Will Durant

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In all things I saw the passion of life for growth and greatness, the drama of everlasting creation. I came to think of myself, not as a dance and chaos of molecules, but as a brief and minute portion of that majestic process...
In a measure the Great Sadness was lifted from me, and, where I had seen omnipresent death, I saw now everywhere the pageant and triumph of life.

William James Durant (5 November 18857 November 1981) was an American historian, philosopher and writer, most famous for his works The Story of Philosophy, and The Story of Civilization.

Quotes[edit]

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.
The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionaries are philosophers and saints.
Love one another. My final lesson of history is the same as that of Jesus.
You may think that's a lot of lollipop but just try it. Love is the most practical thing in the world. If you take an attitude of love toward everybody you meet, you'll eventually get along.
  • I felt more keenly than before the need of a philosophy that would do justice to the infinite vitality of nature. In the inexhaustible activity of the atom, in the endless resourcefulness of plants, in the teeming fertility of animals, in the hunger and movement of infants, in the laughter and play of children, in the love and devotion of youth, in the restless ambition of fathers and the lifelong sacrifice of mothers, in the undiscourageable researches of scientists and the sufferings of genius, in the crucifixion of prophets and the martyrdom of saints — in all things I saw the passion of life for growth and greatness, the drama of everlasting creation. I came to think of myself, not as a dance and chaos of molecules, but as a brief and minute portion of that majestic process... I became almost reconciled to mortality, knowing that my spirit would survive me enshrined in a fairer mold... and that my little worth would somehow be preserved in the heritage of men. In a measure the Great Sadness was lifted from me, and, where I had seen omnipresent death, I saw now everywhere the pageant and triumph of life.
    • Transition (1927)
  • Love one another. My final lesson of history is the same as that of Jesus.
    You may think that's a lot of lollipop but just try it. Love is the most practical thing in the world. If you take an attitude of love toward everybody you meet, you'll eventually get along.
    • When asked, at the age of 92, if he could summarize the lessons of history into a single sentence. As quoted in "Durants on History from the Ages, with Love," by Pam Proctor, Parade (6 August 1978) p. 12. Durant is quoting Jesus (from John 13:34) here, and might also be quoting Jiddu Krishnamurti: "Love is the most practical thing in the world. To love, to be kind, not to be greedy, not to be ambitious, not to be influenced by people but to think for yourself — these are all very practical things, and they will bring about a practical, happy society."
  • It is a mistake to think that the past is dead. Nothing that has ever happened is quite without influence at this moment. The present is merely the past rolled up and concentrated in this second of time. You, too, are your past; often your face is your autobiography; you are what you are because of what you have been; because of your heredity stretching back into forgotten generations; because of every element of environment that has affected you, every man or woman that has met you, every book that you have read, every experience that you have had; all these are accumulated in your memory, your body, your character, your soul. So with a city, a country, and a race; it is its past, and cannot be understood without it.
  • Perhaps the cause of our contemporary pessimism is our tendency to view history as a turbulent stream of conflicts — between individuals in economic life, between groups in politics, between creeds in religion, between states in war. This is the more dramatic side of history; it captures the eye of the historian and the interest of the reader. But if we turn from that Mississippi of strife, hot with hate and dark with blood, to look upon the banks of the stream, we find quieter but more inspiring scenes: women rearing children, men building homes, peasants drawing food from the soil, artisans making the conveniences of life, statesmen sometimes organizing peace instead of war, teachers forming savages into citizens, musicians taming our hearts with harmony and rhythm, scientists patiently accumulating knowledge, philosophers groping for truth, saints suggesting the wisdom of love. History has been too often a picture of the bloody stream. The history of civilization is a record of what happened on the banks.
    • As quoted in "The Gentle Philosopher" (2006) by John Little at Will Durant Foundation
  • To speak ill of others is a dishonest way of praising ourselves; let us be above such transparent egotism. If you can't say good and encouraging things, say nothing. Nothing is often a good thing to do, and always a clever thing to say.
  • Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.
    • "What is Civilization?" Ladies' Home Journal, LXIII (January, 1946).
  • I know how unfashionable it is now to acknowledge in life or history any genius loftier than ourselves. Our democratic dogma has leveled not only all voters but all leaders; we delight to show that living geniuses are only mediocrities, and that dead ones are myths. … Since it is contrary to good manners to exalt ourselves, we achieve the same result by slyly indicating how inferior are the great men of the earth. In some of us, perhaps, it is a noble and merciless asceticism, which would root out of our hearts the last vestige of worship and adoration, lest the old gods should return and terrify us again. For my part, I cling to this final religion, and discover in it a content and stimulus more lasting than came from the devotional ecstasies of youth.
    • The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time.
  • The invention and spread of contraceptives is the proximate cause of our changing morals. The old moral code restricted sexual experience to marriage, because copulation could not be effectively separated from parentage, and parentage could be made responsible only through marriage. But to-day the dissociation of sex from reproduction has created a situation unforeseen by our fathers. All the relations of men and women are being changed by this one factor; and the moral code of the future will have to take account of these new facilities which invention has placed at the service of ancient desires.
    • Our Changing Morals, in The Mansions of Philosophy: A Survey of Human Life and Destiny, (1929), Simon and Schuster, New York, ch. 5. p. 119. [1][2]

The Story of Philosophy (1926)[edit]

  • Excellence is an art won by training and habituation: we do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have these because we have acted rightly; 'these virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions'; we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit: 'the good of man is a working of the soul in the way of excellence in a complete life... for as it is not one swallow or one fine day that makes a spring, so it is not one day or a short time that makes a man blessed and happy'.
    • p. 76. The quoted phrases within the quotation are from the Nicomachean Ethics, Book II, 4; Book I, 7.
  • Philosophy accepts the hard and hazardous task of dealing with problems not yet open to the methods of science - problems like good and evil, beauty and ugliness, order and freedom, life and death; so soon as a field of inquiry yields knowledge susceptible of exact formulation it is called science.
  • Every science begins as philosophy and ends as art.
  • Philosophy is a hypothetical interpretation of the unknown (as in metaphysics), or of the inexactly known (as in ethics or political philosophy); it is the front trench in the siege of truth.
  • When liberty becomes license, dictatorship is near.
  • Civilization begins with order, grows with liberty, and dies with chaos.

The Case for India (1931)[edit]

India will teach us the tolerance and gentleness of mature mind, understanding spirit and a unifying, pacifying love for all human beings.
  • India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages: she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.
  • It is true that even across the Himalayan barrier India has sent to the west, such gifts as grammar and logic, philosophy and fables, hypnotism and chess, and above all numerals and the decimal system.

Declaration of INTERdependence (1945)[edit]

Rooted in freedom, bonded in the fellowship of danger, sharing everywhere a common human blood, we declare again that all men are brothers, and that mutual tolerance is the price of liberty.
Introduced into the US Congressional Record on October 1, 1945 (PDF Document)
  • Human progress having reached a high level through respect for the liberty and dignity of men, it has become desirable to re-affirm these evident truths:
    • That differences of race, color, and creed are natural, and that diverse groups, institutions, and ideas are stimulating factors in the development of man;
    • That to promote harmony in diversity is a responsible task of religion and statesmanship;
    • That since no individual can express the whole truth, it is essential to treat with understanding and good will those whose views differ from our own;
    • That by the testimony of history intolerance is the door to violence, brutality and dictatorship; and
    • That the realization of human interdependence and solidarity is the best guard of civilization.
  • Rooted in freedom, bonded in the fellowship of danger, sharing everywhere a common human blood, we declare again that all men are brothers, and that mutual tolerance is the price of liberty.

The Story of Civilization (1935–1975)[edit]

I - Our Oriental Heritage (1935)[edit]

