political power. That the Catholic Church followed a different road and became a political power of the greatest magnitude, is to be attributed simply to the fact that it denied the clear teaching of Christ and adopted instead the Roman State-idea -- though it was only the idea of the degenerate Roman State. The Church did more than any other power for the maintenance of Roman law; [72] Pope Gregory IX., for instance, aspired solely to the title of a " Justinian of the Church"; this recognition of his juristical services lay nearer his heart than sanctification. [73] Though the motives that impelled the Church and the Kings to retain and forcibly introduce Roman law in its degenerate Byzantine form were not particularly noble ones, yet that could not prevent many very noble Roman thoughts from being saved at the same time. And just as the tradition of Roman law never died, so, too, the Roman conception of the dignity of woman and of the political importance of the family never quite disappeared from the consciousness of men. For several centuries (here as in so many things the thirteenth century is with Petrus Lombardus the almost exact border-line) we have come nearer and nearer to the old Roman conception. particularly since the Council of Trent and Martin Luther simultaneously emphasised the sacredness of marriage. That this approach is in many respects a purely ideal one does not matter; a perfectly new civilisation cannot too thoroughly free itself from old forms; as it is, We pour far too much new wine into old bottles; but I do not think that any unprejudiced man will deny that the Roman family is one of the most glorious achievements of the human mind, one of those heights which cannot be scaled twice, and to which the most distant generations will look up in admiration, making sure at the same time that they themselves are not straying too far from the right path. In every study of the nineteenth century, e.g., when discussing the burning question of the emancipation of women or when forming an opinion with regard to those socialistic theories which, in contrast to Rome, culminate in the formula, "No family, all State," the contemplation of this lofty height will be of invaluable service.


I have attempted a somewhat difficult task -- that of speaking untechnically on a technical subject. I have had to confine myself to proving the peculiar fitness of the Romans for bringing to perfection this practical art; what I have tried to emphasise as their most far- reaching achievement for human society -- the strong legal establishment of the family -- is, as will have been noticed, similar in essence to the original impelling force from which the technical mastery had gradually grown up. All that lies between, that is, the whole real practical art, had to be neglected, and equally all discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the preponderating influence of Roman law in the nineteenth century in its purely technical connection. And without needing to tread upon such dangerous quicksands, there are plenty of suggestive considerations for us laymen.

I have intentionally confined myself to politics and law. What did not come down to us as a legacy does not fall within the scope of this book, and many things that have been preserved to us, as, for example, the works of Latin poets, claim the attention of the scholar and the dilettante, but do not form a living part of our life. To put Greek and Latin poetry together and call them "classical literature" is a proof of incredible barbarism in taste and of a regrettable ignorance of the essence and value of the art of genius. Whenever Roman poetry attempts the sublime, as in Virgil and Ovid, it clings with a correct sense of its own hopeless unoriginality as slavishly as possible to Hellenic models. As Treitschke says, "Roman literature is Greek literature written in Latin." [74] What are our unhappy boys to think when in the forenoon the Iliad of the greatest poetical genius of all times is expounded to them and in the afternoon that servile epic the AEneid, written by imperial command -- both as classical models? The genuine and the false, the glorious, free creation arising out of the greatest creative necessity and the finely formed technique in the service of gold and dilettantism, genius and talent, presented as two flowers from the same stem, differing but little! As long as that pale abstraction, the idea of "classical literature," lives on among us as dogma, so long will the night of the chaos of races overshadow us, so long will our schools be sterilising institutions destroying every creative impulse. Hellenic poetry was a beginning -- a dawn -- it created a people, it lavished upon them all that the highest beauty can impart to make life sacred, all that poetry can do to elevate hapless, tortured human souls and to fill them with a feeling of invisible friendly powers -- and this fount of life wells on and never again dries up: one century after the other is refreshed by it, one people after another draws from its waters the power of inspiration to create beauty themselves; for genius is like God: it indeed reveals itself at a definite time and under distinct conditions, but in its essence it is free from conditions; what becomes a fetter to others is the material out of which it makes for itself pinions, it rises out of time and time's death-shadow, and passes in all the glow of life into eternity. In Rome, on the other hand, one may boldly assert, genius was altogether forbidden. Rome has no poetry till it begins to decline. It is not till the night sets in, when the Roman people is no longer there to hear, that the singers of Rome raise their voices; they are night flutterers; they write for the boudoirs of lascivious ladies, for the amusement of men of the world and for the court. Although Hellenes were close neighbours and from the earliest times scattered the seeds of Hellenic art, philosophy and science (for all culture in Rome was from the first of Greek origin), not a single grain took root. Five hundred years before the birth of Christ the Romans sent to Athens, to glean accurate information regarding Greek law; their ambassadors met AEschylus in the fulness of his powers and Sophocles already active as a creative artist; what an artistic splendour must have sprung up in the all-vigorous Rome after such contact, if even the slightest talent had been there! But it did not. As Mommsen says, "The development of the arts of the Muse in Latium was rather a drying up than a growing up." The Latins until their decline had no word for poet, the idea was strange to them! -- If now their poets were without exception devoid of genius, wherein lay the importance of those among them who, like Horace and Juvenal, have always excited the admiration of the linguistic artists? Manifestly, as with everything that comes from Rome, their importance lay in their art. The Romans were great builders -- of sewers and aqueducts; [75] magnificent painters -- of room-decorations; great manufacturers -- of objects belonging to the industrial arts; in their circuses, masters of the art of fighting fought for money and professional charioteers drove on the racecourse. The Roman could be a virtuoso, not an artist; all virtuosity interested him, but no art. The poems of Horace are technical masterpieces. Apart from their historically picturesque interest as descriptions of a life that has vanished, the virtuosity alone in these poems attracts us. The "wisdom of life," some one suggests by way of reproach? Yes, if such a matter-of-fact and prosaic wisdom were not better anywhere else than in the fairy realm of art, the wide-open, childlike eyes of which proclaim from every Hellenic work of poetry quite a different wisdom from that which occurs to Horace and his friends between cheese and dessert. One of the most truly poetical natures that ever lived, Byron, says of Horace:

It is a curse
To understand, not feel thy lyric flow,
To comprehend, but never love thy verse

What kind of art is that which speaks to the intelligence, never to the heart? It can only be an artificial work, an applied art; if it came from the heart it would go to the heart. In truth we still stand in this matter under French tutelage as the French stand under Syrian-Jewish (Boileau -- pseudo-Longinus); and though little of this inheritance has come into modern life, we should cast it off once for all in favour of our own poets in words and music, divinely inspired men, whose works tower high as the heavens above all that shot up in unhealthy haste like etiolated plants without root and without sap on the ruins of fallen Rome. [76]

In the hands of the specialist, i.e., of the philologist, Latin poetry will be as surely and suitably preserved as the corpus juris in those of the investigators of law. If, however, the Latin tongue is to be retained at all costs as the universal trainer of the mind (instead of teaching Greek alone but more thoroughly), then let it be seen at work where it accomplishes wonders, where it, in accordance with the particular tendency of the Roman people and with its historical development, does what no other language ever did or will be able to do -- in the plastic moulding of legal notions. People say that the Latin language educates the logical sense; I will believe it, although I cannot help remarking that it was this very language in which during the scholastic centuries, in spite of all logic, more nonsense was written than in any other at any time; but whereby has the Latin language acquired a character of such conciseness and definiteness? By the fact that it was built up solely as the language of business, administration and law. This the most unpoetical of all languages is a magnificent monument of the momentous struggle of free men to obtain a sure code of law. Let our boys see it at work here. The great law-teachers of Rome have eo ipso written the finest Latin; that, and not verse-writing, was the business of the language; the faultlessly transparent formation of sentences, which shut out every possibility of misconstruction, was an important instrument of juristical applied art. From the study of law alone Cicero has taken his qualities of style. Mommsen says even of the oldest documents of the language of business and law that they were distinguished by "acumen and definiteness," [77] and philologists are of opinion that in the language of Papinian, one of the last great teachers of law (in the time of Marcus Aurelius), we have "the culmination of the capacity always to find the expression which fully answers to the depth and clearness of the thought"; his sentences, they Say, stand as though chiselled out of marble: "not a word too much, not one too few, every word in the absolutely right place, thus rendering, as far as this is feasible with language, every ambiguity impossible." [78] Intercourse with such men would indeed be a valuable addition to our education. And it seems to me that when every Roman boy knew the Twelve Tables by heart, it would be appropriate and intellectually beneficial to our youths to leave school not merely as stupid, learned subjecti, but with some accurate conceptions of private and constitutional law, thinking not merely according to formal logic, but also reasonably and practically, and steeled against all empty raving about" German law" and such-like. In the meantime, because of the position we take up in reference to the Latin language, this legacy is badly administered and consequently of but little profit.


We men of the nineteenth century should not be what we are if a rich legacy from these two cultures, the Hellenic and the Roman, had not come down to us. And so we cannot in the least judge what we truly are, and confess with modesty how little that is, if we do not form a quite clear conception of the nature of these inheritances. I hope that my endeavours in this direction will not have been quite fruitless and I hope also that the reader will especially have noticed that the legacy of Rome is utterly and fundamentally different from that of Greece.

In Hellas the personality of genius had been the decisive factor: whether on this side or on that of the Adriatic and the AEgean Seas, the Greeks were great so long as they possessed great men. In Rome, on the other hand, there were only great individualities in so far and so long as the people was great, and it was great as long as it physically and morally remained genuinely Roman. Rome is the extreme example of a great corporate national power, which works unconsciously but all the more surely. For that reason, however, it is less attractive than Rellas, and hence what Rome did for our civilisation is seldom justly estimated. And yet Rome command, our admiration and gratitude; its gifts were moral, not intellectual; but by this very fact it was capable of achieving great things. Not the death of a Leonidas could save Europe from the Asiatic peril, upholding man's dignity with man's freedom, and handing it over to future ages to cultivate in peace and consolidate; this could only be accomplished by a long lived State, unbending and inexorably consistent in its politics. But neither theory nor fanaticism nor speculation could create this long-lived State; it had to be rooted in the character of the citizen. This character was hard and self- seeking, but great by reason of its high sense of duty, by its capacity for making sacrifices and by its devotion to the family. The Roman, by erecting amidst the chaos of contemporary attempts at State-building a strong and solid State of his own, provided a model for all ages to come. By bringing his law to a technical perfection previously unknown, he laid the foundations of jurisprudence for all mankind. By following his natural inclination and making the family the centre of State and law, by, in fact, almost assigning extravagant importance to this conception, he raised woman to equality with man and transformed the union of the sexes into the sacredness of marriage. While our artistic and scientific culture is in many essential points derived from Greece, our social culture leads us back to Rome. I am not speaking here of material civilisation, which is derived from many countries and epochs and especially from the inventive industry of recent centuries, but of the secure moral foundations of a dignified social life; the laying of these was a great work of culture.
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Re: The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, by Houston St

Postby admin » Wed Oct 19, 2016 4:53 am

Part 4 of 4



1. In another place I shall have to recur to the difficult question of races (see chap. iv.). I shall here only insert a very important remark; while from various sides the existence of an Aryan race is called in question, while many philologists doubt the validity of the language criterion (see Salomon Reinach, L'origine des Aryens) and individual anthropologists point to the chaotic results of the measuring of skulls (e.g., Topinard and Ratzel), the investigators in the sphere of history of law unanimously use the expression Aryans or Indo-Europeans, because they find a definite conception of law in this group of linguistically related peoples, who from the beginning and through all the branchings of a manifold development have fundamentally nothing in common with certain equally ineradicable legal conceptions prevalent among the Semites, Hamites, &c. (See the works of Savigny, Mommsen, Jhering and Leist.) No measuring of skulls and philological subtleties can get rid of this great simple fact -- a result of painfully accurate, juristical research -- and by it the existence of a moral Aryanism (in contrast to a moral non- Aryanism) is proved, no matter how varied are the elements of which the peoples of this group should be composed.

2. Jhering: Entwickelungsgeschichte des romischen Rechts, p. 81. An expression which is all the more remarkable as this great authority on law is wont to deny vigorously that anything is innate in a people; he even goes the length in his Vorgeschichte der Indoeuropaer (p. 270) of making the extraordinary statement that the inherited physical (and with it simultaneously the moral) structure of man for this is surely what the term" race" is intended to designate -- has absolutely no influence on his character, but solely the geographical surroundings, so that the Aryan, if transferred to Mesopotamia, would eo ipso have become a Semite and vice versa. In comparison with this, Haeckel's pseudo-scientific phantasma of different apes, from each of which a different race of men derives its origin, seems a sensible theory. Of course one must not forget that Jhering had to contend all his life against the mystic dogma of an "innate corpus juris," and that it is his great achievement to have paved a way for true science in this matter; that explains his exaggerations in the opposite direction.

3. Cf. Savigny: Geschichte des romischen Rechtes im Mittelalter, chap. 1.

4. Many will think, but unjustly so, that the constitution of Lycurgus is still more arbitrary. For Lycurgus does not undermine the foundations provided by historical development; on the contrary, he strengthens them. The peoples that had migrated, one after another, into Lacedaemonia, formed layers above each other, the latest comers at the top -- and Lycurgus allowed this to remain so. Though the Pelasgians (Helots] tilled the land, the Achaeans [x] engaged in trade and industry, and the Dorians (Spartiatae) waged war and in consequence ruled, that was no artificial division of labour but the confirmation of a relationship actually existing. I am also convinced that life was in Lacedaemonia for a long time happier than in any other part of Greece; slave-trade was forbidden, the Helots were hereditary tenants, and though not bedded on roses they yet enjoyed considerable independence; the [x] had freedom to move about, even their limited military service being frequently relaxed in the interests of their industries, which were hereditary in the various families; for the Spartiatae, finally, social intercourse was the principle of their whole life, and in the rooms where they met at their simple meals, there stood resplendent one single statue as protecting deity, that of the god of laughter (Plutarch, Lycurgus, xxxvii.). Lycurgus, however, lays himself open to the reproach that he tried to fix these existing and so far sound conditions, and thus robbed the living organism of its necessary elasticity; secondly, that on the substantial and strong foundation he erected a very fantastic structure. Here again we see the theorising politician, the man who tries to decide by way of reasoning how things must be, while as a matter of fact the function of logical reason is to record and not to create. But to the fact that Lycurgus, in spite of everything, took historical data as his starting-point, are due that strength and endurance which his constitution enjoyed above those of the rest of Greece.

5. The expression "Aristocracy and Plebs," which Ranke likes to use for Patricians and Plebeians, is to the layman most misleading. Niebuhr already objected to the confusion of Plebs and Pobel (rabble). Patricians and Plebeians are rather like two powers in the one State, the one certainly privileged politically, the other the reverse in many ways (at least in former times), both, however, composed of free, independent, altogether autonomous yeomen. And for that reason Sallust can write, even of the oldest times: "The highest authority certainly lay with the Patricians, but the power most assuredly with the Plebeians" (Letters to Caesar, i. 5); we also see the Plebeians from earliest times play a great part in the State, and their families intermarry to a large extent with the Patricians. The uneducated man among us is therefore quite misled if he receives the idea that in Rome it was a question of an aristocracy and a proletariat. The peculiarity and the remarkable vitality of the Roman State had its foundation in this, that it contained from the first two differentiable parts (which present in their political efficacy in many points an analogy to Whigs and Tories, only that here it is a question of "born parties "), which, however, had grown up together with the State through exactly the same interests of property, law and freedom; from this the Romans derived, internally, continuous freshness of life, and in foreign affairs, perpetual unswerving unanimity. Of the Plebeian portions of the army Cato says, "viri fortissimi et milites strenuissimi"; they were indeed free-men, who fought for their own homes and hearths. In ancient Rome, as a matter of fact, only freeholders could serve in the army, and Plebeians held the rank of officer equally with Patricians (see Mommsen: Abriss des romischen Staatsrechtes, 1893, p. 258; and Esmarch: Romische Rechtsgeschichte, 3rd ed., p. 28 ff.).

6. Civil War, i. 9. Thoroughly Roman, by the way, to use such a commonplace expression at such a time!

7. Second Letter to Caesar.

8. Ideen zur Geschichte der Menschheit, Bk. XIV.

9. Mommsen: Romische Geschichte, 8th ed., i. 241

10. For the Aryan peoples in particular, see Leist's excellent Graco-italienische Rechtsgeschichte (1884) and his Altarisches Jus civile (1896), also Jhering's Vorgeschichte der Indoeuropaer. The ethnical investigations of the last years have, however, shown more and more that marriage, law and State exist in some form everywhere, even among the savages of least mental development. And this must be strongly emphasised, for the evolution mania and the pseudo-scientific dogmatism of our century have brought into most of our popular books -- absolutely invented descriptions, which are very difficult to remove from them, in spite of the sure results of exact research; and from here these descriptions also force their way into valuable and serious books. In Lamprecht's famous Deutsche Geschichte, vol. i., for instance, we find what is supposed to be a description of the social conditions of the old Teutonic peoples, sketched "under the auspices of comparative ethnology"; here we are told of a time when among these peoples a "community of sex limited by no differences of any kind prevailed, all brothers and sisters were husbands and wives to each other and all their children brothers and sisters, &c."; the first progress from this state, as we are to suppose, was the establishment of the mother's right, the so-called Matriarchate – and so the tale continues for pages; one fancies one is listening to the first stuttering of a new mythology. As far as the mother-right is concerned (i.e., family name and right of inheritance after the mother, as the fatherhood was always a common one), Jhering has convincingly shown that even the oldest Aryans, before the breaking off of a Teutonic branch, knew nothing of it (Vorgeschichte, p. 61 ff.), and the very oldest parts of the Aryan language point already to the "supreme position of the husband and father of the household" (Leist, Gracoital, Rechtsgeschichte, p. 58); that supposition therefore lacks every scientific basis. [This was meantime confirmed by Otto Schrader, Reallexicon der indogermanischen Altertumskunde, 1901, p. xxxiii.] It is still more important to establish the fact that the "comparative ethnography" appealed to by Lamprecht has found community of sex nowhere in the world among human beings. In the year 1896 a small book appeared which summarises in strictly objective fashion all the researches that refer to this, Ernst Grosse's Die Formen der Familie und die Formen der Wirtschaft, and there we see how the so-called empirical philosophers, with Herbert Spencer at their head, and the so-called strictly empirical anthropologists and ethnologists, honoured as "authorities" (with praiseworthy exceptions like Lubbock), simply started from the a priori supposition that there must be community of sex among simpler peoples, since the law of evolution demands it, and then everywhere discovered facts to confirm this. But more exact and unprejudiced investigations now prove for one race after the other that community of sex does not exist there, and Grosse may put down the apodictic assertion: "There is, in fact, no single primitive people whose sexual relations approached a condition of promiscuity or even hinted at such a thing. The firmly knit individual family is by no means a late achievement of civilisation, it exists in the lowest stages of culture as a rule without exception" (p. 42), Exact proofs are to be found in Grosse; besides, all anthropological and ethnological accounts of recent years testify how very much we have undervalued the so-called savages, how superficially we have observed and how thoughtlessly we have drawn conclusions about primitive conditions, of which we know absolutely nothing with surety; [Lately Heinrich Schurtz, in his Altersklassen und Mannerbunde, eine Darstellung der Grundformen der Gesellschaft, 1902, has fully shown that the arguments for promiscuity in early times, which are wont to be drawn from phenomena of "free love" to-day, are to be interpreted quite differently, and that, on the contrary, "with the most primitive races marriage, and in connection with it the formation of society on a purely sexual basis, is more strongly developed" (p. 200).] As this subject is essentially of the greatest importance and throws a peculiar and very noteworthy sidelight upon scientific modes of thought and power of thought in our century, I should like to add one more instructive example. The original inhabitants of central Australia are, as is well known, supposed to belong to the most backward, intellectually, of all peoples; Lubbock calls them "wretched savages, who cannot count their own fingers, not even the fingers of one hand" (The Prehistoric Age, Germ. trans., ii. 151). One can imagine with what can tempt the traveller Eyre wrote of the "remarkably peculiar cases where marriage is forbidden" in this wretched race, "where a man may not marry a woman who has the same name as he, even though she be by no means related to him." Strange! And how could these people come to have such inexplicable caprices when it would have been their duty, according to the theory of evolution, to have lived in absolute promiscuity? Since that time two English officials, who lived for years among these savages and gained their confidence, have given us a detailed account of them (Royal Society of Victoria, April 1897, summary in Nature, June 10, 1897), and it appears that their whole intellectual life, their "conceptive life" (if I may say so) is so in credibly complicated that it is almost impossible for one of us to comprehend it. These people, for example, who are supposed not to be able to count up to five, have a more complicated belief than Plato with regard to the transmigration of souls, and this faith forms the basis of their religion. Now as to their marriage laws. In the particular district spoken of here there lives an ethnically uniform race, the Aruntas. Every marriage union with strange races is forbidden; thereby the race is kept pure. But the extremely baneful effects of long-continued inbreeding (Lamprecht's Teutons would long have become Cretins before ever they entered into history!) are prevented by the Australian blacks by the following ingenious system: they divide (mentally) the whole race into four groups; for simplicity I designate them a b c d. A youth from the group a may only marry a girl from group d, the male b only the female c, the male c only the female b, the male d only the female a. The children of a and d form once more the group b, those of band c the group a, those of c and b the group d, those of d and a the group c. I simplify very much and give only the skeleton, for I fear my European reader would otherwise soon reach the stage of likewise not being able to count up to five. That such a system imposes important restrictions on the rights of the heart cannot be denied, but I ask, how could a scientifically trained selector have hit upon a more ingenious expedient to satisfy the two laws of breeding which are established by strict observation, namely, (1) the race must be kept pure, (2) continuous inbreeding is to be avoided? (see chap. iv.). Such a phenomenon calls for reverence and silence. When contemplating it one gladly keeps silent regarding such systems as those already mentioned as belonging to the end of the nineteenth century. But what must we feel when we turn our glance from the extremely laboured efforts of these worthy Australian Aruntas to Rome and behold here, in the middle of a frightful world, the sacredness of marriage, the legal status of the family, the freedom of the head of the household rising up out of the heart of the people, for it was at a much later period that it was engraved on bronze tables?

