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Unformatted text preview: THE STORY OF CIVILIZATION (tm) Ver. 4.8 3: Caesar and Christ Durant, Will --------------------------------------------------------THE STORY OF CIVILIZATION VOLUME THREE CAESAR AND CHRIST 1944 A History of Roman Civilization and of Christianity from their beginnings to A.D. 325 by Will Durant Copyright (C) 1944 by Will Durant Copyright renewed (C) 1972 by Will Durant Exclusive electronic rights granted to World Library, Inc. by The Ethel B. Durant Trust, William James Durant Easton, and Monica Ariel Mihell. Electronically Enhanced Text (c) Copyright 1994 World Library, Inc. DEDICATION TO ARIEL PREFACE THIS volume, while an independent unit by itself, is Part III in a history of civilization, of which Part I was Our Oriental Heritage, *03000 and Part II was The Life of Greece. War and health permitting, Part IV, The Age of Faith, should be ready in 1950. The method of these volumes is synthetic history, which studies all the major phases of a people's life, work, and culture in their simultaneous operation. Analytic history, which is equally necessary and a scholarly prerequisite, studies some separate phase of man's activity- politics, economics, morals, religion, science, philosophy, literature, art- in one civilization or in all. The defect of the analytic method is the distorting isolation of a part from the whole; the weakness of the synthetic method lies in the impossibility of one mind speaking with firsthand knowledge on every aspect of a complex civilization spanning a thousand years. Errors of detail are inevitable; but only in this way can a mind enchanted by philosophy- the quest for understanding through perspective- content itself with delving into the past. We may seek perspective through science by studying the relations of things in space, or through history by studying the relations of events in time. We shall learn more of the nature of man by watching his behavior through sixty centuries than by reading Plato and Aristotle, Spinoza and Kant. "All philosophy," said Nietzsche, "has now fallen forfeit to history." *03001 The study of antiquity is properly accounted worthless except as it may be made living drama, or illuminate our contemporary life. The rise of Rome from a crossroads town to world mastery, its achievement of two centuries of security and peace from the Crimea to Gibraltar and from the Euphrates to Hadrian's Wall, its spread of classic civilization over the Mediterranean and western European world, its struggle to preserve its ordered realm from a surrounding sea of barbarism, its long, slow crumbling and final catastrophic collapse into darkness and chaos- this is surely the greatest drama ever played by man; unless it be that other drama which began when Caesar and Christ stood face to face in Pilate's court, and continued until a handful of hunted Christians had grown by time and patience, and through persecution and terror, to be first the allies, then the masters, and at last the heirs, of the greatest empire in history. But that multiple panorama has greater meaning for us than through its scope and majesty: it resembles significantly, and sometimes with menacing illumination, the civilization and problems of our day. This is the advantage of studying a civilization in its total scope and life- that one may compare each stage or aspect of its career with a corresponding moment or element of our own cultural trajectory, and be warned or encouraged by the ancient aftermath of a modern phase. There, in the struggle of Roman civilization against barbarism within and without, is our own struggle; through Rome's problems of biological and moral decadence signposts rise on our road today; the class war of the Gracchi against the Senate, of Marius against Sulla, of Caesar against Pompey, of Antony against Octavian, is the war that consumes our interludes of peace; and the desperate effort of the Mediterranean soul to maintain some freedom against a despotic state is an augury of our coming task. De nobis fabula narratur: of ourselves this Roman story is told. I wish to acknowledge the invaluable and self-sacrificing aid of Wallace Brockway at every step in the preparation of this book; the patience of my daughter, Mrs. David Easton, and of Miss Regina Sands, in typing 1200 pages from my minuscule script; and above all to the affectionate toleration and protective guidance accorded me by my wife through many years of dull and plodding and happy scholarship. INTRODUCTION: ORIGINS CHAPTER I: Etruscan Prelude: 800-508 B.C. I. ITALY QUIET hamlets in the mountain valleys, spacious pastures on the slopes, lakes upheld in the chalice of the hills, fields green or yellow verging toward blue seas, villages and towns drowsy under the noon sun and then alive with passion cities in which, amid dust and dirt, everything from cottage to cathedral seems beautiful- this for two thousand years has been Italy. "Throughout the whole earth, and wherever