Part 6 out of 15

world at the death of Theodosius. It formed, in general, a period of
decline. The very existence of the empire was threatened, both from within
and from without. The armies on the frontiers often set up their favorite
leaders as contestants for the throne, thus provoking civil war. Ambitious
governors of distant provinces sometimes revolted against a weak or
unpopular emperor and tried to establish independent states. The Germans
took advantage of the unsettled condition of affairs to make constant
inroads. About the middle of the third century it became necessary to
surrender to them the great province of Dacia, which Trajan had won. [1] A
serious danger also appeared in the distant East. Here the Persians,
having overcome the Parthians, [2] endeavored to recover from Roman hands
the Asiatic provinces which had once belonged to the old Persian realm.
Though the Persians failed to make any permanent conquest of Roman
territory, their constant attacks weakened the empire at the very time
when the northern barbarians had again become a menace.


The rulers who occupied the throne during the first half of this troubled
period are commonly known as the "Soldier Emperors," because so many of
them owed their position to the swords of the legionaries. Emperor after
emperor followed in quick succession, to enjoy a brief reign and then to
perish in some sudden insurrection. Within a single year (237-238 A.D.)
six rulers were chosen, worshiped, and then murdered by their troops "You
little know," said one of these imperial phantoms, "what a poor thing it
is to be an emperor." [3]


The close of the third century thus found the empire engaged in a struggle
for existence. No part of the Roman world had escaped the ravages of war.
The fortification of the capital city by the emperor Aurelian was itself a
testimony to the altered condition of affairs. The situation was
desperate, yet not hopeless. Under an able ruler, such as Aurelian, Rome
proved to be still strong enough to repel her foes. It was the work of the
even more capable Diocletian to establish the empire on so solid a
foundation that it endured with almost undiminished strength for another
hundred years.

[Illustration: THE WALL OF ROME
Constructed by Aurelian and rebuilt by Honorius. The material is concrete
faced with brick, thickness 13 feet, greatest height 58 feet. This is
still the wall of the modern city, although at present no effort is made
to keep it in repair.]



Diocletian, whose reign is one of the most illustrious in Roman history,
entered the army as a common soldier, rose to high command, and fought his
way to the throne. A strong, ambitious man, Diocletian resolutely set
himself to the task of remaking the Roman government. His success in this
undertaking entitles him to rank, as a statesman and administrator, with


The reforms of Diocletian were meant to remedy those weaknesses in the
imperial system disclosed by the disasters of the preceding century. In
the first place, experience showed that the empire was unwieldy. There
were the distant frontiers on the Rhine, Danube, and Euphrates to be
guarded; there were all the provinces to be governed. A single ruler,
however able and energetic, had more than he could do. In the second
place, the succession to the imperial throne was uncertain. Now an emperor
named his successor, now the Senate elected him, and now the swords of the
legionaries raised him to the purple. Such an unsettled state of affairs
constantly invited those struggles between rival pretenders which had so
nearly brought the empire to destruction.


Diocletian began his reforms by adopting a scheme for "partnership
emperors." He shared the Roman world with a trusted lieutenant named
Maximian. Each was to be an Augustus, with all the honors of an emperor.
Diocletian ruled the East; Maximian ruled the West. Further partnership
soon seemed advisable, and so each _Augustus_ chose a younger associate,
or _Caesar_, to aid him in the government and at his death or abdication
to become his heir. Diocletian also remodeled the provincial system. The
entire empire, including Italy, was divided into more than one hundred
provinces. They were grouped into thirteen dioceses and these, in turn,
into four prefectures. [4] This reform much lessened the authority of the
provincial governor, who now ruled over a small district and had to obey
the vicar of his diocese.


The emperors, from Diocletian onward, were autocrats. They bore the proud
title of _Dominus_ ("Lord"). They were treated as gods. Everything that
touched their persons was sacred. They wore a diadem of pearls and
gorgeous robes of silk and gold, like those of Asiatic monarchs. They
filled their palaces with a crowd of fawning, flattering nobles, and
busied themselves with an endless round of stately and impressive
ceremonials. Hitherto a Roman emperor had been an _imperator_, [5] the
head of an army. Now he became a king, to be greeted, not with the old
military salute, but with the bent knee and the prostrate form of
adoration. Such pomps and vanities, which former Romans would have thought
degrading, helped to inspire reverence among the servile subjects of a
later age. If it was the aim of Augustus to disguise, it was the aim of
Diocletian to display, the unbounded power of a Roman emperor.


There can be little doubt that Diocletian's reforms helped to prolong the
existence of the empire. In one respect, however, they must be pronounced
a failure. They did not end the disputes about the succession. Only two
years after the abdication of Diocletian there were six rival pretenders
for the title of _Augustus_. Their dreary struggles continued, until at
length two emperors were left--Constantine in the West, Licinius in the
East. After a few years of joint rule another civil war made Constantine
supreme. The Roman world again had a single master.


Constantine was an able general and a wise statesman. Two events of
lasting importance have made his reign memorable. It was Constantine who
recognized Christianity as one of the religions of the empire and thus
paved the way for the triumph of that faith over the ancient paganism. His
work in this connection will be discussed presently. It was Constantine,
also, who established a new capital for the Roman world at Byzantium [6]
on the Bosporus. He christened it "New Rome," but it soon took the
emperor's name as Constantinople, the "City of Constantine." [7]


Several good reasons could be urged for the removal of the world's
metropolis from the Tiber to the Bosporus. The Roman Empire was ceasing to
be one empire. Constantine wanted a great city for the eastern half to
balance Rome in the western half. Again, Constantinople, far more than
Rome, was the military center of the empire. Rome lay too far from the
vulnerable frontiers; Constantinople occupied a position about equidistant
from the Germans on the lower Danube and the Persians on the Euphrates.
Finally, Constantine believed that Christianity, which he wished to become
the prevailing religion, would encounter less opposition and criticism in
his new city than at Rome, with its pagan atmosphere and traditions.
Constantinople was to be not simply a new seat of government but also
distinctively a Christian capital. Such it remained for more than eleven
centuries. [8]


After the death of Constantine the Roman world again entered on a period
of disorder. The inroads of the Germans across the Danube and the Rhine
threatened the European provinces of the empire with dissolution. The
outlook in the Asiatic provinces, overrun by the Persians, was no less
gloomy. Meanwhile the eastern and western halves of the empire tended more
and more to grow apart. The separation between the two had become well
marked by the close of the fourth century. After the death of the emperor
Theodosius (395 A.D.) there came to be in fact, if not in name, a Roman
Empire in the East and a Roman Empire in the West.


More than four hundred years had now elapsed since the battle of Actium
made Octavian supreme in the Roman world. If we except the abandonment of
Trajan's conquests beyond the Danube and the Euphrates, [9] no part of the
huge empire had as yet succumbed to its enemies. The subject peoples,
during these four centuries, had not tried to overthrow the empire or to
withdraw from its protection. The Roman state, men believed, would endure
forever. Yet the times were drawing nigh when the old order of things was
to be broken up; when barbarian invaders were to seize the fairest
provinces as their own; and when new kingdoms, ruled by men of Germanic
speech, were to arise in lands that once obeyed Rome.



Rome, it has been said, was not built in a day; the rule of Rome was not
destroyed in a day. When we speak of the "fall" of Rome, we have in mind,
not a violent catastrophe which suddenly plunged the civilized world into
ruin, but rather the slow and gradual decay of ancient society throughout
the basin of the Mediterranean. This decay set in long before the Germans
and the Persians became a serious danger to the empire. It would have
continued, doubtless, had there been no Germans and Persians to break
through the frontiers and destroy. The truth seems to be that, during the
third and fourth centuries of our era, classical civilization, like an
overtrained athlete, had grown "stale."


It is not possible to set forth all the forces which century after century
had been sapping the strength of the state. The most obvious element of
weakness was the want of men to fill the armies and to cultivate the
fields. The slave system seems to have been partly responsible for this
depopulation. The peasant on his little homestead could not compete with
the wealthy noble whose vast estates were worked by gangs of slaves. The
artisan could not support himself and his family on the pittance that kept
his slave competitor alive. Peasants and artisans gradually drifted into
the cities, where the public distributions of grain, wine, and oil assured
them of a living with little expense and almost without exertion. In both
Italy and the provinces there was a serious decline in the number of free
farmers and free workingmen.


But slavery was not the only cause of depopulation. There was a great deal
of what has been called "race suicide" in the old Roman world. Well-to-do
people, who could easily support large families, often refused to be
burdened with them. Childlessness, however, was not confined to the
wealthy, since the poorer classes, crowded in the huge lodging houses of
the cities, had no real family life. Roman emperors, who saw how difficult
it was to get a sufficient number of recruits for the army, and how whole
districts were going to waste for lack of people to cultivate them, tried
to repopulate the empire by force of law. They imposed penalties for the
childlessness and celibacy of the rich, and founded institutions for the
rearing of children, that the poor might not fear to raise large families.
Such measures were scarcely successful. "Race suicide" continued during
pagan times and even during the Christian age.


The next most obvious element of weakness was the shrinkage of the
revenues. The empire suffered from want of money, as well as from want of
men. To meet the heavy cost of the luxurious court, to pay the salaries of
the swarms of public officials, to support the idle populace in the great
cities required a vast annual income. But just when public expenditures
were rising by leaps and bounds, it became harder and harder to secure
sufficient revenue. Smaller numbers meant fewer taxpayers. Fewer taxpayers
meant a heavier burden on those who survived to pay.


These two forces--the decline in population and the decline in wealth--
worked together to produce economic ruin. It is no wonder, therefore, that
in province after province large tracts of land went out of cultivation,
that the towns decayed, and that commerce and manufactures suffered an
appalling decline. "Hard times" settled on the Roman world.