  • I wish to tell as much as I can, in as little space as I can of the contributions that genius and labor have made to the cultural heritage of mankind- to chronicle and contemplate, in their causes, character, and effects, the advances of invention, the varieties of economic organization, the experiments in government, the aspirations of religion, the wisdom of philosophy and the achievements of art.
    • Preface
  • An ideal historiography would seek to portray in each period the total complex of a nations' culture, institutions, adventures and ways.
    • Preface
  • Civilization is social order promoting cultural creation. Four elements constitute it: economic provision, political organization, moral traditions, and the pursuit of knowledge and the arts. It begins where chaos and insecurity end, for when fear is overcome, curiosity and constructiveness are free and man passes by natural impulse towards the understanding and embellishment of life.
    • Chapter I: The Conditions of Civilization
  • The first form of culture is agriculture. It is when man settles down to till the soil and lay provisions for the uncertain future that he finds time a reason to be civilized. He learns to work with regularity and order, maintains a longer tenure of life, and transmits more completely than before the mental and moral heritage of his race. Civilization begins in the peasants hut, but it comes to flower only in the town. There are no racial conditions to civilization. It may appear on any continent and in any color: It is not the great race that makes the civilization, it is the great civilization that makes the people; circumstances geographical and economic create a culture, and the culture creates a type.
    • Chapter I: The Conditions of Civilization
  • There must be political order, even if it be so near to chaos as in Renaissance Florence or Rome; men must feel, by and large, that they need not look for death and taxes at every turn. There must be some unity of language to serve as a medium of mental exchange, there must be a unifying moral code, some rules of the game of life acknowledged even by those that violate them. Finally there must be education- some technique however primitive, for the transmission of culture.
    • Chapter I: The Conditions of Civilization
  • For civilization is not something inborn or imperishable; it must be acquired anew by every generation, and any serious interruption in its financing or its transmission may bring it to an end. Man differs from the beast only by education, which may be defined as the technique of transmitting civilization. So let us before we die, gather up our heritage, and offer it to our children.
    • Chapter I: The Conditions of Civilization
  • It is impossible to be scientific here; for in calling other human beings savage or barbarous we may be expressing no objective fact but only our fierce fondness for ourselves, and our timid shyness in the presence of alien ways. When we list the bases and constituents of civilization we shall find that the naked nations invented or arrived at all but one of them and left nothing to us except embellishments and writing. Preferably we shall call primitive all tribes tat make little or no provision for unproductive days and little to no use of writing. The civilized may be called literate providers.
    • Chapter II: The Economic Elements of Civilization
  • Three meals a day are a highly advanced institution. Savages gorge themselves or they fast. There is a mute wisdom in this improvidence, the moment man begins to take thought of the morrow he passes out of the Garden of Eden and into the vale of anxiety. Not to think unless we have to - there is much to be said for this as the summation of wisdom.
    • Chapter II: The Economic Elements of Civilization; Part I: From Hunting to Tillage
  • In the last analysis civilization is based upon the food supply. To live by hunting was not original, man became human when out of the uncertain hunt he developed the greater security and continuity of the pastoral life. Women were making the greatest economic discovery of all - the bounty of the soil. Slowly it became apparent that agriculture could provide a better and steadier food supply than hunting.
    • Chapter II: The Economic Elements of Civilization; Part I: From Hunting to Tillage
  • To all the varied articles of diet that we have enumerated, man added the greatest delicacy of all- his fellow man. Cannibalism was at one time practically universal; it has been found in practically all primitive tribes on every continent. What was the origin of this practice? There is no indication that it arouse as a shortage of food, no shame was felt in the preferring human flesh; primitive man seems to have recognized no distinction in morals between eating men and eating other animals. To Montaigne it appeared more barbarous to torture a man to death under the cover of piety, than to roast and eat him after he was dead. We must respect one another's delusions.
    • Chapter II: The Economic Elements of Civilization; Part I: From Hunting to Tillage
  • If man began with speech, and civilization with agriculture, industry began with fire. Man imitated the tools and industry of the animal, The ingenuity of primitive men probably equaled that of the average modern man; we differ from them through the social accumulation of knowledge, materials, and tools, rather than superiority of brains.
    • Chapter II: The Economic Elements of Civilization; Part II: The Foundations of Industry
  • Only three further developments were needed for the primitive man to create all the essentials of economic civilization: the mechanisms of transport, the processes of trade, and the medium of exchange. Since human skills and natural resources are diversely and unequally distributed, a people may be enabled, by the development of specific talents, or by its proximity to needed materials, to produce certain articles more cheaply than its neighbors. Of such articles it makes more than it consumes and offers is surplus to other peoples in exchange for their own; this is the origin of trade.
    • Chapter II: The Economic Elements of Civilization; Part II: The Foundations of Industry
  • Trade in surpluses was at first by an interchange of gifts. The earliest mediums of exchange were articles universally in demand; dates, salt, skins, furs, ornaments,and weapons were commonly exchanged articles. There is hardly any thing that has not been employed as money by some people at some time. When metals were mined they slowly replaced other articles as standards of value because of their convenient representation of great worth in little space and weight, thus silver and gold became the money of mankind.
    • Chapter II: The Economic Elements of Civilization; Part II: The Foundations of Industry
  • In the early stages of economic development property was limited for the most part the things personally used; the property sense applied to such articles that they (even the wife) were often buried with their owner. Among primitive peoples land was owned by the community. Only less widespread was communism in food. It was usual among savages for the man who had food to share it with the man who had none; among the Hottentots it was the custom for the one who had more than the others to share his surplus til all were equal. North American Indians were described by Captain Carver as strangers to all distinctions of property, except in articles of domestic use.
    • Chapter II: The Economic Elements of Civilization; Part III: Economic Organization
  • Why did this primitive communism disappear as men rose to what we call civilization? Sumner believed that communism proved unbiological, a handicap in the struggle for existence; that it gave insufficient stimulus to inventiveness, industry and thrift; the failure to reward the the more able, and punish the less able made for a leveling of capacity which was hostile to growth or to successful competition with other groups.
    • Chapter II: The Economic Elements of Civilization; Part III: Economic organization
  • Communism brought a certain security to all who survived the diseases and accidents due to the poverty and ignorance of primitive society; but it did not lift them out of that poverty. Individualism brought wealth, but it brought, also, insecurity and slavery it stimulated superior men, but it intensified the competition of life. Communism could survive more easily in societies where men were always on the move, when agriculture became the settled life of men it brought a change from tribal property to family property. As the family took on more and more a patriarchal form, with authority centralized in the oldest male.
    • Chapter II: The Economic Elements of Civilization; Part III: Economic organization
  • Agriculture, while generating civilization, led not only to private property but to slavery. In purely hunting communities slavery had been unknown; wives and children did the menial work. The inequality of men led to the employment of the socially weak by the socially strong. It was a great moral improvement when men ceased to kill and eat their fellowmen, and merely made them slaves.
    • Chapter II: The Economic Elements of Civilization; Part III: Economic organization
  • Probably it was through centuries of slavery that our race acquired its traditions and habits of toil. No one would do any hard or persistent work if he could avoid it without physical, economic or social penalty. Slavery became part of the discipline by which man was prepared for industry.
    • Chapter II: The Economic Elements of Civilization; Part III: Economic organization
  • Gradually, through agriculture and slavery, through the division of labor and the inherent diversity of men, the comparative equality of natural society was replaced by inequality and class divisions. Inheritance added superior opportunity to superior possessions, and stratified once homogeneous societies into a maze of classes and castes. The state arose as an indispensable instrument for the regulation of classes, the protection of property, the waging of war, and the organization of peace.
    • Chapter II: The Economic Elements of Civilization; Part III: Economic organization
  • Man is not willingly a political animal. The human male associates with his fellows less by desire than by habit, imitation, and the compulsion of circumstance; he does not love society so much as he fears solitude.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part I: The Origins of Government
  • If the average man had had his way there would probably never have been any state. Even today he resents it, classes death with taxes, and yearns for that government which governs least. If he asks for many laws it is only because he is sure that his neighbor needs them; privately he is an unphilosophical anarchist, and thinks laws in his own case superfluous. In the simplest societies there is hardly any government. Primitive hunters tend to accept regulation only when they join the hunting pack and prepare for action. The Bushmen usually live in solitary families; the Pygmies of Africa and the simplest natives of Australia admit only temporarily of political organization, and then scatter away to their family groups; the Tasmanians had no chiefs, no laws, no regular government; the Veddahs of Ceylon formed small circles according to family relationship, but had no government; the Kubus of Sumatra "live without men in authority" every family governing itself; the Fuegians are seldom more than twelve together; the Tungus associate sparingly in groups of ten tents or so; the Australian "horde" is seldom larger than sixty souls. In such cases association and cooperation are for special purposes, like hunting; they do not rise to any permanent political order.
    • Ch. III : The Political Elements of Civilization, p. 21
  • It is war that makes the chief, the king and the state just as it is these that make war. In Samoa the chief had power during war, but at other times no one paid any attention to him. Societies are ruled by two powers: in peace by the word, in crises by the sword; force is used only when indoctrination fails. Law and myth go hand and hand, cooperating or taking turns in the management of mankind.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part I: The Origins of Government
  • Primitive life was incarnadined with war. Hunters fought for happy hunting grounds, herders fought for new pastures for their flocks, farmers fought for virgin soil; all of them at times fought to avenge a murder or to harden and discipline their youth. There were institutions and customs for the limitations of slaughter- certain hours, days, weeks or months which no gentleman savage would kill. But for the most part war was the favorite instrument of natural selection among primitive nations and groups. Its results were endless. It acted as a ruthless eliminator of weak peoples, and raised the level of the race in courage, violence, cruelty, intelligence and skill.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part I: The Origins of Government
  • Above all, war dissolved primitive communism and anarchism, introduced organization and discipline, and led to the enslavement of prisoners, the subordination of classes, and the growth of government. Property was the mother, war was the father, of the state.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part I: The Origins of Government
  • Agriculture teaches men pacific ways, inures them to a prosaic routine, and exhausts them with a long days toil; such men accumulate wealth but they forget the arts and sentiments of war. The hunter and herder, accustomed to danger and skilled in killing, look upon war as another form of the chase, and hardly more perilous; when the woods cease to give them abundant game, or flocks decrease through a thinning pasture, they look with envy upon the ripe fields of the village, they invent with modern ease some plausible reason for attack, they invade, conquer, enslave and rule.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part II: The State
  • The state is a late development, and hardly appears before the time of written history. For it presupposes a change in the very principle of social organization- from kinship to domination; and in primitive societies the former is the rule. Domination succeeds best where it binds diverse natural groups into an advantageous unity of order and trade. In permanent conquest the principle of domination tends to become concealed and almost unconscious, time sanctifies everything; the most arrant theft, in the hands of the robbers grandchildren, becomes sacred and inviolable property. Every state begins in compulsion but the habits of obedience become the content of conscience, and soon every citizen thrills with loyalty to the flag.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part II: The State
  • No matter how the state begins, it soon becomes an indispensable prop to order. As trade unites clans and tribes, relations spring up that depend not on kinship but on contiguity and require an artificial principle of regulation. The state provided an external force that could regulate their interrelations and weave them into a larger economic web. The state is not merely organized force, but an instrument for adjusting the interests of a thousand conflicting groups that constitute a complex society.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part II: The State
  • Though the state made external war more destructive than before, it extended and maintained internal peace; the state may be defined as internal peace for external war. Men decided it was better to pay taxes than to fight among themselves; better to pay tribute to one magnificent robber than to bribe them all. A state which should rely on upon force alone will soon fall, for though men are naturally gullible, they are also naturally obstinate and power, like taxes, succeeds best when its indirect.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part II: The State
