The Legacy of Rome

The Legacy of Rome

The Legacy of Rome

The Legacy of Rome

Excerpt

A rusty scholar, long ago rude donandum, nothing but the relentless and flattering persistence of my friend, Mr. Cyril Bailey, could have constrained me to be responsible for the Prologue to this volume. For though during a busy life I have striven never to lose touch with the studies and interests of my youth, Scholarship in these days, with the new implements which have been forged for it by archaeology, and the many developments of the comparative method, completely outstrips the ardent but belated amateur, who (relatively speaking) has not got much beyond the equipment of the Neolithic Age.

This book is intended to give a comprehensive estimate of the Legacy which Rome has left to the modern world. On what may be called the political side of her activities--the art of government and conquest, the statecraft of consolidation and expansion, the reconciliation of local diversities with imperial unity, the approximation to a world-wide Peace-- there is no need to dwell. I endeavoured, some years ago, to give reasons for the opinion that, in the thousand years which followed the birth of Christ, there was no era in which the external conditions of life were so favourable to the happiness of mankind as the reign of the Emperor Hadrian. The great fabric succumbed in time, as all human institutions do, to the law of decay. But it is unique in history, and its memories and examples will not and cannot die.

It is much more difficult to describe the character and appraise the value of the intellectual and spiritual debt which we owe to Rome. The impressions left upon my mind, after reading the learned and penetrating contributions which follow, may be summed up in this way: alike in literature, in art, in philosophy, and in religion, Rome built the bridge over which . . .

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