Doubtless still other forces were at work to weaken the state and make it
incapable of further resistance to the barbarians. Among such forces we
must reckon Christianity itself. By the close of the fourth century
Christianity had become the religion of the empire. The new faith, as we
shall soon see, helped, not to support, but rather to undermine, pagan



Several centuries before the rise of Christianity many Greek thinkers
began to feel a growing dissatisfaction with the crude faith that had come
down to them from prehistoric times. They found it more and more difficult
to believe in the Olympian deities, who were fashioned like themselves and
had all the faults of mortal men. [10] An adulterous Zeus, a bloodthirsty
Ares, and a scolding Hera, as Homer represents them, were hardly
divinities that a cultured Greek could love and worship. For educated
Romans, also, the rites and ceremonies of the ancient religion came
gradually to lose their meaning. The worship of the Roman gods had never
appealed to the emotions. Now it tended to pass into the mere mechanical
repetition of prayers and sacrifices. Even the worship of the Caesars,
[11] which did much to hold the empire together, failed to satisfy the
spiritual wants of mankind. It made no appeal to the moral nature; it
brought no message, either of fear or hope, about a future world and a
life beyond the grave.


During these centuries a system of Greek philosophy, called Stoicism,
gained many adherents among the Romans. Any one who will read the Stoic
writings, such as those of the noble emperor, Marcus Aurelius, [12] will
see how nearly Christian was the Stoic faith. It urged men to forgive
injuries--to "bear and forbear." It preached the brotherhood of man. It
expressed a humble and unfaltering reliance on a divine Providence. To
many persons of refinement Stoicism became a real religion. But since
Stoic philosophy could reach and influence only the educated classes, it
could not become a religion for all sorts and conditions of men.


Many Greeks found a partial satisfaction of their religious longings in
secret rites called mysteries. Of these the most important grew up at
Eleusis, [13] a little Attic town thirteen miles from Athens. They were
connected with the worship of Demeter, goddess of vegetation and of the
life of nature. The celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries came in
September and lasted nine days. When the candidates for admission to the
secret rites were worked up to a state of religious excitement, they
entered a brilliantly lighted hall and witnessed a passion play dealing
with the legend of Demeter. They seem to have had no direct moral
instruction but saw, instead, living pictures and pantomimes which
represented the life beyond the grave and held out to them the promise of
a blessed lot in another world. As an Athenian orator said, "Those who
have shared this initiation possess sweeter hopes about death and about
the whole of life." [14]


The Eleusinian mysteries, though unknown in the Homeric Age, were already
popular before the epoch of the Persian wars. They became a Panhellenic
festival open to all Greeks, women as well as men, slaves as well as
freemen. The privilege of membership was later extended to Romans. During
the first centuries of our era the influence of the mysteries increased,
as faith in the Olympian religion declined. They formed one of the last
strongholds of paganism and endured till the triumph of Christianity in
the Roman world.


The Asiatic conquests of Alexander, followed in later centuries by the
extension of Roman rule over the eastern coasts of the Mediterranean,
brought the classical peoples into contact with new religions which had
arisen in the Orient. Slaves, soldiers, traders, and travelers carried the
eastern faiths to the West, where they speedily won many followers. Even
before the downfall of the republic the deities of Asia Minor, Egypt, and
Persia had found a home at Rome. Under the empire many men and women were
attracted to their worship.


Perhaps the most remarkable of the Asiatic religions was Mithraism. Mithra
first appears as a Persian sun god, the leader of Ahuramazda's hosts in
the ceaseless struggle against the forces of darkness and evil. [15] As a
god of light Mithra was also a god of truth and purity. His worship,
spreading over the length and breadth of the Roman Empire, became the
noblest of all pagan faiths. Men saw in Mithra a Lord and Giver of Life,
who protected the weak and miserable, cleansed the sinner, conquered
death, and procured for his faithful followers the crown of immortality.

A bas relief discovered in 1838 A.D. in a cave near Heidelberg, Germany.
The central group represents Mithra slaying the bull. The smaller reliefs
show scenes from the life of Mithra, including his birth from the rock and
his ascent to Ahuramazda.]


The Mithraic worship took the form of a mystery with seven grades, or
degrees, through which candidates passed by ordeals of initiation. The
rites included a kind of baptism with holy water, a sacrificial meal of
bread and wine, and daily litanies to the sun. Mithra was represented as a
youthful hero miraculously born from a rock at the dawn of day; for this
reason his worship was always conducted underground in natural or
artificial caves, or in cellars. At the back of one of these subterranean
temples would be often a picture of Mithra slaying a bull, and an
inscription: "To the Unconquerable Sun, to Mithra." [16]


The new Oriental religions all appealed to the emotions. They helped to
satisfy the spiritual wants of men and women, by dwelling on the need of
purification from sin and by holding forth the prospect of a happier life
beyond the tomb. It is not strange, therefore, that they penetrated every
province of the Roman Empire and flourished as late as the fourth century
of our era. Christianity had no more dangerous antagonists than the
followers of Mithra and other eastern divinities.



Christianity rose among the Jews, for Jesus was a Jew and his disciples
were Jews. At the time of the death of Jesus [17] his immediate followers
numbered scarcely a Christianity hundred persons. The catastrophe of the
crucifixion struck them with sorrow and dismay. When, however, the
disciples came to believe in the resurrection of their master, a wonderful
impetus was given to the growth of the new religion. They now asserted
that Jesus was the true Messiah, or Christ, who by rising from the dead
had sealed the truth of his teachings. For several years after the
crucifixion, the disciples remained at Jerusalem, preaching and making
converts. The new doctrines met so much opposition on the part of Jewish
leaders in the capital city that the followers of Jesus withdrew to
Samaria, Damascus, and Antioch. In all these places there were large
Jewish communities, among whom Peter and his fellow apostles labored




Up to this time the new faith had been spread only among the Jews. The
first Christians did not neglect to keep up all the customs of the Jewish
religion. It was even doubted for a while whether any but Jews could
properly be allowed within the Christian fold. A new convert, Saul of
Tarsus, afterwards the Apostle Paul, did most to admit the Gentiles, or
pagans, to the privileges of the new religion. Though born a Jew, Paul had
been trained in the schools of Tarsus, a city of Asia Minor which was a
great center of Greek learning. He possessed a knowledge of Greek
philosophy, and particularly of Stoicism. This broad education helped to
make him an acceptable missionary to Greek-speaking peoples. During more
than thirty years of unceasing activity Paul established churches in Asia
Minor, Greece, Macedonia, and Italy. To many of these churches he wrote
the letters (epistles), which have found a place in the New Testament. So
large a part of the doctrines of Christianity has been derived from Paul's
writings that we may well speak of him as the second founder of the
Christian faith.

[Illustration: MADONNA AND CHILD
The earliest known representation of Mary and the infant Jesus. The
prophet Isaiah is shown pointing to the new star. The picture dates from
about 200 A.D. and comes from the catacombs of St. Priscilla.]


Christianity advanced with marvelous rapidity over the Roman world. At the
close of the first century there were Christians everywhere in Asia Minor.
The second century saw the establishment of flourishing churches in almost
every province of the empire. A hundred years later there were
missionaries along the Rhine, on the Danube frontier, and in distant
Britain. "We are but of yesterday," says a Christian writer, with
pardonable exaggeration, "yet we have filled all your places of resort--
cities, islands, fortresses, towns, markets, the camp itself, the tribes,
town councils, the palace, the senate, and the forum, We have left to you
only the temples of your gods." [18]


Certain circumstances contributed to the success of this gigantic
missionary enterprise. Alexander's conquests in the East and those of Rome
in the West had done much to remove the barriers to intercourse between
nations. The spread of Greek and Latin as the common languages of the
Mediterranean world furnished a medium in which Christian speakers and
writers could be easily understood. The scattering of the Jews after the
destruction of Jerusalem [19] provided the Christians with an audience in
many cities of the empire. The early missionaries, such as Paul himself,
were often Roman citizens who enjoyed the protection of the Roman law and
profited by the ease of travel which the imperial rule had made possible.
At no other period in ancient history were conditions so favorable for the
rapid spread of a new religion.


While Christianity was conquering the world, the believers in its
doctrines were grouping themselves into communities or churches. Every
city had a congregation of Christian worshipers. [20] They met, not in
synagogues as did the Jews, but in private houses, where they sang hymns,
listened to readings from the Holy Scriptures, and partook of a
sacrificial meal in memory of the last supper of Jesus with his disciples.
Certain officers called presbyters, [21] or elders, were chosen to conduct
the services and instruct the converts. The chief presbyter received the
name of "overseer," or bishop. [22] Each church had also one or more
deacons, who visited the sick and relieved the wants of the poor. Every
Christian community thus formed a little brotherhood of earnest men and
women, united by common beliefs and common hopes.

[Illustration: CHRIST, THE GOOD SHEPHERD (Imperial Museum, Constantinople)
This quaint, rude figure, found in an early Christian tomb in Asia Minor,
dates probably from the beginning of the third century. It is the oldest
known statue of Christ. He wears the coarse garb of an Oriental peasant;
his countenance is gentle and thoughtful; on his broad shoulders rests a



The new religion from the start met popular disapproval. The early
Christians, who tried to keep themselves free from idolatry, were regarded
as very unsociable persons. They never appeared at public feasts and
entertainments. They would not join in the amusements of the circus or the
amphitheater. They refused to send their children to the schools. The
ordinary citizen could not understand such people. It is not surprising,
therefore, that they gained the evil name of "haters of mankind."