  • Law comes with property, marriage and government; the lowest societies manage to get along without it. Natural societies are comparatively free from law first because they are ruled by customs as rigid and inviolable as any law; and secondly because crimes of violence, in the beginning are considered to be private matters and are left to bloody personal revenge. Custom give the some stability to the group, it is the routine that keeps men sane; for if there were no grooves along which thought and action might move with unconscious ease the mind would be perpetually hesitant, and would soon take refuge in lunacy. A law of economy works in instinct and habit, in custom and convention: the most convenient mode of response to repeated stimuli or traditional situations is automatic response. To violate law is to win the admiration of half the populace, who secretly envy anyone who can outwit this ancient enemy; to violate custom is to incur almost universal hostility. For custom rises out of the people, whereas law is forced upon them from above. Law is the decree of the master, but custom is the natural selection of those thoughts and modes of action that have been found most convenient in the experience of the group.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part III: Law
  • The first stage in the evolution of the law is personal revenge, every man was his own policeman, and administered justice in the form of such vengeance as he was strong enough to take. This principle of revenge persists throughout the history of law, it lurks behind most legal punishments even to our day. The second step toward law and civilization in the treatment of crime was the substitution of damages for revenge. Very often the chief to maintain internal harmony tried to encourage the injured party to accept gold or goods instead of blood. Since these fines or compositions, paid to avert revenge, required tome adjudication of offenses and damages, a third step towards law was taken by the formation of courts; the chiefs or elders sat in judgement to settle the conflicts of their people.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part III: Law
  • The fourth advance in the growth of law was the assumption, by the chief or the state , of the obligation to prevent and punish wrongs. So the chief becomes a law giver and to the general body of common law- derived from the customs of the group- is added the body of positive law-derived from the decrees of the government; in one case the law grows up in the other the law is handed down. Primitive punishment are cruel because primitive society feels insecure; as social organization becomes more stable, punishments become less severe.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part III: Law
  • In general the individual has fewer rights in natural society than under civilization. Everywhere man is born in chains: the chains of heredity, of environment, of custom, and of law. The individual was hardly recognized as a separate entity in natural society; what existed was the family and the clan, the tribe and the village community, it was these that owned land and exercised power.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part III: Law
  • Rights do not come to us from nature, which knows no rights except cunning and strength; rights are privileges assured to individuals by the community as advantageous to the common good. Liberty is a luxury of security; the free individual is a product and a mark of civilization.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part III: Law
  • As the basic needs of man are hunger and love, so the fundamental functions of social organization are economic provision and biological maintenance. Until the state became the central and permanent source of social order, the clan undertook the delicate task of regulating the relations between the sexes and between generations. Even after the state had been established, the essential government of mankind remains in that most deep-rooted of all history institutions-the family.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part IV: The Family
  • When economic relations and political mastery replaced kinship as the principle of social organization, the clan lost its position as the substructure of society. Government took over the problem of maintaining order, while the family assumed the tasks of reorganizing industry and carrying on the race.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part IV: The Family
  • Since it was the mother who fulfilled most of the parental functions, the family was at first organized on the assumption that the position of the man was superficial and incidental while that of the woman fundamental and supreme. So slight is the relation between father and children in primitive society that in a great number of tribes the sexes lived apart. The simplest form of the family then, was the woman and her children, living with her mother or her brother in the clan. The mother right was not matriarchate- it did not imply the rule of woman over men. She was used as means of tracing relationships which would have remained otherwise obscure. It is true that any system of society the woman exercises a certain authority , rising naturally out of her importance in the home, out of her function as the dispenser of food, and out of the need that the male has of her, and her power to refuse him.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part IV: The Family
  • All in all the position of the woman in early societies was one of subjection verging upon slavery. Her periodic disability, her unfamiliarity with weapons, the biological absorption of her strength in carrying, nursing and rearing children, handicapped her in the war of the sexes, and doomed her to a subordinate status in all but the very lowest and the very highest societies. Her status was to rise and fall with her strategic importance rather that with the culture and morals of men.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part IV: The Family
  • Because the men, when the tribe moved, had to be ready at any moment to fight off attack, they carried nothing but their weapons; the women carried everything else. The differences in strength hardly existed in those days; woman, apart from her biological disabilities was almost the equal of any man in stature, endurance, resourcefulness and courage. She was not yet an ornament, a thing of beauty, or a sexual toy; she was essentially a beast of burden. It was she who developed the home, slowly adding men to the list of her domesticated animals, and training him in those social dispositions and amenities which are the psychological basis and cement of civilization.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part IV: The Family
  • The application to agriculture led to woman's replacement by the man in control of the fields; the advance from the hoe to the plough put a premium on physical strength and enabled man to assert his supremacy. The growth of transmissible property in cattle and in the products of the soil led to the sexual subordination of woman, for the male now demanded of her that fidelity which he thought would enable him to pass on his accumulations to children presumably his own. Gradually the man had his way: fatherhood became recognized, and property began to descend through the male; mother-right yielded to father-right and the patriarchal family, with the oldest male at its heat, became the economic, legal, political and moral unit of society. This passage to the patriarchal family was fatal to the position of woman. in all essential aspects she and her children became the property first of her father or oldest brother, then of her husband. She was bought in marriage precisely as a slave was bought at market.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part IV: The Family
  • The father or oldest male had now the right to treat, give, sell or lend his wives and daughters very much as he pleased, subject only to the social condemnation of other fathers exercising the same rights. While the male reserved the privilege of extending his sexual favors beyond his home, the woman-under patriarchal institutions- was vowed to complete chastity before marriage, and complete fidelity after it. The double standard was born.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part IV: The Family
  • Doutless woman enjoyed at all times the mastery that comes of long-continued speech; the men might be rebuffed, harangued, even-now and then-beaten. But all in all the man was lord, the woman was servant. Marriage began as a form of the law of property, as a part of the institution of slavery.
    • Chapter III: The Political Elements of Civilization; Part IV: The Family
  • Since no society can exist without order, and no order without regulation, we may take it as a rule of history that the power of custom varies inversely as multiplicity of laws, much as the power of instincts varies inversely as the multiplicity of thoughts. Some rules are necessary for the game of life; they may differ in different groups, but within the group they must essentially be the same. These rules may be conventions, customs, morals, or laws. Conventions are forms of behavior found expedient by a people; customs are conventions accepted by successive generations; morals are such customs as the group considers vital to its welfare and development.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization
  • Through the magic of time such customs, by long repetition, become a second nature in the individual; if he violates them he feels a certain fear, discomfort or shame; this is the origin of that conscience, or moral sense, which Darwin chose as the most impressive distinction between animals and men. In its higher development conscience is social consciousness-the feeling of the individual that he belongs to a group, and owes it some measure of loyalty and consideration.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization
  • The first task of those customs that constitute the moral code of a group is to regulate the relations of the sexes, for these are a perennial source of discord, violence, and possible degeneration. The basic form of this sexual regulation is marriage, which may be defined as the association of mates for the care of offspring. It is a variable and fluctuating institution, which has passed through almost every conceivable form and experiment in the course of its history.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part I: Marriage
  • What was it that led men to replace the semi-promiscuity of primitive society with individual marriage? Since, in a great majority nature peoples, there are few, if any, restraints on premarital relations, it is obvious that physical desire does not give rise to the institution of marriage. For marriage, with its restrictions and psychological irritations, could not possibly compete with sexual communism as a mode of satisfying the erotic propensities of men. Some powerful economic motives; probably the institution of property, encouraged the beginning of marriage. Over time a variety of tentative unions gradually took the place of indiscriminate relations. The man pledged his support to the woman in return for the burden of parental care that she now assumed.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part I: Marriage
  • Individual marriage came through the desire of the male to have cheap slaves, and to avoid bequeathing his property to other men's children. Polygamy appears her and there, many causes conspired to make it general. In early society because of hunting and war, the life of the male is more violent and dangerous, and the death rate is higher among men than that of women. The consequent excess of women compels a choice between polygamy and the barren celibacy of a minority of women; such celibacy is intolerable in a society that requires a high birth rate to compensate for the high male death rate.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part I: Marriage
  • Children were economic assets, and men invested in wives in order to draw children from them like interest. In the patriarchal system wives and children wee effect slaves of the man; the more the man had of them, the richer he was. Polygamy also had a eugenic value superior to that of monogamy since it secured the best mates and had the most children. Certain conditions however, militated against it. The decrease in danger and violence, consequent on a settled agricultural life, brought the sexes towards and approximate numerical equality; under these circumstances open polygamy became the privilege of the prosperous minority. Most people began to practice a monogamy tempered with adultery, while another minority of willing or regretful celibates balance the polygamy of the rich. Jealousy in the male, and possessiveness in the female also entered into the situation, as property increased men were loath to scatter it in small bequests, it became desirable to differentiate wives into chief wife and concubines, so that only the children of the former shared the legacy of the father.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part I: Marriage
  • Whatever form it might take, marriage was obligatory among nearly all primitive peoples. The unmarried male had no standing in the community, or was considered only half a man. Exogamy, too, was compulsory: that is to say, a man was expected to secure a wife from another clan than his own. Whether this custom arose because the primitive mind suspected the evil effects of close inbreeding, or because intergroup marriages created or cemented useful political alliances, promoted social organization, lessened the danger of war we do not know.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part I: Marriage
  • As wealth grew it became more convenient to offer the father a substantial present-or sum of money- for his daughter, rather than serve for her in an alien clan, or risk the violence and feuds. There is no record of women objecting to marriage by purchase; on the contrary, they took keen pride in the sums paid for them, and scorned woman who gave herself in marriage without a price.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part I: Marriage
  • In all these forms and varieties of marriage there is hardly a trace of romantic love. In simple days men married for cheap labor, profitable parentage, and regular meals. Such love is reserved for developed civilizations, in which morals have raised barriers against desire, and the growth of wealth has enabled some men to afford, and some women to provide, the luxuries and delicacies of romance.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part I: Marriage
  • In general the savage takes his sex philosophically, with hardly more of metaphysical or theological misgiving than the animal; he does not brood over it, or fly into a passion with it; it is a much a matter of course with him as his food. The primitive male looked upon marriage in terms not of sexual license but of economic cooperation. He expected the woman to be as useful and industrious as possible; marriage was a profitable partnership, not a private debauch; it was a way whereby a man and a woman, working together, might be more prosperous than if each worked alone.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part I: Marriage
  • The greatest task of morals is always sexual regulation; for the reproductive instinct creates problems not only within marriage, but before and after it, and threatens at any moment to disturb social order with its persistence, its intensity, its scorn of law, and its perversions. Man differs from the animal in eating without being hungry, drinking without being thirsty, and making love in all seasons. Chasity is a correspondingly late development, the primitive maiden dreaded a reputation of sterility not the loss of virginity.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Sexual Morality
  • What was it that changed virginity from a fault into a virtue, and made it an element in the moral code of all the higher civilizations? Doubtless it was the institution of property. Premarital chastity came as an extension, to the daughters, of the proprietary feeling with which the patriarchal male looked upon his wife. The virgin gave promise, by her past, of that marital fidelity which now seemed so precious to men beset by worry lest they should leave their property to surreptitious children.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Sexual Morality