11. Thierry, Mommsen, &c.

12. Till a short time ago it was a favourite practice to represent the population of Rome as a kind of medley of peoples living side by side: it was supposed to have borrowed its traditions from Hellenic units, its administration from Etruscan ones, its law from Sabines, and its intellect from Samnites, &c. Thus Rome would have in a way been a mere word, a name, the common designation of an international trysting-place. This soap-bubble, too, which rose from the brain foam of pale professors, has burst, like so many others, in Mommsen's hands. Facts and reason both prove the absurdity of such a hypothesis, "which attempts to change the people, which, as few others, has developed its language, state, and religion purely and popularly, into a confused rubble of Etruscan, Sabine, Hellenic, and unfortunately even Pelasgic ruins" (Rom. Gesch., i. 43). The fact, however, that this thoroughly uniform and peculiar people originated from a crossing of various related races is undeniable, and Mommsen himself clearly shows this; he admits two Latin and one Sabellian race; at a later time all kinds of elements were added. but only after the Roman national character was firmly developed so that it assimilated the foreign portion. It would, however, be ridiculous to "assign Rome to the number of mixed peoples" (see p. 44). It is quite a different thing to establish the fact that the most extraordinary and most individual talents and the sturdiest power are produced by crossing. Athens was a brilliant example, Rome another, Italy and Spain in the Middle Ages equally so, just as Prussia and England prove it at the present day (more details in chap. 4). In this respect the Hellenic myth that the Latins were descended from Hercules and a Hyperborean maiden is very noteworthy as one of those incomprehensible traits of innate wisdom; whereas the desperate efforts of Dionysius of Halisarnassus (who lived at the time of the birth of Christ) to prove the descent of the Romans from Hellenes, "as they could not possibly be of barbarian origin," shows with touching simplicity how dangerous a conjunction of great learning with preconceived opinions and conclusions of reason can become!

13. The family resting upon relationship to the father alone, so that only descent from the father's side by males, and not that from the mother's side, establishes relationship at law. Only a marriage contracted in the right forms produces children who belong to the agnate family.

14. One of the last instances are the Jews who (about the year 1) came to Rome with the urgent request that it should deliver them from their Semitic sovereigns and make them into a Roman province. It is well known what gratitude they afterwards showed to Rome, which ruled them so mildly and generously.

15. Esmarch, in his Romische Rechtsgeshichte, 3rd ed., p. 185, writes as follows on the frequently very vaguely developed and defined jus gentium: "This law in the Roman sense is to be regarded neither as an aggregate of accidentally common clauses, formed from a comparison of the laws that were valid among all the nations known to the Romans, nor as an objectively existing commercial law recognised and adopted by the Roman State; it should be regarded, according to its essential substance, as a system of order for the application of private law to international relations, evolved out of the heart of Roman popular consciousness." Within the several countries the conditions of law were as little changed as possible by the Romans, one of the surprising proofs of the great respect which in the period of their true greatness they paid to all individuality.

16. The struggle which in late years raged in Central Africa between the Congo Free State and the Arabs (without being much heeded in Europe) is a new chapter in the old war between Semites and Indo-Europeans for the supremacy of the world. It is only in the last fifty years that the Arabs have been advancing from the East Coast of Africa into the interior and almost up to the Atlantic Ocean; the famous Hamed ben Mohammed ben Juna, called Tippu-Tib, was for a long time absolute ruler of an immense realm which reached almost straight across all Africa with a breadth of about 20 degrees. Countless tribes which Livingstone in his time found happy and peace-loving have since then in some cases been destroyed entirely – since the slave-trade to foreign parts is the chief occupation of the Arabs and never, in the history of mankind, was carried on to such an extent as in the second half of the nineteenth century -- in other cases the natives have undergone a remarkable moral change by contact with Semitic masters; they have become cannibals, great stupid children changed to wild beasts. It is, however, noteworthy that the Arabs, where they found it paid them, have revealed their culture, knowledge and shrewdness in laying out magnificent stretches of cultivated land, so that parts of the Congo river district are almost as beautifully farmed as an Alsatian estate. In Kassongo, the capital of this rich country, the Belgian troops found magnificent Arabian houses with silk curtains, bed- covers of satin, splendidly carved furniture, silver ware, &c.; but the aboriginal inhabitants of this district had in the meantime degenerated into slaves and cannibals. A real tangible instance of the difference between civilising and spreading culture. (See especially Dr. Hinde: The Fall of the Congo Arabs, 1897, p. 66ff., 184 ff., &c.)

17. Every reader knows by what automatic process the bird unwittingly contributes to the spread of plant life.

18. Mommsen, who feels bound strongly to condemn the action of the Romans against Carthage, admits at a later point (v. 623) that it was in his opinion neither lust of empire nor of possession but fear and jealousy that prompted it. This very distinction is of importance for our reasoned view of the part played by Rome in the history of the world. If in a world which recognises might alone as the norm of international law, we can say with certainty of a people that it was not greedy of possessions or power, it seems to me that we have given it a testimonial to its moral character which makes it tower high above all contemporary peoples. As regards "fear," it was thoroughly justified, and it is surely permitted to think that the Roman senate formed a more correct judgment of the situation than Mommsen. -- The arbitrary Caesar, of whom even his zealous friend Celius must say that he sacrifices the interests of the State to his personal ends, built Carthage again at a later time. And what did it become? The most notorious pit of vice in the world, where all whose destiny cast them thither -- Romans, Greeks, Vandals -- degenerated to the very marrow of their bones. Such devastating magic was still possessed by the curse which rested on the spot where Phoenician horrors had reigned supreme for five hundred years! From its houses of evil repute there arose a mighty cry of indignation against everything called civilisation: That it bore Tertullian and Augustine is the only merit that we can attribute to this shortsighted and shortlived creation of Caesar. -- To characterise the nineteenth century, let me quote the opinion of one who is among its so-called greatest historians. Professor Leopold von Ranke says: "The Phoenician element has by means of commerce, colonisation and, finally, also by war, in the main exercised a quickening influence upon the Occident" (Weltgeschichte, i. 542).

19. Diaspora is the name given to the widened Jewish community. Originally the term was applied to those Jews who had preferred not to return from the Babylonian captivity, because they were better off there than in their home. Soon there was no prosperous city in the world without a Jewish community; nothing is more erroneous than the widespread belief that it was the destruction of Jerusalem that first scattered the Jews over the world. In Alexandria and its neighbourhood alone there were reckoned to be under the first Roman emperors a million Jews, and Tiberius already recognised the great danger of this theocratic State in the midst of the legal State. The men of the Diaspora were keen and successful propagandists, and their considerate adoption of men as "half Jews" under remission of the painful initiatory ceremony, helped them greatly; in addition, material advantages contributed to their success, since the Jews pleaded their religion as an excuse for exemption from military service and a series of other burdensome civic duties; but the Hebrew missionaries had the greatest success with women. Now it is a noteworthy fact that this international community, which contained Hebrews and non-Hebrews, and in which all shades of faith were represented, from the most bigoted Pharisaism to open scoffing irreligion, held together like one man as soon as it was a question of the privileges and interests of the common Jewry; the Jewish freethinker would not for the world have omitted to send in his yearly contribution to Jerusalem for the temple-offerings; Philo, the famous Neoplatonist, who believed in Jahve as little as in Jupiter, nevertheless represented the Jewish community of Alexandria in Rome in favour of the synagogues threatened by Caligula; Poppaea Sabina, the mistress and later the wife of Nero, though no Hebrew but a keen member of the Jewish Diaspora, supported the prayers of the Jewish actor Alityrus, the favourite of Nero, to root out the sect of the Christians, and thereby became very probably morally responsible for that frightful persecution of the year 64, in which it is said that the apostles Peter and Paul met their death. The fact that the Romans, who otherwise at that time could not distinguish Christians from orthodox Jews, were on this occasion able to do so accurately, is regarded by Renan as conclusive proof of this charge, which was made against the Diaspora even in the first century (in Tertullian's Apologeticus, chap. xxi., for example, somewhat reserved but yet clear; see also Renan, L'Antechrist, chap. vii.). Newer convincing proofs that up to Domitian's time, and so till long after Nero's death, the Romans regarded the Christians as a Jewish sect, are to be found in eumand: Der romische Staat und die allgemeine Kirche (1890), pp. 5 ff. and 14 ff. That Tacitus distinguished clearly between Jews and Christians manifestly proves nothing in this matter, as he wrote fifty years after Nero's persecution and in his narrative transferred the knowledge of a later time to an earlier. (See, too, in connection with the "Jewish jealousy," Paul Allard: Le Christianisme et l'Empire romain de Neron d Theodose (1897), chap. i.)

20. Cf. on this, Graetz, Volksth, Geschichte der Juden, i. 653.

21. In his Discours et Conferences, 3rd ed., p. 350, he calls the destruction of Jerusalem "un immense bonheur."

22. For an understanding of the character of Caracalla and his motives I recommend the little book of Prof. Dr. Rudolf Leonhard, Roms Vergangenheit und Deutschlands Recht, 1889. pp. 93-99. He shows in the course of a few pages how this Syrian, "a descendant of the Carthaginian human butchers and the countrymen of those priests of Baal who were wont to throw their enemies into hot ovens" (the Jews did the same; see 2 Samuel, xii. 31), had adopted as his aim in life the annihilation of Rome and the destruction of the still living remains of Hellenic culture, and at the same time the flooding of the cultured European world with the pseudo-Semitic refuse of his home. This was all done systematically, maliciously and under cover of such phrases as universal franchise and religion of mankind. Thus on one single day he succeeded in destroying Rome for ever; thus unsuspecting Alexandria, the centre of art and science, became a victim of the raceless, homeless bestiality that tore down all barriers. Let us never -- never for a moment -- forget that the spirit of Caracalla is among us and waiting for its chance! Instead of repeating by rote the deceptive phrases about humanity which were the fashion even 1800 years ago in the Semitic salons in Rome, we should do better to say with Goethe:

Du musst steigen oder sinken,
Du musst herrschen und gewinnen,
Oder dienen und verlieren,
Leiden oder triumphieren,
Amboss oder Hammer sein.

23. Augustus was at once: (1) Princeps, that is, first citizen, at that time really only a title of honour; (2) Imperator, commander-in-chief; (3) tribune of the people for life; (4) Pontifex maximus -- the highest religions office, an office for life from earliest times; (5) Consul -- not, it is true, for life, but still in continuous possession of consular power; (6) likewise of proconsular power which embraced the government of all the provinces; and (7) likewise of censorial power, which embraced the control of morals, the right to appoint and remove from the list senators, knights, &c.

24. Details in vol. ii. chap. vii.

25. The issue of the Edictum perpetuum by Hadrian is perhaps the last great creative benefaction.

26. I quote from the abridged edition of his Roman Constitutional Law in Binding's Systematisches Handbuch der deutschen Rechtswissenschaft, p. 81 ff.

27. Romische Rechtsgesichte, 3rd ed., p. 218.

28. Certain limitations of the freedom of leaving property by will formed certainly a first indication of future times.

29. Secs. 5 and 6, J. de jure naturali, i. 2. The last words of the second excerpt I have had to translate somewhat freely. The original is: "omne suum imperium et potestatem"; how difficult it is to give these words the exact legal sense of ancient Rome can be seen in Mommsen, p. 85. Imperium means originally "utterance of the will of the community"; hence the bearer of this absolute will was called imperator; more limited and defining rather the sphere of private law is potestas. Therefore I have translated them by plenitude of power and rights (German Machtfulle and Rechte), and think I have thereby expressed the sense.

30. As a not unimportant fact, I may be allowed to mention that rule by majority is just as little Teutonic or Greek as it was Roman. (See Leist, Graco-italische Rechtsgeschicte, pp. 129, 133 ff., 727.)

31. That the public law of the Romans has not exercised upon us moderns the same influence as the private does not justify us in leaving it unmentioned. since a model of private law could not come into existence without an excellent public law.

32. De Officiis, i. 6.

33. I say this without any metaphysical arriere-pensee; whether mathematical conceptions are judgments a priori (as Kant asserts) or not, everyone will admit that geometry is the purely formal activity of the mind, in contrast to the investigation of the heavens.

34. See, for example, Holland; Jurisprudence, 6th ed., p. 5.

35. De legibus, i. 5 and 6, ii. 4. &c.

36. Romische Geschichte, iii. 620.

37. See p. 113.

38. Dictionnaire Philosophique, J. J. Rousseau, too, calls Grotius "un enfant, et qui pis est, un enfant de mauvaise foi" (Emile, v.).

39. Hegel, Propadeutik, Kursus i. § 26.

40. Metaphysische Anfangsgrunde der Rechtslehre Einleitung, § B.

41. I have no doubt that there, too, certain rules are rendered sacred by custom and binding also on the chief, but legally he is quite free; only the fear of being roasted and eaten himself can restrain him from any arbitrary procedure.

42. In reference to law as a "living power," as the product of "the creative thoughts of great individualities," in contrast to all the dog matics of the supposed law of nature, read the interesting lecture of Prof. Engen Ehrlich, Freie Rechtsfindung und freie Rechtstwissenschaft, Leipzig, 1903.

43. The assertion that history constantly repeats itself belongs to the countless untruths which are in circulation as wisdom among the "nonocentists." Never in history -- as far as our knowledge goes -- has anything repeated itself, never! Where is the repetition of thens and Sparta? of Rome? of Egypt? Where has the second Alexander flourished? where a second Homer? Neither nations nor their great men return again. And so mankind does not become wiser by "experience"; the past offers it no paradigm for the present to form its judgment; it is made worse or better, wiser or more foolish, simply by the influences that are brought to bear on its intellect and character. Gutzkow's Ben Akiba was fundamentally wrong in his famous remark, "All has occurred before"! Such an ass as he himself never lived before, and, it is to be hoped, will never appear again. And even if this were so, it would only be the repetition of the individual who under new circumstances would commit new follies for our amusement.

44. Cf. Leist, Graco-italische Rechtsgeschichte, p. 694, and for the following quotation, p. 682.

45. For examples, read the splendid chapter Plastik des Rechtes in Jhering's Geist des romischen Rechtes, § 23. Of the modern undramatic life of law, Jhering says: "One would have liked to give law, instead of a sword, a quill as its attribute, for the feathers were scarcely more necessary to the bird than to it, except that in the case of law the attribute produced the opposite effects and speed stood in converse relation to the amount of feathers employed."

46. Savigny, Geschichte des romischen Rechtes im Mittelalter, chap. i.

47. I know no more conclusive proof of the original incapacity of the Teutonic peoples to judge acutely in questions of law than that such a man as Otto the Great could not decide, otherwise than by a duel, the fundamental question whether descendants should inherit or not; this judgment of Heaven was then adopted as a piece of law for good by a pactum sempiternum! (See Grimm, Rechtsaltertumer, 3rd ed. p. 471.)

48. The detailed proof that the ideas of a progress and decline of humanity have no concrete significance will be found in the ninth chapter.

49. Graco-italische Rechtsgeschichte, p. 441.

50. Francis Bacon points out how inferior the corpus juris of Justinian is to the genuine Roman law, and blames so "dark an age" for taking the liberty of laying hands upon the work of so "brilliant an age" in order to improve it. (See the dedication of the Law Tracts.)

51. Especially of the year's edicts of the Praetors. Leist says that they had become "the principal moment in the finer development of Roman law" (as quoted above, p. 622).

52. See the clear distinction between property and possession in Table VII., clause 11.

53. In Cicero’s time every boy still learned the Twelve Tables by heart.

54. Compare the very minute information in Jhering's Vorgeschichet der Indoeuropaer, p. 233 ff. The usual rate of interest in Babylon was 20 to 25 per cent. Jhering asserts that interest was a Babylonian, a Semitic (not a Sumarian) invention; he says, "all other peoples owe their acquaintance with it to the Babylonians." Honour to whom honour is due! Also the subtlest form of interest, for instance, the favourite plan of lending money without interest, by immediately taking it from the capital, was well known in ancient Babylon, even before Homer had begun to write verses. When, then, shall we be spared the old fiction that it was only in recent centuries that the Semites were forced by the persecution of Christians to become usurers?

55. How astonished Cicero and Seneca, Scaevola and Papinian would have been at such a conception of natural law!

56. The resemblance between the principles (not the conclusions) of Spinoza and of Nietzsche is striking enough to claim our attention.

57. A few years ago I met in society an educated Jew, an owner of petroleum wells and a member of the notorious petroleum-ring. No argument could convince the honest man, who would not have harmed a fly, how morally condemnable such a ring was; his constant answer was, "I can, and therefore I may!" Spinoza word for word, as one can see. -- This brings up the grave question as to whether in Teutonic countries men of Jewish race should be appointed judges. Without any passion or prejudice, without doubting the knowledge and the spotless honour of those in question, one ought to ask oneself, on the ground of historical and ethical data, whether it should be taken for granted that these men are capable of completely assimilating a conception of law which is so thoroughly in opposition to their natural tendencies; whether they really understand and feel this law which they use so masterfully. Whoever has come to recognise the clearly marked individuality of the various races of mankind can bring up such a question in all seriousness and without any ill-will.

58. An Athenian hires an ass to carry his baggage to Megara. At a resting-place he sits down in the shadow of it: the driver will not permit this without extra payment, as he had hired the ass but not its shadow.

59. This belongs, according to the great philosopher, to "the means of persuasion that lie outside of art."

60. Up to the present day one finds this passage quoted in juristical works, but with little justification, as Aristotle is here giving merely a rhetorical trick for use in court and on the next page teaches the use of the opposite assertion. Still less to the point is the passage from the Nicomachean Ethics, v. 7. which culminates in the sentence, "Law is the mean between a certain advantage and a certain disadvantage," How great does Democritus show himself here as always when he says, with that clear insight characteristic of him, that "laws are the fruits of human thinking in contrast to the things of nature" (Diogenes Laertius, ix. 45).

61. With regard to the predominantly Semitic and Syrian race-connection of the later codifiers and embalmers of the Roman law, for whom we have shown too much admiration, see p. 91 ff. of the address of Leonhard quoted on p. 125.

62. Leist, Graco-italische Rechtsgeschichte, p. 585.

63. The above words are perhaps from one of the very free translations by Kuhlenbeck. In Bruno's De Immenso et Innumerabilibus I found the following remark (Bk. II. chap. i.): "Parvus error in principio, magnus in fine est."

64. J. Jacques Rousseau makes an excellent remark in this connection: "Si quelquefois les lois influent sur les moeurs, c'est quand elles en tirent leur force" (Lettre a d'Alembert).

65. Zimmer, Indisches Leben, p. 313 ff.

66. Etfried Muller, Dorier, 2nd ed., i. 78, ii. 282 (quoted from Leist).

67. Jhering: Entwickelungsgeschichte des romischen Rechtes, p. 55. Among the Teutons it was no better. "The right of inheritance is in the oldest German laws either restricted or denied to women altogether," says Grimm, Deutsche Rechtsaltertumer, 3rd ed. p. 407. The concessions gradually granted are to be traced to Roman influence. Where this was little or not at all felt, the German legal books, even in the Middle Ages, still show the "complete inequality of women." In the extreme North, in Scandinavia and in oldest Frisia, a woman could inherit nothing at all, neither movable nor fixed property; "the man enters into inheritance, the woman leaves it." Not till the thirteenth century did women receive a limited right of inheritance (Grimm, p. 473). These are the conditions of law to which the Germanomaniacs longingly desire to return!

68. (Romulus, xxix.) It may be mentioned by way of contrast that it was the custom among the Germans till the introduction of Christianity (among the Wends even till the seventeenth century) to kill old weak parents! (See Grimm: Rechtsaltertumer, pp. 486-90.)

69. Besides he was subject to the censorial power, as much for too great strictness in the exercise of his paternal rights as for carelessness therein; see Jhering: Geist des romischen Rechtes, § 32.

70. Esmarch: Romische Rechtsgeschichte, p. 317.

71. I speak of the true, chaste woman; for the adulteress and the courtesan were loudly celebrated by the most popular of degenerate Rome's poets, Catullus and Virgil especially.

72. See particularly Savigny: Geschichte des romischen Rechtes im Mittelalter, chaps. iii. xv. xxii., &c.

73. Bryce: The Holy Roman Empire, p. 131 of the French edition.

74. With regard to the great Lucretius as an exception, see the note on p. 35.

75. And yet not inventors even here; see Hueppe's investigations into the waterworks of the ancient Greeks, Rassenhygiene der Griechen, p. 37.

76. Of the very considerable literature which in the last years has been written on this question, and with which I have but little acquaintance, I recommend especially the small work of Prof. Albert Heintze, Latein und Deutsch, 1902, which is written with as much knowledge as it is to the point and devoid of passion.

77. Romische Geschichte, i. 471.

78. Esmarch; Romische Rechtsgeschichte, p. 400.
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Re: The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, by Houston St

Postby admin » Wed Oct 19, 2016 5:06 am

Part 1 of 3


By the virtue of One all have been truly saved.