If the multitude despised the Christians, they sometimes feared them as
well. Strange stories circulated about the secret meetings of the
Christians, who at their sacrificial meal were declared to feast on
children. The Christians, too, were often looked upon as magicians who
caused all sorts of disasters. It was not difficult to excite the vicious
crowds of the larger cities to riots and disorders, in which many
followers of the new religion lost their lives.


Such outbursts of mob hatred were only occasional. There would have been
no organized, persistent attack, if the imperial government had not taken
a hand. Rome, which had treated so many other foreign faiths with careless
indifference or even with favor, which had tolerated the Jews and granted
to them special privileges of worship, made a deliberate effort to crush


Rome entered on the persecutions because it saw in Christianity that which
threatened its own existence. The Christians declined to support the state
religion; they even condemned it unsparingly as sinful and idolatrous. The
Christians, moreover, would not worship the _genius_, or guardian spirit
of the emperor, and would not burn incense before his statue, which stood
in every town. Such a refusal to take what was really an oath of
allegiance was regarded as an act of rebellion. These feelings of
hostility to the Christians were strengthened by their unwillingness to
serve in the army and to swear by the pagan gods in courts of law. In
short, the members of this new sect must have appeared very unruly
subjects who, if allowed to become numerous enough, would endanger the
security of the government.


As early as the beginning of the second century Roman officials began to
search out and punish Christians, wherever they were found. During the
third century the entire power of the imperial government was directed
against this outlawed sect. The persecution which began under Diocletian
was the last and most severe. With some interruptions it continued for
eight years. Only Gaul and Britain seem to have escaped its ravages. The
government began by burning the holy books of the Christians, by
destroying their churches, and by taking away their property. Members of
the hated faith lost their privileges as full Roman citizens. Then sterner
measures followed. The prisons were crowded with Christians. Those who
refused to recant and sacrifice to the emperor were thrown to wild animals
in the arena, stretched on the rack, or burned over a slow fire. Every
refinement of torture was practiced. Paganism, fighting for its existence,
left no means untried to root out a sect both despised and feared.


The Christians joyfully suffered for their religion. They welcomed the
torture and death which would gain for them a heavenly crown. Those who
perished were called martyrs, that is, "witnesses." Even now the festal
day of a martyr is the day of his death.

The catacombs of Rome are underground cemeteries in which the Christians
buried their dead. The bodies were laid in recesses in the walls of the
galleries or underneath the pavement. Several tiers of galleries (in one
instance as many as seven) lie one below the other. Their total length has
been estimated at no less than six hundred miles. The illustration shows a
small chamber, or cubiculum. The graves have been opened and the bodies
taken away.]



Diocletian's persecution, which continued for several years after his
abdication, came to an end in 311 A.D. In that year Galerius, the ruler in
the East, published an edict which permitted the Christians to rebuild
their churches and worship undisturbed. It remained for the emperor
Constantine to take the next significant step. In 313 A.D. Constantine and
his colleague, Licinius, issued the Edict of Milan, which proclaimed for
the first time in history the noble principle of religious toleration. It
gave absolute freedom to every man to choose and follow the religion which
he deemed best suited to his needs. This edict placed the Christian faith
on an equality with paganism.


The conversion of Constantine is one of the most important events in
ancient history. A Roman emperor, himself a god to the subjects of Rome,
became the worshiper of a crucified provincial of his empire. Constantine
favored the Christians throughput his reign. He surrounded himself with
Christian bishops, freed the clergy from taxation, and spent large sums in
building churches. One of his laws abolished the use of the cross as an
instrument of punishment. Another enactment required that magistrates,
city people, and artisans were to rest on Sunday. This was the first
"Sunday law." [23]

[Illustration: THE LABARUM
The sacred military standard of the early Christian Roman emperors. First
adopted by Constantine. It consisted of a staff or lance with a purple
banner on a cross-bar. The two Greek letters XP (CHR) make a monogram of
the word Christ (Greek _Christos_).]


Significant of the emperor's attitude toward Christianity was his action
in summoning all the bishops in the different provinces to a gathering at
Nicaea in Asia Minor. It was the first general council of the Church. The
principal work of the Council of Nicaea was the settlement of a great
dispute which had arisen over the nature of Christ. Some theologians
headed by Arius, a priest of Alexandria, maintained that Christ the Son,
having been created by God the Father, was necessarily inferior to him
Athanasius, another Alexandrian priest, opposed this view and held that
Christ was not a created being, but was in all ways equal to God. The
Council accepted the arguments of Athanasius, condemned Arius as a
heretic, and framed the Nicene Creed, which is still the accepted summary
of Christian doctrine. Though thrust out of the Church, Arianism lived to
flourish anew among the Germanic tribes, of which the majority were
converted to Christianity by Arian missionaries.

Erected at Rome in 315 A.D. to commemorate the victory of Constantine over
Maxentius. The monument consists of a central gateway and two smaller
arches flanked by detached columns in the Corinthian style. The arch is
decorated with four large statues in front of the upper story and also
with numerous sculptures in relief.]


The recognition given to Christianity by Constantine helped immensely to
spread the new faith. The emperor Theodosius, whose services to the church
won him the title of "the Great," made Christianity the state religion.
Sacrifices to the pagan gods were forbidden, the temples were closed, and
their property was taken away. Those strongholds of the old paganism, the
Delphic oracle, the Olympian games, and the Eleusinian mysteries, were
abolished. Even the private worship of the household Lares and Penates
[24] was prohibited. Though paganism lingered for a century or more in the
country districts, it became extinct as a state religion by the end of the
fourth century.




The new religion certainly helped to soften and refine manners by the
stress which it laid upon such "Christian" virtues as humility,
tenderness, and gentleness. By dwelling on the sanctity of human life,
Christianity did its best to repress the very common practice of suicide
as well as the frightful evil of infanticide. [25] It set its face sternly
against the obscenities of the theater and the cruelties of the
gladiatorial shows. [26] In these and other respects Christianity had much
to do with the improvement of ancient morals.


Perhaps even more original contributions of Christianity to civilization
lay in its social teachings. The belief in the fatherhood of God implied a
corresponding belief in the brotherhood of man. This doctrine of the
equality of men had been expressed before by ancient philosophers, but
Christianity translated the precept into practice. In this way it helped
to improve the condition of slaves and, by favoring emancipation, even
tended to decrease slavery. [27] Christianity also laid much emphasis on
the virtue of charity and the duty of supporting all institutions which
aimed to relieve the lot of the poor, the sick, and the downtrodden.


At the close of the fourth century the Germanic tribes living nearest the
frontiers had been visited by missionaries and had become converts to
Christianity. The fact that both Romans and Germans were Christians tended
to lessen the terrors of the invasions and to bring about a peaceful
fusion of the conquerors and the conquered.


1. On an outline map indicate the territories of the Roman Empire and
their division, 395 A D.

2. What is the date of the accession of the emperor Commodus? of the
accession of Diocletian? of the death of Theodosius? of the Edict of
Milan? of the Council of Nicaea?

3. What elements of weakness in the imperial system had been disclosed
during the century 180-284 A.D.?

4. Explain Diocletian's plan of "partnership emperors."

5. Define the terms _absolutism_ and _centralization_. Give an example of
a European country under a centralized administration; of a European
country under an absolute government.

6. What are the advantages of local self-government over a centralized

7. "The emperor of the first century was a _Prince_, that is, 'first
citizen'; the emperor of the fourth century was a _Sultan_." Comment on
this statement.

8. What arguments might have been made for and against the removal of the
capital to Constantinople?

9. Enumerate the causes of the decline of population in imperial times.

10. Show how an unwise system of taxation may work great economic injury.

11. Give reasons for the decline of Greek and Roman paganism.

12. Why should Mithraism have proved "the most formidable foe which
Christianity had to overcome"?

13. Were any of the ancient religions missionary faiths?

14. When and where was Jesus born? Who was king of Judea at the time? Were
the Jews independent of Rome during the lifetime of Jesus?

15. Locate on the map, facing page 230, the three divisions of Palestine
at the time of Christ.

16. To what cities of Asia Minor did Paul write his epistles, or letters?
To what other cities in the Roman Empire?

17. What was the original meaning of the words "presbyter," "bishop," and

18. What is meant by calling the Church an episcopal organization?

19. How can you explain the persecution of the Christians by an emperor so
great and good as Marcus Aurelius?

20. What is the meaning of the word "martyr"?

21. "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." Explain.

22. Describe the _Labarum_ (illustration, page 235).

23. What reasons suggest themselves as helping to explain the conversion
of the civilized world to Christianity?


[1] See page 200.

[2] See pages 184, 194.

[3] Vopiscus, _Saturninus_, 10.

[4] The number and arrangement of these divisions varied somewhat during
the fourth century. See the map, between pages 222-223, for the system as
it existed about 395 A.D.

[5] See page 186.

[6] See page 88.

[7] See the map, page 340.

[8] Until the capture of the city by the Ottoman Turks in 1453 A.D.

[9] See pages 200, 219.

[10] See page 77.

[11] See page 196.

[12] See page 201.

[13] See the map, page 107.

[14] Isocrates, _Panegyricus_, 29.

[15] See page 54.

[16] _Soli Invicto Mithrae._ An interesting survival of Mithra worship is
the date of our festival of Christmas. The 25th of December was the day of
the great annual celebration in memory of the Persian deity. In 274 A.D.
the emperor Aurelian raised a gorgeous temple to the sun god in the Campus
Martius, dedicating it on the 25th of December, "the birthday of the
Unconquerable Sun." After the triumph of Christianity the day was still
honored, but henceforth as the anniversary of the birth of Christ.

[17] The exact date of the crucifixion is unknown. It took place during
the reign of Tiberius, when Pontius Pilatus was procurator of Judea.