  • We must not conclude that morals are worthless because they differ according to time and place, it only shows in what varied ways social order has been preserved. Social order is nontheless necessary; the game must have rules in order to be played; men must know what to expect of one another in the ordinary circumstances of life.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Sexual Morality
  • In general, throughout history, men have wanted many children, and therefore have called motherhood sacred; while women, who know more about reproduction, have secretly rebelled against this heavy assignment, and have used an endless variety of means to reduce the burdens of maternity. Its astonishing to find how similar are the motives of the savage to the civilized woman, in preventing birth: to escape the burden of rearing offspring, to preserve a youthful figure, to avert the disgrace of extramarital motherhood, and to avoid death.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Sexual Morality
  • Part of the function of parentage is the transmission of a moral code. For the child is more animal than human; it has humanity thrust upon it day by day as it receives the moral and mental heritage of the race. It is one purpose of a moral code to adjust the unchanged- or slowly changing- impulses of human nature to the changing needs and circumstances of social life. Greed, acquisitiveness, dishonesty, cruelty and violence were so useful to men that all our laws, our education, our morals and our religions can't quite stamp them out.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Social Morality
  • Primitive man was cruel because he had to be; life taught him that he must have an arm always ready to strike, and a heart apt for natural killing. The blackest page in anthropology is the story of primitive torture, and the joy that many primitive men and women seem to have taken in the infliction of pain.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Social Morality
  • To transmit greed into thrift, violence into argument, murder into litigation, and suicide into philosophy has been part of the task of civilization. It was a great advance when to strong consented to eat the weak by due process of law. No society can survive if it allows its members to behave toward one another in the same way in which it encourages them to behave as a group toward other groups; internal cooperation is the first law of external competition. Hence every society inculcates a moral code, and builds up in the heart of the individual social dispositions that mitigate the natural war of life; it encourages- by calling them virtues- those qualities or habits in the individual which redound to the advantage of the group.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Social Morality
  • Almost all groups agree in holding other groups to be inferior to themselves, it seldom occurred to the primitive man to extend to other tribes the moral restraints which he acknowledged in dealing with his own; he frankly conceived it to be the function of morals to give strength and coherence to his group against other groups. Moral progress in history lies not so much in the improvement of the moral code as in the enlargement of the area within which it is applied.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Social Morality
  • There are no morals in diplomacy but there are morals in international trade, merely because such trade cannot go on without some degree of restraint, regulation, and confidence. Few societies have been content to rest their moral code upon so frankly rational a basis as economic and political utility. For the individual is not endowed by nature with any disposition to subordinate his personal interest to those of the group, or to obey irksome regulations for which there are no visible means of enforcement. To provide, so to speak, an invisible watchmen, to strengthen the social impulses against the individualistic by powerful hopes and fears, societies have not invented but made use of religion. Men are more easily ruled by imagination than by science.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Social Morality
  • Fear, as Lucretius said, was the first mother of the gods. Fear above all of death. Primitive life was beset with a thousand dangers, and seldom ended with natural decay; hence early man did not believe death was ever natural, he attributed it to the operation of supernatural agencies.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Social Morality; Part 1: The Sources of Religion
  • Of course we shall never know which of our universe of objects was worshiped first. One of the first was probably the moon. We do not know when the sun replaced the moon, perhaps it was when vegetation replaced hunting. Among primitive peoples the word for God meant sky, there is hardly and animal in nature, from the Egyptian scarab to the Hindu elephant, that has not somewhere been worshiped as a God. In primitive theology there is no sharp or generic distinction between gods and men.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Social Morality; Part 2: The Objects of Religion
  • Having conceived a world of spirits, whose nature and intent were unknown to him, primitive man sought, to propitiate them and to enlist them in his aid. The methods by which the spirits, and later the gods were suborned to human purposes were for the most part sympathetic magic-a desired action was suggested to the deities by a partial or imitative performance of the action by men. Human sacrifice, of which we have here but one of many varieties, seems to have been honored at some time or another by almost every people. Probably it was bound up with cannibalism; men thought that the gods had tastes like their own. Slowly, however, evolving morals changed even religious rites; the Gods imitated the increasing gentleness of their worshipers, and resigned themselves to accepting animal instead of human meat.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Social Morality; Part 3: The Methods of Religion
  • At every step the history of civilization teaches us how slight and superficial a structure civilization is, and how precariously it is poised upon the apex of a never extinct volcano of poor and oppressed barbarism, superstition and ignorance. Modernity is a cap superimposed upon the Middle ages, which always remain. The philosopher accepts gracefully this human need of supernatural aid and comfort.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Social Morality; Part 3: The Methods of Religion
  • Since magic often failed, it became of advantage to the magician to discover natural operations by which he might help supernatural forces to produce the desired event. In this way magic gave birth to the physician, the chemist, the metallurgist, and the astronomer. More immediately, however, magic made the priest. Gradually, as religious rites became more numerous and complex, they outgrew the knowledge and competence of the ordinary man, and generated a special class which gave most of its time to the functions and ceremonies of religion.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Social Morality; Part 3: The Methods of Religion
  • Since such knowledge and skill seemed to primitive men the most valuable skill of all, and supernatural forces were conceived to affect man's fate at every turn, the power of the clergy became as great as that of the state. The priest has vied and alternated with the warrior in dominating and disciplining men. The priest did not create religion, he merely used it, as a statesmen uses the impulses and customs of mankind; religion arises not out of sacerdotal invention or chicanery, but out the persistent wonder, fear, insecurity, hopefulness and loneliness of men.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Social Morality; Part 3: The Methods of Religion
  • Religion supports morality by means chiefly: myth and tabu. Myth creates the supernatural creed through which celestial sanctions may be given to forms of conduct socially desirable. Man is not naturally obedient gentle, or chaste; and next to that ancient compulsion which finally generates conscience, nothing so quietly and continuously conduces to these uncongenial virtues as the fear of the Gods. Government itself the most unnatural and necessary of social mechanisms, has usually required the support of piety and the priest.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Social Morality; Part 4: The Moral Function of Religion
  • The favorite object of primitive taboo was woman. A thousand superstitions made her, every now and then, untouchable, perilous, and unclean. The molders of the worlds myths were unsuccessful husbands, for they agreed that woman was the root of all evil; this was a view sacred not only to Hebraic and Christian tradition, but to a hundred pagan mythologies. In the end she accepted man's point of veiw, and felt shame in her periods, even in her pregnacy. Out of such taboos as a partial source came modesty, the sense of sin, the view of sex as unclean, asceticism, and the sujection of women.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Social Morality; Part 4: The Moral Function of Religion
  • Religion is not the basis of morals, but an aid to them; conceivably they could exist without it, and not infrequently they have progressed against its indifference or its obstinate resistance. As a rule religion sanctions not any absolute good-since there is none, but those norms of conduct which have been established themselves by force of economic and social circumstance, morals slowly adjust themselves to economic invention, and religion reluctantly adjusts itself to moral change. The moral function of religion is to conserve established values, rather than create new ones.
    • Chapter IV: The Moral Elements of Civilization: Part II: Social Morality; Part 4: The Moral Function of Religion
  • In the beginning was the word, for with it man became man. The beginning of humanity came when some freak or crank, half animal half man, squatted in a cave cracking his brain to invent the first common noun, the first sound-sign that would signify a group of like objects. From that moment the mental development of the race opened upon a new and endless road. For words are to thought what tools are to work.
    • Chapter V: The Mental Elements of Civilization: Part I: Letters
  • Bearing so many gifts to men, words seemed to the primitives a divine boon and a sacred thing; they became the matter of magic formulas. They made not only for clearer thinking, but for better social organization, they opened new roads for the transport and traffic of ideas, and immensely accelerated the tempo, and enlarge the range and content of life. Civilization is and accumulation, a treasure-house of arts and wisdom, manners and morals, from which the individual, in his development, draws nourishment for his mental life. The education of the primitive was primarily the transmission of skills and the training of character.
    • Chapter V: The Mental Elements of Civilization: Part I: Letters
  • The primitive father put his trust in character, as modern education has put its trust in intellect, he was concerned not to make scholars but men. Thus the initiation rites were designed to test courage rather than knowledge, their function was to prepare the youth for the hardships of war and the responsibilities of marriage while indulging the old in the delights of inflicting pain.
    • Chapter V: The Mental Elements of Civilization: Part I: Letters
  • Little or no use was made of writing in primitive education. Simple tribes living for the most part in comparative isolation, and knowing the happiness of having no history, felt little need for writing. They learned and retained, and passed on to their children by recitation, whatever seemed necessary in the way of historical record and cultural transmission. Of course we can only guess at the origins of writing. Perhaps it was a by product of pottery, and began as identifying trademarks on vessels of clay. Probably a system of written signs was made necessary by the increase of trade among the tribes.
    • Chapter V: The Mental Elements of Civilization: Part I: Letters
  • Science, like letters, began with the priests, originated in astronomic observations, governing religious festivals, and was preserved in the temples and transmitted across the generations as part of the clerical heritage. Perhaps science, like civilization in general, began with agriculture; geometry was the measurement of the soil, and the calculation of the crops and seasons, necessitating the observation of the stars and the construction of a calendar may have created astronomy. Navigation advanced astronomy, trade developed mathematics, and the industrial arts laid the bases of physics and chemistry.
    • Chapter V: The Mental Elements of Civilization: Part II: Science
  • Natural man formulates no physics, but merely practices it; he cannot plot the path of a projectile, but he can aim an arrow well; he has no chemical symbols but knows at a glance which plants are poison and which are food. Probably the first doctors were women; not only because they were the natural nurses of the men, nor merely because they made midwifery, rather than venality, the oldest profession but because their close connection with the soil gave them a superior knowledge of plants, and enabled them to develop the art of medicine as distinct from the magic spells of the priests.
    • Chapter V: The Mental Elements of Civilization: Part II: Science
  • Along with medicative herbs we find in the bast pharmacopoeia of primitive man an assortment of soporific drugs calculated to ease pain or to facilitate operations. Primitive surgery knew a variety of operations and instruments. Childbirth was well managed; fractures and wounds were ably set and dressed. Trephining of the skull was practiced by primitive medicine men and some averaged nine successes out of ten operations.
    • Chapter V: The Mental Elements of Civilization: Part II: Science.
  • Beauty is any quality by which an object or form pleases the beholder, the object does not please the beholder because it is beautiful, but rather he calls it beautiful because it pleases him. Any object that satisfies desire is beautiful. Art is the creation of beauty; it is the expression of thought or feeling in a form that seems beautiful of sublime, and therefore arouses in us some reverberation of that primordial delight which woman gives to man, or man to woman.
    • Chapter V: The Mental Elements of Civilization: Part III: Art
  • If the sense of beauty is not strong in primitive society it may be because the lack of delay between sexual desire and fulfillment gives no time for the enhancement of the object which makes some some much of the objects beauty. Where a sense of beauty is present in primitive man it sometimes eludes us by being so different then our own. Primitive men equaled mondern men in vanity, incredible as this will seem to women. Among simple peoples, as among animals, it is the male rather than the female that puts ornament and mutilates his body for beauty's sake.
    • Chapter V: The Mental Elements of Civilization: Part III: Art
  • Clothing was apparently, in its origins, a form of ornament, a sexual deterrent or charm rather than an article of use against cold or shame, they were content to be naked but anxious to be fine. When clothing became something more than an adornment it served partly to indicate the married status of a loyal wife, partly to accentuate the form and beauty of women. primitive women asked of clothing precisely what later women have asked-not that it should quite cover their nakedness, but that it should enhance or suggest their charms.
    • Chapter V: The Mental Elements of Civilization: Part III: Art
  • The first source of art, then, is akin to the display of colors and plumage on the male animal in mating time; it lies in the desire to adorn and beautify the body. Sculpture, like painting, probably owed its origin to pottery: the potter found that he could mold not only articles of use, but imitative figures that might serve as magic amulets and then things of beauty themselves. No art so characterized or expressed primitive men as the dance. He developed it form primordial simplicity to a complexity unrivaled in civilization; they danced not merely to express themselves but to offer suggestions to nature or the gods.
    • Chapter V: The Mental Elements of Civilization: Part III: Art