BEFORE our eyes there stands a vision, distinct, incomparable. This picture which we behold is the inheritance which we have received from our Fathers. Without an accurate appreciation of this vision, we cannot measure and rightly judge the historical significance of Christianity. The converse, on the other hand, does not hold good, for the figure of Jesus Christ has, by the historical development of the Churches, been dimmed and relegated to the background, rather than unveiled to the clear sight of our eyes. To look upon this Figure solely by the light of a church doctrine, narrowed both in respect of place and of time, is voluntarily to put on blinkers and to narrow our view of the eternally Divine. The vision of Christ, moreover, is hardly touched upon by the dogmas of the Church. They are all so abstract that they afford nothing upon which either our understanding or our feelings can lay hold. We may apply to them in general what an artless witness, St. Augustine, said of the Dogma of the Trinity: "But we speak of three Persons, not because we fancy that in so doing we have uttered something, but simply because we cannot be silent." [1] Surely we are guilty of no outrage upon due reverence if we say, it is not the Churches that constitute the might of Christianity, for that might is drawn solely from the fountain head from which the churches themselves derive all their power -- the contemplation of the Son of Man upon the Cross.

Let us therefore separate the vision of Christ upon earth from the whole history of Christianity.

What after all are our nineteen centuries for the conscious acceptance of such an experience -- for the transformation which forces itself through all the strata of humanity by the power of a fundamentally new aspect of life's problems? We should remember that more than two thousand years were needed before the structure of the Kosmos, capable as it is of mathematical proof and of demonstration to the senses, became the fixed, common possession of human knowledge. Is not the understanding with its gift of sight and its infallible formula of 2 x 2 = 4 easier to mould than the heart, blind and ever befooled by self-seeking! Here is a man born into the world and living a life through which the conception of the moral significance of man, the whole philosophy of life, undergoes a complete transformation -- through which the relation of the individual to himself, to the rest of mankind, and to the nature by which he is surrounded, is of necessity illuminated by a new and hitherto unsuspected light, so that all motives of action, all ideals, all heart's-desires and hopes must be remoulded and built up anew from their very foundations. Is it to be believed that this can be the work of a few centuries? Is it to be believed that this can be brought about by misunderstandings and lies, by political intrigues and oecumenical councils, at the word of command of kings maddened by ambition, or of greedy priests, by three thousand volumes of scholastic disputations, by the fanatical faith of narrow-minded peasants and the noble zeal of a small number of superior persons, by war, murder and the stake, by civic codes of law and social intolerance? For my part I disclaim any such belief. I believe that we are still far, very far, from the moment when the transforming might of the vision of Christ will make itself felt to its utmost extent by civilised mankind. Even if our churches in their present form should come to an end, the idea of Christianity would only stand out with all the more force. In the ninth chapter I shall show how our new Teuton philosophy is pushing in that direction. Even now, Christianity is not yet firm upon its childish feet: its maturity is hardly dawning upon our dim vision. Who knows but a day may come when the bloody church-history of the first eighteen centuries of our era may be looked upon as the history of the infantile diseases of Christianity?

In considering the vision of Christ, then, let us not allow our judgment to be darkened by any historical delusions, or by the ephemeral views of our century. We may be sure that up to the present we have only entered upon the smallest portion of this same inheritance, and if we wish to know what is its significance for all of us, be we Christians or Jews, believers or unbelievers, whether we are conscious of our privilege or not -- then must we in the first place stop our ears against the chaos of creeds and of blasphemies which beshame humanity, and in the next place raise our eyes up to the most incomparable vision of all times.

In this section I shall be forced critically to glance at much that forms the intellectual foundation of various religions. But just as I leave untouched that which is hidden in the Holy of Holies of my own heart, so I hope to steer clear of giving offence to any other sensible man. It is as easy to separate the historic vision of Christ from all the supernatural significance which dwells in it as it must be to treat Physics upon a purely material basis without imagining that in so doing we have dethroned Metaphysics.

Christ indeed can hardly be spoken of without now and again crossing the boundary; still belief, as such, need not be touched, and if I as historian proceed logically and convincingly, I can bear with any refutation which the reader may bring forward as a question of feeling, as apart from understanding. With this consciousness I shall speak as frankly in the following chapters as I have done in those which have gone before.


The religious faith of more than two-thirds of all the inhabitants of the earth to-day starts from the life on earth of two men, Christ and Buddha, men who lived only a few centuries ago. We have historical proofs of their having actually existed, and that the traditions regarding them, though containing much that is fabulous and uncertain, obscure and contradictory, nevertheless give us a faithful picture of the main features of their real lives. Even apart from this sure result of the scientific investigations of the nineteenth century, [2] men of acute and sound judgment will never have doubted the actual existence of these great moral heroes: for although the historical and chronological material regarding them is extremely scanty and imperfect, yet their moral and intellectual individuality stands out so clearly and brilliantly before our eyes, and this individuality is so incomparable, that it could not be an invention of the imagination. The imagination of man is very narrowly circumscribed; the creative mind can work only with given facts: it was men that Homer had to enthrone on Olympus, for even his imagination could not transcend the impassable boundary of what he saw and experienced; the very fact that he makes his gods so very human, that he does not permit his imagination to soar to the realm of the Extraordinary and Inconceivable (because never seen), that he rather keeps it in subjection, in order to employ its undivided force to create what will be poetical and visible, is one of a thousand proofs, and not the least important one, that intellectually he was a great man. We are not capable of inventing even a plant or animal form; when we try it, the most we do is to put together a monstrosity composed of fragments of all kinds of creatures known to us. Nature, however, the inexhaustibly inventive, shows us a new thing whenever it so pleases her; and this new thing is for our consciousness henceforth just as indestructible as it formerly was undiscoverable. The figure of Buddha, much less that of Jesus Christ, could not be invented by any human poetical power, neither that of an individual nor that of a whole people; nowhere can we discover even the slightest approach to such a thing. Neither poets, nor philosophers, nor prophets have been able even in their dreams to conceive such a phenomenon. Plato is certainly often mentioned in connection with Jesus Christ; there are whole books on the supposed relation between the two; it is said that the Greek philosopher was a forerunner who proclaimed the new gospel. In reality, however, the great Plato is a quite irreligious genius, a metaphysician and politician, an investigator and an aristocrat. And Socrates! The clever author of grammar and logic, the honest preacher of a morality for philistines, the noble gossip of the Athenian gymnasia, -- is he not in every respect the direct contrast to the divine proclaimer of a Heaven of them "that are poor in spirit"? In India it was the same: the figure of a Buddha was not anticipated nor conjured up by the magic of men's longing. All such assertions belong to the wide province of that delusive historic philosophy which constructs after the event. If Christ and Christianity had been an historical necessity, as the neoscholastic Hegel asserts, and Pfleiderer and others would have us believe to-day, we should inevitably have seen not one Christ but a thousand Christs arise; I should really like to know in what century a Jesus would not have been just as "necessary" as our daily bread? [3] Let us therefore discard these views that are tinged with the paleness of abstraction. The only effect they have is to obscure the one decisive and pregnant thing, namely, the importance of the living, individual, incomparable personality. One is ever and anon forced to quote Goethe's great saying:

Hochtes Gluck der Erdenkinder
Ist nur die Personlichkeit!

The circumstances in which the personality is placed -- a knowledge of its general conditions in respect of time and space -- will certainly contribute very much towards making it clearly understood. Such a knowledge will enable us to distinguish between the important and the unimportant, between the characteristically individual and the locally conventional. It will, in short, give us an increasingly clearer view of the personality. But to explain it, to try to show it as a logical necessity, is an idle, foolish task; every figure -- even that of a beetle -- is to the human understanding a "wonder"; the human personality is, however, the mysterium magnum of life, and the more a great personality is stripped by criticism of all legendary rags and tatters, and the more successful that criticism is in representing each step in its career as something fore-ordained in the nature of things, the more incomprehensible the mystery becomes. This indeed is the final result of the criticism to which the life of Jesus has been submitted in the nineteenth century. This century has been called an irreligious one; but never yet, since the first Christian centuries, has the interest of mankind concentrated so passionately around the person of Jesus Christ as in the last seventy years; the works of Darwin, however widespread they were, were not bought to one-tenth the extent of those of Strauss and Renan. And the result of it all is, that the actual earthly life of Jesus Christ has become more and more concrete, and we have been compelled to recognise more and more distinctly that the origin of the Christian religion is fundamentally to be traced to the absolutely unexampled impression which this one personality had made and left upon those who knew Him. So it is that to-day this revelation stands before our eyes more definite and for that very reason more unfathomable than ever.

This is the first point to be established. It is in accordance with the whole tendency of our times, that we can grow enthusiastic only in regard to what is concrete and living. At the beginning of the nineteenth century it was different; the Romantic movement threw its shadows on all sides, and so it had become fashionable to explain everything "mythically." In the year 1835 David Strauss, following the example proffered on all sides, presented as a key to the gospels "the idea of the myth"! [4] Everyone now recognises that this so-called key was nothing more than a new, mistily vague paraphrase of a still-unsolved problem, and that not an "idea," but only an actually lived existence, only the unique impression of a personality, whose like the world had never before known, supplies the "key" to the origin of Christianity. The greater the amount of such useless ballast that was manifest on the one hand in the shape of pseudo-mythical (or rather pseudo-historical) legend-making, on the other in the form of philosophically dogmatic speculation, the greater is the power of life and resistance that must be attributed to the original impelling and creating force. The most modern, strictly philological criticism has proved the unexpected antiquity of the gospels and the extensive authenticity of the manuscripts which we possess; we have now succeeded in tracing, almost step for step, the very earliest records of Christianity in a strictly historical manner. [5] But all this when considered from the universal human standpoint is of much less importance than the one fact, that in consequence of these researches the figure of the one Divine Man has been brought into relief, so that the unbeliever as well as the believer is bound to recognise it as the centre and source of Christianity, taking the word in the most comprehensive sense possible.


A few pages back I placed Buddha and Christ in juxtaposition. The kernel of the religious conceptions of all the more gifted races of mankind (with the two exceptions of the small family of the Jews on the one hand and their antipodes the Brahman Indians on the other) has been for the past few thousand years not the need for an explanation of the world, nor mythological Nature-symbolism, nor meditative transcendentalism, but the experience of great characters. The delusion of a "rational religion" still haunts us; occasionally too in recent years there has been talk of a "replacing of religion by something higher," and on the hilltops of certain German districts new "worshippers of Wotan" have offered up sacrifice at the time of the solstice; but none of these movements have exercised the slightest influence upon the world. For ideas are immortal -- I have said so already and shall have to repeat it constantly -- and in such figures as Buddha and Christ an idea -- that is, a definite conception of human existence -- acquires such a living bodily form, becomes so thoroughly an experience of life, is placed so clearly before the eyes of all men, that it can nevermore disappear from their consciousness. Many a man may never have seen the Crucified One with his eyes; many a man may constantly have passed this revelation carelessly by; thousands of men, even among ourselves, lack what one might call the inner sense to perceive Christ at all; on the other hand, having once seen Jesus Christ -- even if it be with half-veiled eyes -- we cannot forget Him; it does not lie within our power to remove the object of experience from our minds. We are not Christians because we were brought up in this or in that Church, because we want to be Christians; if we are Christians, it is because we cannot help it, because neither the chaotic bustle of life nor the delirium of selfishness, nor artificial training of thought can dispel the vision of the Man of Sorrow when once it has been seen. On the evening before His death, when His Apostles were questioning Him as to the significance of one of His actions, He replied, "I have given you an example." That is the meaning not only of the one action but of His whole life and death. Even so strict an ecclesiastic as Martin Luther writes: "The example of our Lord Jesus Christ is at the same time a sacrament, it is strong in us, it does not, like the examples of the fathers, merely teach, no, it also effects what it teaches, it gives life, resurrection and redemption from death." The power of Buddha over the world rests on similar foundations. The true source of all religion is, I repeat, in the case of the great majority of living people not a doctrine but a life. It is a different question, of course, how far we, with our weak capability, can or cannot follow the example; the ideal is there, clear, unmistakable, and for centuries it has been moulding with incomparable power the thoughts and actions of men, even of unbelievers.

I shall return to this point later in another connection. If I have introduced Buddha here, where only the figure of Christ concerns me, I have done so for this reason, that nothing shows up a figure so well as comparison. The comparison, however, must be an appropriate one, and I do not know any other than Buddha in the history of the world whom we could compare with Christ. Both are characterised by their divine earnestness; they have in common the longing to point out to all mankind the way of redemption; they have both incomparably magnetic personalities. And yet if one places these two Figures side by side, it can only be to emphasise the contrast and not to draw a parallel between them. Christ and Buddha are opposites. What unites them is their sublimity of character. From that source have sprung lives of unsurpassed loveliness, lives which wielded an influence such as the world had never before experienced. Otherwise they differ almost in every point, and the neo-Buddhism which has been paraded during recent years in certain social circles in Europe -- in the closest relation, it is said, to Christianity and even going beyond it -- is but a new proof of the widespread superficiality of thought among us. For Buddha's life and thought present a direct contrast to the thought and life of Christ: they form what the logician calls the "antithesis," what to the natural scientist is the "opposite pole."


Buddha represents the senile decay of a culture which has reached the limit of its possibilities. A Prince, highly educated, gifted with a richfulness of power, recognises the vanity of that education and that power. He professes what to the rest of the world seems to be the Highest, but with the vision of truth before him, this possession melts away to nothing. Indian culture, the outcome of the meditative contemplation incident to a pastoral life, had thrown itself with all the weight of its lofty gifts into the development of the one attribute peculiar to mankind -- Reason with the power of combination: so it came to pass that connection with the surrounding world -- childlike observation with its practical adaptation to business -- languished, at any rate among the men of higher culture. Everything was systematically directed to the development of the power of thought: every educated youth knew by heart, word for word, a whole literature charged with matter so subtle that even to this day few Europeans are capable of following it: even geometry, the most abstract of all methods of representing the concrete world, was too obvious for the Indians, and so they came instead to revel in an arithmetic which goes beyond all possibility of presentation: the man who questioned himself as to his aim in life, the man who had been gifted by nature with the desire to strive for some highest goal, found on the one side a religious system in which symbolism had grown to such mad dimensions that it needed some thirty years to find oneself at home in it, and on the other side a philosophy leading up to heights so giddy that whoso wished to climb the last rungs of this heavenly ladder must take refuge from the world for ever in the deep silence of the primeval forest. Clearly here the eye and the heart had lost their rights. Like the scorching simoom of the desert, the spirit of abstraction had swept with withering force over all other gifts of this rich human nature. The senses indeed still lived -- desires of tropical heat: but on the other side was the negation of the whole world of sense: between these nothing, no compromise, only war, war between human perception and human nature, between thought and being. And so Buddha must hate what he loved; children, parents, wife, all that is beautiful and joyous -- for what were these but veils darkening perception, bonds chaining him to a dream-life of lies and desire? And what had he to do with all the wisdom of the Brahmans? Sacrificial ceremonies which no human being understood, and which the priests themselves explained as being purely symbolical and to the initiated futile: -- beyond this a redemption by perception accessible to scarcely one man in a hundred thousand. Thus it was that Buddha not only cast away from him his kingdom and his knowledge, but tore from his heart all that bound him as man to man, all love, all hope: at one blow he destroyed the religion of his fathers, drove their gods from the temple of the world, and rejected as a vain phantom even that most sublime conception of Indian metaphysics, that of a one and only God, indescribable, unthinkable, having no part in space or time, and therefore inaccessible to thought, and yet by thought dimly imagined. There is nothing in life but suffering, this was Buddha's experience and consequently his teaching. The one object worth striving for is "redemption from suffering." This redemption is death, the entering into annihilation. But to every Indian the transmigration of souls, that is the eternal reincarnation of the same individual, was believed in as a manifest fact, not even to be called in question. Death then, in its ordinary shape, cannot give redemption: it is the gift of that death only upon which no reincarnation follows: and this redeeming death can only be attained in one way, namely, that man shall have died during his life and therefore of his own free will: that is to say, that he shall have cut out and annihilated all that ties him to life, all love, all hope, all desire, all possession: in short, as we should say with Schopenhauer, that he shall have denied the will to live. If man lives in this wise, if while yet alive he makes himself into a moving corpse, then can the reaper Death harvest no seed for a reincarnation. A living Death! that is the essence of Buddhism! We may describe Buddhism as the lived suicide. It is suicide in its highest potentiality: for Buddha lives solely and only to die, to be dead definitely and beyond recall, to enter into Nirvana -- extinction. [6]


What greater contrast could there be to this figure than that of Christ, whose death signifies entrance into eternal life? Christ perceives divine Providence in the whole world; not a sparrow falls to the ground, not a hair on the head of a man can be injured, without the permission of the Heavenly Father. And far from hating this earthly existence, which is lived by the will and under the eye of God, Christ praises it as the entry into eternity, as the narrow gate through which we pass into the Kingdom of God. And this Kingdom of God, what is it? A Nirvana? a Dream-Paradise? a future reward for deeds done here below? Christ gives the answer in one word, which has undoubtedly been authentically handed down to us, for it had never been uttered before, and no one of His disciples evidently understood it, much less invented it; indeed, this eagle thought flashed so far in front of the slow unfolding of human knowledge that even to the present day few have seen the meaning of it -- as I said before, Christianity is still in its infancy -- Christ's answer was, "The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here or lo there. For behold, the Kingdom of God is within you." This is what Christ himself calls the "mystery"; it cannot be expressed in words, it cannot be defined; and ever and ever again the Saviour endeavours to bring home His great message of salvation by means of parables: the Kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed in the field, "the least of all seeds," but if it is tended by the husbandman, it grows to a tree, "so that the birds of the air come and lodge under its branches"; the Kingdom of God is like the leaven among the flour, if the housewife take but a little, it leavens the whole lump; but the following figure speaks most plainly: "the Kingdom of God is like unto a treasure hid in a field." [7] That the field means the world, Christ expressly says (see Matthew xiii. 38); in this world, that is, in this life, the treasure lies concealed; the Kingdom of God is buried within us! That is the "mystery of the Kingdom of God," as Christ says; at the same time it is the secret of His own life, the secret of His personality. An estrangement from life, as in the case of Buddha, is not to be found in Christ, there is, however, a "conversion" of the direction of life, if I may so call it, as, for example, when Christ says to His disciples, "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of God." [8] At a later period this so easily grasped "conversion" received -- perhaps from a strange hand -- the more mystical expression, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." The words do not matter, what is important is the conception underlying them, and this conception stands out luminously clear, because it gives form to the whole life of Christ. Here we do not find a doctrine like that of Buddha with a logical arithmetical development; nor is there, as has so frequently been asserted by the superficial, any organic connection with Jewish wisdom: read the words of Jesus Sirach, who is most frequently compared with Christ, and ask yourselves whether that is "Spirit of the same Spirit"? Sirach speaks like a Jewish Marcus Aurelius and even his finest sayings, such as "Seek wisdom until death, and God will fight for you," or, "The heart of the fool lies upon his tongue, but the tongue of the wise man dwells within his heart," are as a sound from another world when put beside the sayings of Christ: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth; blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God; take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you will find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." No one had ever spoken like that before, and no one has spoken so since. These words of Christ have, however, as we can see, never the character of a doctrine, but just as the tone of a voice supplements by a mysterious inexpressible something -- which is the most personal element in the personality -- what we already know about a man from his features and his actions, so do we seem to hear in them his voice; what he exactly said we do not know, but an unmistakable, unforgettable tone strikes our ear and from our ear enters our heart. And then we open our eyes and see this figure, this life. Down through the ages we hear the words, "Learn of me," and we understand what they mean: to be as Christ was, to live as Christ lived, to die as Christ died, that is the Kingdom of God, that is eternal life.