[18] Tertullian, _Apology_, 37.

[19] See page 199, note 1.

[20] The meeting was called _ecclesia_ from the Greek word for "popular
assembly." Hence comes our word "ecclesiastical."

[21] Whence the word "priest."

[22] The word "bishop" comes from the Greek _episkopos_ and means,
literally, an "overseer."

[23] It is highly doubtful, however, whether this legislation had any
reference to Christianity. More probably, Constantine was only adding the
day of the Sun, the worship of which was then firmly established in the
empire (see page 229, note 1) to the other holy days of the Roman

[24] See page 146.

[25] See page 253.

[26] See page 267.

[27] See page 270.





The Germans were an Indo-European people, as were their neighbors, the
Celts of Gaul and Britain. They had lived for many centuries in the wild
districts of central Europe north of the Alps and beyond the Danube and
the Rhine. This home land of the Germans in ancient times was cheerless
and unhealthy. Dense forests or extensive marshes covered the ground. The
atmosphere was heavy and humid; in summer clouds and mists brooded over
the country; and in winter it was covered with snow and ice. In such a
region everything was opposed to civilization. Hence the Germans, though a
gifted race, had not advanced as rapidly as the Greek and Italian peoples.


Our earliest notice of the Germans is found in the _Commentaries_ by
Julius Caesar, who twice invaded their country. About a century and a half
later the Roman historian, Tacitus, wrote a little book called Germany,
which gives an account of the people as they were before coming under the
influence of Rome and Christianity. Tacitus describes the Germans as
barbarians with many of the usual marks of barbarism. He speaks of their
giant size, their fierce, blue eyes, and their blonde or ruddy hair. These
physical traits made them seem especially terrible to the smaller and
darker Romans. He mentions their love of warfare, the fury of their onset
in battle, and the contempt which they had for wounds and even death
itself. When not fighting, they passed much of their time in the chase,
and still more time in sleep and gluttonous feasts. They were hard
drinkers, too, and so passionately fond of gambling that, when a man's
wealth was gone, he would even stake his liberty on a single game. In some
of these respects the Germans resembled our own Indian tribes.


On the other hand, the Germans had certain attractive qualities not always
found even among civilized peoples. They were hospitable to the stranger,
they respected their sworn word, they loved liberty and hated restraint.
Their chiefs, we are told, ruled rather by persuasion than by authority.
Above all, the Germans had a pure family life. "Almost alone among
barbarians," writes Tacitus, "they are content with one wife. No one in
Germany laughs at vice, nor is it the fashion to corrupt and be corrupted.
Good habits are here more effectual than good laws elsewhere." [2] The
Germans, then, were strong and brave, hardy, chaste, and free.


The Germans, during the three centuries between the time of Tacitus and
the beginning of the invasions, had advanced somewhat in civilization.
They were learning to live in towns instead of in rude villages, to read
and write, to make better weapons and clothes, to use money, and to enjoy
many Roman luxuries, such as wine, spices, and ornaments. They were
likewise uniting in great confederations of tribes, ruled by kings who
were able to lead them in migrations to other lands.

[Illustration: RUNIC ALPHABET
The word "rune" comes from a Gothic word meaning a secret thing, a
mystery. To the primitive Germans it seemed a mysterious thing that
letters could be used to express thought. The art of writing with an
alphabet appears to have been introduced into Germanic Europe during the
first centuries of our era. Most Runic inscriptions have been found in
Denmark and the Scandinavian peninsula.]


During this same period, also, the Germans increased rapidly in numbers.
Consequently it was a difficult matter for them to live by hunting and
fishing, or by such rude agriculture as their country allowed. They could
find additional land only in the fertile and well cultivated territories
of the Romans. It was this hunger for land, together with the love of
fighting and the desire for booty and adventure, which led to their


The German inroads were neither sudden, nor unexpected, nor new. Since the
days of Marius and of Julius Caesar not a century had passed without
witnessing some dangerous movement of the northern barbarians. Until the
close of the fourth century Rome had always held their swarming hordes at
bay. Nor were the invasions which at length destroyed the empire much more
formidable than those which had been repulsed many times before. Rome fell
because she could no longer resist with her earlier power. If the
barbarians were not growing stronger, the Romans themselves were steadily
growing weaker. The form of the empire was still the same, but it had lost
its vigor and its vitality. [3]



North of the Danube lived, near the close of the fourth century, a German
people called Visigoths, or West Goths. Their kinsmen, the Ostrogoths, or
East Goths, held the land north of the Black Sea between the Danube and
the Don. These two nations had been among the most dangerous enemies of
Rome. In the third century they made so many expeditions against the
eastern territories of the empire that Aurelian at last surrendered to the
Visigoths the great province of Dacia. [4] The barbarians now came in
contact with Roman civilization and began to lead more settled lives. Some
of them even accepted Christianity from Bishop Ulfilas, who translated the
Bible into the Gothic tongue.


The peaceful fusion of Goth and Roman might have gone on indefinitely but
for the sudden appearance in Europe of the Huns. They were a nomadic
people from central Asia. Entering Europe north of the Caspian Sea, the
Huns quickly subdued the Ostrogoths and compelled them to unite in an
attack upon their German kinsmen. Then the entire nation of Visigoths
crowded the banks of the Danube and begged the Roman authorities to allow
them to cross that river and place its broad waters between them and their
terrible foes. In an evil hour for Rome their prayer was granted. At
length two hundred thousand Gothic warriors, with their wives and
children, found a home on Roman soil.


The settlement of such a host of barbarians within the frontier of the
empire was in itself a dangerous thing. The danger was increased by the
ill treatment which the immigrants received. The Roman officials robbed
them of their possessions, withheld the promised supplies of food, and
even tried to murder their leaders at a banquet. Finally, the Germans
broke out in open revolt. The emperor Valens misjudged their strength and
rashly gave them battle near Adrianople in Thrace. The once invincible
legions fell an easy prey to their foes, and the emperor himself perished.

A manuscript of Ulfilas's translation of the Bible forms one of the
treasures of the library of the university of Upsala, Sweden. It is
beautifully written in letters of gold and silver on parchment of a rich
purple dye. In making his version Ulfilas, who was himself a converted
Visigoth, generally indicated the Gothic sounds by means of the Greek
alphabet. He added, however, a few signs from the Runic alphabet, with
which the Germans were familiar.]


The defeat at Adrianople is considered one of the few really decisive
battles in the world's history. It showed the barbarians that they could
face the Romans in open fight and beat them. And it broke, once for all,
the Danube barrier. Swarms of fighting men, Ostrogoths as well as
Visigoths, overran the provinces south of the Danube. The great ruler,
Theodosius, [5] saved the empire for a time by granting lands to the
Germans and by enrolling them in the army under the high-sounding title of
"allies." Until his death the Goths remained quiet--but it was only the
lull before the storm.


Theodosius, "the friend of the Goths," died in 395 A.D., leaving the
defense of the Roman world to his weakling sons, Arcadius and Honorius. In
the same year the Visigoths raised one of their young nobles, named
Alaric, upon a shield and with joyful shouts acclaimed him as their king.
The Visigothic leader despised the service of Rome. His people, he
thought, should be masters, not servants. Alaric determined to lead them
into the very heart of the empire, where they might find fertile lands and
settle once for all.


Alaric at first fixed his attention on Constantinople. Realizing, at
length, how hopeless would be the siege of that great city, he turned
toward the west and descended upon Greece. The Germans marched unopposed
through the pass of Thermopylae and devastated central Greece, as the
Persians had done nearly nine centuries before. [6] Then the barbarians
entered the Peloponnesus, but were soon driven out by Stilicho, a German
chieftain who had risen to the command of the army of Honorius. Alaric
gave up Greece only to invade Italy. Before long the Goths crossed the
Julian Alps and entered the rich and defenseless valley of the Po. To meet
the crisis the legions were hastily called in, even from the distant
frontiers. Stilicho formed them into a powerful army, beat back the enemy,
and captured the Visigothic camp, filled with the spoil of Greek cities.
In the eyes of the Romans Stilicho seemed a second Marius, who had arisen
in an hour of peril to save Italy from its barbarian foes. [7]


Alaric and his Goths had been repulsed; they had not been destroyed.
Beyond the Alps they were regaining their shattered strength and biding
their time. Their opportunity came soon enough, when Honorius caused
Stilicho to be put to death on a charge of plotting to seize the throne.
The accusation may have been true, but in killing Stilicho the emperor had
cut off his right hand with his left. Now that Stilicho was out of the
way, Alaric no longer feared to descend again on Italy. The Goths advanced
rapidly southward past Ravenna, where Honorius had shut himself up in
terror, and made straight for Rome. In 410 A.D., just eight hundred years
after the sack of the city by the Gauls, [8] Rome found the Germans within
her gates.


The city for three days and nights was given up to pillage. Alaric, who
was a Christian, ordered his followers to respect the churches and their
property and to refrain from bloodshed. Though the city did not greatly
suffer, the moral effect of the disaster was immense. Rome the eternal,
the unconquerable, she who had taken captive all the world, was now
herself a captive. The pagans saw in this calamity the vengeance of the
ancient deities, who had been dishonored and driven from their shrines.
The Christians believed that God had sent a judgment on the Romans to
punish them for their sins. In either case the spell of Rome was forever


From Rome Alaric led his hosts, laden with plunder, into southern Italy.
He may have intended to cross the Mediterranean and bring Africa under his
rule. The plan was never carried out, for the youthful chieftain died
suddenly, a victim to the Italian fever. After Alaric's death, the
barbarians made their way northward through Italy and settled in southern
Gaul and Spain. In these lands they founded an independent Visigothic
kingdom, the first to be created on Roman soil.