the vault of heaven spreads, there is no country so fair": thus even the prosaic elder Pliny spoke of his fatherland. `03011 "Here is eternal spring," sang Virgil, "and summer even in months not her own. Twice in the year the cattle breed, twice the trees serve us with fruit." `03012 Twice a year the roses bloomed at Paestum, and in the north lay many a fertile plain like Mantua's, "feeding the white swans with grassy stream." `03013 Like a spine along the great peninsula ran the Apennines, shielding the west coast from the northeast winds, and blessing the soil with rivers that hurried to lose themselves in captivating bays. On the north the Alps stood guard; on every other side protecting waters lapped difficult and often precipitous shores. It was a land well suited to reward an industrious population, and strategically placed athwart the Mediterranean to rule the classic world. The mountains brought death as well as splendor, for earthquakes and eruptions now and then embalmed the labor of centuries in ashes. But here, as usually, death was a gift to life; the lava mingled with organic matter to enrich the earth for a hundred generations. `03014 Part of the terrain was too steep for cultivation, and part of it was malarial marsh; the rest was so fertile that Polybius marveled at the abundance and cheapness of food in ancient Italy, `03015 and suggested that the quantity and quality of its crops might be judged from the vigor and courage of its men. Alfieri thought that the "man-plant" had flourished better in Italy than anywhere else. `03016 Even today the timid student is a bit frightened by the intense feelings of these fascinating folk- their taut muscles, swift love and anger, smoldering or blazing eyes; the pride and fury that made Italy great, and tore her to pieces, in the days of Marius and Caesar and the Renaissance, still run in Italian blood, only awaiting a good cause or argument. Nearly all the men are virile and handsome, nearly all the women beautiful, strong, and brave; what land can match the dynasty of genius that the mothers of Italy have poured forth through thirty centuries? No other country has been so long the hub of history- at first in government, then in religion, then in art. For seventeen hundred years, from Cato Censor to Michelangelo, Rome was the center of the Western world. "Those who are the best judges in that country," says Aristotle, "report that when Italus became king of Oenotria, the people changed their name, and called themselves no longer Oenotrians but Italians." `03017 Oenotria was the toe of the Italian boot, so teeming with grapes that the word meant "land of wine." Italus, says Thucydides, was a king of the Sicels, who had occupied Oenotria on the way to conquer and name Sicily. `03018 Just as the Romans called all Hellenes Graeci, Greeks, from a few Graii who had emigrated from north Attica to Naples, so the Greeks gradually extended the name Italia to all the peninsula south of the Po. Doubtless many chapters of Italy's story lie silent under her crowded soil. Remains of an Old Stone Age culture indicate that for at least 30,000 years before Christ the plains were inhabited by man. Between 10,000 and 6000 B.C. a neolithic culture appeared: a longheaded race called by ancient tradition Liguri and Siceli fashioned rude pottery with linear ornament, made tools and weapons of polished stone, domesticated animals, hunted and fished, and buried their dead. Some lived in caves, others in round huts of wattle and daub; from these cylindrical cottages architecture pursued a continuous development to the round "House of Romulus" on the Palatine, the Temple of Vesta in the Forum, and the Mausoleum of Hadrian- the Castel Sant' Angelo of today. About 2000 B.C. northern Italy was invaded- presumably not for the first time- by tribes from central Europe. They brought with them the custom of building their villages upon piles sunk in water, for safety from animal or human attack. They settled on Garda, Como, Maggiore, and the other enchanted lakes that still lure aliens to Italy. Later they moved south and, finding fewer lakes, built their homes upon land, but still upon a foundation of piles. Their habit of surrounding these settlements with rampart and moat passed down to form features of Roman camps and medieval chateaux. They pastured flocks and herds, tilled the soil, wove clothing, fired pottery; and out of bronze, which had appeared in Italy toward the end of the Neolithic Age (about 2500 B.C.), they forged a hundred varieties of tools and weapons, including combs, hairpins, razors, tweezers, and other timeless implements. `03019 They allowed their rubbish to accumulate so lavishly around the villages that their culture has received the name of terramare - earth marl- from the fertilizing potency of these remains. So far as we know, they were the direct ancestors of the basic population of Italy in historical times. In the valley of the Po the descendants of these terramaricoli, about 1000 