In the nineteenth century, the ideas of pessimism and negation of the will, which have become so common, have been frequently applied to Christ; but though they fit Buddha and certain features of the Christian churches and their dogmas, Christ's life is their denial. If the Kingdom of God dwells in us, if it is embraced in this life like a hidden treasure, what becomes of the sense of pessimism? [9] How can man be a wretch born only for grief, if the divinity lies in his breast? How can this world be the worst of all possible worlds (see Schopenhauer: Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, vol. ii. chap. xlvi.) if it contains Heaven? For Christ these were all delusive fallacies; woe to you, He said of the learned, "who shut up the Kingdom of God against men; for ye neither go in yourselves neither suffer ye them that would enter to go in," and He praised God that He had "revealed to babes and sucklings what He had hidden from the wise and prudent"; Christ, as one of the greatest men of the nineteenth century has said, was "not wise, but divine"; [10] that is a mighty difference; and because He was divine, Christ did not turn away from life, but to life. This is eloquently vouched for by the impression which Christ made and left upon those who knew Him; they call Him the tree of life, the bread of life, the water of life, the light of life, the light of the world, a light from above sent to lighten those that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death; Christ is for them the rock, the foundation upon which we are to build our lives, &c. &c. Everything is positive, constructive, affirmative. Whether Christ really brought the dead to life may be doubted by anyone who will; but such a one must estimate all the more highly the life-giving impression which radiated from this figure, for wherever Christ went people believed that they saw the dead come to life and the sick rise healed from their beds. Everywhere He sought out the suffering, the poor, those laden with sorrow, and bidding them "weep not," consoled them with words of life. From inner Asia came the idea of flight from the world to the cloister. Buddhism had not in truth invented it, but gave it its greatest impulse. Christianity, too, imitated it later, closely following the Egyptian example. This idea had already advanced to the very neighbourhood of the Galilean; yet where does one find Christ preaching monastic doctrines of seclusion from the world? Many founders of religion have imposed penance in respect of food upon themselves and their disciples; not so Christ; He emphasises particularly that He had not fasted like John, but had so lived that men called Him a "glutton and a winebibber." All the following expressions which we know so well from the Bible -- that the thoughts of men are vain, that the life of man is vanity, he passes away like a shadow, the work of man is vain, all is vanity -- come from the Old, not from the New Testament. Indeed such words as those, for example, of the preacher Solomon, "One generation passeth away and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth for ever," are derived from a view of life which is directly contrary to that of Christ; because according to the latter Heaven and earth pass away, while the human breast conceals in its depths the only thing that is everlasting. It is true that Jesus Christ offers the example of an absolute renunciation of much that makes up the life of the greater proportion of mankind; but it is done for the sake of life; this renunciation is the "conversion" which, we are told, leads to the Kingdom of Heaven, and it is not outward but purely inward. What Buddha teaches is, so to speak, a physical process, it is the actual extinction of the physical and intellectual being; whoever wishes to be redeemed must take the three vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. In the case of Christ we find nothing similar: He attends marriages, He declares wedlock to be a holy ordinance of God, and even the errors of the flesh he judges so leniently that He Himself has not a word of condemnation for the adulteress; He indeed speaks of wealth as rendering the "conversion" of the will more difficult -- as, for example, when He says that it is more difficult for a rich man to enter into that kingdom of God which lies within us than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, but He immediately adds -- and this is the characteristic and decisive part -- "the things which are impossible with men are possible with God." This is again one of those passages which cannot be invention, for nowhere in the whole world do we find anything like it. There had been enough and to spare of diatribes against wealth before (one need only read the Jewish Prophets), they were repeated later (read, for instance, the Epistle of James, chap. ii.; according to Christ, however, wealth is a mere accessory, the possession of which may or may not be a hindrance, for the one thing which concerns Him is the inner and spiritual conversion. And this it was that, in dealing with this very case, by far the greatest of the Apostles amplified so beautifully; for while Christ had advised the rich young man, "Sell all that thou hast and give it to the poor," Paul completes the saying by the remark, "and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and have not charity it profiteth me nothing." The Buddhist who is steering for death may be satisfied with poverty, chastity, and obedience; he who chooses life has other things to think of.

And here it is necessary to call attention to one more point, in which the living essence of Christ's personality and example manifests itself freshly and convincingly; I refer to His combativeness. The sayings of Christ on humility and patience, His exhortation that we should love our enemies and bless those that curse us, find almost exact parallels in the sayings of Buddha; but they spring from quite a different motive. For Buddha every injustice endured is an extinction, for Christ it is a means of advancing the new view of life: "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of God" (that kingdom which lies hidden like a treasure in the field of life). But if we pass to the inner being, if that one fundamental question of the direction of will is brought up, then we hear words of quite a different kind: "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay, but rather division! For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, two against three, and three against two.... For I am come to stir up the son against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law; and the man's enemies shall be they of his own household." Not peace but the sword: that is a voice to which we cannot shut our ears, if we wish to understand the revelation of Christ. The life of Jesus Christ is an open declaration of war, not against the forms of civilisation, culture and religion, which He found around Him -- He observes the Jewish law of religion and teaches us to give to Caesar what is Caesar's -- but certainly against the inner spirit of mankind, against the motives which underlie their actions, against the goal which they set for themselves in the future life and in the present. The coming of Christ signifies, from the point of view of the world's history, the coming of a new human species. Linnaeus distinguished as many human species as there are colours of skin; but a new colouring of the will goes really deeper into the organism than a difference in the pigment of the epidermis! And the Lord of this new human species, the "new Adam," as the Scripture so well describes Him, will have no compromise; He puts the choice: God or mammon. Whoever chooses conversion, whoever obeys the warning of Christ, "Follow me!" must also when necessary leave father and mother, wife and child; but he does not leave them, like the disciples of Buddha, to find death, but to find life. Here is no room for pity: whom we have lost we have lost, and with the ancient hardness of the heroic spirit not a tear is shed over those who are gone: "Let the dead bury their dead." Not everyone is capable of understanding the word of Christ, He in fact tells us, "Many are called but few are chosen," and here again Paul has given drastic expression to this fact: "The preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." So far as outward forms go Christ has no preferences, but where the direction of the will is concerned, whether it is directed to the Eternal or the Temporal, whether it advances or hinders the unfolding of that immeasurable power of life in the heart of man, whether it aims at the quickening of that "Kingdom of God within us" or, on the other hand, scatters for ever the one treasure of "them that are chosen" -- there is with Him no question of tolerance and never can be. In this very connection much has been done since the eighteenth century to rob the sublime countenance of the Son of Man of all its mighty features. We have had represented to us as Christianity a strange delusive picture of boundless tolerance, of universally gentle passivity, a kind of milk-and-water religion; in the last few years we have actually witnessed "interconfessional religious congresses," where all the priests of the world shake hands as brothers, and many Christians welcome this as particularly "Christlike." It may be ecclesiastical, it may be right and good, but Christ would never have sent an apostle to such a congress. Either the word of the Cross is "foolishness" or it is "a divine power"; between the two Christ himself has torn open the yawning gulf of "division," and, to prevent any possibility of its being bridged, has drawn the flaming "sword." Whoever understands the revelation of Christ cannot be surprised. The tolerance of Christ is that of a spirit which soars high as Heaven above all forms that divide the world; a combination of these forms could not have the slightest importance for Him -- that would mean only the rise of a new form; He, on the other hand, considers only the "spirit and the truth." And when Christ teaches, "Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek turn to him the other also, and if any man will take away thy coat let him have thy cloak also" -- a doctrine to which His example on the Cross gave everlasting significance -- who does not understand that this is closely related to what follows, "Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you," and that here that inner "conversion" is expressed, not passively, but in the highest possible form of living action? If I offer the impudent striker my left cheek, I do not do so for his sake; if I love my enemy and show him kindness, it is not for his sake; after the conversion of the will it is simply inevitable and therefore I do it. The old law, an eye for an eye, hatred for hatred, is just as natural a reflex action as that which causes the legs of a dead frog to kick when the nerves are stimulated. In sooth it must be a "new Adam" who has gained such complete mastery over his "old Adam" that he does not obey this impulse. However, it is not merely self-control -- for if Buddha forms the one opposite pole to Christ, the Stoic forms the other; but that conversion of the will, that entry into the hidden kingdom of God, that being born again, which makes up the sum of Christ's example, demands a complete conversion of the feelings. This, in fact, is the new thing. Till Christ blood-vengeance was the sacred law of all men of the most different races; but from the Cross there came the cry, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!" Whoever takes the divine voice of pity for weak humanitarianism has not understood a single feature of the advent of Christ. The voice which here speaks comes from that Kingdom of God which is within us; pain and death have lost their power over it; they affect him who is born again just as little as the stroke on the cheek or the theft of the coat; everything that drives, constrains and compels the human half-ape -- selfishness, superstition, prejudice, envy, hatred -- breaks on such a will as this like sea-foam on a granite cliff; in face of death Christ scarcely notices His own pain and tribulation, He sees only that men are crucifying what is divine in them, and they are treading under foot the seed of the Kingdom of God and scattering the "treasure in the field," and thus it is that, full of pity, He calls out, "They know not what they do!" Search the history of the world and you will not find a word to equal this for sublime pride. Here speaks a discernment that has penetrated farther than the Indian mind, here speaks at the same time the strongest will, the surest consciousness of self.

Just as we children of a modern age have discovered in the whole world a power which before only from time to time flashed forth in fleeting clouds as the lightning, a power hidden, invisible, perceived by no sense, to be explained by no hypothesis, but all-present and almighty, and in the same way as we are driven to trace the complete transformation of our outward conditions of life to this power -- so Christ pointed to a hidden power in the unfathomed and unfathomable depths of the human heart, a power capable of completely transforming man, capable of making a sorrow-trodden wretch mighty and blessed. The lightning had hitherto been only a destroyer; the power which it taught us to discover is now the servant of peaceful work and comfort; in like manner the human will, from the beginning of time the seed of all the misfortune and misery that descended upon the human race, was henceforth to minister to the new birth of this race, to the rise of a new human species. Hence, as I have pointed out in the introduction to this book, the incomparable significance of the life of Christ for the world's history. No political revolution can compare with it.

From the point of view of universal history we have every reason to put the achievement of Christ on a parallel with the achievements of the Hellenes. In the first chapter I have described in how far Homer, Democritus, Plato, &c. &c. are to be considered as real "creators," and I added, "then and then only is a new creature born, then only does the macrocosm contain a microcosm. The only thing that deserves to be called culture is the daughter of such creative freedom." [11] What Greece did for the intellect, Christ did for the moral life: man had not a moral culture till He gave it. I should rather say, the possibility of a moral culture; for the motive power of culture is that inner, creative process, the voluntary masterful conversion of the will, and this very motive power was with rare exceptions quite overlooked; Christianity became an essentially historical religion, and at the altars of its churches all the superstitions of antiquity and of Judaism found a consecrated place of refuge. Yet we have in the revelation of Christ the one foundation of all moral culture, and the moral culture of our nations is greater or smaller in proportion to the extent to which his personality is able more or less clearly to prevail.

It is in this connection that we can with truth assert that the appearance of Christ upon earth has divided mankind into two classes. It created for the first time true nobility, and indeed true nobility of birth, for only he who is chosen can be a Christian. But at the same time it sowed in the hearts of the chosen the seed of new and bitter suffering: it separated them from father and mother, it made them lonely wanderers among men who did not understand them, it stamped them as martyrs. And who after all is really master? Who has entirely conquered his slavish instincts? Discord from now onward rent the individual soul. And now that the individual, who hitherto in the tumultuous struggle of life had scarcely attained to a consciousness of his "Ego," was awakened to an unexpectedly high conception of his dignity, inner significance and power, how often was his heart bound to fail him in the consciousness of his weakness and unworthiness? Now and now only did life become truly tragical. This was brought about by man's own free act in rising against his animal nature. "From a perfect pupil of nature man became an imperfect moral being, from a good instrument a bad artist," says Schiller. But man will no longer be an instrument; and as Homer had created gods such as he wished them, so now man rebelled against the moral tyranny of nature and created a sublime morality such as he desired; he would no longer obey blind impulses, beautifully constrained and restricted as they might be by legal paragraphs; his own law of morals would henceforth be his only standard. In Christ man awakens to consciousness of his moral calling, but thereby at the same time to the necessity of an inner struggle that is reckoned in tens of centuries. Under the heading Philosophy in the ninth chapter (vol. ii.), I shall show that after an anti-Christian reaction lasting for many centuries we have with Kant returned again to exactly the same path. The humanitarian Deists of the eighteenth century who turned away from Christ thought the proper course was a "return to nature": on the contrary, it is emancipation from nature, without which we can achieve nothing, but which we are determined to make subject to ourselves. In Art and Philosophy man becomes conscious of himself, in contrast to nature, as an intellectual being; in marriage and law he becomes conscious of himself as a social being, in Christ as a moral being. He throws down the gauntlet for a fight in which there is no place for humility; whoever will follow Christ requires above all courage, courage in its purest form, that inner courage, which is steeled and hardened anew every day, which proves itself not merely in the intoxicating clash of battle, but in bearing and enduring, and in the silent, soundless struggle of every hour in the individual breast. The example is given. For in the advent of Christ we find the grandest example of heroism. Moral heroism is in Him so sublime that the much-extolled physical courage of heroes seems as nothing; certain it is that only heroic souls -- only "masters" -- can in the true sense of the word be Christians. And when Christ says, "I am meek," we well understand that this is the meekness of the hero sure of victory; and when He says, "I am lowly of heart," We know that this is not the humility of the slave, but the humility of the master, who from the fulness of his power bows down to the weak.

On one occasion when Jesus was addressed not simply as Lord or Master, but as "good master," He rejected the appellation: "Why callest thou Me good: there is none good." This should make us think, and should convince us that it is a mistaken view of Christ which forces His heavenly goodness, His humility and long-suffering, into the foreground of His character; they do not form its basis, but are like fragrant flowers on a strong stem. What was the basis of the world-power of Buddha? Not his doctrine, but his example, his heroic achievement; it was the revelation of an almost supernatural will-power which held and still holds millions in its spell. But in Christ a still higher will revealed itself; He did not need to flee from the world; He did not avoid the beautiful, He praised the use of the costly -- which His disciples called "prodigality"; He did not retire to the wilderness, from the wilderness He came and entered into life, a victor, who had a message of good news to proclaim -- not death, but redemption! I said that Buddha represented the senile decay of a culture which had strayed into wrong paths: Christ, on the other hand, represents the morning of a new day; He won from the old human nature a new youth, and thus became the God of the young, vigorous Indo-Europeans, and under the sign of His cross there slowly arose upon the ruins of the old world a new culture -- a culture at which we have still to toil long and laboriously until some day in the distant future it may deserve the appellation "Christ-like."
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Re: The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, by Houston St

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Part 2 of 3


Were I to follow my own inclination, I should close this chapter here. But it is necessary in the interest of many points to be discussed later to consider the personality of Christ not only in its pure isolated individuality but also in its relation to its surroundings. Otherwise there are many important phenomena in the past and the present which remain incomprehensible. It is by no means a matter of indifference whether by close analysis we have formed exact ideas as to what in this figure is Jewish and what is not. On this point there has been from the beginning of the Christian era to the present day and from the lowest depths of the intellectual world to its greatest heights, enormous confusion. Not merely was so sublime a figure not easy for anyone to comprehend and to contemplate in its organic relations to the contemporary world, but everything concurred to dim and falsify its true features: Jewish religious idiosyncrasy, Syrian mysticism, Egyptian asceticism, Hellenic metaphysics, soon too Roman traditions of State and Pontifex, as also the superstitions of the barbarians; every form of misunderstanding and stupidity had a share in the work. In the nineteenth century many have devoted themselves to the unravelling of this tangle, but, so far as I know, no one has succeeded in separating from the mass of facts the few essential points and putting them clearly before the eyes of all. In fact even honest learning does not protect us against prejudice and partiality. We shall here try, unfortunately indeed without the specialist's knowledge, but also without prejudice, to find out how far Christ belonged to His surroundings and employed their forms for viewing things, how far He differed from them and rose high as the heavens above them; only in this way can we free His personality from all accidental circumstances and show its full autonomous dignity.

Let us therefore first ask ourselves, was Christ a Jew by race?

The question seems at the first glance somewhat childish. In the presence of such a personality, peculiarities of race shrink into nothingness. An Isaiah, however much he may tower above his contemporaries, remains a thorough Jew; not a word did he utter that did not spring from the history and spirit of his people; even where he mercilessly exposes and condemns what is characteristically Jewish, he proves himself -- especially in this -- the Jew; in the case of Christ there is not a trace of this. Take again Homer! He awakens the Hellenic people for the first time to consciousness of itself; to be able to do that, he had to harbour in his own bosom the quintessence of all Hellenism. But where is the people, which, awakened by Christ to life, has gained for itself the precious right -- of calling Christ its own? Certainly not in Judea! -- To the believer Jesus is the Son of God, not of a human being; for the unbeliever it will be difficult to find a formula to characterise so briefly and yet so expressively the undeniable fact of this incomparable and inexplicable personality. After all there are phenomena which cannot be placed in the complex of our intellectual conceptions without a symbol. So much in regard to the question of principle, and in order to remove from myself all suspicion of being taken in tow by that superficial "historical" school, which undertakes to explain the inexplicable. It is another matter to seek to gain all possible information regarding the historical surroundings of a personality for the simple purpose of obtaining a clearer and better view of it. If we do attempt this, the answer to the question, Was Christ a Jew? is by no means a simple one. In religion and education He was so undoubtedly; in race -- in the narrower and real sense of the word "Jew" -- most probably not.

The name Galilee (from Gelil haggoyim) means "district of the heathen." It seems that this part of the country, so far removed from the intellectual centre, had never kept itself altogether pure, even in the earliest times when Israel was still strong and united, and it had served as home for the tribes Naphtali and Zebulon. Of the tribe Naphtali we are told that it was from the first "of very mixed origin," and while the non-Israelitic aborigines continued to dwell in the whole of Palestine as before, this was the case "nowhere in so great a degree as in the northern districts." [12] There was, however, another additional circumstance. While the rest of Palestine remained, owing to its geographical position, isolated as it were from the world, there was, even at the time when the Israelites took possession of the land, a road leading from the lake of Gennesareth to Damascus, and from that point Tyre and Sidon were more accessible than Jerusalem. Thus we find that Solomon ceded a considerable part of this district of the heathen (as it was already called, I Kings, ix. II), with twenty cities to the King of Tyre in payment of his deliveries of cedar- and pine-trees, as well as for the one hundred and twenty hundredweights of gold which the latter had contributed towards the building of the temple; so little interest had the King of Judea in this land, half inhabited as it was by heathens. The Tyrian King Hiram must in fact have found it sparsely populated, as he profited by the opportunity to settle various foreign tribes in Galilee. [13] Then came, as everyone knows, the division into two kingdoms, and since that time, that is, since about a thousand years before Christ (!) only now and again, and then but for a short time, had there been any comparatively close political connection between Galilee and Judea, and it is only this, not community of religious faith, that furthers a fusion of races. In Christ's time, too, Galilee was politically quite separate from Judea, so that it stood to the latter in the relation "of a foreign country." [14] In the meantime, however, something had happened, which must have destroyed almost completely for all time the Israelitish character of this northern district: seven hundred and twenty years before Christ (that is about one hundred and fifty years before the Babylonian captivity of the Jews) the northern kingdom of Israel was laid waste by the Assyrians, and its population -- it is said to a man, at all events to a large extent -- deported into different and distant parts of the Empire, where it soon fused with the rest of the inhabitants and in consequence completely disappeared. [15] At the same time strange races from remote districts were transported to Palestine to settle there. The authorities indeed suppose (without being able to vouch for it) that a considerable portion of the former mixed Israelitish population had remained in the land; at any rate this remnant did not keep apart from the strangers, but became merged in the medley of races. [16] The fate of these districts was consequently quite different from that of Judea. For when the Judeans at a later time were also led into captivity, their land remained so to speak empty, inhabited only by a few peasants who moreover belonged to the country, so that when they returned from the Babylonian captivity, during which they had kept their race pure, they were able without difficulty to maintain that purity. Galilee, on the other hand, and the neighbouring districts had, as already mentioned, been systematically colonised by the Assyrians, and, as it appears from the Biblical account, from very different parts of that gigantic empire, among others from the northerly mountainous Syria. Then in the centuries before the birth of Christ many Phoenicians and Greeks had also migrated thither. [17] This last fact would lead one to assume that purely Aryan blood also was transplanted thither; at any rate it is certain that a promiscuous mixture of the most different races took place, and that the foreigners in all probability settled in largest numbers in the more accessible and at the same time more fertile Galilee. The Old Testament itself tells with artless simplicity how these strangers originally came to be acquainted with the worship of Jehovah (2 Kings, xvii. 24 ff.): in the depopulated land beasts of prey multiplied; this plague was held to be the vengeance of the neglected "God of the Land" (verse 26); but there was no one who knew how the latter should be worshipped; and so the colonists sent to the King of Assyria and begged for an Israelitish priest from the captivity, and he came and "taught them the manner of the God of the land." In this way the inhabitants of Northern Palestine, from Samaria downward, became Jews in faith, even those of them who had not a drop of Israelitish blood in their veins. In later times many genuine Jews may certainly have settled there; but probably only as strangers in the larger cities, for one of the most admirable characteristics of the Jews -- particularly since their return from captivity where the clearly circumscribed term "Jew" first appears as the designation of a religion (see Zechariah, viii. 23) -- was their care to keep the race pure; marriage between Jew and Galilean was unthinkable. However, even these Jewish elements in the midst of the strange population were completely removed from Galilee not very long before the birth of Christ! It was Simon Tharsi, one of the Maccabeans, who, after a successful campaign in Galilee against the Syrians, "gathered together the Jews who lived there and bade them emigrate and settle bag and baggage in Judea." [18] Moreover the prejudice against Galilee remained so strong among the Jews that, when Herod Antipas during Christ's youth had built the city of Tiberias and tried to get Jews to settle there, neither promises nor threats were of any avail. [19] There is, accordingly, as we see, not the slightest foundation for the supposition that Christ's parents were of Jewish descent.