In these ways precivilized men created the forms and bases of civilization. Looking backward on this brief survey of primitive culture, we find every element except writing and the state. Without these savages and their hundred thousand years of experiment and groping, civilization could not have been. We owe almost everything to them- as a fortunate youth inherits the means to culture, security and ease through the long toil of an unlettered ancestry.

    • Chapter V: The Mental Elements of Civilization: Part III: Art
  • Presumably it was fire that enabled man to meet the threat of cold from the advanceing ice; fire conqured the dark and created the old and honorable art of cooking, etending the diet of man to a thousand foods inedible before.
    • Chapter VI: The Prehistoric Beginnings of Civilization: Part 2: Arts of The Old Stone Age
  • In one sense all human history hinges upon two revolutions: the neolithic passage from hunting to agriculture, and the modern passage from agriculture to industry; no other revolutions have been quite as real or basic as these. Meanwhile the people of the New Stone Age were establishing another of the foundations of civilization: the domestication and breeding of animals.
    • Chapter VI: The Prehistoric Beginnings of Civilization: Part II: Neolithic Culture
  • We cannot properly estimate the achievements of prehistoric men, for we must guard against describing their life with imagination that transcends the evidence; even so, the surviving record of Stone Age advances is impressive enough: paleolithic tools, fire, and art; neolithic agriculture, animal breeding, weaving, pottery, building, transport, and medicine, and the definite domination and wider peopling of the earth by the human race. Let these men find a way to record their thoughts and achievements, and thereby transmit them more securely across the generations and civilization would begin.
    • Chapter VI: The Prehistoric Beginnings of Civilization: Part II: Arts of The Old Stone Age
  • When did the use of metals come to man, and how? Again we do not know; we merely surmise that it came by accident, we presume it began toward the end of the Neolithic Age. The oldest known metal to be adapted to human use was copper. Perhaps it was because the Eastern Mediterranean lands were rich in copper that vigorus new cultures arose. Copper itsef was soft and pliable for some purposes, but too weak for the heavier tasks of peace and war; and alloy was needed to harden it which prompted the deliberate fusing of metal with metal, leading to the discovery of bronze.
    • Chapter VI: The Prehistoric Beginnings of Civilization: Part III: The Transition to History: Part 1. The Coming of Metals
  • By far the most important step in the passage to civilization was writing. The earliest symbols considered writing were marks of property, quantity or other business memoranda, literature originated in bills of lading. Whatever may have been the development of these early commercial symbols, there arose with them a form of writing which was a branch of painting and drawing, and conveyed connected thought by pictures. By 3600 B.C Elam, Sumeria and Egypt had developed a system of thought-pictures, writing seems to be a product and convenience of commerce.
    • Chapter VI: The Prehistoric Beginnings of Civilization: Part III: The Transition to History: Part 2: Writing
  • The development to writing almost created civilization by providing a means for the recording and transmission of knowledge, the accumulations of science, the growth of literature, and the spread of peace and order among varied but communicating tribes.
    • Chapter VI: The Prehistoric Beginnings of Civilization: Part III: The Transition to History: Part 2: Writing
  • In approaching now the history of civilized nations we must note that not only shall we be selecting a mere fraction of each culture for our study, but we shall be describing perhaps a minority of the civilizations that have probably existed on earth. We cannot ignore the legends throughout history of civilizations once great and cultured, destroyed by some catastrophe of nature or war. History, said Bacon, is the planks of a shipwreck; more of the past is lost than has been saved
    • Chapter VI: The Prehistoric Beginnings of Civilization: Part III: The Transition to History: Part 3: Lost Civilizations
  • Written history is at least six thousand years old. During half of this period the center of human affairs so far as they are known to us, was in the Near East. By this vague term we shall mean here all of southwestern Asia south of Russia and the Black Sea; still more loosely, we shall include within it Egypt too as aciently bound up with the Near East in one wast web of communicating complex of Oriental civilization. In this rough theater of teeming peoples were developed the agriculture and commerce, the horse and wagon, the coinage and letters of credit, the crafts and industries, the law and government, the mathematics and medicine, the monotheism and monogamy, the ten-pins and income tax, from which our own European and American culture has inherited much more than its ever contributed.
    • Chapter VII: Sumeria
  • If the reader will look at a map of Persia, and will run their finger north along the Tigris from the Persian gulf to Amara, and then east across the Iraq border to the modern town of Shushan, he will have located the site of the ancient city of Susa, center of a region known to the Jews as Elam- the high land. The were a people of unknown race and origin but they developed one of the first historic civilizations.
    • Chapter VII: Sumeria: Part I. Elam
  • The Elamites rose to troubled power, conquering Sumeria and Babylon, and being conquered by them in turn. The City of Susa survived six thousand years of history, lived through the imperial zeniths of Sumeria, Babylonia, Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Greece and Rome.
    • Chapter VII: Sumeria: Part I. Elam
  • If we return to our map and follow the combined Tigris and Euphrates from the Persian Gulf to where these historic streams diverge, and then follow the Euphrates westward we shall find north and south of the river, the buried cities of ancient Sumeria. The early history of Mesopotamia is in one aspect the struggle of the non-Semitic peoples of Sumeria to preserve their independence against the expansion and inroads of the Semites from Kish and Agade and other centers in the north. Despite much research we cannot tell of what race the Sumeria; Their remains show them as a short and stocky people, with high, straight, non-Semitic nose, slightly receding forehead and downward-sloping eyes. Many wore beards, some were clean shaven, most of them shaved the upper lip. They clothed themselves in fleece and finely woven wool; the women draped the garment from the left shoulder, men bound it at the waist and left their upper body bare.
    • Chapter VII: Sumeria Part II: Sumerians; 1. The Historical Backround
  • At the basis of this culture was a soil made fertile by the annual overflow of rivers swollen with the winter rains. It was in many ways a primitive culture the Sumerians made some use of copper and Tin, and occasionally mixed them to produce bronze, but metal was still a luxury and a rarity. Most Sumerian tools were of flint; houses were made of reeds, usually plastered with an adobe mixture of clay and straw moistened with water and hardened by the sun. Cows, sheep, goats and pigs roamed about the dwelling in primeval comradeship with man. Water for drinking was drawn from wells. Goods were carried chiefly by water. Since stone was rare in Sumeria it was brought up the Gulf or down the rivers, and then through numerous canals to the quays of the cities.
    • Chapter VII: Sumeria Part II: Sumerians; 2. Economic Life
  • There was no coinage yet, and trade was normally by barter; but gold and silver were already in use as standards of value, and were often accepted in exchange for goods. Many of the clay tablets that have brought down to us fragments of Sumerian writing are business documents, revealing a busy commercial life. Rich and poor were stratified into many classes and gradations; slavery was highly developed, and property rights were already sacred.
    • Chapter VII: Sumeria Part II: Sumerians; 2. Economic Life
  • Indeed each city, as long as it could, maintained a jealous independence, and indulged itself in a private king. By 2800 B.C. the growth of trade made such municipal separatism impossible, and generated empires, in which some dominating personality subjected cities and their Kings to his power, and wove them into economic and political unity. The despot lived in a Renaissance atmosphere of violence and fear; at any moment he might be dispatched by the same methods that had secured him the throne. The King went to battle in a chariot, leading a motley host armed with bows, arrows and spears. The wars were for frankly commercial routes and goods The defeated were customarily sold into slavery; or, if this was unprofitable, they were slaughtered on the battlefield. The chauvinistic separatism of the cities stimulated life and art, but led to civic violence and suicidal strife that weakened each petty state, and at last destroyed Sumeria
    • Chapter VII: Sumeria Part II: Sumerians; 3. Government
  • In the empires social order was maintained through a feudal system. After a successful war the ruler gave tracts of land to his valiant chieftains, these men kept order in their territories, and provided soldiers and supplies for the exploits of the King. The finances of the government were obtained by taxes in kind, stored in royal warehouses, and distributed as pay to officials and employees of the state. To this system of royal and feudal administration was added a body of law, this was the fountainhead of Hammurabi's famous code. The best element in this code was a plan for avoiding litigation: every case was first submitted to a public arbitrator whose duty it was to bring about an amicable settlement without recourse to law. It is a poor civilization from which we may not learn something to improve our own.
    • Chapter VII: Sumeria Part II: Sumerians; 3. Government
  • King Ur-engur proclaimed his code of laws in the name of the great god Shamsash, for government had so soon discovered the political utility of heaven. Most of the gods lived in temples, where they were provided by the faithful with revenue, food and wives. Women were attached to every temple, some as domestics, some as concubines for the gods or their duly constituted representatives on earth. To serve the temples this way did not seem any disgrace to a Sumerian girl; her father was proud to devote her charms to the alleviation of divine monotony.
    • Chapter VII: Sumeria Part II: Sumerians; 4. Religion and Morality
  • Marriage was already a complex institution regulated by many laws. The bride kept control of the dowry given by her father in marriage, and though she held it jointly with her husband, she alone determined its bequest. She exercised equal rights with her husband over their children; and in the absence of the husband and a grown-up son she administered the estate as well as the home. She could engage in business independently of her husband, and could keep or dispose of her own slaves. But in all crises the man was lord and master. Under certain conditions he could sell his wife, or hand her over as a slave to pay his debts. The double standard was already in force, as a corollary of property and inheritance: adultery in the man was a forgivable whim, but in the woman it was punished with death. She was expected to give many children to her husband and the state; if barren, she could be divorced without further reason; if merely adverse to continuous maternity she was drowned.
    • Chapter VII: Sumeria Part II: Sumerians; 4. Religion and Morality
  • The startling fact in the Sumerian remains is writing. It is our good fortune that the people of Mesopotamia wrote not upon fragile ephemeral paper in fading ink, but instead upon moist clay deftly impressed with the wedge-like point of a stylus. With this malleable material the scribe kept records, executed contracts, drew up official documents, recorded property, judgments and sales. Having completed the writing the scribe baked the clay tablet with heat or in the sun, and made it a manuscript far more durable than paper. This development of cuneiform script was the outstanding contribution of Sumeria to the civilizing of mankind.