[Illustration: Map, THE GERMANIC MIGRATIONS to 476 A.D.]


The possessions of the Visigoths in Gaul were seized by their neighbors,
the Franks, in less than a century; [9] but the Gothic kingdom in Spain
had three hundred years of prosperous life. [10] The barbarian rulers
sought to preserve the institutions of Rome and to respect the rights of
their Roman subjects. Conquerors and conquered gradually blended into one
people, out of whom have grown the Spaniards of modern times.



After the departure of the Visigoths Rome and Italy remained undisturbed
for nearly forty years. The western provinces were not so fortunate. At
the time of Alaric's first attack on Italy the legions along the Rhine had
been withdrawn to meet him, leaving the frontier unguarded. In 406 A.D.,
four years before Alaric's sack of Rome, a vast company of Germans crossed
the Rhine and swept almost unopposed through Gaul. Some of these peoples
succeeded in establishing kingdoms for themselves on the ruins of the


The Burgundians settled on the upper Rhine and in the fertile valley of
the Rhone, in southeastern Gaul. Alter less than a century of independence
they were conquered by the Franks. [11] Their name, however, survives in
modern Burgundy.


The Vandals settled first in Spain. The territory now called Andalusia
still preserves the memory of these barbarians. After the Visigothic
invasion of Spain the Vandals passed over to North Africa. They made
themselves masters of Carthage and soon conquered all the Roman province
of Africa. Their kingdom here lasted about one hundred years. [12]


While the Visigoths were finding a home in the districts north and south
of the Pyrenees, the Burgundians in the Rhone valley, and the Vandals in
Africa, still another Germanic people began to spread over northern Gaul.
They were the Franks, who had long held lands on both sides of the lower
Rhine. The Franks, unlike the other Germans, were not of a roving
disposition. They contented themselves with a gradual advance into Roman
territory. It was not until near the close of the fifth century that they
overthrew the Roman power in northern Gaul and began to form the Frankish
kingdom, out of which modern France has grown.


The troubled years of the fifth century saw also the beginning of the
Germanic conquest of Britain. The withdrawal of the legions from that
island left it defenseless, for the Celtic inhabitants were too weak to
defend themselves. Bands of savage Picts from Scotland swarmed over
Hadrian's Wall, attacking the Britons in the rear. Ireland sent forth the
no less savage Scots. The eastern coasts, at the same time, were
constantly exposed to raids by German pirates. The Britons, in their
extremity, adopted the old Roman practice of getting the barbarians to
fight for them. Bands of Jutes were invited over from Denmark in 449 A.D.
The Jutes forced back the Picts and then settled in Britain as conquerors.
Fresh swarms of invaders followed them, chiefly Angles from what is now
Schleswig-Holstein and Saxons from the neighborhood of the rivers Elbe and
Weser in northern Germany. The invaders subdued nearly all that part of
Britain that Rome had previously conquered. In this way the Angles and
Saxons became ancestors of the English people, and Engleland became
England. [13]


By the middle of the fifth century the larger part of the Roman Empire in
the West had come under barbarian control. The Germans ruled in Africa,
Spain, Britain, and parts of Gaul. But now the new Germanic kingdoms,
together with what remained of the old empire, were threatened by a common
foe--the terrible Huns.



We know very little about the Huns, except that they were not related to
the Germans or to any other European people. Some scholars believe them to
have belonged to the Mongolian race. But the Huns, to the excited
imagination of Roman writers, were demons rather than men. Their olive
skins, little, turned-up noses, and black, beady eyes must have given them
a very frightful appearance. They spent most of their time on horseback,
sweeping over the country like a whirlwind and leaving destruction and
death in their wake.


The Huns did not become dangerous to Rome for more than half a century
after their first appearance in Europe. [14] During this time they moved
into the Danube region and settled in the lands now known as Austria and
Hungary. At last the Huns found a national leader in Attila, "a man born
into the world to agitate the nations, the fear of all lands," [15] one
whose boast it was that the grass never grew again where his horse's hoofs
had trod. He quickly built up a great military power obeyed by many
barbarous nations from the Caspian to the Rhine.


Attila, from his capital on the Danube, could threaten both the East and
the West. The emperors at Constantinople bought him off with lavish gifts,
and so the robber-ruler turned to the western provinces for his prey. In
451 A.D. he led his motley host, said to number half a million men, across
the Rhine. Many a noble municipality with its still active Roman life was
visited by the Huns with fire and sword. Paris, it is worthy of note,
escaped destruction. That now famous city was then only a little village
on an island in the Seine.


In this hour of danger Romans and Germans gave up quarreling and united
against the common foe. Visigoths under their native king hastened from
Spain; Burgundians and Franks joined their ranks; to these forces a German
general, named Aetius, added the last Roman army in the West. Opposed to
them Attila had his Huns, the conquered Ostrogoths, and many other
barbarian peoples. The battle of Chalons has well been called a struggle
of the nations. It was one of the fiercest conflicts recorded in history.
On both sides thousands perished, but so many more of Attila's men fell
that he dared not risk a fresh encounter on the following day. He drew his
shattered forces together and retreated beyond the Rhine.


In spite of this setback Attila did not abandon the hope of conquest. The
next year he led his still formidable army over the Julian Alps and burned
or plundered many towns of northern Italy. A few trembling fugitives
sought shelter on the islands at the head of the Adriatic. Out of their
rude huts grew up in the Middle Ages splendid and famous Venice, a city
that in later centuries was to help defend Europe against those kinsmen of
the Huns, the Turks.


The fiery Hun did not long survive this Italian expedition. Within a year
he was dead, dying suddenly, it was said, in a drunken sleep. The great
confederacy which he had formed broke up after his death. The German
subjects gained their freedom, and the Huns themselves either withdrew to
their Asiatic wilds or mingled with the peoples they had conquered. Europe
breathed again; the nightmare was over.



Rome escaped a visitation by the Huns only to fall a victim, three years
later, to the Vandals. After the capture of Carthage,[16] these barbarians
made that city the seat of a pirate empire. Putting out in their long,
light vessels, they swept the seas and raided many a populous city on the
Mediterranean coast. So terrible were their inroads that the word
"vandalism" has come to mean the wanton destruction of property.


In 455 A.D. the ships of the Vandals, led by their king, Gaiseric,
appeared at the mouth of the Tiber. The Romans could offer no resistance.
Only the noble bishop Leo went out with his clergy to meet the invader and
intercede for the city. Gaiseric promised to spare the lives of the
inhabitants and not to destroy the public buildings. These were the best
terms he would grant. The Vandals spent fourteen days stripping Rome of
her wealth. Besides shiploads of booty the Vandals took away thousands of
Romans as slaves, including the widow and two daughters of an emperor.


After the Vandal sack of Rome the imperial throne became the mere
plaything of the army and its leaders. A German commander, named Ricimer,
set up and deposed four puppet emperors within five years. He was, in
fact, the real ruler of Italy at this time. After his death Orestes,
another German general, went a step beyond Ricimer's policy and placed his
own son on the throne of the Caesars. By a curious coincidence, this lad
bore the name of Romulus, legendary founder of Rome, and the nickname of
Augustulus ("the little Augustus"). The boy emperor reigned less than a
year. The German troops clamored for a third of the lands of Italy and,
when their demand was refused, proclaimed Odoacer king. The poor little
emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was sent to a villa near Naples, where he
disappears from history.

[Illustration: Map, EUROPE at the Deposition of Romulus Augustulus 476


There was now no emperor in the West. To the men of that time it seemed
that East and West had been once more joined under a single ruler, as in
the days of Constantine. The emperors who reigned at Constantinople did
not relinquish their claims to be regarded as the rightful sovereigns in
Italy and Rome. Nevertheless, as an actual fact, Roman rule in the West
was now all but extinct. Odoacer, the head of the barbarians in Italy,
ruled a kingdom as independent as that of the Vandals in Africa or that of
the Visigoths in Spain and Gaul. The date 476 A.D. may therefore be chosen
as marking, better than any other, the overthrow of the Roman Empire in
the West by the Germans.



Classical civilization suffered a great shock when the Germans descended
on the empire and from its provinces carved out their kingdoms. These
barbarians were rude in manners, were very ignorant, and had little taste
for anything except fighting and bodily enjoyments. They were unlike the
Romans in dress and habits of life. They lived under different laws, spoke
different languages, obeyed different rulers. Their invasions naturally
ushered in a long period of confusion and disorder, during which the new
race slowly raised itself to a level of culture somewhat approaching that
which the Greeks and the Romans had attained.


The Germans in many ways did injury to classical civilization. They
sometimes destroyed Roman cities and killed or enslaved the inhabitants.
Even when the invaders settled peaceably in the empire, they took
possession of the land and set up their own tribal governments in place of
the Roman. They allowed aqueducts, bridges, and roads to go without
repairs, and theaters, baths, and other public buildings to sink into
ruins. Having no appreciation of education, the Germans failed to keep up
the schools, universities, and libraries. Being devoted chiefly to
agriculture, they had no need for foreign wares or costly articles of
luxury, and hence they permitted industry and commerce to languish. In
short, large parts of western Europe, particularly Gaul, Spain, and
Britain, fell backward into a condition of ignorance, superstition, and
even barbarism.


But in closing our survey of the Germanic invasions we need to dwell on
the forces that made for progress, rather than on those that made for
decline. Classical civilization, we have already found reason to believe,
[17] had begun to decay long before the Germans broke up the empire. The
Germans came, as Christianity had come, only to hasten the process of
decay. Each of these influences, in turn, worked to build up the fabric of
a new society on the ruins of the old. First Christianity infused the
pagan world with its quickening spirit and gave a new religion to mankind.
Later followed the Germans, who accepted Christianity, who adopted much of
Graeco-Roman culture, and then contributed their fresh blood and youthful
minds and their own vigorous life.