In the further course of historical development an event took place which has many parallels in history: among the inhabitants of the more southerly Samaria (which directly bordered on Judea) -- a people which beyond doubt was much more closely related to the real Jews by blood and intercourse than the Galileans were -- the North-Israelitish tradition of hatred and jealousy of the Jews was kept up; the Samaritans did not recognise the ecclesiastical supremacy of Jerusalem and were therefore, as being "heterodox," so hated by the Jews that no kind of intercourse with them was permitted: not even a piece of bread could the faithful take from their hand; that was considered as great a sin as eating pork. [20] The Galileans, on the other hand, who were to the Jews simply "foreigners," and as such of course despised and excluded from many religious observances, were yet strictly orthodox and frequently fanatical "Jews." To see in that a proof of descent is absurd. It is just the same as if one were to identify the genuinely Slav population of Bosnia or the purest Indo-Aryans of Afghanistan ethnologically with the "Turks," because they are strict Mohammedans, much more pious and fanatical than the genuine Osmans. The term Jew is applicable to a definite, remarkably pure race, and only in a secondary and very inexact sense to the members of a religious community. It is moreover far from correct to identify the term "Jew" with the term "Semite," as has so frequently been done of late years; the national character of the Arabs, for instance, is quite different from that of the Jews. I return to this point in the fifth chapter; in the meantime, I must point out that the national character of the Galileans was essentially different from that of the Jews. Open any history of the Jews that you will, that of Ewald or Graetz or Renan, everywhere you will find that in character the Galileans present a direct contrast to the rest of the inhabitants of Palestine; they are described as hot-heads, energetic idealists, men of action. In the long struggles with Rome, before and after the time of Christ, the Galileans are mostly the ringleaders -- an element which death alone could overcome. While the great colonies of genuine Jews in Rome and Alexandria lived on excellent terms with the heathen Empire, where they enjoyed great prosperity as interpreters of dreams, [21] dealers in second-hand goods, pedlars, money-lenders, actors, law-agents, merchants, teachers, &c., in distant Galilee Hezekiah ventured, even in the lifetime of Caesar, to raise the standard of religious revolt. He was followed by the famous Judas the Galilean with the motto, "God alone is master, death does not matter, freedom is all in all!" [22] In Galilee was formed the Sicarian party (i.e., men of the knife), not unlike the Indian Thugs of to-day; their most influential leader, the Galilean Menaham, in Nero's time destroyed the Roman garrison of Jerusalem, and as a reward the Jews themselves executed him, under the pretext that he wished to proclaim himself the Messias; the sons of Judas also were crucified as politically dangerous revolutionaries (and that too by a Jewish procurator); John of Giscala, a city on the extreme northern boundary of Galilee, headed the desperate defence of Jerusalem against Titus -- and the series of Galilean heroes was completed by Eleazar, who years after the destruction of Jerusalem maintained with a small troop a fortified position in the mountains, where he and his followers, when the last hope was lost, killed first their wives and children and then themselves. [23] In these things, as everyone will probably admit, a peculiar, distinct national character reveals itself. There are many reports too of the special beauty of the women of Galilee; moreover, the Christians of the first centuries speak of their great kindness, and contrast their friendliness to those of a different faith with the haughty contemptuous treatment they met with at the hands of genuine Jewesses. Their peculiar national character unmistakably betrayed itself in another way, viz., their language. In Judea and the neighbouring lands Aramaic was spoken at the time of Christ; Hebrew was already a dead language, preserved only in the sacred writings. We are now informed that the Galileans spoke so peculiar and strange a dialect of Aramaic that one recognised them from the first word; "thy language betrayeth thee" the servants of the High Priest cry to Peter. [24] The acquisition of Hebrew is said to have been utterly impossible to them, the gutturals especially presenting insuperable difficulties, so that they could not be allowed, for example, to pray before the people, as their "wretched accent made everyone laugh." [25] This fact points to a physical difference in the form of the larynx and would alone lead us to suppose that a strong admixture of non-Semitic blood had taken place; for the profusion of gutturals and facility in using them are features common to all Semites. [26]

I have thought it necessary to enter with some fulness into this question -- was Christ a Jew in race? -- because in not a single work have I found the facts that pertain to it clearly put together. Even in an objectively scientific work like that of Albert Reville, [27] which is influenced by no theological motives -- Reville is the well-known Professor of Comparative Religions at the College de France -- the word Jew is sometimes used to signify the Jewish race, sometimes the Jewish religion.

We read, for example (i. 416), "Galilee was chiefly inhabited by Jews, but Syrian, Phoenician and Greek heathens also made their home there." Here accordingly Jew means one who worships the God of the land of Judea, no matter of what race he may claim to be. On the very next page, however, he speaks of an "Aryan race," in opposition to a "Jewish nation"; here consequently Jew denotes a definite, limited race which has kept itself pure for centuries. And now follows the profound remark: "The question whether Christ is of Aryan descent is idle. A man belongs to the nation in whose midst he has grown up." This is what people called "science" in the year of grace 1896! To think that at the close of the nineteenth century a professor could still be ignorant that the form of the head and the structure of the brain exercise quite decisive influence upon the form and structure of the thoughts, so that the influence of the surroundings, however great it may be estimated to be, is yet by this initial fact of the physical tendencies confined to definite capacities and possibilities, in other words, has definite paths marked out for it to follow! To think that he could fail to know that the shape of the skull in particular is one of those characteristics which are inherited with ineradicable persistency, so that races are distinguished by craniological measurements, and, in the case of mixed races, the original elements which occur by atavism become still manifest to the investigator! He could believe that the so-called soul has its abode outside the body, and leads the latter like a puppet by the nose. O Middle Ages! when will your night leave us? When will men understand that form is not an unimportant accident, a mere chance, but an expression of the innermost being? that in this very point the two worlds, the inner and the outer, the visible and the invisible, touch? I have spoken of the human personality as the mysterium magnum of existence; now this inscrutable wonder shows itself in its visible form to the eye and the investigating understanding. And exactly as the possible forms of a building are determined and limited in essential points by the nature of the building material, so the possible form of a human being, his inner and his outer, are defined in decisively essential points by the inherited material of which this new personality is composed. It certainly may happen that too much importance is attached to the idea of race: we detract thereby from the autonomy of personality and run the risk of undervaluing the great power of ideas; besides, this whole question of race is infinitely more complicated than the layman imagines; it belongs wholly to the sphere of anthropological anatomy and cannot be solved by any dicta of the authorities on language and history. Yet it will not do simply to put race aside as a negligible quantity; still less will it do to proclaim anything directly false about race and to let such an historical lie crystallise into an indisputable dogma. Whoever makes the assertion that Christ was a Jew is either ignorant or insincere: ignorant when he confuses religion and race, insincere when he knows the history of Galilee and partly conceals, partly distorts the very entangled facts in favour of his religious prejudices or, it may be, to curry favour with the Jews. [28] The probability that Christ was no Jew, that He had not a drop of genuinely Jewish blood in his veins, is so great that it is almost equivalent to a certainty. To what race did He belong? This is a question that cannot be answered at all. Since the land lay between Phoenicia and Syria, which in its southwestern portion was strongly imbued with Semitic blood, and in addition had never been quite cleared of its former mixed-Israelitish (but at no time Jewish) population, the probability of a descent principally Semitic is very great. But whoever has even casually glanced at the race-babel of the Assyrian empire [29] and then learns that colonists from all parts of this empire settled in that former home of Israel, will be baffled by the question. It is indeed possible that in some of these groups of colonists there prevailed a tradition of marrying among themselves, whereby a tribe would have kept itself pure; that this, however, should have been kept up more than five hundred years is almost unthinkable; the very conversion to the Jewish faith had gradually obliterated those tribal differences which at first had been maintained by religious customs brought from their old homes (2 Kings, xvii. 29). We hear that in later times Greeks too migrated thither; in any case they belonged to the poorest classes, and accepted immediately the "god of the country"! Only one assertion can therefore be made on a sound historical basis: in that whole region there was only one single pure race, a race which by painfully scrupulous measures protected itself from all mingling with other nations -- the Jewish; that Jesus Christ did not belong to it can be regarded as certain. Every further statement is hypothetical.

This result, though essentially negative, is of great value; it means an important contribution to the right knowledge of the personality of Christ, and at the same time to the understanding of its effectiveness up to the present day as well as to the disentanglement of the wildly confused clue of contradictory ideas and false conceptions, which has wound itself around the simple, transparent truth. It is time to go deeper. The outward connection is less important than the inner; now and now only do we come to the decisive question: how far does Christ as a moral fact belong to Judaism and how far does He not? To fix this once for all, we shall have to make a series of important distinctions, for which I beg the fullest attention of the reader.


Christ is, quite generally -- indeed, perhaps universally -- represented as the perfecter of Judaism, that is to say, of the religious ideas of the Jews. [30] Even the orthodox Jews, though they cannot exactly honour Him as the perfecter, behold in Him an offshoot from their tree and proudly regard all Christianity as an appendix to Judaism. That, I am firmly convinced, is a mistake; it is an inherited delusion, one of those opinions that we drink in with our mother's milk and about which in consequence the free-thinker never comes to his senses any more than the strictly orthodox Churchman. Certainly Christ stood in direct relation to Judaism, and the influence of Judaism, in the first place upon the moulding of His personality and in a still higher degree upon the development and history of Christianity, is so great, definite and essential, that every attempt to deny it must lead to nonsensical results; but this influence is only in the smallest degree a religious one. Therein lies the heart of the error.

We are accustomed to regard the Jewish people as the religious people above all others: as a matter of fact in comparison with the Indo-European races it is quite stunted in its religious growth. In this respect what Darwin calls "arrest of development" has taken place in the case of the Jews, an arrest of the growth of the faculties, a dying in the bud. Moreover all the branches of the Semitic stem, though otherwise rich in talents, were extraordinarily poor in religious instinct; this is the "hardheartedness" of which the more important men among them constantly complain. [31] How different the Aryan! Even the oldest documents (which go back far beyond the Jewish) present him to us as earnestly following a vague impulse which forces him to investigate in his own heart. He is joyous, full of animal spirits, ambitious, thoughtless, he drinks and gambles, he hunts and robs; but suddenly he begins to think: the great riddle of existence holds him absolutely spellbound, not, however, as a purely rationalistic problem -- whence is this world? whence came I? questions to which a purely logical and therefore unsatisfactory answer would require to be given -- but as a direct compelling need of life. Not to understand, but to be, that is the point to which he is impelled. Not the past with its litany of cause and effect, but the present, the everlasting present holds his astonished mind spellbound. And he feels that it is only when he has bridged the gulf between himself and all that surrounds him, when he recognises himself -- the one thing that he directly knows -- in every phenomenon and finds again every phenomenon in himself, when he has, so to speak, put the world and himself in harmony, that he can hope to listen with his own ear to the weaving of the everlasting work and hear in his own heart the mysterious music of existence. And in order that he may find this harmony, he utters his own song, tries it in all tones, practises all melodies; then he listens with reverence. And not unanswered is his call: he hears mysterious voices; all nature becomes alive, everything in her that is related to man begins to stir. He sinks in reverence upon his knees, does not fancy that he is wise, does not believe that he knows the origin and finality of the world, yet has faint forebodings of a loftier vocation, discovers in himself the germ of immeasurable destinies, "the seed of immortality." This is, however, no mere dream, but a living conviction, a faith, and like everything living, it in its turn begets life. The heroes of his race and his holy men he sees as "supermen" (as Goethe says) hovering high above the earth; he wills to be like them, for he too is impelled onward and upward, and now he knows from what a deep inner well they drew the strength to be great. -- Now this glance into the unfathomable depths of his own soul, this longing to soar upwards, this is religion. Religion has primarily nothing to do either with superstition or with morals; it is a state of mind. And because the religious man is in direct contact with a world beyond reason, he is thinker and poet: he appears consciously as a creator; he toils unremittingly at the noble Sisyphus work of giving visible shape to the Invisible, of making the Unthinkable capable of being thought; [32] we never find with him a hard and fast chronological cosmogony and theogony, he has inherited too lively a feeling of the Infinite for that; his conceptions remain in flux and never grow rigid; old ones are replaced by new; gods, honoured in one century, are in another scarcely known by name. Yet the great facts of knowledge, once firmly acquired, are never again lost, and more than all that fundamental truth which the Rigveda centuries and centuries before Christ tried thus to express, "The root of existence, the wise found in the heart" -- a conviction which in the nineteenth century has been almost identically expressed by Goethe:

[33] Ist nicht der Kern der Natur
Menschen im Herzen?

That is religion! -- Now this very tendency, this state of mind, this instinct, "to seek the core of nature in the heart," the Jews lack to a startling degree. They are born rationalists. Reason is strong in them, the will enormously developed, their imaginative and creative powers, on the other hand, peculiarly limited. Their scanty mythically religious conceptions, indeed even their commandments, customs and ordinances of worship, they borrowed without exception from abroad, they reduced everything to a minimum [34] which they kept rigidly unaltered; the creative element, the real inner life is almost totally wanting in them; at the best it bears, in relation to the infinitely rich religious life of the Aryans, which includes all the highest thought and poetical invention of these peoples, like the lingual sounds referred to above, a ratio of 2 to 7. Consider what a luxuriant growth of magnificent religious conceptions and ideas, and in addition, what art and philosophy, thanks to the Greeks and Teutonic races, sprang up upon the soil of Christianity and then ask with what images and thoughts the so-called religious nation of the Jews has in the same space of time enriched mankind! Spinoza's Geometric Ethics (a false, still-born adaptation of a brilliant and pregnant thought of Descartes) seems to me in reality the most cruel mockery of the Talmud morality and has in any case still less to do with religion than the Ten Commandments of Moses, which were probably derived from Egypt. [35] No, the power of Judaism which commands respect lies in quite another sphere; I shall speak of it immediately.

But how then was it possible to let our judgment be so befogged as to consider the Jews a religious people?

In the first place it was the Jews themselves, who from time immemorial assured us with the greatest vehemence and volubility, that they were "God's people"; even a free-thinking Jew like the philosopher Philo makes the bold assertion that the Israelites alone were "men in the true sense"; [36] the good stupid Indo-Teutonic peoples believed them. But how difficult it became for them to do so is proved by the course of history and the statements of all their most important men. This credulity was only rendered possible by the Christian interpreters of the Script making the whole history of Judah a Theodicy, in which the crucifixion of Christ forms the culminating point. Even Schiller (Die Sendung Moses) seems to think that Providence broke up the Jewish nation, as soon as it had accomplished the work given it to do! Here the authorities overlooked the telling fact that Judaism paid not the slightest attention to the existence of Christ, that the oldest Jewish historians do not once mention His name; and to this has now to be added the fact that this peculiar people after two thousand years still lives and manifests great prosperity; never, not even in Alexandria, has the lot of the Jews been so bright as it is to-day. Finally a third prejudice, derived fundamentally from the philosophic workshops of Greece, had some influence; according to it monotheism, i.e., the idea of a single inseparable God, was supposed to be the symptom of a higher religion: that is altogether a rationalistic conclusion; arithmetic has nothing to do with religion; "Monotheism" can signify an impoverishment as well as an ennobling of religious life. Besides, two objections may be urged against this fatal prejudice, which has contributed perhaps more than anything else to the delusion of a religious superiority of the Jews; in the first place, the fact that the Jews, as long as they formed a nation and their religion still possessed a spark of fresh life, were not monotheists but polytheists, for whom every little land and every little tribe had its own God: secondly, that the Indo-Europeans by purely religious ways had attained to conceptions of an individual Divinity that were infinitely more sublime than the painfully stunted idea which the Jews had formed of the Creator of the world. [37]

I shall have repeated occasion to return to these questions, particularly in the sections dealing with the entry of the Jews into western history and with the origin of the Christian Church. In the meantime I hope I have succeeded in removing to some extent the preconceived opinion of the special religiousness of Judaism. I think the reader of the orthodox Christian Neander will henceforth shake his head sceptically when he finds the assertion that the advent of Christ forms the "central point" of the religious life of the Jews, that "in the whole organism of this religion and people's history it was of inner necessity determined," &c. &c [38] As for the oratorical flourishes of the free-thinker Renan: Le Christianisme est le chef-d'oeuvre du judaisme, sa gloire, le resume de son evolution.... Jesus est tout entier dans Isaie, &c., [39] he will smile over them with just a shade of indignation; and I fear he will burst into Homeric laughter when the orthodox Jew Graetz assures him that the teaching of Christ is the "old Jewish doctrine in a new dress," that "the time had now come when the fundamental truths of Judaism ... the wealth of lofty thoughts concerning God and a holy life for the individual and the community should flow in upon the emptiness of the rest of the world, filling it with a rich endowment." [40]


Whoever wishes to see the revelation of Christ must passionately tear this darkest of veils from his eyes. His advent is not the perfecting of the Jewish religion but its negation. It was in the very place where feelings played the least part in religious conceptions that a new religious ideal appeared, which -- unlike the other great attempts further to explain the inner life, by thoughts or by images -- laid the whole burthen of this "life in spirit and in truth" upon the feelings. The relation to the Jewish religion could at most be regarded as a reaction: the feelings are, as we have said, the fountain head of all genuine religion; this spring which the Jews had well-nigh choked with their formalism and hard-hearted rationalism Christ opened up. Few things let us see so deeply into the divine heart of Christ as His attitude towards the Jewish religious ordinances. He observed them, but without zeal and without laying any stress upon them: at best they are but a vessel, which, holding nothing, would remain empty; and as soon as an ordinance bars His road, He breaks it without the least scruple, but at the same time calmly and without anger: for what has all this to do with religion? "Man [41] is Lord also of the Sabbath": for the Jew Jehovah alone had been Lord -- man his slave. With regard to the Jewish laws in relation to food (so important a point in their religion that the quarrel with regard to its obligatoriness continued on into the early Christian times) Christ says: "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. For those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart: and they defile the man." [42] In this connection consider too how Christ uses Holy Scripture. He speaks of it with reverence but without fanaticism. It is indeed very remarkable how He makes Scripture serve His purpose; over it too He feels Himself "Lord" and transforms it, when necessary, into its opposite. His doctrine is that the" whole law and the prophet" may be summed up in the one command: Love God and thy neighbour. That sounds almost like sublime irony, especially when we consider that Christ on this occasion never once mentions "the fear of God," which (and not the love of God) forms the basis of the whole Jewish religion. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," sings the Psalmist. "Hide thee in the dust for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty," Isaiah calls to the Israelites, and even Jeremiah seemed to have forgotten that there is a law according to which man "shall love God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his strength, and with all his mind," [43] and had represented Jehovah as saying to His people, "I will put my fear in their hearts that they shall not depart from me; they shall fear me for ever"; it is only when the Jews fear Him that He "will not turn away from them to do them good," &c. We find that Christ also frequently changes the meaning of the words of Scripture in a similar manner. Now if we see on the one hand a God of mercy and on the other a hard-hearted Jehovah, [44] on the one hand the doctrine which teaches us to love our "heavenly Father" with all our heart and on the other "servants," who are enjoined "to fear the lord" as their first duty, [45] we may well ask what meaning can there be in characterising the one personal philosophy as the work, as the perfection of the other? This is sophistry, not truth. Christ himself has said in plain words, "Whoever is not with me is against me"; no fact in the world is so completely against Him as the Jewish religion, indeed the whole Jewish conception of religion -- from earliest times to the present day.

And yet the Jewish religion has in this connection formed a fine soil, better than any other, for the growth of a new religious ideal, that is, for a new conception of God.

What meant poverty for others became in fact for Christ a source of the richest gifts. For example, the fearful, to us almost inconceivable, dreariness of Jewish life -- without art, without philosophy, without science -- from which the more gifted Jews fled in crowds to foreign parts, was an absolutely indispensable element for his simple, holy life. The Jewish life offered almost nothing -- nothing but the family life -- to the feelings of the individual. And thus the richest mind that ever lived could sink into itself, and find nourishment only in its own inmost depths. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." Perhaps it was only in these dreary surroundings that it was possible to discover that conversion of will as the first step towards a new ideal of mankind; only here where the "Lord of hosts" ruled without pity, that the heavenly presentiment God is love could be elevated to a certainty.

The following is, however, the most important point in this discussion.

The peculiar mental characteristic of the Jews, their lack of imagination, brought about by the tyrannical predominance of the will, had led them to a strange abstract materialism. Being materialists, the Jews were most prone, like all Semites, to crass idolatry; we see them ever and anon setting up images and bowing down before them; the moral struggle which their great men for centuries waged against it is an heroic page in the history of the human power of will. But the will which was not balanced by imagination shot as usual far beyond the mark; every image, in fact frequently everything that is at all the "work of hands," contains for the Jew of the Old Testament the danger of becoming a worshipped idol. Not even the coins may bear a human head or an allegorical figure, not even the flags an emblem. And so all non-Jews are to the Jews "worshippers of idols." And from this fact again arose, by the way, a Christian misconception which was not dissipated till the last years of the nineteenth century, and then only for the specialist, not for the mass of the educated. As a matter of fact, the Semites are probably the only people in the whole earth who ever were and could be genuine idolators. In no branch of the Indo-European family has there ever been idolatry. The unmixed Aryan Indians, as also the Eranians, had never either image or temple; they would have been incapable even of understanding the crassly materialistic sediment of Semitic idolatry in the Jewish ark of the covenant with its Egyptian sphinxes; neither the Teutons nor the Celts nor the Slavs worshipped images. And where did the Hellenic Zeus live? Where Athene? In poetry, in the imagination, up in cloud-capped Olympus, but never in this or that temple. In honour of the god Phidias created his immortal work, in honour of the gods the numerous little images were made which adorned every house and filled it with the living conception of higher beings. To the Jew, however, that seemed idolatry! The will being with them predominant, they regarded each thing only from the point of view of its utility; it was incomprehensible to them that a man should put anything beautiful before his eyes, to elevate and console himself therewith, to provide food for his mind, to awaken his religious sense. Similarly, too, the Christians have at a later time looked upon images of Buddha as idols: but the Buddhists recognise no God, much less an idol; these statues served as a stimulus to contemplation and alienation from the world. Indeed ethnologers have lately been beginning to question the possibility of there ever being a people so primitive as to worship so-called fetishes as idols. Formerly this was simply taken for granted; now it is being found in more and more cases that these children of nature attach the most complicated symbolical conceptions to their fetishes. It seems as if the Semites were the only human race that had succeeded in making golden calves, iron serpents, &c., and then worshipping them. [46] And as the Israelites even at that time were much more highly developed than the Australasian negroes of to-day, we conclude that such aberrations on their part must be put down not to immaturity of judgment, but to some one-sidedness of their intellect: this one-sidedness was the enormous predominance of will. The will as such lacks not merely all imagination, but all reflection; to it only one thing is natural, to precipitate itself upon, and to grasp the present. And so for no people was it so difficult as it was for the people of Israel, to rise to a high conception of the Divine, and for none was it so hard to keep this conception pure. But strength is steeled in the fray: the most unreligious people in the world created in its need the foundation of a new and most sublime conception of God, which has become the common property of all civilised mankind. For on this foundation Christ built; He could do so, thanks to that "abstract materialism" which He found around Him. Elsewhere religions were choked by the richness of their mythologies; here there was no mythology at all. Elsewhere every god possessed so distinct a physiognomy, had been made by poetry and the plastic arts so thoroughly individual, that no one could have changed him over night; or, on the other hand (as is the case with Brahman in India) the conception of him had been gradually so sublimated that nothing remained from which to create a new living form. Neither of these two things had happened with the Jews: Jehovah was in truth a remarkably concrete, indeed an altogether historical conception, and in so far a much more tangible figure than the imaginative Aryan had ever possessed; at the same time it was forbidden to represent Him either by image or word. [47] Hence the religious genius of mankind found here a tabula rasa. Christ required to destroy the historical Jehovah just as little as the Jewish "law"; neither the one nor the other has an immediate relation to real religion; but just as He in point of fact by that inner "conversion" transformed the so-called law into a fundamentally new law, so He used the concrete abstraction of the Jewish God in order to give the world a quite new conception of God. We speak of anthropomorphism! Can then man act and think otherwise than as an anthropos? This new conception of the Godhead differed, however, from other sublime intuitions in this, that the image was created not with the brilliant colours of symbolism nor with the etching-needle of thought, but was caught as it were on a mirror in the innermost mind, and became henceforth a direct individual experience to everyone that had eyes to see. -- Certain it is that this new ideal could not have been set up in any other place than where the conception of God had been fanatically clung to, and yet left totally undeveloped.