    • Chapter VII: Sumeria Part II: Sumerians; 5. Letters and Writing
  • Sumerian civilization may be summed up in this contrast between crude pottery and consummate jewelry; it was a synthesis of rough beginnings and occasional but brilliant mastery. Here, within the limits of our present knowledge, are the first states and empires, the first irrigation, the first use of gold and silver as standards of value, the first business contracts, the first credit system, the first code of law, first temples and palaces, the first extensive development of writing. Here, for the first known time on a large scale, appear some of the sins of civilization: slavery, despotism, ecclesiasticism, and imperialistic war. Already the natural inequality of men was producing a new degree of comfort and luxury for the strong, and a new routine of hard and disciplined labor for the rest.
    • Chapter VII: Sumeria Part II: Sumerians; 5. Letters and Arts
  • The oldest written records known to us are Sumerian; this, which may be a whim of circumstance, a sport of mortality, does not prove that the first civilization.
    • Chapter VII: Sumeria Part III: Passage to Egypt
  • Egypt could well afford to concede the priority of Sumeria. For wheatever the Nile may have borrowed from the Tigris and the Euphrates, it soon flowered into a civilization specifically and uniquely its own; one of the richest and greatest one of the most powerful and yet one of the most graceful, cultures in history. By its side Sumeria was but a crude beginning. Let us contemplate the glory of Egypt once more, in her history and her civilization, before her last monuments crumble into the sand.
    • Chapter VII: Sumeria Part III: Passage to Egypt
  • The recovery of Egypt is one of the most brilliant chapters in archeology. For many years they were unable to read the inscriptions surviving on the monuments. Typical of the scientific temperament was the patient devotion with which Champollion, one of these savants, applied himself to the decipherment of the hieroglyphics. After 20 years of labor he deciphered the whole inscription, discovered the entire Egyptian alphabet, and open the way to the recovery of a lost world. It was one of the peaks in the history of history.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part II. The Master Builders
  • Already, by 4000 B.C., these peoples of the Nile had forged a form of government. The population along the river was divided into nomes in each of which the inhabitants were essentially of one stock, acknowledge the same totem, obeyed the same chief, and worshiped the same gods by the same rites. The growth of trade and the rising costliness of war forced the nomes to organize themselves into two kingdoms- one in the south and one in the north; a division probably reflecting the conflict between African natives and Asiatic immigrants.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part II. The Master Builders Part 3. The Old Kingdom
  • Kings were never so plentiful as in Egypt. History lumps them into dynasties- monarchs of one line or family; but even then they burden the memory intolerably. One of these Pepi II, ruled Egypt for ninety-four years- the longest reign in history. When he died anarchy and dissolution ensued, after a Dark Ages of 400 years a strong willed ruler emerged and set things to order, changed the capital from Memphis to Thebes and under the title of Amenemhet I inaugurated that Twelfth Dynasty during which Egypt reached a level of excellence not seen again.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part II. The Master Builders Part 4. The Middle Kingdom
  • Then the Hyksos, nomads from Asia, invaded disunited Egypt, set fire to the cities, razed the temples, squandered the accumulated wealth, destroyed much of the art and subjected the Nile valley to the rule of the Shepard Kings. Ancient civilizations were little isles in a sea of barbarism, prosperous settlements surrounded by hungry, envious and warlike hunters and herders; at any moment the wall of defense might be broken down. Soon the conquerors in their turn grew fat and prosperous and were overthrown by the Egyptians who then established the Eighteenth Dynasty that lifted Egypt to greater wealth, power and glory than ever before.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part II. The Master Builders Part 4. The Middle Kingdom
  • Behind these kings and queens were pawns; behind these temples; places and pyramids were the workers of the cities and the peasants of the fields. It was never the peasant who profited by the bounty of the river. Every acre of the soil belonged to the Pharaoh, and other men could only use it by his kind indulgence; every farmer had to pay him an annual tax of ten or twenty percent in kind. Large tracts were owned by the feudal barons or other wealthy men. Cereals, fish and meat were the chief items of diet, the rich washed down their meals with wine, the poor with barley beer.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 1. Agriculture
  • The lot of the peasant was hard. The free farmer was subject only to the middleman and tax-collector, who dealt with him on the most time-honored of economic principles, taking all that the traffic would bear out of the produce of the land. The peasant was subject was subject at any time to the corvee; doing forced labor for the King, dredging the canals, building roads, tilling the royal lands, or dragging the great stones and obelisks for pyramids, temples and palaces. Many of them were slaves, captured in the wars or bonded for debt; sometimes slave-raids were organized, and women and children from abroad were sold to the highest bidder at home.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 1. Agriculture
  • In its earliest dynasties Egypt learned the art of fusing copper with tin to make bronze: first bronze weapons, then bronze tools. The workers were mostly freemen, partly slaves. In general every trade was a caste, as in Modern India, and sons were expected to follow and take over the occupations of their fathers. Strikes were frequent. Once their pay being long overdue, the workmen besieged the overseer and threatened him. It is surprising that civilization so ruthless in its exploitation of labor should have known - or recorded- so few revolutions.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 2. Industry
  • Egyptian engineering was superior to anything known to the Greeks or Romans, or the Europe before the Industrial Revolution. Machinery was rare because muscle was cheap. There was a regular postal service, communication, however, was difficult; roads were few and bad, except for the military highway through Gaza to the Euphrates. Trade was comparatively primitive; most of it was by barter in village bazaars. Foreign commerce grew slowly restricted severely by the most up-to-date tariff walls.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 2. Industry
  • Every visitor to the Louvre has seen the statue of the Egyptian scribe, squatting on his haunches, almost completely nude, dressed with a pen behind the ear as reserve for the one he holds. he keeps a record of work done and goods paid, of prices and costs, of profits and losses; he counts cattle as they move to slaughter, or corn as its measured out in sale. he draws up contracts and wills, and makes out his master's income-tax. He is sedulously attentive and mechanically industrious; he has just enough intelligence not to be dangerous. With these scribes as a clerical bureaucracy the Pharaoh and the provincial nobles maintained law and order in the state.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 3. Government
  • Civil and criminal legislation were highly developed, and already in the fifth Dynasty the law of private property and bequest were intricate and precise. As in our own days, there was absolute equality before the law-whenever the contesting parties had equal resources and influence. Judges required cases to be pled and answered in writing, perjury was punished with death.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 3. Government
  • Torture was used occasionally as a midwife to truth beating with a rod was a frequent punishment, mutilation by cutting off the nose or ears, hand or tongue, was sometimes resorted to, or death by strangling, impaling, beheading, or burning at the stake. Criminals of high rank were saved the shame of public execution by being permitted to commit suicide. We find no system of police and the standing army was small. Security of life and property, and the continuity of law and government, rested almost entirely on the prestige of the Pharaoh, maintained by the schools and church. No other nation except China has ever dared to depend so largely upon psychological discipline. It was a well organized government, with a better record of duration than any other in history.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 3. Government
  • The Pharaoh himself was the supreme court; any case might under certain circumstances be brought to him, if the plaintiff was careless of expense. The Pharaoh carried on an arduous routine of executive work, when he traveled the nobles met him at the feudal frontiers, escorted and entertained him. As became so godlike a person, the Pharaoh was waited upon by a variety of aids, generals, launderers, bleachers and guardians of the imperial wardrobe.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 3. Government
  • The government of the Pharaohs resembled that of Napoleon, event to the incest. Very often the King married his own sister- occasionally his own daughter- to preserve the purity of the royal blood. In addition the Pharaoh had an abundant harem, recruited not only from captive women, but from the daughters of the nobles and the gifts of foreign potentates. For the most part common people, like people of moderate incomes everywhere, contented themselves with monogamy. Family life was apparently as well ordered, as wholesome in moral tone and influence, as in the highest civilizations of our time. Divorce was rare, the husband could dismiss his wife without out compensation if he detected her in adultery; if he divorced with out good reason he was forced to turn over to her a substantial share of the family property. No people, ancient or modern has given women so high a legal status as did the inhabitants of the Nile Valley.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 4. Morals
  • Women held and bequeathed property in their own names. It is likely that this high status of woman arose from the mildly matriarchal character of Egyptian society. Not only was the woman full mistress in the house, but all estates descended in the female line; Men married their sisters not because familiarity had bred romance, but because they wished to enjoy the family inheritance, which passed down from mother to daughter. Possibly because of the mastery of women over their own affairs, infanticide was rare.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 4. Morals
  • Families were large, and children swarmed in both hovels and palaces; the well to do were hard put to it to keep count of their offspring. Even in courtship women took the initiative. Hence modesty, as distinct from fidelity, was not prominent among Egyptians; they spoke of sexual affairs with a directness alien to our late morality. Evidences occur of religious prostitution on a small scale, when she was too old to satisfy the god she received an honorable discharge, married, and was accepted in the highest social strata. It was a civilization with different prejudices from our own.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 4. Morals