B.C., learned from Germany the use of iron, made from it improved implements, and, so armed, spread their "Villanovan" culture from its center at Villanova, near Bologna, far down into Italy. From them, we may believe, came the blood, languages, and essential arts of the Umbrians, Sabines, and Latins. Then, about 800 B.C., a new flood of immigrants arrived, subjugated the Villanovan population, and established between the Tiber and the Alps one of the strangest civilizations in the records of mankind. II. ETRUSCAN LIFE The Etruscans are among the irritating obscurities of history. They ruled Rome for a hundred years or more, and left upon Roman ways so varied an influence that Rome can hardly be understood without them; yet Roman literature is as mute concerning them as a matron anxious to forget, publicly, the surrenders of her youth. Italian civilization, as literate provision, begins with them: 8000 inscriptions, as well as many works of art, mingle with their remains; and there are indications of a lost literature in poetry, drama, and history. `030110 But only a few unrevealing words of the language have been deciphered, and scholarship stands in deeper darkness today before the Etruscan mystery than that which shrouded the Egypt of the Pharaohs before Champollion. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ ++++++++++ Consequently men still debate who the Etruscans were, and when and whence they came. Perhaps the old tradition has been too readily set aside; pedants love to disprove the accepted, which mischievously survives. Most Greek and Roman historians took it for granted that the Etruscans had come from Asia Minor. `030111 Many elements in their religion, dress, and art suggest an Asiatic origin; many, again, seem natively Italian. Most likely the civilization of Etruria was an outgrowth of the Villanovan culture, commercially influenced by Greece and the Near East, while the Etruscans themselves, as they believed, were invaders from Asia Minor, probably Lydia. In any case, their superior killing power made them the ruling caste in Tuscany. We do not know where they landed; but we know that they founded, conquered, or developed many cities- not mere villages of mud and straw as before them, but walled towns with geometrically laid-out streets, and houses not only of beaten earth, but often of baked brick or stone. Twelve of these communities joined in a loose Etruscan Federation, dominated by Tarquinii (now Corneto), Arretium (Arezzo), Perusia (Perugia), and Veii (Isola Farnese). *03002 Hardships of transportation through mountains and forests collaborated with the jealous pugnacity of men, here as in Greece, to form independent city-states, seldom united against external foes; each cherished its separate security, often stood aside while others were attacked, and, one after another, succumbed to Rome. But through most of the sixth century B.C. these allied municipalities constituted the strongest political force in Italy, with a well-organized army, a famous cavalry, and a powerful navy that for a time ruled what is still called the Tyrrhene (i.e., Etruscan) Sea. *03003 As in the case of Rome, the government of the Etruscan cities began as a monarchy, became an oligarchy of "first families," and gradually gave over to an assembly of propertied citizens the right of choosing the annual magistrates. So far as we can make out from the tomb paintings and reliefs, it was a thoroughly feudal society, with an aristocracy owning the soil and enjoying in luxury the surplus product of Villanovan serfs and war-won slaves. Under this discipline Tuscany was reclaimed from forest and swamp, and a system of rural irrigation and urban sewage was developed beyond anything discoverable in contemporary Greece. Etruscan engineers built drainage tunnels to take the overflow of lakes, and cut drained roadways through rock and hill. `030112 As early as 700 B.C. Etruscan industry mined the copper of the western coast and the iron of Elba, smelted the iron ore at Populonia, and sold pig iron throughout Italy. `030113 Etruscan merchants traded up and down the Tyrrhene Sea, brought amber, tin, lead, and iron from northern Europe down the Rhine and the Rhone and over the Alps, and sold Etruscan products in every major port of the Mediterranean. About 500 B.C. Etruscan towns issued their own coins. The people themselves are pictured on their tombs as short and stocky, with large heads, features almost Anatolian, complexion ruddy, especially in women; but rouge is as old as civilization. `030114 The ladies were famous for their beauty, `030115 and the men sometimes had faces of refinement and nobility. Civilization had already advanced to a precarious height, for specimens of dental bridgework have been found in the graves; `030116 dentistry, like medicine and surgery, had been imported from Egypt and Greece. `030117 Both sexes wore the hair long, and the men fondled beards. Garments followed the Ionian style: an inner shirt like the chiton, and an