Hitherto we have directed our attention to what separates or at least distinguishes Christ from Judaism; it would be one-sided to leave it at that alone. His fate and the main tendency of His thought are both closely connected with genuine Jewish life and character. He towers above His surroundings, but yet He belongs to them. Here we have to consider especially two fundamental features of the Jewish national character: the historical view of religion and the predominance of the will. These two features are, as we shall immediately see, genetically related. The former has strongly influenced Christ's life and His memory after death; in the latter is rooted His doctrine of morals. A study of these two points will throw light on many of the deepest and most difficult questions in the history of Christianity, as well as on many of the inexplicable inner contradictions of our religious tendencies up to the present day.


Of the many Semitic peoples one only, and that one politically one of the smallest and weakest, has maintained itself as a national unity; this small nation has defied all storms and stands to-day a unique fact among men -- without fatherland, without a supreme head, scattered all over the world, enrolled among the most different nationalities, and yet united and conscious of unity. This miracle is the work of a book, the Thora, with all that has been added to it by way of supplement up to the present day. But this book must be regarded as evidence of a peculiar national soul, which at a critical moment was guided in this direction by individual eminent and far-seeing men. In the next chapter but one I shall have to enter more fully into the origin and importance of these canonical writings. In the meantime, I shall merely call attention to the fact that the Old Testament is a purely historical work. If we leave out of account a few late and altogether unessential additions (like the so-called Proverbs of Solomon), every sentence of these books is historical; the whole legislation too which they contain is based on history, or has at least a chronological connection with the events described: "The Lord spake unto Moses," Aaron's burnt- offering is accepted by the Lord, Aaron's sons are killed during the proclamation of the law, &c. &c.; and if it is a question of inventing something, the narrator either links it on to a fictitious story, as in the book of Job, or to a daring falsification of history, as in the book of Esther. By this predominance of the chronological element the Bible differs from all other known sacred books. The religion it contains is an element in the historical narrative and not vice versa; its moral commandments do not grow with inherent necessity out of the depths of the human heart, they are "laws," which were promulgated under definite conditions on fixed days, and which can be repealed at any time. Compare for a moment the Aryan Indians; they often stumbled upon questions concerning the origin of the world, the whence and the whither, but these were not essential to the uplifting of their souls to God; this question concerning causes has nothing to do with their religion: indeed, far from attaching importance to it, the hymnists exclaim almost ironically:

Who hath perceived from whence creation comes?
He who in Heaven's light upon it looks,
He who has made or has not made it all,
He knows it! Or does he too know it not? [48]

Goethe, who is often called the "great Heathen," but who might with greater justice be termed the "great Aryan," gave expression to exactly the same view when he said, "Animated inquiry into cause does great harm." Similarly the German natural scientist of to-day says, "In the Infinite no new end and no beginning can be sought. However far back we set the origin, the question still remains open as to the first of the first, the beginning of the beginning." [49] The Jew felt quite differently. He knew as accurately about the creation of the world as do the wild Indians of South America or the Australian blacks to-day. That, however, was not due -- as is the case with these -- to want of enlightenment, but to the fact that the Aryan shepherd's profound, melancholy mark of interrogation was never allowed a place in Jewish literature; his tyrannous will forbade it, and it was the same will that immediately silenced by fanatical dogmatism the scepticism that could not fail to assert itself among so gifted a people (see the Kohelelh, or Book of the Preacher). Whoever would completely possess the "to-day" must also grasp the "yesterday" out of which it grew. Materialism suffers shipwreck as soon as it is not consistent; the Jew was taught that by his unerring instinct; and just as accurately as our materialists know to-day how thinking arises out of the motion of atoms, did he know how God had created the world and made man from a clod of earth. Creation, however, is the least thing of all; the Jew took the myths with which he became acquainted on his journeys, stripped them as far as possible of everything mythological and pruned them down to concrete historical events. [50] But then, and not till then, came his masterpiece: from the scanty material common to all Semites [51] the Jew constructed a whole history of the world of which he made himself the centre; and from this moment, that is, the moment when Jehovah makes the covenant with Abraham, the fate of Israel forms the history of the world, indeed, the history of the whole cosmos, the one thing about which the Creator of the world troubles himself. It is as if the circles always became narrower; at last only the central point remains -- the "Ego," the will has prevailed. That indeed was not the work of a day; it came about gradually; genuine Judaism, that is, the Old Testament in its present form, shaped and established itself only after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity. [52] And now what formerly had been effected with unconscious genius was applied and perfected consciously: the union of the past and the future with the present in such a way that each individual moment formed a centre on the perfectly straight path, which the Jewish people had to follow and from which it henceforth could not deviate either to right or to left. In the past divine miracles in favour of the Jews and in the future expectation of the Messiah and world-empire: these were the two mutually complementary elements of this view of history. The passing moment received a peculiarly living importance from the fact that it was seen growing out of the past, as reward or punishment, and that it was believed to have been exactly foretold in prophecies. By this the future itself acquired unexampled reality: it seemed to be something tangible. Even should countless promises and prophecies not come true, [53] that could always be easily explained. Will looks not too close, but what it holds it does not let go, even if it be but a phantom; the less the past had given the richer appeared the future; and so much was possessed in black and white (particularly in the legend of the Exodus), that doubt could not arise. The so-called Jewish "literal adherence to creed" is surely quite a different thing from the dogmatic faith of the Christians: it is not a faith in abstract inconceivable mysteries and in all kinds of mythological conceptions, but something quite concrete and historical. The relation of the Jews to their God is from the first political. [54] Jehovah promises them the empire of the world -- under certain conditions; and their historical work is such a marvel of ingenious structure that the Jews see their past in the most glowing colours, and everywhere perceive the protecting hand of God extended over His chosen people, "over the only men in the true sense of the word"; and this in spite of the fact that theirs has been the most wretched and pitiful fate as a people that the annals of the world can show; for only once under David and Solomon did they enjoy half a century of relative prosperity and settled conditions: thus they possess on all hands proofs of the truth of their faith, and from this they draw the assurance that what was promised to Abraham many centuries before will one day take place in all its fulness. But the divine promise was, as I have said, dependent upon conditions. Men could not move about in the house, could not eat and drink or walk in the fields, without thinking of hundreds of commandments, upon the fulfilment of which the fate of the nation depended. As the Psalmist sings of the Jew (Psalm i. 2):

He placeth his delight
Upon God's law, and meditates
On his law day and night. [55]

Every few years each of us throws a voting-paper into the box; otherwise we do not know or hardly know that our life is of national importance; but the Jew could never forget that. His God had promised him, "No people shall withstand thee, till thou destroyest it," but immediately added, "All the commandments which I command thee, thou shalt keep!" God was thus always present to consciousness. Practically everything but material possession was forbidden to the Jew; his mind therefore was directed to property alone; and it was to God that he had to look for the possession of that property. -- The man who has never brought home to himself the conditions here hastily sketched will have difficulty in realising what unanticipated vividness the conception of God acquired under these conditions. The Jew could not indeed represent Jehovah by images; but His working, His daily intervention in the destiny of the world was, so to speak, a matter of experience; the whole nation indeed lived upon it; to meditate upon it was their one intellectual occupation (if not in the Diaspora, at least in Palestine).

It was in these surroundings that Christ grew up; beyond them He never stepped. Thanks to this peculiar historical sense of the Jews He awoke to consciousness as far as possible from the all-embracing Aryan cult of nature and its confession tat-tvam-asi (that thou art also), in the focus of real anthropomorphism, where all creation was but for man, and all men but for this one chosen people, that is, He awoke in the direct presence of God and Divine Providence. He found here what He would have found nowhere else in the world: a complete scaffolding ready for Him, within which His entirely new conception of God and of religion could be built up. After Jesus had lived, nothing remained of the genuinely Jewish idea; now that the temple was built the scaffolding could be removed. But it had served its purpose, and the building would have been unthinkable without it. The God to whom we pray to give us our daily bread could only be thought of where a God had promised to man the things of this world; men could only pray for forgiveness of sins to Him who had issued definite commandments. -- I almost fear, however, that if I here enter into details I may be misunderstood; it is enough if I have succeeded in giving a general conception of the very peculiar atmosphere of Judea, for that will enable us to discern that this most ideal religion would not possess the same life-power if it had not been built upon the most real, the most materialistic -- yes, assuredly the most materialistic -- religion in the world. It is this and not its supposed higher religiosity that has made Judaism a religious power of world-wide importance.

The matter becomes still clearer whenever we consider the influence of this historical faith upon the fate of Christ.

The most powerful personality can be influential only when it is understood. This understanding may be very incomplete, it may indeed frequently be direct misunderstanding, but some community of feeling and thought must form the link of connection between the lonely genius and the masses. The thousands that listened to the Sermon on the Mount certainly did not understand Christ; how could that have been possible? They were a poor people, downtrodden and oppressed by continual war and discord, systematically stupefied by their priests; but the power of his word awakened in the heart of the more gifted among them an echo which it would have been impossible to awaken in any other part of the world: was this to be the Messiah, the promised redeemer from their misery and wretchedness? What immeasurable power lay in the possibility of such a conception! At once the homely, fleeting present was linked to the remotest past and the most indubitable future, and thereby the present received everlasting importance. It does not matter that the Messiah, whom the Jews expected, had not the character which we Indo-Europeans attach to this conception [56]; the idea was there, the belief founded on history that at any moment a saviour could and must appear from Heaven. In no other part of the earth could a single man have this conception, full of misunderstandings as it was, of the world-wide importance of Christ. The Saviour would have remained a man among men. And in so far I think that the thousands who soon afterwards cried, "Crucify him, crucify him," showed just as much understanding as those who had piously listened to the Sermon on the Mount. Pilate, at other times a hard, cruel judge, could find no fault in Christ; [57] in Hellas and in Rome He would have been honoured as a holy man. But the Jew lived only in history, to him the "heathen" idea of morality and sanctity was strange, since he knew only a "law," and moreover obeyed this law for quite practical reasons, namely, to stay the wrath of God and to make sure of his future, and so he judged a phenomenon like the revelation of Christ from a purely historical standpoint, and became justly filled with fury, when the promised kingdom, to win which he had suffered and endured for centuries -- for the sake of possessing which he had separated himself from all people upon the earth, and had become hated and despised of all -- when this kingdom, in which he hoped to see all nations in fetters and all princes upon their knees "licking the dust," was all at once transformed from an earthly kingdom into one "not of this world." Jehovah had often promised his people that he would "not betray" them; but to the Jews this was bound to appear betrayal. They executed not one only but many, because they were held to be, or gave themselves out to be, the promised Messiah. And rightly too, for the belief in the future was just as much a pillar of the popular idea as the belief in the past. And now, to crown all, this Galilean heterodoxy! To plant the flag of idealism on this ancient consecrated seat of the most obstinate materialism! To transform, as if by magic, the God of vengeance and of war into a God of love and peace! To teach the stormy will, that stretched out both hands for all the gold of the world, that it should throw away what it possessed and seek the hidden treasure in its own heart! ... The Jewish Sanhedrim had seen farther than Pilate (and than many thousands of Christian theologists). Not, indeed, with full consciousness, but with that unerring instinct, which pure race gives, it seized Him who undermined the historical basis of Jewish life, by teaching, "Take no heed for the morrow," who in each one of His words and deeds transformed Judaism into its antithesis, and did not release Him till He had breathed His last. And thus only, by death, was destiny fulfilled and the example given. No new faith could be established by doctrines; there was at that time no lack of noble and wise teachers of ethics, but none has had any power over men; a life had to be lived and this life had immediately to receive its place in the great enduring history of the world as a fact of universal moment. Only Jewish surroundings suited these conditions. And just as the life of Christ could only be lived by the help of Judaism, although it was its negation, so too the young Christian Church developed a series of ancient Aryan conceptions -- of sin, redemption, rebirth, grace, &c. (things till then and afterwards quite unknown to the Jews) -- and gave them a clear and visible form, by introducing them into the Jewish historical scheme. [58] No one will ever succeed in quite freeing the revelation of Christ from this Jewish groundwork; it was tried in the first centuries of the Christian era, but without success, since the thousand features in which the personality had revealed its individuality became thereby blurred, and nothing but an abstraction remained behind. [59]
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Re: The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, by Houston St

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Part 3 of 3


Still profounder is the influence of the second trait of character.

We have seen that what I call the historical instinct of the Jews rests above all upon the possession of an abnormally developed will. The will in the case of the Jew attains such superiority that it enthrals and tyrannises over all other faculties. And so it is that we find on the one hand extraordinary achievements, which would be almost impossible for other men, and on the other, peculiar limitations. However that may be, it is certain that we see this very predominance of will in Christ at all times: frequently un-Jewish in His individual utterances, quite Jewish, in so far as the will is almost solely emphasised. This feature is like a branching of veins that goes deep and spreads far: we find it in every word, in every single conception. By a comparison I hope to make my meaning clear and comprehensible.

Consider the Hellenic conception of the Divine and the Human and of their relation to one another. Some Gods fight for Troy, others for the Achaeans; while I propitiate one part of the Divine I estrange the other; life is a battle, a game, the noblest may fall, the most miserable gain the victory; morality is in a way a personal affair, man is lord of his own heart but not of his destiny; there is no Providence that protects, punishes and rewards. The Gods themselves are in fact not free; Zeus himself must yield to fate. Herodotus says, "Even a God cannot escape what is destined for him." A nation which produces the Iliad will in a later age produce great investigators of nature and great thinkers. For he who looks at nature with open eyes which are not blinded by selfishness will discover everywhere in it the rule of law; the presence of law in the moral sphere is fate for the artist -- predestination for the philosopher. For the faithful observer of nature the idea of arbitrariness is, to begin with, simply impossible; do what he will, he cannot make up his mind to impute it even to a God. This philosophical view has been beautifully expressed by Here in Goethe's fragment, Achilleis:

Willkur bleibet ewig verhasst den Gottern und Menschen.
Wenn sie in Thaten sich zeigt, auch nur in Worten sich kundgiebt
Denn so hoch wir auch stehen, so ist der ewigen Gotter
Ewigste Themis [60] allein, und diese muss dauern und walten. [61]

On the other hand, the Jewish Jehovah can be described as the incarnation of arbitrariness. Certainly this divine conception appears to us in the Psalms and in Isaiah in altogether sublime form; it is also -- for the chosen people -- a source of high and serious morality. But what Jehovah is, He is, because He wills to be so; He stands above all nature, above every law, the absolute, unlimited autocrat. If it pleases Him to choose out from mankind a small people and to show His favour to it alone, He does so; if He wishes to vex it, He sends it into slavery; if he, on the other hand, wishes to give it houses which it has not built and vineyards which it has not planted, He does so and destroys the innocent possessors; there is no Themis. So too the divine legislation. Beside moral commands which breathe to some extent high morality and humanity, there stand commands which are directly immoral and inhuman; [62] others again determine most trivial points: what one may eat and may not eat, how one shall wash, &c., in short, everywhere absolute arbitrariness. He who sees deeper will not fail to note in this the relationship between the old Semitic idolatry and the belief in Jehovah. Considered from the Indo-European standpoint, Jehovah would in reality be called rather an idealised idol, or, if we prefer it, an anti-idol, than a god. And yet this conception of God contains something which could not, any more than arbitrariness, be derived from observation of nature, namely, the idea of a Providence. According to Renan, "the exaggerated belief in a special Providence is the basis of the whole Jewish religion." [63] Moreover, with this freedom of God another freedom is closely connected, that of the human will. The liberum arbitrium is decidedly a Semitic conception and in its full development a specifically Jewish one; it is inseparably bound up with the particular idea of God. [64] Freedom of will implies nothing less than "ever repeated acts of creation"; carefully considered it will be clear that this supposition (as soon as it has to do with the world of phenomena) contradicts not merely all physical science, but also all metaphysics, and means a negation of every transcendent religion. Here cognition and will stand in strict opposition. Now wherever we find limitations of this idea of freedom -- in Augustine, Luther, Voltaire, Kant, Goethe -- we can be sure that an Indo-European reaction against the Semitic spirit is taking place. So, for example, when Calderon in the Great Zenobia lets the wild autocratic Aurelian mock him who called the will free.

For -- though one must certainly be on one's guard against misusing such formulary simplifications -- one can still make the assertion that the idea of necessity is in all Indo- European races particularly strongly marked, and is met with again and again in the most different spheres; it points to high power of cognition free from passion; on the other hand, the idea of arbitrariness, that is, of an unlimited sway of will, is specifically characteristic of the Jew; he reveals an intelligence which in comparison with his will-power is very limited. It is not a question here of abstract generalisations, but of actual characteristics, which we can still daily observe; in the one case intellect is predominant, in the other the will.

Let me give a tangible example from the present. I knew a Jewish scholar, who, as the competition in his branch prevented him from earning much money, became a manufacturer of soap, and that, too, with great success; but when at a later time foreign competition once more took the ground from beneath his feet, all at once, though ripe in years, he became dramatic poet and Man of Letters and made a fortune at it. There was no question of universal genius in his case; he was of moderate intellectual abilities and devoid of all originality; but with this intellect the will achieved whatever it wished.

The abnormally developed will of the Semites can lead to two extremes: either to rigidity, as in the case of Mohammed, where the idea of the unlimited divine caprice is predominant; or, as is the case with the Jews, to phenomenal elasticity, which is produced by the conception of their own human arbitrariness. To the Indo-European both paths are closed. In nature he observes everywhere the rule of law, and of himself he knows that he can only achieve his highest when he obeys inner need. Of course his will, too, can achieve the heroic, but only when his cognition has grasped some idea -- religious, artistic, philosophic, or one which aims at conquest, command, enrichment, perhaps crime; at any rate, in his case the will obeys, it does not command. Therefore it is that a moderately gifted Indo-European is so peculiarly characterless in comparison with the most poorly gifted Jew. Of ourselves, we should certainly never have arrived at the conception of a free almighty God and of what may be called an "arbitrary Providence," a Providence, that is, which can decree something in one way, and then in answer to prayers or from other motives decide in a contrary direction. [65] We do not find that, outside of Judaism, man ever came to the conception of a quite intimate and continual personal relation between God and mankind -- to the conception of a God who would almost seem to be there only for the sake of man. In truth the old Indo-Aryan Gods are benevolent, friendly, we might almost say genial powers; man is their child, not their slave; he approaches them without fear; when sacrificing he "grasps the right hand of God"; [66] the want of humility in presence of God has indeed filled many a one with horror: yet as we have seen nowhere do we find the conception of capricious autocracy. And with this goes hand in hand remarkable infidelity; now this, now that God is worshipped, or, if the Divine is viewed as a unified principle, then the one school has this idea of it, the other that (I remind the reader of the six great philosophically religious systems of India, all six of which passed as orthodox); the brain in fact works irresistibly on, producing new images and new shapes, the Infinite is its home, freedom its element and creative power its joy. Just consider the beginning of the following hymn from the Rigveda (6, 9):

My ear is opened and my eye alert.
The light awakes within my heart!
My spirit flies to search in distant realms:
What shall I say? of what shall my verse sing?

and compare it with the first verses of any Psalm, for instance, the 76th:

In Judah is God known: His name is great in Israel.
In Salem also is His tabernacle, and His dwelling-place in Sion.