  • In general the Egyptians were the Americans of antiquity: enamored of size, given to gigantic engineering and majestic building, industrious and accumulative, practical even in the midst of many ultramundane superstitions. They were the arch-conservatives of history, the more they changed the more they stayed the same. They were a matter of fact people not given to non-theological nonsense. they had no sentimental regard for human life, and killed with the clear conscience of nature; Egyptian soldiers cut off the right hand or the phallus, of a slain enemy and brought it to the scribe that it might be put to their credit. We can see from their temples that they had a jolly turn for humor. They played many public and private games, such as checkers and dice, they gave many modern toys to their children, like marbles, bouncing balls, tenpins and tops.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 5. Manners
  • We picture them as a physically vigorous people, muscular, broad-shouldered, thin-waisted, full lipped, and flat-footed from going unshod. Their skin was white at birth, indicating an Asiatic rather than African origin, but rapidly darkened under the Egyptian sun. The hair was dark, sometimes curly, but never woolly. Their clothing ran every gradation from primitive nudity to the gorgeous dress of Empire days. Cosmetics and jewelry were popular among men and women alike.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 5. Manners
  • The priest imparted a rudimentary instruction to the children of the well-to-do in schools attached to the temples. The teachers function was the produce scribes for the clerical work of the state. Discipline was vigorous, and based upon the simplest of principals. The youth has a back and attends best when he is beaten. There the youth graduated from the hands of the priest to high schools attached to the offices of the state treasury. In this manner Egypt and Babylonia developed more or less simultaneously, the earliest school systems in history; not until the eighteenth century of our era was the public instruction of the young to be so well organized again.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 6. Letters
  • The scholars of Egypt were mostly priests, enjoying, far from the turmoil of life, the comfort and security of the temples. It was these priest who laid the foundation for Egyptian science. At the very outset of recorded Egyptian history we find mathematics highly developed; the construction of the Pyramids involved a precision of measurement impossible without considerable mathematical lore. The dependence of Egyptian life of the fluctuations of the Nile led to careful records and calculations of the rise a recession of the river; scribes were constantly remeasuring the land, this evidently was the origin of the word geometry. All the ancients agreed in ascribing the invention of this science to the Egyptians.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 8. Science
  • The Egyptian fell just short of the decimal system; they had no zero, and never reached the idea of expressing all numbers with ten digits. They had fractions but always with the numerator as one. Multiplication and division tables are as old as the Pyramids. Egyptian geometry measured not only the area of squares, circles, and cubes, but also the cubic content of cylinders and spheres; and it arrived at 3.16 as the value of pie. We enjoy the honor of having advanced from 3.16 to 3.1416 in four thousand years.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 8. Science
  • The glory of Egyptian science was medicine. Edwin Smith discovered the oldest known scientific document, Egyptian papyri describing forty-eight cases in clinical surgery, from cranial fractures to injuries of the spine. Each case is treated in logical order, under the heads of provisional diagnosis, examination, semeiology, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and glosses on the terms used. Here the word brain appears for the first time in writing.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 8. Science.
  • Be not proud because thou art learned; but discourse with the ignorant man as with the sage. For no limit can be set to skill, neither is there any craftsman that possesseth full advantages. Fair speech is more rare than an emerald that is found by slave-maidens among the pebbles. Beware of making enmity by thy words overstep not the truth,neither repeat that which any man, be he prince of peasant, saith in opening the heart, it is abhorrent to the soul. If thou wouldst be a wise man, beget a son for the pleasing of god. If he make straight his course after thine example, if he arrange thine affairs in due order, do all unto him that is good. If he be heedless and trespass thy rules of conduct, and is violent; if every speech that cometh from his mouth is a vile word; then beat thou him, that his talk may be fitting. Precious to a man is the virtue of his son, and good character is a thing remembered. Wheresover thou goest, beware of consorting with women, if thou wouldst be wise, provide for thine house and love thy wife that is in thine arms....-Ptahhotep
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 10. Philosophy
  • Beneath and above everything in Egypt was religion. We find it there in every stage and form from totemism to theology; we see its influence in literature, in government, in art, in everything except morality.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 11. Religion
  • In the beginning, said the ancient Egyptian, was the sky; and to the end this and the Nile remained his chief divinities. All these marvelous heavenly bodies were not mere bodies, they were external forms of mighty spirits, gods who wills ordained their complex and varied movements. The sky itself was a vault, across whose vastness a great cow stood, who was the goddes Hathor; the earth lay beneath her feet, and her belly was clad in the beauty of a thousand stars. The moon was a god, perhaps the oldest of all that were worshiped in Egypt; but in the official theology the greatest of the gods was the sun.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 11. Religion
  • Always Ra, or the sun, was the Creator: at his first rising , seeing the earth desert and bare, he had flooded it with his energizing rays, and all living things had sprung pell mell from his eyes and scattered all over the world. The earliest men and women, being direct children of Ra, had been perfect and happy; by degrees their descendants had taken to evil ways, and had forfeited this perfection and happiness. All in all it was an intelligent mythology, expressing piously man's gratitude to earth and sun.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 11. Religion
  • Even the Pharaoh was a god, always the son of Amon-Ra, ruling not merely by divine right but by divine birth, as a deity transiently tolerating the earth as his home. The king was the chief priest of the faith, and led great processions and ceremonies that celebrated t eh festivals of the gods It was through this assumption of divine lineage and powers that he was able to rule so long with so little force.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 11. Religion
  • What distinguished this religion above everything else was its emphasis on immortality, for the most part Egyptian religion had little to say about morality, in the end the connection between morality and religion tended to be forgotten; the road to eternal bliss led not through a good life, but through magic, ritual, and generosity to the priests.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part III. The Civilization of Egypt Part 11. Religion
  • At this point the romantic Rameses II, last of the great Pharaohs, mounted the throne. Seldom has history known so picturesque a monarch. After brushing aside a brother with inopportune rights to the throne, he sent an expedition to Nubia to tap the gold mines there and replenish the treasury of Egypt. He undertook the reconquest of the Asiatic provinces, which had again rebelled. It may have been as a result of these campaigns that a considerable number of Jews were brought into Egypt, as slaves or immigrants and Rameses II is believed by some to have been the Pharaoh of the Exodus.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part IV. Decline and Fall
  • Only one human power in Egypt had excelled his, and that was the clergy; here as everywhere in history, ran the endless struggle between church and state. After the last Ramessid king, the High priest of Amon usurped the throne and ruled as openly supreme; meanwhile on every frontier trouble brewed. New nations were growing to maturity and power, were strengthening themselves with invention and enterprise, and were daring to compete in commerce and industry with the self-satisfied and pious Egyptians.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part IV. Decline and Fall
  • Egypt lost her trade, her gold, her power, her art, at last even her pride; one by one her rivals crept down upon her soil, harassed and conquered her, and laid her to waste. In 954 B.C the Libyans came from the western hills and laid about them with a fury; in 722 the Ethiopians entered from the south and avenged their ancient slavery; in 674 b.c. the Assyrians swept down from the north and subjected priest ridden Egypt to tribute. In 525 b.c. the Persians under Cambyses crossed Suez, and again put an end to Egyptian independence. In 332 B.C. Alexander the great sallied out of Asia, and made Egypt a province of Macedon.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part IV. Decline and Fall
  • Today there is a place called Egypt, but the Egyptian people are not the masters there; long since they have been broken by conquest, and merged in language and marriage with their Arab conquerors. The sands have destroyed only the body of ancient Egypt; its spirit survives in the lore and memory of our race. the improvement of agriculture, metallurgy, industry, and engineering; the apparent invention of glass and linen, of paper and ink, of the calendar and the clock, of geometry and the alphabet; the remarkable development of orderly and peaceful government, of census and post, of primary and secondary education, even of technical training for office administration. The first clear formulation of public conscience, the first widespread monogamy. Through their conquerors the civilization of Egypt passed down to become part of the cultural heritage of mankind. The effect or remembrance of what Egypt accomplished at the very dawn of history has influence in every nation and every age. We shall do well to equal it.
    • Chapter VIII: Egypt Part IV. Decline and Fall
  • Civilization, like life, is a perpetual struggle with death. No one looking at the site of ancient Babylon today would suspect that these hot and dreary wastes along the Euphrates were once the rich and powerful capital of a civilization that almost created astronomy, added richly to the progress of medicine, established the science of language, prepared the first great codes of law, taught the Greeks the rudiments of mathematics, physics and philosophy, gave the Jews the mythology which they gave to the world and passed on to the Arabs part of that scientific and architectural lore with which they aroused the dormant soul of medieval Europe.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part I. From Hammurabi to Nebuchadnezzar
  • Historically and ethnically Babylonia was a product of the union of the Akkadians and the Sumerians. At the outset of this history stands the powerful figure of Hammurabi 2123 B.C. - 2081 B.C. conqueror and lawgiver through a reign of forty-three years. He was a youth full of fire and genius, a very whirlwind in battle, who crushed all rebels, cuts his enemies to pieces, marches over inaccessible mountains, and never loses an engagement. The code of Hammurabi was unearthed at Susa in 1902, beautifully engraved upon a diorite cylinder. It mingles the most enlightened laws with the most barbarous punishments, and sets trial by ordeal alongside elaborate judicial procedures and a discriminating attempt to limit martial tyranny.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part I. From Hammurabi to Nebuchadnezzar
  • All in all, these 285 laws, arranged almost scientifically under the headings of Personal Property, Real Estate, Trade and Business, the Family, Injuries, and Labor, form a code more advanced than that of Assyria a thousand and more years later, and in many respects, as good as that of a modern European state.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part I. From Hammurabi to Nebuchadnezzar
