Out of the Past of Greece & Rome

Out of the Past of Greece & Rome

Out of the Past of Greece & Rome

Out of the Past of Greece & Rome

Excerpt

In this book the reader will find some pictures of the life of the ancient world in the period when the city-states of Greece, and after them the city of Rome and the Empire that it founded, were playing the dominant rôle. These sketches are not related to each other in any way, although they all give glimpses of that epoch. They are separate pages from the notebook of a man who has devoted his life to the study of ancient times, and primarily of the records of Greece and Rome. In these pages I endeavor to tell the reader what I see in the past of Greece and Rome and how I see it.

My sketches are pages out of history. What is history itself? Men possess a history, while beasts do not. No one would think of writing the history of a herd of elephants or a flock of sheep, of a hive of bees or a family of apes. And why? Because only men have created what we call civilization or culture. Only man, in a conscious struggle with the forces of nature which hampered him in trying to live as he wished, has gradually complicated and refined his ways of life; and he continues to do this today, believing that the increase of complexity means a better life and that all men are following a path of progress, of gradual and unending perfecting of life itself.

With pride in their creative power, in their successful conflict with nature, in their superiority over animals, and in their mode of living, complicated not only in the material but also in the intellectual and spiritual sense, men felt a desire early in their existence to know how it had all come to be, what steps had led to the standard of living which had then been reached, and what had been the more brilliant . . .

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