outer robe that became the Roman toga. Men as well as women loved ornament, and their tombs abounded in jewelry. If we may judge from the gay pictures of the sepulchers, the life of the Etruscans, like that of the Cretans, was hardened with combat, softened with luxury, and brightened with feasts and games. The men waged war lustily, and practiced a variety of virile sports. They hunted, fought bulls in the arena, and drove their chariots, sometimes four horses abreast, around a dangerous course. They threw the discus and the javelin, pole-vaulted, raced, wrestled, boxed, and fought in gladiatorial bouts. Cruelty marked these games, for the Etruscans, like the Romans, thought it dangerous to let civilization get too far from the brute. Less heroic persons brandished dumbbells, threw dice, played the flute, or danced. Scenes of bibulous merriment relieve the paintings in the tombs. Sometimes they are symposia for men only, with vinous conversation; now and then they show both sexes, richly dressed, reclining in pairs on elegant couches, eating and drinking, waited on by slaves, and entertained by dancers and musicians. `030118 Occasionally the meal is adorned with an amorous embrace. Probably the lady in this case was a courtesan, corresponding to the Greek hetaira. If we may believe the Romans, the young women of Etruria, like those of Greek Asia and Samurai Japan, were allowed to obtain dowries by prostitution; `030119 a character in Plautus accuses a girl of "seeking in the Tuscan way to earn her marriage by the shame of her body." `030120 Nevertheless, women enjoyed a high status in Etruria, and the paintings represent them as prominent in every aspect of life. Relationship was traced through the mother in a manner suggesting again an Asiatic origin. `030121 Education was not confined to the male, for Tanaquil, wife of the first Tarquin, was versed in mathematics and medicine as well as political intrigue. `030122 Theopompus ascribed a communism of women to the Etruscan, `030123 but no confirming evidence has come down to us of this Platonic utopia. Many of the pictures are scenes of marital concord and family life, with children romping about in happy ignorance. Religion provided every incentive to a negative morality. The Etruscan pantheon was fully equipped to terrify the growing ego and ease the tasks of parentage. The greatest of the gods was Tinia, who wielded the thunder and the lightning. About him, as a committee pitilessly carrying out his commands, were the Twelve Great Gods, so great that it was sacrilege (and we may therefore neglect) to pronounce their names. Especially fearsome were Mantus and Mania, master and mistress of the Underworld, each with an executive horde of winged demons. Least appeasable of all was Lasa or Mean, goddess of fate, brandishing snakes or a sword, and armed with stylus and ink to write, and hammer and nails to affix, her unalterable decrees. Pleasanter were the Lares and Penates- little statuettes kept on the hearth, and symbolizing the spirits of field and home. The sacred science of ascertaining the future by studying the livers of sheep or the flight of birds had probably come down to the Etruscans from Babylonia; but according to their own traditions it had been revealed to them by a divine boy, grandson of Tinia, who sprang to life from a furrow freshly turned, and at once spoke with the wisdom of a sage. Etruscan ritual culminated in the sacrifice of a sheep, a bull, or a man. Human victims were slaughtered or buried alive at the funerals of the great. In some cases prisoners of war were massacred as a propitiation of the gods; so the Phoceans taken at Alalia in 535 B.C. were stoned to death in the forum of Caere, and some 300 Romans captured in 358 B.C. were sacrificed at Tarquinii. The Etruscan appears to have believed that for every enemy slain he could secure the release of a soul from hell. `030124 The belief in hell was the favorite feature of Etruscan theology. The dead spirit, as seen in the sepulchral representations, was conducted by genii to the tribunal of the Underworld, where in a Last Judgment it was given an opportunity to defend its conduct in life. If it failed, it was condemned to a variety of torments that left their mark on Virgil (reared on Mantua's Etruscan lore), on the early Christian conception of hell, and, through these and twenty centuries, on Tuscan Dante's Inferno. From such damnation the good were spared, and the sufferings of the damned might be shortened by the prayers or sacrifices of their living friends. The saved soul passed from the Underworld to the society of the gods above, there to enjoy feasts, luxuries, and powers depicted hopefully on the tombs. Normally the Etruscans buried their dead. Those who could afford it were laid to rest in sarcophagi of terra cotta or stone, and the lid was topped with reclining figures carved partly in their likeness, partly in the smiling style of the archaic Gr...
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