1. On an outline map indicate the extent of Germany in the time of

2. Make a list of all the Germanic nations mentioned in this chapter, and
give a short account of each.

3 Give dates for the following: battle of Chalons; sack of Rome by Alaric;
battle of Adrianople; and end of the Roman Empire in the West.

4. What resemblances existed between the culture of the Germans and that
of the early Greeks?

5. Why did the Germans progress more slowly in civilization than the
Greeks and the Romans?

6. Comment on this statement: "The Germans had stolen their way into the
very citadel of the empire long before its distant outworks were stormed."

7. Why is modern civilization, unlike that of antiquity, in little danger
from barbarians?

8. Why has the battle of Adrianople been called "the Cannae of the fourth

9. Why has Alaric been styled "the Moses of the Visigoths"?

10. What is the origin of the geographical names Andalusia, Burgundy,
England, and France?

11. Why was Attila called the "scourge of God"?

12. Can you suggest a reason why some historians do not regard Chalons as
one of the world's decisive battles?

13. In what sense does the date, 476 A.D., mark the "fall" of the Roman


[1] Webster, _Readings in Ancient History_, chapter xxiii, "The Germans as
Described by Tacitus."

[2] Tacitus, _Germania_, 19.

[3] See pages 224-226.

[4] See page 219.

[5] See page 223.

[6] See page 98.

[7] See page 178.

[8] See page 153.

[9] See page 303.

[10] See page 378.

[11] See page 303.

[12] See page 330.

[13] The invasion of Britain by the Anglo-Saxons was followed by the
migration across the Channel of large numbers of the defeated islanders.
The district in France where they settled is called after them, Brittany.

[14] See page 241.

[15] Jordanes, _De rebus Geticis_, 35.

[16] See page 225.

[17] See page 224.





The history of the Greeks and Romans ought not to be studied only in their
political development and the biographies of their great statesmen and
warriors. We must also know something of ancient literature, philosophy,
and art. Especially do we need to learn about the private life of the
classical peoples--their manners, customs, occupations, and amusements.
This life centered in the city.


A Greek or a Roman city usually grew up about a hill of refuge
(_acropolis, capitolium_), to which the people of the surrounding district
could flee in time of danger. The hill would be crowned with a fortress
and the temples of the gods. Not far away was the market place (_agora,
forum_), where the people gathered to conduct their business and to enjoy
social intercourse. About the citadel and market place were grouped the
narrow streets and low houses of the town.


The largest and most beautiful buildings in an ancient city were always
the temples, colonnades, and other public structures. The houses of
private individuals, for the most part, had few pretensions to beauty.
They were insignificant in appearance and were often built with only one
story. From a distance, however, their whitewashed walls and red-tiled
roofs, shining brightly under the warm sun, must have made an attractive


To the free-born inhabitant of Athens or of Rome his city was at once his
country and his church, his club and his home. He shared in its
government; he took part in the stately ceremonies that honored its patron
god; in the city he could indulge his taste for talking and for politics;
here he found both safety and society. No wonder that an Athenian or a
Roman learned, from early childhood, to love his city with passionate



The coming of a child, to parents in antiquity as to parents now, was
usually a very happy event. Especially welcome was the birth of a son. The
father felt assured that through the boy his old age would be cared for
and that the family name and the worship of the family ancestors would be
kept up after his own death. "Male children," said an ancient poet, "are
the pillars of the house." [2] The city, as well, had an interest in the
matter, for a male child meant another citizen able to take the father's
place in the army and the public assembly. To have no children was
regarded as one of the greatest calamities that could befall a Greek or a


The ancient attitude toward children was in one respect very unlike our
own. The law allowed a father to do whatever he pleased with a newly born
child. If he was very poor, or if his child was deformed, he could expose
it in some desert spot, where it soon died. An infant was sometimes placed
secretly in a temple, where possibly some kind-hearted person might rescue
it. The child, in this case, became the slave of its adopter. This custom
of exposure, an inheritance from prehistoric savagery, tended to grow less
common with advancing culture. The complete abolition of infanticide was
due to the spread of Christian teachings about the sacredness of human
life. [3]


A Greek boy generally had but one name. The favorite name for the eldest
son was that of his paternal grandfather. A father, however, might give
him his own name or that of an intimate friend. The Romans at first seem
to have used only the one name, then two were given; and later we have the
familiar three-fold name, representing the individual, the clan, and the
family. [4]


Greek education consisted of three main branches, known as gymnastics,
music, and grammar. By gymnastics the Greeks meant the physical training
in the palestra, an open stretch of ground on the outskirts of the city.
Here a private teacher gave instruction in the various athletic sports
which were so popular at the national games. The training in music was
intended to improve the moral nature of young men and to fit them for
pleasant social intercourse. They were taught to play a stringed
instrument, called the lyre, and at the same time to sing to their own
accompaniment. Grammar, the third branch of education, included
instruction in writing and the reading of the national literature. After a
boy had learned to write and to read, the schoolmaster took up with him
the works of the epic poets, especially Homer, besides _Aesop's Fables_
and other popular compositions. The student learned by heart much of the
poetry and at so early an age that he always remembered it. Not a few
Athenians, it is said, could recite the entire _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_.

[Illustration: AN ATHENIAN SCHOOL (Royal Museum, Berlin)
A painting by Duris on a drinking-cup, or cylix. The picture is divided by
the two handles. In the upper half, beginning at the left: a youth playing
the double flute as a lesson to the boy before him; a teacher holding a
tablet and stylus and correcting a composition; a slave (_paedagogus_),
who accompanied the children to and from school. In the lower half: a
master teaching his pupil to play the lyre; a teacher holding a half-
opened roll, listening to a recitation by the student before him; a
bearded _paedagogus_. The inner picture, badly damaged, represents a youth
in a bath.]


A Roman boy began his school days at about the age of seven. He learned to
read, to write with a stylus on wax tablets, and to cipher by means of the
reckoning board, or abacus. He received a little instruction in singing
and memorized all sorts of proverbs and maxims, besides the laws of the
Twelve Tables. [5] His studying went on under the watchful eyes of a harsh
schoolmaster, who did not hesitate to use the rod. After Rome began to
come into close contact with Greece, the curriculum was enlarged by the
study of literature. The Romans were the first people who made the
learning of a foreign tongue an essential part of education. Schools now
arose in which the Greek language and literature formed the chief subject
of instruction. As Latin literature came into being, its productions,
especially the orations of Cicero and the poems of Vergil and Horace, were
also used as texts for study.

Wall painting, Herculaneum.]

Relief on a sarcophagus. The papyrus roll was sometimes very long. The
entire _Iliad_ or _Odyssey_ might be contained in a single manuscript
measuring one hundred and fifty feet in length. In the third century A.D.
the unwieldy roll began to give way to the tablet, composed of a number of
leaves held together by a ring. About this time, also, the use of vellum,
or parchment made of sheepskin, became common.]


Persons of wealth or noble birth might follow their school training by a
university course at a Greek city, such as Athens, Alexandria, or Rhodes.
Here the Roman youth would listen to lectures on philosophy, delivered by
the deep thinkers whom Greece still produced, and would profit by the
treasures of art and science preserved in these ancient capitals. Many
famous Romans thus passed several years abroad in graduate study. During
the imperial age, as we have already seen, [6] schools of grammar and
rhetoric arose in the West, particularly in Gaul and Spain, and attracted
students from all parts of the empire.



A young man in Athens or in Rome did not, as a rule, marry immediately on
coming of age. He might remain a bachelor for several years, sometimes
till he was thirty or over. The young man's father had most to do with the
selection of a wife. He tried to secure for his son some daughter of a
friend who possessed rank and property equal to his own. The parents of
the two parties would then enter into a contract which, among other
things, usually stated how large a dowry the bride's father was to settle
on his daughter. An engagement was usually very little a matter of romance
and very much a matter of business.


The wedding customs of the Greeks and Romans presented many likenesses.
Marriage, among both peoples, was a religious ceremony. On the appointed
day the principals and their guests, dressed in holiday attire, met at the
house of the bride. In the case of a Roman wedding the auspices [7] were
then taken, and the words of the nuptial contract were pronounced in the
presence of witnesses. After a solemn sacrifice to the gods of marriage,
the guests partook of the wedding banquet. When night came on, the husband
brought his wife to her new abode, escorted by a procession of
torchbearers, musicians, and friends, who sang the happy wedding song.


An Athenian wife, during her younger years, always remained more or less a
prisoner. She could not go out except by permission. She took no part in
the banquets and entertainments which her husband gave. She lived a life
of confinement in that quarter of the house assigned to the women for
their special abode. Married women at Rome enjoyed a far more honorable
position. Although early custom placed the wife, together with her
children, in the power of the husband, [8] still she possessed many
privileges. She did not remain all the time at home, but mingled freely in
society. She was the friend and confidante of her husband, as well as his
housekeeper. During the great days of Roman history the women showed
themselves virtuous and dignified, loving wives and excellent companions.



There were no great differences between the dress of the two classical
peoples. Both wore the long, loosely flowing robes that contrast so
sharply with our tight-fitting garments. [9] Athenian male attire
consisted of but two articles, the tunic and the mantle. The tunic was an
undergarment of wool or linen, without sleeves. Over this was thrown a
large woolen mantle, so wrapped about the figure as to leave free only the
right shoulder and head. In the house a man wore only his tunic; out of
doors and on the street he usually wore the mantle over it. Very similar
to the two main articles of Greek clothing were the Roman _tunica_ and
_toga_. [10]


On a journey or out in the country broad-brimmed hats were used to shield
the head from the sun. In rainy weather the mantle, pulled up over the
head, furnished protection. Sandals, merely flat soles of wood or leather
fastened by thongs, were worn indoors, but even these were laid aside at a
dinner party. Outside the house leather shoes of various shapes and colors
were used. They cannot have been very comfortable, since stockings were
not known in antiquity.