We see what an important element of faith the will is. While the Aryan, rich in cognition, "flies to search in distant realms," the strong-willed Jew makes God pitch His tent once for all in his own midst. The power of his will to live has not only forged for the Jew an anchor of faith, which holds him fast to the ground of historical tradition, but it has also inspired him with unshakable confidence in a personal, directly present God, who is almighty to give and to destroy; and it has brought him, the man, into a moral relation to this God, in that God in His all-powerfulness issued commands, which man is free to follow or neglect. [67]


There is another matter which must not be omitted in this connection: the one-sided predominance of the will makes the chronicles of the Jewish people in general dreary and ugly; and yet in this atmosphere there grew up a series of important men, whose peculiar greatness makes it impossible to compare them with other intellectual heroes. In the introduction to this division I have already spoken of those "disavowers" of the Jewish character, who themselves remained the while such out and out Jews, from the crown of their heads to the soles of their feet, that they contributed more than anything else to the growth of the most rigid Hebraism; in chap. v. I shall return to them; only so much must here be said: these men, in grasping religious materialism by its most abstract side, raised it morally to a very great height; their work has paved the way historically in essential points for Christ's view of the relation between God and man. Moreover, an important feature, which is essentially rooted in Judaism, shows itself most clearly in them: the historical religion of this people lays emphasis not upon the individual, but upon the whole nation; the individual can benefit or injure the whole community, but otherwise he is of little moment; from this resulted of necessity a markedly socialistic feature which the Prophets often powerfully express. The individual who attains to prosperity and wealth, while his brothers starve, falls under the ban of God. While Christ in one way represents exactly the opposite principle, namely, that of extreme individualism, the redeeming of the individual by regeneration, His life and His teaching, on the other hand, point unmistakably to a condition of things which can only be realised by having all things common. The communism of "one flock and one shepherd" is certainly different from the entirely politically coloured, theocratic communism of the Prophets; but here again the basis is solely and characteristically Jewish.


Whatever one may be inclined to think of these various Jewish conceptions, no one will deny their greatness, or their capacity to exercise an almost inestimable influence upon the moulding of the life of mankind. Nor will anyone deny that the belief in divine almightiness, in divine Providence and in the freedom of the human will, [68] as well as the almost exclusive emphasising of the moral nature of men and their equality before God ("the last shall be first") are essential elements of the personality of Christ. Far more than the fact that He starts from the Prophets, far more than His respect for Jewish legal enactments, do these fundamental views show us that Christ belonged morally to the Jews. Indeed, when we penetrate farther to that central point in Christ's teaching, to that "conversion of the will," then we must recognise -- as I have already hinted at the beginning of this chapter in the comparison with Buddha -- that here is something Jewish in contrast to the Aryan negation of the will. The latter is a fruit of perception, of too great perception; Christ, on the other hand, addresses Himself to men, in whom the will -- not the thought, is supreme; what He sees around Him is the insatiable, ever-covetous Jewish will that is always stretching out both hands; He recognises the might of this will and commands it -- not to be silent, but to take a new direction. Here we must say, Christ is a Jew, and He can only be understood when we have learned to grasp critically these peculiarly Jewish views which He found and made His own.

I said just now that Christ belonged "morally" to the Jews. This somewhat ambiguous word "moral" must here be taken in a narrow sense. For it is just in the moral application of these conceptions of God's almightiness and providence, of the direct relations between man and God following therefrom, and of the employment of the free human will, that the Saviour departed in toto from the doctrines of Judaism; that is clear to every one, and I have, moreover, sought to emphasise it in what has gone before; but the conceptions themselves, the frame into which the moral personality fitted itself, and out of which it cannot be moved, the unquestioning acceptance of these premisses regarding God and man, which by no means belong to the human mind as a matter of course but are, on the contrary, the absolutely individual achievement of a definite people in the course of an historical development which lasted for centuries: this is the Jewish element in Christ. In the chapters on Hellenic Art and Roman Law I have already called attention to the power of ideas; here again we have a brilliant example of it. Whoever lived in the Jewish intellectual world was bound to come under the influence of Jewish ideas. And though He brought to the world an entirely new message, though His life was like the dawn of a new morn, though His personality was so divinely great that it revealed to us a power in the human breast, capable -- if it ever should be fully realised -- of completely changing humanity: yet the personality, the life and the message were none the less chained to the fundamental ideas of Judaism; only in these could they reveal, exercise and proclaim themselves.


I hope I have attained my purpose. Proceeding from the consideration of the personality in its individual, autonomous import, I have gradually widened the circle, to reveal the threads of life which connect it with its surroundings. In this a certain amplification was unavoidable; the sole subject of this book, the foundations of the nineteenth century, I have nevertheless not lost sight of for a single moment. For how could I, an individual, venture to approach that age either as chronicler or encyclopaedist? May the Muses keep me from such madness! On the other hand, I shall attempt to trace as far as possible the leading ideas, the moulding thoughts of our age; but these ideas do not fall from Heaven, they link on to the past; new wine is very often indeed poured into old bottles, and very old, sour wine, which nobody would taste, if he knew its origin, into quite new ones; and as a matter of fact the curse of confusion weighs heavily upon a culture born so late as ours, especially in an age of breathless haste, where men have to learn too much to be able to think much. If we wish to become clear about ourselves, we must, above all, be quite clear about the fundamental thoughts and conceptions which we have inherited from our ancestors. I hope I have brought it home to the reader how very complex is the Hellenic legacy, how peculiarly contradictory the Roman, but at the same time how profoundly they affect our life and thought to-day. Now we have seen that even the advent of Christ, on the threshold between the old and the new age, does not present itself to our distant eye in so simple a form that we can easily free it from the labyrinth of prejudices, falsehoods and errors. And yet nothing is more necessary than to see this revelation of Christ clearly in the light of truth. For -- however unworthy we may show ourselves of this -- our whole culture, thank God, still stands under the sign of the Cross upon Golgotha. We do see this Cross; but who sees the Crucified One? Yet He, and He alone is the living well of all Christianity, of the intolerantly dogmatic as well as of that which gives itself out to be quite unbelieving. In later ages it will be an eloquent testimony to the childishness of our judgment that we have ever doubted it, and that the nineteenth century has reared itself on books, which demonstrated that Christianity originated by chance, at haphazard, as a "mythological paroxysm," as a "dialectical antithesis," as a necessary result of Judaism, and I know not what else. The importance of genius cannot be reckoned high enough: who ventures to estimate the influence of Homer upon the mind of man? But Christ was still greater. And like the everlasting "hearth-fire" of the Aryans, so the torch of truth which He kindled for us can never be extinguished; though at times a shadow of night may wrap manhood far and wide in the folds of darkness, yet all that is wanted is one single glowing heart, in order that thousands and millions may once more blaze under the bright light of day.... Here, however, we can and must ask with Christ, "But if the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness?" Even the origin of the Christian Church leads us into the profoundest gloom, and its further history gives us rather the impression of a groping about in darkness than of clear seeing in the sunlight. How then shall we be able to distinguish what in so-called Christianity is spirit of Christ's spirit, and what, on the other hand, is imported from Hellenic, Jewish, Roman and Egyptian sources, if we have never come to see this revelation of Christ in its sublime simplicity? How shall we speak about what is Christian in our present confessions, in our literatures and arts, in our philosophy and politics, in our social institutions and ideals, how shall we separate what is Christian from what is anti-Christian, and be able with certainty to decide, what in the movements of the nineteenth century can be traced back to Christ and what not, or in how far it is Christian, whether merely in the form or also in the content, or perhaps in content, i.e., in its general tendency, but not with regard to the characteristically Jewish form -- how shall we, above all, be able to sift and separate from the "bread of life" this specifically Jewish element which is so threateningly perilous to our spirit, if the revelation of Christ does not stand conspicuously before our eyes in its general outlines, and if we are not able clearly to distinguish in this image the purely personal from its historical conditions. This is certainly a most important and indispensable foundation for the formation of our judgments and appreciations.

To pave, to some modest degree, the way for that result has been the purpose of this chapter.



1. "Dictum est tamen tres personae, non ut aliquid diceretur, sed ne taceretur." -- De Trinitate, V. chap. ix.

2. The existence of Christ was denied even in the second century of our era, and Buddha till twenty-five years ago was regarded by many theologians as a mythical figure. See, for example, the books of Senart and Kern.

3. Hegel in his Philosophie der Geschichte, Th. III., A. 3, chap. ii., says about Christ: "He was born as this one man, in abstract subjectivity, but so that conversely finiteness is only the form of his appearance, the essence and content of which is rather infiniteness and absolute being-for-self.... The nature of God, to be pure spirit, becomes in the Christian religion manifest to man. But what is the spirit? It is the One, the unchanging infinity, the pure identity, which in the second place separates itself from itself, as its second self, as the being-for-itself and being-in-itself in opposition to the Universal. But this separation is annulled by this, that the atomistic subjectivity, as the simple relativity to itself, is itself the Universal, Identical with itself." What will future centuries say to this clatter of words? For two-thirds of the nineteenth it was considered the highest wisdom.

4. See first edition. i. 72 ff., and the popular edition (ninth) p. 191 ff. Strauss never had the least notion what a myth is, what mythology means, how it is produced by the confusion and mingling of popular myths, poetry and legends. That, however, is another story. Posterity will really not be able to understand the reception given to such dreary productions as those of Strauss: they are learned, but destitute of all deeper insight and of any trace of genius. Just as bees and ants require in their communities whole cohorts of sexless workers, so it seems as if we human beings could not get along without the industry and the widespread but ephemeral influence of such minds, marked with the stamp of sterility, as flourished in such profusion about the middle of the nineteenth century. The progress of historico-critical research on the one hand, and on the other the increasing tendency to direct attention not to the theological and subordinate, but to that which is living and decisive, causes one to look upon the mythological standpoint of Strauss as so unintelligent that one cannot turn over the leaves of this honest man's writings without yawning. And yet one must admit that such men as he and Renan (two concave mirrors which distort all lines, the one by lengthening, the other by broadening) have accomplished an important work -- by drawing the attention of thousands to the great miracle of the fact of Christ and thus creating a public for profounder thinkers and wiser men.

5. Later there came a. dark period upon which light has still to be thrown.

6. I have translated das nichts by extinction, which is the rendering of Nirvana by Rhys Davids. He says: "What then is Nirvana, which means simply going out, extinction"; and then he goes on to say that it ought to be translated "Holiness." But that will not do here, nor is it altogether incapable of being argued. Extinction gives Chamberlain's meaning better than "nothingness," which is not quite satisfactory. Perhaps "Holy Extinction" comes near to the Buddhist conception. The idea of Rhys Davids would thus not be lost. (Translator's Note.)

7. The expression Uranos or "Kingdom of Heaven" occurs only in Matthew and is certainly not the right translation into Greek of any expression used by Christ. The other evangelists always say "Kingdom of God." (Cf. my collection of the Worte Christi, large edition, p. 260, small edition, p. 279. and for more learned and definite explanation see H. H. Wendt's Lehre Jesu, 1886, pp. 48 and 58.)

8. The emphasis clearly does not lie on the additional clause "and become as little children": this is rather an explanation of the conversion. What is it that distinguishes children? Unalloyed joy in life and the unspoilt power of throwing a glamour over it by their temperaments.

9. I need scarcely say that I take the word pessimism, which is capable of such a variety of interpretations, in the popular, superficial sense of a moral frame of mind, not a philosophical cognition.

10. Diderot also, to whom one cannot attribute orthodox faith, says in the Encyclopedie: "Christ ne fut point un philosophe, ce jut un Dieu."

11. See p. 25.

12. Wellhausen: Israelitische und judische Geschichte, 3rd ed., 1897, pp. 16 and 74. Cf. too, Judges, i. 30 and 33, and further on in this book, chap. v.

13. Graetz: Volkstumliche Geschichte der Juden, i. 88.

14. Ibid, i. 567. Galilee and Perea had together a tetrarch who ruled independently, while Judea, Samaria and Idumea were under a Roman procurator. Graetz adds at this point, "Owing to the enmity of the Samaritans whose land lay like a wedge between Judea and Galilee and round [sic] both, there was all the less intercourse between the two separated districts." I have here for simplicity refrained from mentioning the further fact that we have no right to identify the genuine "Israelites" of the North with the real "Jews" of the South; but cf. chap. v.

15. So completely disappeared that many theologians, who had leisure, puzzled their brains even in the nineteenth century to discover what had become of the Israelites, as they could not believe that five-sixths of the people to whom Jehovah had promised the whole world should have simply vanished off the face of the earth. An ingenious brain actually arrived at the conclusion that the ten tribes believed to be lost were the English of to-day! He was not at a loss for the moral of this discovery either; in this way the British possess by right five-sixths of the whole earth; the remaining sixth the Jews. Cf, H. L.: Lost Israel, where are they to be found? (Edinburgh, 6th ed., 1877). In this pamphlet another work is named, Wilson, Our Israelitish Origin. There are, according to these authorities, honest Anglo- Saxons who have traced their genealogy back to Moses!

16. Robertson Smith: The Prophets of Israel (1895), p. 153, informs us to what an extent "the distinguishing character of the Israelitish nation was lost."

17. Albert Reville: Jesus de Nazareth, i. 416. One should remember also that Alexander the Great had peopled neighbouring Samaria with Macedonians after the revolt of the year 311.

18. Graetz, as above, i. 400. See also I Maccabees, v. 23.

19. Graetz, as above, i. 568. Compare Josephus, Book XVIII., chap. iii.

20. Quoted by Renan from the Mishna: s. Vie de Jesus, 23rd edition. p. 242.

21. Juvenal says:

Aere minuto
Qualiacunque voles Judaei somnia vendunt

22. Mommsen, Romische Geschichte, v. 515.

23. Later, too, the inhabitants of Galilee were a peculiar race distinguished for strength and courage, as is proved by their taking part in the campaign under the Persian Scharbarza and in the taking of Jerusalem in the year 614.

24. As a matter of fact sufficient evidence of the difference between the Galileans and the real Jews could be gathered from the gospels. In John especially "the Jews" are always spoken of as something alien, and the Jews on their part exclaim, "Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet" (7, 52).

25. Cf., for example, Graetz, as above. i. 575. With regard to the peculiarity of the speech of the Galileans and their incapacity to pronounce the Semitic gutturals properly, see Renan: Langues semitiques, 5th ed., p. 230.

26. See, for example, the comparative table in Max Muller: Science of Language, 9th ed., p. 169, and in each separate volume of the Sacred Books of the East. The Sanscrit language has only six genuine "gutturals," the Hebrew ten; most striking, however, is the difference in the guttural aspirate h, for which the Indo-Teutonic languages from time immemorial have known only one sound, the Semitic, on the other hand, five different sounds. Again, we find in Sanscrit seven different lingual consonants, in Hebrew only two. How exceedingly difficult it is for such inherited linguistic marks of race to disappear altogether is well known to us all through the example of the Jews living among us; a perfect mastery of the lingual sounds is just as impossible for them as the mastery of the gutturals for us.

27. Jesus de Nazareth, etudes critiques sur les antecedents de l'histoire evangelique et la vie de Jesus, vol. ii. 1897.

28. How is one, for example, to explain the fact that Renan, who in his Vie de Jesus, published in 1863, says it is impossible even to make suppositions about the race to which Christ by blood belonged (see chap. ii.), in the fifth volume of his Histoire du Peuple d'Israe'l, finished in 1891, makes the categorical assertion, "Jesus etait un Juif," and attacks with unwonted bitterness those who dare doubt the fact? Is it to be supposed that the Alliance Israelite, with which Renan was so closely connected in the last years of his life, had not had something to do with this? In the nineteenth century we have heard so much fine talk about the freedom of speech, the freedom of science, &c.; in reality, however, we have been worse enslaved than in the eighteenth century; for in addition to the tyrants who have really never been disarmed, new and worse ones have arisen. The former tyranny could, with all its bitter injustice, strengthen the character: the new, which is a tyranny proceeding from and aiming at money, degrades to the lowest depth of bondage.

29. Cf. Hugo Winckler: Die Volker Vorderasiens, 1900.

30. The great legal authority Jhering is a praiseworthy exception. In his Vorgeschichte der Indoeuropaer, p. 300, he says: "The doctrine of Christ did not spring from his native soil, Christianity is rather an overcoming of Judaism; there is even in his origin something of the Aryan in Christ."

31. "The Semites have much superstition, but little religion," says Robertson Smith, one of the greatest authorities. (See The Prophets of Israel, p. 33.)

32. Herder says well, "Man alone is in opposition to himself and the earth; for the most fully developed creature among all her organisations is at the same time the least developed in his own new capacity.... He represents therefore two worlds at once and this causes the apparent duplicity of his being." -- Ideen zur Geschichte der Menschheit, Teil I., Buch V., Abschnitt 6.

33. Is not the core of nature
In the heart of man?

34. For details, see chap. v.

35. See chap. cxxv. of the Book at the Dead.

36. Quoted by Graetz, as above, i. 634, without indication of the passage.

37. "I do not require to adduce evidence of the polytheism of the Jews; one finds it in every scientific work and besides on every other page of the Old Testament; see chap. v. Even in the Psalms "all the Gods" are called upon to worship Jehovah; Jehovah is only in so far the "one God" for later Jews, as the Jews (as Philo just told us) are "the only men in the real sense," Robertson Smith, whose History of the Semites is regarded as a scientific and fundamental book, testifies that monotheism did not proceed from an original religious tendency of the Semitic spirit, but is essentially a political result!! (See p. 74 of the work quoted.) -- With regard to the monotheism of the Indo-Europeans I make the following brief remarks. The Brahman of the Indian philosophers is beyond doubt the greatest religious thought ever conceived; with regard to the pure monotheism of the Persians we can obtain information in Darmesteter (The Zend-Avesta, I. lxxxii. ff.); the Greek had however been on the same path, as Ernst Curtius testifies, "I have learned much that is new, particularly what a stronghold of the monotheistic view of God Olympia was and what a moral world-power the Zeus of Phidias has been" (Letter to Gelzer of Jan. 1, 1896, published in the Deutsche Revue, 1897, p. 241). Besides we can refer here to the best of all witnesses. The Apostle Paul says (Romans, i. 21): "The Romans knew that there is one God"; and the church-father Augustine shows, in the eleventh chapter of the 4th book of his De civitete Dei, that according to the views of the educated Romans of his time, the magni doctores paganorum, Jupiter was the one and only God, while the other divinities only demonstrated some of his "virtutes." Augustine employed the view which was already prevalent, to make it clear to the heathens that it would be no trouble for them to adopt the belief in a single God and to give up the others. Haoc si ita sint, quid perderent si unum Deum colerent prudentiare compendio? (the recommendation to believe in a single God "because it simplifies matters" is a touching feature of the golden childhood of the Christian Church!). And what Augustine demonstrates in the case of the educated heathen, Tertullian asserts of the uneducated people in general. "Everybody," he says, "believes only in a single God, and one never hears the Gods invoked in the plural, but only as 'Great God' 'Good God' 'As God will ' 'God be with you' 'God bless you.'" This Tertullian regards as the evidence of a fundamentally monotheistic soul: "O testimonium anima naturaliter Christianae" (Apologeticus, xvii). [Giordano Bruno in his Spaccio de la bestia trionfante, ed. Lagarde, p. 532, has some beautiful remarks on the monotheism of the ancients.] -- In order that in a matter of such significance nothing may remain obscure, I must add that Curtius, Paul, Augustine and Tertullian are all four labouring under a thorough delusion, when they see in these things a proof of monotheism in the sense of Semitic materialism; their judgment is here dimmed by the influence of Christian ideas. The conception "the Divine" which we see in the Sanscrit neuter Brahman and in the Greek neuter [x] , as well as in the German neuter Gott, which only at a later time in consequence of Christian influence was regarded as a masculine (see Kluge's Etymologisches Worterbuch), cannot be identified at all with the personal world-creator of the Jews. In this case one can say of all the Aryans who are not influenced by the Semitic spirit what Professor Erwin Rohde proves for the Hellenes: "The view that the Greeks had a tendency to monotheism (in the Jewish sense) is based on a wrong interpretation.... It is not a unity of the divine person, but a uniformity of divine entity, a divinity living uniformly in many Gods, something universally divine in the presence of which the Greek stands when he enters into religious contact with the Gods" (Die Religion der Griechen in the Bayreuther Blatter, 1895, p. 213). Very characteristic are the words of Luther in this connection, "In creation and in works (to reckon from without to the creature) we Christians are at one with the Turks; for we say too that there is not more than one single God. But we say, this is not enough, that we only believe that there is one single God."

38. Allgemeine Geschichte der christlichen Religion, 4th ed. i. 46.

39. Histoire du Peuple d'Israel, v. 415, ii. 539. &c. The enormity of the assertion in regard to Isaiah becomes clear from the fact that Renan himself describes and praises this prophet as a "litterateur" and a "journaliste," and that he proves in detail what a purely political role this important man played. "Not a line from his pen, which was not in the service of a question of the day or an interest of the moment" (ii. 481). And we are to believe that in this very man the whole personality of Jesus Christ is inherent? It is quite as unjustifiable (unfortunately in others as well as in Renan) to quote single verses from Isaiah, to make it appear as if Judaism had aimed at a universal religion. Thus xlix. 6, is quoted, where Jehovah says to Israel, "I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth," and nothing is said of the fact that in the course of the chapter the explanation is given that the Gentiles shall become the slaves of the Jews and their Kings and Princesses shall "bow down to them with their face toward the earth" and "lick up the dust of their feet." And this we are to regard as a sublime universal religion! Exactly the same is the case with the constantly quoted chapter Ix. where we find first the words, "The Gentiles shall come to thy light," but afterwards with an honesty for which one is thankful, "The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish, yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted"! Moreover the Gentiles are told in this passage to bring all their gold and treasures to Jerusalem, for the Jews shall "inherit the land for ever." To think of anyone venturing to put such political pamphleteering on a parallel with the teaching of Christ!

