But there came a fall caused by human curiosity Pandora the first woman

But there came a fall caused by human curiosity

This preview shows page 191 - 193 out of 525 pages.

being rich in flocks and true to the blessed gods." But there came a "fall," caused by human curiosity. Pandora, the first woman created,[[@VolumePage: 1, 286]] received a vase which, by divine command, was to remain closed; but she was tempted to open it, and troubles, sorrow, and disease escaped into the world, hope alone remaining. So, too, in Roman mythological poetry the well-known picture by Ovid is but one among the many exhibitions of this same belief in a primeval golden age—a Saturnian cycle; one of the constantly recurring attempts, so universal and so natural in the early history of man, to account for the existence of evil, care, and toil on earth by explanatory myths and legends. This view, growing out of the myths, legends, and theologies of earlier peoples, we also find embodied in the sacred tradition of the Jews, and especially in one of the documents which form the impressive poem beginning the books attributed to Moses. As to the Christian Church, no word of its Blessed Founder indicates that it was committed by him to this theory, or that he even thought it worthy of his attention. How, like so many other dogmas never dreamed of by Jesus of Nazareth and those who knew him best, it was developed, it does not lie within the province of this chapter to point out; nor is it worth our while to dwell upon its evolution in the early Church, in the Middle Ages, at the Reformation, and in various branches of the Protestant Church: suffice it that, though among English-speaking nations by far the most important influence in its favour has come from Milton's inspiration rather than from that of older sacred books, no doctrine has been more universally accepted, "always, everywhere, and by all," from the earliest fathers of the Church down to the present hour. On the other hand appeared at an early period the opposite view—that mankind, instead of having fallen from a high intellectual, moral, and religious condition, has slowly risen from low and brutal beginnings. In Greece, among the philosophers contemporary with Socrates, we find Critias depicting a rise of man, from a time when he was beastlike and lawless, through a period when laws were developed, to a time when morality received enforcement from religion; but among all the statements of this theory the most noteworthy is that given by Lucretius in his great poem on The Nature [[@VolumePage: 1, 287]] of Things . Despite its errors, it remains among the most remarkable examples of prophetic insight in the history of our race. The inspiration of Lucretius gave him almost miraculous glimpses of truth; his view of the development of civilization from the rudest beginnings to the height of its achievements is a wonderful growth, rooted in observation and thought, branching forth into a multitude of striking facts and fancies; and among these is the statement regarding the sequence of inventions:
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"Man's earliest arms were fingers, teeth, and nails, And stones and fragments from the branching woods; Then copper next; and last, as latest traced, The tyrant, iron."
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