Moral Values in the Ancient World

Moral Values in the Ancient World

Moral Values in the Ancient World

Moral Values in the Ancient World

Excerpt

His book studies some of the moral values which were current in the Ancient World. It is curious that, so far as I can ascertain, no such study has hitherto been made, though there have been investigations, on varying scales and of varying value, of particular topics, and innumerable books in the vaguer field of Greek ideals. Reference to particular studies will be found in the appropriate chapters.

The presentation, though not, I hope, the investigation, has been influenced by certain presuppositions which emerged in the course of the investigation. History is always continuous. But we can rightly and properly mark off certain periods as having an integrity or completeness of their own. Such is the Graeco- Roman civilization, and whether one dates its finale to the accession of Constantine at the beginning of the fourth century A.D., or the fall of Rome in 410, or some other convenient landmark, it is factually true that the change is associated with the predominance of Christianity. Christianity can thus be seen as the culmination and conclusion of the old order as well as the beginning of the new. The method by which Christianity spread suggests that it served to fulfil the aspirations of the world to which it came. One potent factor in helping it to spread was the conceptof Christian love or agape. I have thus come to see earlier evaluations to some extent against the background of that agape which gave satisfaction where they had failed, and this presupposition affects the presentation. But the presupposition arises from hisrical fact, not religious dogma.

Secondly, the question becomes inescapable: what has agape got that the rest haven't got? The details of the answer lie in the . . .

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