The ancient house lay close to the street line. The exterior was plain and
simple to an extreme. The owner was satisfied if his mansion shut out the
noise and dust of the highway. He built it, therefore, round one or more
open courts, which took the place of windows supplying light and air.
Except for the doorway the front of the house presented a bare, blank
surface, only relieved by narrow slits or lattices in the wall of the
upper story. The street side of the house wall received a coating of
whitewash or of fine marble stucco. The roof of the house was covered with
clay tiles. This style of domestic architecture is still common in eastern

Notice the large area of blank wall both on the front and on the side. The
front windows are very small and evidently of less importance for
admitting light than the openings of the two _atria_. At the back is seen
the large, well-lighted peristyle.]

The view shows the _atrium_ with the basin for rainwater, in the center
the _tabinum_ with its wall paintings, and the peristyle at the rear.]


In contrast with its unpretentious exterior a classical dwelling indoors
had a most attractive appearance. We cannot exactly determine just what
were the arrangements of a Greek interior. But the better class of Roman
houses, such as some of those excavated at Pompeii, [11] followed Greek
designs in many respects. The Pompeian remains, therefore, will give some
idea of the sort of residence occupied by a well-to-do citizen of Athens
or Rome.



The visitor at one of these ancient houses first entered a small
vestibule, from which a narrow passage led to the heavy oaken door. A dog
was sometimes kept chained in this hallway; in Pompeii there is a picture
of one worked in mosaic on the floor with the warning beneath it, "Beware
of the dog." Having made known his presence by using the knocker, the
guest was ushered into the reception room, or _atrium_. This was a large
apartment covered with a roof, except for a hole in the center admitting
light and air. A marble basin directly underneath caught the rain water
which came through the opening. The _atrium_ represents the single room of
the primitive Roman house without windows or chimney. [12]


A corridor from the _atrium_ led into the _peristyle_, the second of the
two main sections of a Roman house. It was a spacious court, open to the
sky and inclosed by a colonnade or portico. This delightful spot, rather
than the formal _atrium_, served as the center of family life. About it
were grouped the bedchambers, bathrooms, dining rooms, kitchen, and other
apartments of a comfortable mansion. Still other rooms occupied the upper
stories of the dwelling.


The ancient Athenian was no sluggard. At sunrise, or even before, he rose
from his couch, washed his face and hands, put on his scanty garments, and
was soon ready for the street. Before leaving the house, he broke his fast
with a meal as simple as the European "rolls and coffee"--in this case
merely a few mouthfuls of bread dipped in wine. After breakfast he might
call on his friends or perhaps ride into the country and visit his
estates. About ten o'clock (which the Athenians called "full market"), he
would be pretty sure to find his way to the Agora. The shops at this time
were crowded with purchasers, and every sociable citizen of Athens was to
be found in them or in the neighboring colonnades which lined the market

House of the Vettii Pompeii. The peristyle, excavated in 1894-1895 A.D.
has been carefully restored. The garden, fountains, tables, and marble
colonnades are all modern]


The public resorts were deserted at noon, when the Athenian returned home
to enjoy a light meal and a rest during the heat. As the day grew cooler,
men again went out and visited a gymnasium, such as the Lyceum or the
Academy, in the city suburbs. [13] Here were grounds for running,
wrestling, discus-throwing, and other sports, as well as rooms for bathing
and anointing. While the younger men busied themselves in such active
exercises, those of maturer years might be content with less vigorous
games or with conversation on political or philosophical themes.


The principal meal of the day came about sunset. The master of the house,
if he had no guests, shared the repast with his wife and children. For a
man of moderate means the ordinary fare was very much what it is now in
Greece--bread, olives, figs, cheese, and a little meat as an occasional
luxury. At the end of the meal the diners refreshed themselves with wine
mixed with water. The Greeks appear to have been usually as temperate in
their drink as they were frugal in their food. The remainder of the
evening would be devoted to conversation and music and possibly a little
reading. As a rule the Athenian went early to bed.

[Illustration: A GREEK BANQUET
From a vase painting by Duns.]


A Roman of the higher class, who lived in late republican or early
imperial times, passed through much the same daily routine as an Athenian
citizen in the days of Pericles. He rose at an early hour and after a
light breakfast dispatched his private business with the help of his
steward and manager. He then took his place in the _atrium_ to meet the
crowd of poor dependents who came to pay their respects to their patron
and to receive their usual morning alms--either food or sufficient money
to buy a modest dinner. Having greeted his visitors and perhaps helped
them in legal or business matters, the noble entered his litter and was
carried down to the Forum. Here he might attend the law courts to plead a
case for himself or for his clients. If he were a member of the Senate, he
would take part in the deliberations of that body. At eleven o'clock, when
the ordinary duties of the morning were over, he would return home to eat
his luncheon and enjoy the midday rest, or siesta. The practice of having
a nap in the heat of the day became so general that at noon the streets of
a Roman city had the same deserted appearance as at midnight.

[Illustration: A ROMAN LITTER
The litter consists of an ordinary couch with four posts and a pair of
poles. Curtains fastened to the rod above the canopy shielded the occupant
from observation.]


After an hour of refreshing sleep it was time for the regular exercise out
of doors in the Campus Martius or indoors at one of the large city baths.
Then came one of the chief pleasures of a Roman's existence--the daily
bath. It was taken ordinarily in one of the public bathing establishments,
or _thermae_, to be found in every Roman town. [14] A Roman bath was a
luxurious affair. After undressing, the bathers entered a warm anteroom
and sat for a time on benches, in order to perspire freely. This was a
precaution against the danger of passing too suddenly into the hot bath,
which was taken in a large tank of water sunk in the middle of the floor.
Then came an exhilarating cold plunge and anointing with perfumed oil.
Afterwards the bathers rested on the couches with which the resort was
supplied and passed the time in reading or conversation until the hour for


The late dinner, with the Romans as with the Greeks, formed the principal
meal of the day. It was usually a social function. The host and his guests
reclined on couches arranged about a table. The Romans borrowed from the
Greeks the custom of ending a banquet with a symposium, or drinking-bout.
The tables were cleared of dishes, and the guests were anointed with
perfumes and crowned with garlands. During the banquet and the symposium
it was customary for professional performers to entertain the guests with
music, dancing, pantomimes, and feats of jugglery.



The Athenians celebrated many religious festivals. One of the most
important was the Great Panathenaea, [15] held every fourth year in the
month of July. Athletic contests and poetical recitations, sacrifices,
feasts, and processions honored the goddess Athena, who presided over the
Athenian city. Even more interesting, perhaps, were the dramatic
performances held in midwinter and in spring, at the festivals of
Dionysus. The tragedies and comedies composed for these entertainments
took their place among the masterpieces of Greek literature.

The theater of Dionysus where dramatic exhibitions were held lay close to
the south eastern angle of the Acropolis. The audience at first sat upon
wooden benches rising tier after tier on the adjacent hillside. About the
middle of the fourth century B.C. these were replaced by the stone seats
which are still to be seen. Sixteen thousand people could be accommodated
in this open air theater.]


There is very little likeness between the ancient and the modern drama.
Greek plays were performed out of doors in the bright sunlight. Until late
Roman times it is unlikely that a raised stage existed. The three actors
and the members of the chorus appeared together in the dancing ring, or
orchestra. The performers were all men. Each actor might play several
parts. There was no elaborate scenery; the spectator had to rely chiefly
on his own imagination for the setting of the piece. The actors indulged
in few lively movements or gestures. They must have looked from a distance
like a group of majestic statues. All wore elaborate costumes, and tragic
actors, in addition, were made to appear larger than human with masks,
padding, and thick-soled boots, or buskins. The performances occupied the
three days of the Dionysiac festivals, beginning early in the morning and
lasting till night. All this time was necessary because they formed
contests for a prize which the people awarded to the poet and chorus whose
presentation was judged of highest excellence.

[Illustration: A DANCING GIRL
A Greek bronze statuette found in a sunken galley off the coast of Tunis.
The galley had been wrecked while on its way to Rome carrying a load of
art objects to decorate the villas of wealthy nobles. This statuette was
doubtless a life-like copy of some well-known entertainer. The dancer's
pose suggests the American "cakewalk" and her costume, the modern "hobble


Pantomimes formed the staple amusement of the Roman theater. In these
performances a single dancer, by movements and gestures, represented
mythological scenes and love stories. The actor took several characters in
succession and a chorus accompanied him with songs. There were also
"vaudeville" entertainments, with all manner of jugglers, ropedancers,
acrobats, and clowns, to amuse a people who found no pleasure in the
refined productions of the Greek stage.


Far more popular than even pantomime and vaudeville were the "games of the
circus." At Rome these were held chiefly in the Circus Maximus. Chariot
races formed the principal attraction of the circus. There were usually
four horses to a chariot, though sometimes the drivers showed their skill
by handling as many as six or seven horses. The contestants whirled seven
times around the low wall, or _spina_, which divided the race course. The
shortness of the stretches and the sharp turns about the _spina_ must have
prevented the attainment of great speed. A race, nevertheless, was a most
exciting sport. What we should call "fouling" was permitted and even
encouraged. The driver might turn his team against another or might
endeavor to upset a rival's car. It was a very tame contest that did not
have its accompaniment of broken chariots, fallen horses, and killed or
injured drivers.



