Congress and the American Tradition

Congress and the American Tradition

Congress and the American Tradition

Congress and the American Tradition

Excerpt

IN ANCIENT TIMES, before the illusions of science had corrupted traditional wisdom, the founders of Cities were known to be gods or demigods. Minos, author of the Cretan constitution and of the navy through which Crete ruled the Aegean world, was the son of Zeus and Europa, and husband of the moon goddess, Pasiphaë. On his death he was made one of the three judges of the underworld, at the entrance to which--in Dante's description--he sits "horrific, and grins; examines the crimes upon the entrance; judges, and sends" each soul to its due punishment.

The half human, half dragon Cecrops, first king of Athens, who numbered its tribes, established its laws of marriage, property and worship, and taught it writing, was reputed to be the secret husband of Athena, whom he chose as guardian of his City. Minos, doubting whether Theseus, who was later to bring the rest of Attica under Athenian command, was indeed the son of Poseidon, flung a ring into the sea, and was answered when Theseus, plunging into his father's realm, brought back not only the ring but the golden crown of Amphitrite.

It was the pious Aeneas, son of Venus, who led to Italy those Trojans whose descendants were to transform a village into a world empire. The local king, Evander, told him of the old days:

These woods were first the seat of sylvan pow'rs,
Of Nymphs and Fauns, and savage men, who took
Their birth from trunks of trees and stubborn oak.

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