40. As above, i. 570. It has often been asserted that the Jews have little sense of humour: that seems to be true, at least of individuals; just imagine the "wealth" of these crassly ignorant unimaginative scribes and the "emptiness" of the Hellenes! Graetz has not much regard for the personality of Christ; the highest appreciation to which he deigns to rise is as follows: "Jesus may also have possessed a sympathetic nature that won hearts, whereby His words could make an impression" (i. 576). The learned Professor of Breslau regards the crucifixion as the result of a "misunderstanding." With regard to the Jews who afterwards went over to Christianity Graetz is of opinion that it was done for their material advantages and because the belief in the Crucified One "was taken into the bargain as something unessential" (ii. 30). Is that still true? We knew from the Old Testament that the covenant with Jehovah was a contract with obligations on both sides, but what can be "bargained" in regard to Christ I cannot understand.

41. The following information about the expression "son of man" is important; "The Messianic interpretation of the expression 'son or man' originated from the Greek translators of the Gospel. As Jesus spoke Aramaic, He said not [x] but barnascha. But that means man and nothing more; the Arameans had no other expression for the idea" (Wellhausen: Israelitische und judische Geschichte, 3rd ed. p. 381).

42. "If man is impure, he is so because he speaks what is untrue," said the sacrificial ordinances of the Aryan Indians, one thousand years before Christ (Satapatha-Brahmana), 1st verse of the 1st division of the 1st book.

43. In the fifth book of Moses (Deuteronomy vi. 5) are to be found words similar to these quoted from Christ's sayings (from Matthew xxii. 37), but -- we must look at the context! Before the commandment to love (to our mind a peculiar conception -- to love by command) stands as the first and most important commandment (verse 2), "Thou shalt fear the Lord, thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments"; the commandment to love is only one among other commandments which the Jew shall observe and immediately after it comes the reward for this love (verse 10 ff.). "I shall give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, and houses full of all good things which thou filledst not, and wells digged which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive-trees, which thou plantedst not, &c." That kind of love may be compared to the love which underlies so many marriages at the present day! In any case the "love of one's neighbour" would appear in a peculiar light, if one did not know that according to the Jewish law only the Jew is a "neighbour" of the Jew; as is expressed in the same place, chap. vii. 16, "Thou shalt consume all the peoples which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee!" This commentary to the commandment to "love one's neighbour" makes every further remark superfluous. But in order that no one may be in doubt as to what the Jews later meant by the command to love God with the whole heart, I shall quote the commentary of the Talmud (Jomah, Div. 8) to that part of the law, Deuteronomy, vi. 5: "The teaching of this is: thy behaviour shall be such that the name of God shall be loved through you; man shall in fact occupy himself with the study of Holy Scripture and of the Mishna and have intercourse with learned and wise men; his language shall be gentle, his other conduct proper, and in commerce and business with his fellow men he shall strive after honesty and uprightness. What will people then say? Hail to this man who has devoted himself to the study of the sacred doctrine!" In the book Sota of the Jerusalem Talmud (v. 5) one finds a somewhat more reasonable but no less prosaic commentary. -- This is the orthodox Jewish interpretation of the commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart"! Is it not the most unworthy playing with words to assert that Christ taught the same doctrine as the Thora?

44. The orthodox Jew Montefiore, Religion of the Ancient Hebrews (1893), p. 442, admits that the thought, "God is love," does not occur in any purely Hebrew work of any time.

45. Montefiore and others dispute the statement that the relation of Israel to Jehovah was that of servants to their master, but Scripture says so clearly in many places, e.g., Leviticus xxv. 55: "The children of Israel are servants, they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt," and the literal translation of the Hebrew text would be slave! (Cf. the literal translation by Louis Segond.)

46. It is scarcely necessary to call the reader's attention to the fact that the Egyptian and Syrian forms of worship from which the Jews took the idea of the ox and the serpent were purely symbolical.

47. When at a very late period the Jews could not quite resist the impulse to presentation, they sought to conceal the want of imaginative power by Oriental verbiage. We can see an example of it in chap. i. of Ezekiel.

48. Rigveda, x. 129. 7.

49. Adolf Bastian, the eminent ethnologist, in his work: Das Bestanddige in den Menschenrassen (1868), p. 28.

50. Les mythologies etrangeres se transforment entre les mains des Semites en recits platement historiques" (Renan, Israel, i. 49).

51. Cf. the history of creation by the Phoenician Sanchuniathon.

52. See chap. v. In order to give a fixed point and to reveal drastically the differences of mental tendencies, I may mention that this was about three hundred years after Homer, scarcely a century before Herodotus.

53. For example, the promise to Abraham in reference to Canaan, "To thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever."

54. See Rob. Smith: The Prophets of Israel, pp. 70 and 133.

55. In the Sippurim, a collection of Jewish popular sagas and stories, it is frequently mentioned that the ordinary uneducated Jew has 613 commandments to learn by heart. But the Talmud teaches 13.600 laws, obedience to which is divine command! (See Dr. Emanuel Schreiber: Der Talmud vom Standpunkte des modernen Judentums.

56. Even so orthodox an investigator as Stanton admits that the Jewish idea of the Messiah was altogether political (see The Jewish and the Christian Messiah, 1886, pp. 122 f., 128, &c.). It is well known that theology has occupied itself much of late years with the history of the conceptions of the Messiah. The principal result of the investigation for us laymen is the proof that the Christians, misled by what were specifically Galilean and Samarian heterodoxies, supplanted the Jewish conception of the coming of the Messiah by a view which the Jews never really held. The Jews who were learned in Scripture were always indignant at the strained interpretations of the Old Prophets; now even the Christians admit that the Prophets before the exile (and these are the greatest) knew nothing of the expectation of a Messiah (see, for example, the latest summary account, that of Paul Volz: Die vorexilische Jahveprophetie und der Messias, 1897); the Old Testament does not even know the word, and one of the most important theologists of our time, Paul de Lagarde (Deutsche Schriften, p. 53), calls attention to the fact that the expression maschiach is not of Hebrew origin at all, but was borrowed at a late time from Assyria or Babylon. It is particularly noteworthy also that this expectation of the Messiah wherever it existed was constantly taking different forms; in one case a second King David was to come, in another the idea was one only of Jewish world-empire in general, then again it is God himself with his heavenly judgment "who will put an end at once to those who have hitherto held sway and give the people of Israel power for ever, an all-embracing empire, in which the just of former times who rise again shall take part, while the rebellious are condemned to everlasting shame" (cf. Karl Muller: Kirchengeschichte, i. 15); other Jews again dispute whether the Messiah will be a Ben-David or a Ben-Joseph; many believe there would be two of them, others are of the opinion that he would be born in the Roman Diaspora; but nowhere and at no time do we find the idea of a suffering Messiah, who by his death redeems us (see Stanton, pp. 122-124). The best, the most cultured and pious Jews have never entertained such apocalyptic delusions. In the Talmud (Sabbath, Part 6) we read, "Between the present time and the Messianic there is no difference except that the pressure, under which Israel pines till then, will cease." (Contrast with this the frightful confusion and complete puerility of the Messianic conceptions in the Sanhedrin of the Babylonian Talmud.) I think that with these remarks I have touched the root of the matter: in the case of an absolutely historical religion, like the Jewish, the sure possession of the future is just as imperative a necessity as the sure possession of the past: from the earliest times we see this thought of the future inspiring the Jews and it still inspires them; this unimaginative people gave its expectations various forms, according to the varying influences of surroundings, essential only is the firm ineradicable conviction that the Jews should one day rule the world. This is in fact an element of their character, the visible bodying-forth of their innermost nature. It is their substitute for mythology.

57. Tertullian makes the charmingly simple remark: "Pilate was already at heart a Christian" (Apologeticus xxi.).

58. The myth of the fall of man stands indeed at the beginning of the first book of Moses, but is clearly borrowed, since the Jews never understood it and did not employ it in their system. He who does not transgress the law is, in their eyes, free from sin. Just as little has their expectation of a Messiah to do with our conception of redemption. See, further, chap. v. and vol ii. chap. vii.

59. That is the tendency of gnosticism as a whole; this movement finds its most carefully pondered and noblest expression, as far as I can venture to express an opinion, in Marcion (middle of the second century), who was more filled with the absolutely new in the Christian ideal than perhaps any religious teacher since his time; but in just such a case one sees how fatal it is to ignore historical data. (See any Church History. On the other hand I must warn the student that the three lines which Professor Ranke devotes to this really great man (Weltgeschichte, ii. 171) contain not a single word of what should have been said on this point.) [For a knowledge of Marcion and gnosticism as a whole Mead's Fragments of a Faith Forgotten may be recommended.]

60. Themis has degenerated in modern times to an allegory of impartial jurisdiction, that is, of an altogether arbitrary agreement, and she is appropriately represented with veiled eyes; while mythology lived, she represented the rule of law in all nature, and the old artists gave her particularly large, wide-open eyes.

61. Arbitrariness remains ever hateful to gods and men, when it reveals itself in deeds or even in words only. For however high we may stand, the eternal Themis of the eternal Gods alone is, and she must lastingly hold sway.

62. Besides the countless raids involving wholesale slaughter divinely commanded, in which "the heads of the children" are to be "dashed against the stones," note the cases where command is given to attack with felonious intent "the brother, companion, and neighbour" (Exodus xxxii. 27). and the disgusting commands such as in Ezekiel v. 12-15.

63. Histoire du peuple d'Israil, ii. p. 3.

64. We can trace in every history of Judaism with what very logical fanaticism the Rabbis still champion the unconditioned and not merely metaphysically meant freedom of will. Diderot says: "Les Juifs sont si jaloux de cette liberte d'indifference, qu'ils s'imaginent qu'il est impossible de penser sur cette matiere autrement qu'eux." And how closely this idea is connected with the freedom of God and with Providence becomes clear from the commotion which arose when Maimonides wished to limit divine Providence to mankind and maintained that every leaf was not moved by it nor every worm created by its will. -- Of the so-called "fundamental doctrines" of the famous Talmudist Rabbi Akiba the two first are as follow: (1) Everything is supervised by the Providence of God; (2) Freedom of will is stipulated (Hirsch Graetz: Gnosticismus und Judentum, 1846, p. 91).

65. In the case of the Indo-Europeans the Gods are never "creators of the world"; where the Divine is viewed as creator, as in the case of the Brahman of the Indians, that refers to a freely metaphysical cognition, not to an historical and mechanical process, as in Genesis i.; in other cases the Gods are viewed as originating "on this side of creation," their birth and death are spoken of.

66. Oldenberg: Die Religion des Veda, p. 310.

67. If this were the place for it, I should gladly prove in greater detail that this Jewish conception of the almighty God who rules as free Providence inevitably determines the historical view of this God and that every genuine Aryan mind revolts again and again against this. This has caused, for instance, the whole tragic mental life of Peter Abelard: in spite of the most intense longing for orthodoxy, he cannot adapt his spirit to the religious materialism of the Jews. Ever and anon, for example, he comes to the conclusion that God does what he does of necessity (and here he could refer for support to the earlier writings of Augustine, especially his De libero arbitrio); this is intellectual anti-Semitism in the highest degree! He denies also every action, every motion in the case of God; the working of God is for him the coming to pass of an everlasting determination of will: "with God there is no sequence of time." (See A. Hausrath; Peter Abelard, p. 201 f.) With this Providence disappears. -- However, what is the use of seeking for learned proofs? The noble Don Quixote explains with pathetic simplicity to his faithful Sancho, "for God there is no past and no future, all is present" (Book IX. chap. viii.): hereby the immortal Cervantes expresses briefly and correctly the unhistorical standpoint of all non-Semites.

68. The latter, however, as it appears, with important limitations, since the Aryan idea of grace more than once clearly appears in Christ's words.
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Re: The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, by Houston St

Postby admin » Wed Oct 19, 2016 5:16 am


Der hohe Sinn, das Ruhmliche
Von dem Geruhmten rein zu unterscheiden


WHO were the heirs of antiquity? This question is at least as important as that concerning the legacy itself and, if possible, more difficult to answer. For it introduces us to the study of race problems, which science during the last quarter of a century, so far from solving, has rather revealed in all their intricacy. And yet all true comprehension of the nineteenth century depends on the clear answering of this question. Here, then, we must be at once daring and cautious if we are to remember the warning of the preface, and steer safely between the Scylla of a science almost unattainable, and so far most problematic in its results, and the Charybdis of unstable and baseless generalisations. Necessity compels us to make the bold attempt.


Rome had transferred the centre of gravity of civilisation to the West. This proved to be one of those unconsciously accomplished acts of world-wide importance which no power can undo. The West of Europe, remote from Asia, was to be the focus of all further civilisation and culture. But that happened only gradually. At first it was politics alone which turned ever more and more towards the West and North; intellectually Rome itself long remained very dependent upon the former centre of culture in the East. In the first centuries of our era, with the exception of Rome itself, only what lies South and East of it is intellectually of any importance; Alexandria, Ephesus, Antioch, in fact all Syria, then Greece with Byzantium, as well as Carthage and the other towns of ancient Africa, are the districts where the legacy was taken up and long administered, and the inhabitants of these places then handed it on to later times and other races. And these very countries were at that time, like Rome itself, no longer inhabited by a definite people, but by an inextricable confusion of the most different races and peoples. It was a chaos. And this chaos did not by any means disappear at a later time. In many places this chaotic element was pressed back by the advance of pure races, in others it fell out of the list of those that count through its own weakness and want of character, yet for all that it has beyond doubt maintained itself in the South and East; moreover fresh influx of blood has frequently given it new strength. That is a first point of far-reaching importance. Consider, for example, that all the foundations for the structure of historical Christianity were laid and built up by this mongrel population! With the exception of some Greeks, all of whom, however, with Origenes at their head, disseminated highly unorthodox, directly anti. Jewish doctrines which had no success, [1] one can scarcely even conjecture to what nationality any of the Church fathers actually belonged. The same may be said of the corpus juris, here, too, it was the Chaos (according to Hellenic ideas the mother of Erebus and Nox, of darkness and night), to which the task fell of perfecting and transforming the living work of a living people to an international dogma. Under the same influence, art ever more and more lost its personal, freely creative power and became transformed into an hieratically formulary exercise, while the lofty, philosophical speculation of the Hellenes was displaced by its caricature, the cabalistic phantoms of demiurges, angels and daemons -- conceptions which could not be designated by a higher name than" airy materialism." [2] We must therefore, to begin with, turn our attention to this Chaos of Peoples.


Out of the midst of the chaos towers, like a sharply defined rock amid the formless ocean, one single people, a numerically insignificant people -- the Jews. This one race has established as its guiding principle the purity of the blood; it alone possesses, therefore, physiognomy and character. If we contemplate the southern and eastern centres of culture in the world-empire in its downfall, and let no sympathies or antipathies pervert our judgment, we must confess that the Jews were at that time the only people deserving respect. We may well apply to them the words of Goethe, " the faith broad, narrow the thought." In comparison with Rome and still more so with Hellas their intellectual horizon appears so narrow, their mental capacities so limited, that we seem to have before us an entirely new type of being; but the narrowness and want of originality in thought are fully counterbalanced by the power of faith, a faith which might be very simply defined as "faith in self." And since this faith in self included faith in a higher being, it did not lack ethical significance. However poor the Jewish "law" may appear, when compared with the religious creations of the various Indo-European peoples, it possessed a unique advantage in the fallen Roman Empire of that time: it was, in fact, a law; a law which men humbly obeyed, and this very obedience was bound to be of great ethical import in a world of such lawlessness. Here, as everywhere, we shall find that the influence of the Jews -- for good and for evil -- lies in their character, not in their intellectual achievements. [3] Certain historians of the nineteenth century, even men so intellectually pre-eminent as Count Gobineau, have supported the view that Judaism has always had merely a disintegrating influence upon all peoples. I cannot share this conviction. In truth, where the Jew, become very numerous in a strange land, they may make it their object to fulfil the promises of their Prophets and with the best will and conscience to " consume the strange peoples"; did they not say of themselves, even in the lifetime of Moses, that they were "like locusts"? However, We must distinguish between Judaism and the Jews and admit that Judaism as an idea is one of the most conservative ideas in the world. The idea of physical nice-unity and race-purity, which is the very essence of Judaism, signifies the recognition of a fundamental physiological fact of life; wherever We observe life, from the hyphomycetes to the noble horse, we see the importance of "race"; Judaism made this law of nature sacred. And this is the reason why it triumphantly prevailed at that critical moment in the history of the world, when a rich legacy was waiting in vain for worthy heirs. It did not further, but rather put a stop to, universal disintegration. The Jewish dogma was like a sharp acid which is poured into a liquid which is being decomposed in order to clear it and keep it from further decomposition. Though this acid may not be to the taste of everyone, yet it has played so decisive a part in the history of the epoch of culture to which we belong that we ought to be grateful to the giver: instead of being indignant about it, we shall do better to inform ourselves thoroughly concerning the significance of this U entrance of the Jews into the history of the West," an event which in any case exercised inestimable influence upon our whole culture, and which has not yet reached its full growth.

Another word of explanation. I am speaking of Jews, not of Semites in general; not because I fail to recognise the part played by the latter in the history of the world, but because my task is limited both in respect of time and space. Indeed for many centuries other branches of the Semitic race had founded powerful kingdoms on the South and East coasts of the Mediterranean and had established commercial depots as far as the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean; doubtless they had also been stimulative in other ways, and had spread knowledge and accomplishments of many kinds; but nowhere had there been a close intellectual connection between them and the other inhabitants of future Europe. The Jews first brought this about, not by the million of Jews who lived in the Diaspora, but first and foremost by the Christian idea. It was only when the Jews crucified Christ that they unconsciously broke the spell which had hitherto isolated them in the pride of ignorance. -- At a later time, indeed, a Semitic flood swept once more across the European, Asiatic and African world, a flood such as, but for the destruction of Carthage by Rome, would have swept over Europe a thousand years before, with results which would have been decisive and permanent. [4] But here, too, the Semitic idea -- "faith wide, narrow the thought" -- proved itself more powerful than its bearers; the Arabs were gradually thrown back and, in contrast to the Jews, not one of them remained on European soil; but where their abstract idolatry [5] had obtained a foothold all possibility of a culture disappeared; the Semitic dogma of materialism, which in this case and in contrast to Christianity had kept itself free of all Aryan admixtures, deprived noble human races of all soul, and excluded them for ever from the "race that strives to reach the light." -- Of the Semites only the Jews, as we see, have positively furthered our culture and also shared, as far as their extremely assimilative nature permitted them, in the legacy of antiquity.


The entrance of the Teutonic races into the history of the world forms the counterpart to the spread of this diminutive and yet so influential people. There, too, we see what pure race signifies, at the same time, however, what variety of races is -- that great natural principle of many-sidedness, and of dissimilarity of mental gifts, which shallow, venal, ignorant babblers of the present day would fain deny, slavish souls sprung from the chaos of peoples, who feel at ease only in a confused atmosphere of characterlessness and absence of individuality. To this day these two powers -- Jews and Teutonic races -- stand, wherever the recent spread of the Chaos has not blurred their features, now as friendly, now as hostile, but always as alien forces face to face.

In this book I understand by "Teutonic peoples" the different North-European races, which appear in history as Celts, Teutons (Germanen) and Slavs, and from whom -- mostly by indeterminable mingling -- the peoples of modern Europe are descended. It is certain that they belonged originally to a single family, as I shall prove in the sixth chapter; but the Teuton in the narrower Tacitean sense of the word has proved himself so intellectually, morally and physically pre-eminent among his kinsmen, that we are entitled to make his name summarily represent the whole family. The Teuton is the soul of our culture. Europe of to-day, with its many branches over the whole world, represents the chequered result of an infinitely manifold mingling of races: what binds us all together and makes an organic unity of us is "Teutonic" blood. If we look around, we see that the importance of each nation as a living power to-day is dependent upon the proportion of genuinely Teutonic blood in its population. Only Teutons sit on the thrones of Europe. -- What preceded in the history of the world we may regard as Prolegomena; true history, the history which still controls the rhythm of our hearts and circulates in our veins, inspiring us to new hope and new creation, begins at the moment when the Teuton with his masterful hand lays his grip upon the legacy of antiquity.



1. Origenes, for example, was confessedly a pessimist (in the metaphysical sense of the word), by which in itself he proved his Indo-European descent; he saw suffering everywhere in the world and concluded from that that its chief end was not the enjoyment of a. god-given happiness but the prevention of an evil (compare Christ's chief doctrine, that of the "conversion of will," cf. p, 188). Augustine, the African mestizo. found it easy to refute him; he appealed to the first chapter of the first book of the Jewish Thora, to prove beyond dispute that everything is good and that "the world exists for no other reason than because it has been pleasing to a good God to create the absolutely good." (See the very instructive discussion in the De civitate Dei, xi. 23.) Augustine triumphantly introduces another argument in this place; if Origenes were right, then the most sinful creatures would have the heaviest bodies and devils would be visible, but devils have airy, invisible shapes, and so, &c. Thus thoughts that arose in the Chaos prevailed over metaphysical religion. (The same arguments are to be found, word for word, in the Fuhrer der Irrenden of the Jew Maimuni.)

2. Burger calls it Luftiges Gesindel (airy rabble) in his Lenores.

3. See p. 238 f.

4. See p. 115.

5. See p. 240.
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