The Circus Maximus was often used for a variety of animal shows. Fierce
wild beasts, brought from every quarter of the empire, were turned loose
to slaughter one another, or to tear to pieces condemned criminals. [16]
More popular still were the contests between savage animals and men. Such
amusements did something to satisfy the lust for blood in the Roman
populace--a lust which was more completely satisfied by the gladiatorial

[Illustration: GLADIATORS
From a stucco relief on the tomb of Scaurus, Pompeii. Beginning at the
left are two fully armed horsemen fighting with lances. Behind them are
two gladiators, one of whom is appealing to the people. Then follows a
combat in which the defeated party raises his hand in supplication for
mercy. The lower part of the relief represents fights with various wild


Exhibitions of gladiators were known in Italy long before they became
popular at Rome. The combats probably started from the savage practice of
sacrificing prisoners or slaves at the funeral of their master. Then the
custom arose of allowing the victims a chance for their lives by having
them fight one another, the conquerors being spared for future battles.
From this it was but a step to keeping trained slaves as gladiators.
During the imperial epoch the number of such exhibitions increased
greatly. The emperor Trajan, for example, to celebrate his victories over
the Dacians, [17] exhibited no less than ten thousand men within the space
of four months. The gladiators belonged to various classes, according to
the defensive armor they wore and the style of fighting they employed.
When a man was wounded and unable to continue the struggle, he might
appeal to the spectators. He lifted his finger to plead for release; if he
had fought well, the people indicated their willingness to spare him by
waving their handkerchiefs. If the spectators were in a cruel mood, they
turned down their thumbs as the signal for his deathblow. These hideous
exhibitions continued in different parts of the Roman Empire until the
fifth century of our era.


Gladiatorial combats, chariot races, and dramatic shows were free
performances. For the lower classes in the Roman city they became the
chief pleasure of life. The days of their celebration were public
holidays, which in the fourth century numbered no less than one hundred
and seventy-five. The once-sovereign people of Rome became a lazy,
worthless rabble, fed by the state and amused with the games. It was well
said by an ancient satirist that the Romans wanted only two things to make
them happy--"bread and the games of the circus." [18]



The private life of the Greeks and Romans, as described in the preceding
pages, would have been impossible without the existence of a large servile
class. Slaves did much of the heavy and disagreeable work in the ancient
world, thus allowing the free citizen to engage in more honorable
employment or to pass his days in dignified leisure.


The Greeks seem sometimes to have thought that only barbarians should be
degraded to the condition of servitude. Most Greek slaves, as a matter of
fact, were purchased from foreign countries. But after the Romans had
subdued the Mediterranean world, their captives included not only members
of inferior races, but also the cultivated inhabitants of Greece, Egypt,
and Asia Minor. We hear of slaves at Rome who served as clerks,
secretaries, librarians, actors, and musicians. Their education was often
superior to that of the coarse and brutal masters who owned them.


The number of slaves, though great enough in Athens and other Greek
cities, reached almost incredible figures during the later period of Roman
history. Every victorious battle swelled the troops of captives sent to
the slave markets at Rome. Ordinary slaves became as cheap as beasts of
burden are now. The Roman poet Horace tells us that at least ten slaves
were necessary for a gentleman in even moderate circumstances. Wealthy
individuals, given to excessive luxury, might number their city slaves by
the hundreds, besides many more on their country estates.


Slaves engaged in a great variety of occupations. They were domestic
servants, farm laborers, miners, artisans, factory hands, and even
shopkeepers. Household slaves at Rome were employed in every conceivable
way. Each part of a rich man's residence had its special staff of
servants. The possession of a fine troop of slaves, dressed in handsome
liveries, was a favorite method of showing one's wealth and luxury.


It is difficult for us to realize the attitude of ancient peoples toward
their slaves. They were regarded as part of the chattels of the house--as
on a level with domestic animals rather than human beings. Though Athenian
law forbade owners to kill their slaves or to treat them cruelly, it
permitted the corporal punishment of slaves for slight offenses. At Rome,
until the imperial epoch, [19] no restraints whatever existed upon the
master's power. A slave was part of his property with which he could do
exactly as he pleased. The terrible punishments, the beating with scourges
which followed the slightest misconduct or neglect of duty, the branding
with a hot iron which a runaway slave received, the fearful penalty of
crucifixion which followed an attempt upon the owner's life--all these
tortures show how hard was the lot of the bondman in pagan Rome.


A slave, under some circumstances, could gain his freedom. In Greece,
where many little states constantly at war bordered one another, a slave
could often run away to liberty. In a great empire like Rome, where no
boundary lines existed, this was usually impossible. Freedom, however, was
sometimes voluntarily granted. A master in his will might liberate his
favorite slave, as a reward for the faithful service of a lifetime. A more
common practice permitted the slave to keep a part of his earnings until
he had saved enough to purchase his freedom.

[Illustration: A SLAVE'S COLLAR
A runaway slave, if recaptured, was sometimes compelled to wear a metal
collar riveted about his neck. One of these collars, still preserved at
Rome, bears the inscription: _Servus sum dom(i)ni mei Scholastici v(iri)
sp(ectabueis). Tene me ne fugiam de domo._--"I am the slave of my master
Scholasticus, a gentleman of importance. Hold me, lest I flee from home."]


Slavery in Greece and Italy had existed from the earliest times. It never
was more flourishing than in the great age of classical history. Nor did
it pass away when the Roman world became Christian. The spread of
Christianity certainly helped to improve the lot of the slave and to
encourage his liberation. The Church, nevertheless, recognized slavery
from the beginning. Not until long after ancient civilization had perished
did the curse of slavery finally disappear from European lands. [20]



The literature of Greece begins with epic poetry. An epic may be defined
as a long narrative in verse, dealing with some large and noble theme. The
earliest epic poetry of the Greeks was inseparable from music. Wandering
minstrels sang at feasts in the palaces of kings and accompanied their
lays with the music of the clear-toned lyre. In time, as his verse reached
a more artistic character, the singer was able to give up the lyre and to
depend for effect solely on the poetic power of his narrative. Finally,
the scattered lays were combined into long poems. The most famous are the
_Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_, works which the Greeks attributed to Homer.


Several centuries after Homer the Greeks began to create a new form of
poetic expression--lyric poetry. In short poems, accompanied by the flute
or the lyre, they found a medium for the expression of personal feelings
which was not furnished by the long and cumbrous epic. The greatest lyric
poet was Pindar. We still possess forty-four of his odes, which were
written in honor of victorious athletes at the Olympian and other national
games. [22] Pindar's verses were so popular that he became, as it were,
the "poet laureate" of Greece. When Alexander the Great destroyed Thebes,
[23] the native town of Pindar, he spared that poet's birthplace from the
general ruin.

[Illustration: SOPHOCLES (Lateran Museum, Rome)
This marble statue is possibly a copy of the bronze original which the
Athenians set up in the theater of Dionysus. The feet and the box of
manuscript rolls are modern restorations.]


The three great masters of the tragic drama [24] lived and wrote in Athens
during the splendid half century between the Persian and the Peloponnesian
wars. Such was the fertility of their genius that they are said to have
written altogether nearly three hundred plays. Only thirty-two have come
down to us. Aeschylus, the first of the tragic poets, had fought at
Marathon and Salamis. One of his works, the _Persians_, is a magnificent
song of triumph for the victory of Hellas. Sophocles, while yet a young
man, gained the prize in a dramatic contest with Aeschylus. His plays mark
the perfection of Greek tragedy. After the death of Sophocles the
Athenians revered him as a hero and honored his memory with yearly
sacrifices. Euripides was the third of the Athenian dramatists and the
most generally popular. His fame reached far beyond his native city. We
are told that the Sicilians were so fond of his verses that they granted
freedom to every one of the Athenian prisoners captured at Syracuse who
could recite the poet's lines.


Athenian comedy during the fifth century B.C. is represented by the plays
of Aristophanes. He was both a great poet and a great satirist. In one
comedy Aristophanes attacks the demagogue Cleon, who was prominent in
Athenian politics after the death of Pericles. In other comedies he
ridicules the philosophers, makes fun of the ordinary citizen's delight in
sitting on jury courts and trying cases, and criticizes those responsible
for the unfortunate expedition to Sicily. The plays of Aristophanes were
performed before admiring audiences of thousands of citizens and hence
must have had much influence on public opinion.


The "father of history," Herodotus, flourished about the middle of the
fifth century B.C. Though a native of Asia Minor, Herodotus spent some of
the best years of his life at Athens, mingling in its brilliant society
and coming under the influences, literary and artistic, of that city. He
traveled widely in the Greek world and in the East, as a preparation for
his great task of writing an account of the rise of the Oriental nations
and the struggle between Greece and Persia. Herodotus was not a critical
historian, diligently sifting truth from fable. Where he can he gives us
facts. Where facts are lacking, he tells interesting stories in a most
winning style. A much more scientific writer was Thucydides, an Athenian
who lived during the epoch of the Peloponnesian War and became the
historian of that contest. An Athenian contemporary of Thucydides,
Xenophon, is best known from his _Anabasis_, which describes the famous
expedition of the "Ten Thousand" Greeks against Persia. [25]


Of the later prose writers of Greece it is sufficient to name only one--
the immortal Plutarch. He was a native of Chaeronea in Boeotia and lived
during the first century of our era. Greece at that time was only a
province of the Roman Empire; the days of her greatness had long since
passed away. Plutarch thus had rather a melancholy task in writing his
_Parallel Lives_. In this work he relates, first the life of an eminent
Greek, then of a famous Roman who in some way resembled him; and ends the
account with a short comparison of the two men. Plutarch had a wonderful
gift of sympathy for his heroes and a keen eye for what was dramatic in
their careers. It is not surprising, therefore, that Plutarch has always


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