  • This unifying legislation was but one of Hammurabi's accomplishments. At his command a great canal was dug between Kish and the Persian Gulf, therby irrigating a large area of land, and protecting the cities of the south from destructive floods which the Tigris had been wont to visit upon them. Despite the secular quality of his laws Hammurabi was clever enough to gild his authority with the approval of the gods. Two thousand years before Christ Babylon was already one of the richest cities that history had yet known.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part I. From Hammurabi to Nebuchadnezzar
  • The people were of Semitic appearance, dark in hair and features, masculinely bearded for the most part, and occasionally bewigged. Both sexes wore their hair long; sometimes even the men dangled curls; the common dress for both sexes was a white linen tunic reaching to the feet; in the women it left one shoulder bare. As wealth grew, the people developed a taste for color, and dyed their garments blue or red, or red on blue, in stripes, circle, checks or dots. The bare feet of the Sumerian period gave way to shapely sandals, and the male head in Hammurabi's time was swathed in turbans.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part I. From Hammurabi to Nebuchadnezzar
  • It is almost a law of history that the same wealth that generates a civilization announces its decay. For wealth produces ease as well as art; it softens people to the ways of luxury and peace; and invites invasion from stronger arms and hungrier mouths. On the eastern boundary of the new state a hardy tribe of mountaineers, the Kassites, looked with envy upon the riches of Babylon. Eight years after Hammurabi's death they inundated the land, plundered it, retreated, raided it again and again, and finally settled down as conquerors and rulers; this is the normal origin of aristocracies.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part I. From Hammurabi to Nebuchadnezzar
  • For several centuries Babylonia live in an ethnic and political chaos, the Kassites were expelled after almost six centuries of rule. The disorder continued for four hundred years until Esarhaddon came to power. Nabopolassar liberated Babylonia, set up an independent dynasty and left it to his son Nebuchadnezzar II
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part I. From Hammurabi to Nebuchadnezzar
  • Although he was illiterate and not unquestionably sane, Nebuchadnezzar II became the most powerful ruler of his time in the Near East, and the greatest warrior, statesman and builder after Hammurabi; when Egypt conspired with Assyria to reduce Babylonia to vassalage again, Nebuchadnezzar met the Egyptian host at Carchemish and almost annihilated them. After this Babylonian merchants controlled all the trade that flowed across western Asia from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part I. From Hammurabi to Nebuchadnezzar
  • Nebuchadnezzar II resisted the temptation to be merely a conqueror; he sallied forth occasionally to teach his subjects the virtues of submission, but for the most part he stayed at home, making Babylon the unrivaled capital of the Near East, the largest and most magnificent metropolis of the ancient world.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part I. From Hammurabi to Nebuchadnezzar
  • Most of the soil was tilled by tenants or by slaves; some of its by peasant proprietors. Nebuchadnezzar II distinguished his reign by building man canals, and gathering the surplus waters of the overflow into a reservoir; so watered the land produced a variety of cereals and pulses, great orchards of fruits and nuts, and above all, the date; from this beneficent concoction of sun and soil the Babylonians made bread, honey, cake and other delicacies.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part II: The Toilers
  • Nebuchadnezzar facilitated trade by improving the highways; countless caravans brought to the bazaars and shops of Babylon the products of half the world. As a result of all this trade Babylon became a thriving market-place.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part II: The Toilers
  • Government in Mesopotamia never succeeded in establishing such economic order as that which the Pharaohs achieved in Egypt. Commerce was harassed with a multiplicity of dangers and tolls; the merchant did not know which to fear more- the robbers that might beset him on the way, or the towns and baronies that exacted heavy fees from him for the privilege of using their roads. The merchants reimbursed themselves for such losses by restricting their honesty to the necessities of each situation. The Babylonians had no coinage, but even before Hammurabi the used ingots of gold and silver as standards of value and mediums of exchange.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part II: The Toilers
  • There were no banks, but certain powerful families carried on from generation to generation the business of lending money; they dealt also in real estate, and financed industrial enterprises. It was a principal of Babylonian law that no man had a right to borrow money unless he wished to be held completely responsible for its repayment, so a plague of usury was the price that Babylonian industry, like our own, paid for the price of the fertilizing activity of a complex credit system.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part II: The Toilers
  • It was essentially a commercial civilization. Most of the documents that have come down from it are of a business character- sales, loans, contracts, partnerships, and commissions. We see in the literature many signs of busy and prosperous life, but we find also, at every turn, reminders of the slavery that underlies all cultures. They were recruited from captives taken in battle, from slave-raids carried out upon foreign states by marauding Bedouins, and from the reproductive enthusiasm of the slaves themselves.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part II: The Toilers
  • Their value ranged from $20 to $65 for a woman, and from $50 to $100 for a man. Most of the physical work in the towns was done by them, including nearly all of the personal service. Female slaves were completely at the mercy of their purchaser, and were expected to provide him with bed as well as board, the slave and all their belongings were his master's property: he or she might be sold or pledged for debt; they could be put to death if their master thought them less lucrative alive than dead. If they ran away no one could legally harbor them, and a reward was fixed for their capture. Like the free peasant he was subject to conscription for both the army and the corvee.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part II: The Toilers
  • On the other hand the slave's master paid his doctor's fees, and kept him moderately alive through illness, slack employment and old age. A male slave could marry a free woman, and his children by her would be free; half his property, in such a case, went on his death to his family. The male slave might be set up in business by his master, and retain part of the profits- with which he might then buy his freedom; or his master might liberate him for exceptional or long and faithful service. But only a few slaves achieved such freedom. The rest consoled themselves with a high birth-rate, until they became more numerous than the free.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part II: The Toilers
  • A landed aristocracy, gradually displaced by a commercial plutocracy, helped to maintain social control, and served as intermediary between people and King. The latter passed his throne down to any son of his choosing, with the result that every son considered himself heir apparent, formed a clique of supporters, and, as like as not, raised a war of succession if his hopes were unfulfilled.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part III: The Law
  • Every administrator, and usually the king himself, acknowledged the guidance and authority of that great body of law which had been given form under Hammurabi. The legal development was from supernatural to secular sanctions, from severity to lenience, and from physical to financial penalties. Penology began with the law of equivalent retaliation. If a man knocked out an eye or tooth, or broke a limb of a free citizen, then the same was done to him. Gradually these punishments in kind were replaced by awards of damages; a payment of money was permitted as an alternative to the physical retaliation, latter the fine becomes the only punishment.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part III: The Law
  • Death was decreed for a variety of crimes: rape, kidnaping, brigandage, burglary, incest, procurement of a husband's death by his wife in order to marry another man, the harboring of a fugitive slave, cowardice in the face of the enemy, malfeasance in office. In such rough ways, through thousands of years, those traditions and habits of order and self-restraint were established which became part of the unconscious basis of civilization.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part III: The Law
  • The law of inheritance made the man's children, rather than his wife, his natural and direct heirs; the widow received her dowry and her wedding gift, and remained head of the household as long as she lived. the was no right of primogeniture; the sons inherited equally, and in this way the largest estates were soon redivided, and the concentration of wealth was in some measure checked.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part III: The Law
  • Litigation was discouraged; the very first law of the code reads, with almost illegal simplicity: If a man bring an accusation against a man, and charge him with a capital crime, but cannot prove it, the accuser shall be put to death. The code did have its lapses, there was nothing in it about the rights of the individual against the state, but articles 22-24 provided, if not political, at least economic, protection. "If a man practice brigandage and be captured, that man shall be put to death." If the brigand be not captured, the man who has been robbed shall make an itemized statement of his loss, and the city and governor within whose province and jurisdiction the robbery was committed shall compensate him for whatever was lost. What modern city is so well governed that it would dare offer such reimbursements to the victims of its negligence?
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part III: The Law
  • From the priest-governers of Sumeria to the religious coronation of Nebuchadrezzar, Babylonia remained in effect a theocratic state. The wealth of the temples grew from generation to generationm, as the uneasy rich shared the dividends with the Gods. The Kings, feeling an especial need for divine forgiveness, built the temples, equipped them with furniture, food and slaves, deeded to them great areas of land, and assigned to them an annual income from tthe state.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part IV: The Gods of Babylon
  • Occasionally the King commandeered some of the temple accumulations to meet an expensive emergency. But this was rare and dangerous, for the priest had laid terrible curses upon all who should touch, unpermitted, the smallest jot of ecclesiastical property. Besides, their influence with the people was ultimately greater than that of the King, and they might in most cases depose him if the set their combined wits and powers to this end. They also had the advantage of permanence; the King died, but the God lived on; the council of priest, free from the fortunes of elections, illnesses, assassinations, and wars, had a corporate perpetuity that made possible long-term and patient policies, such as characterize great religious organizations to this day.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part IV: The Gods of Babylon
  • The Babylonian derived no satisfaction from the idea of personal immortality. His religion was terrestrially practical; when he prayed he asked not for celestial rewards but for earthly goods; he could not trust his gods beyond the grave. In general, to the Babylonian, religion meant correct ritual rather than the good life. to do one's duty to the gods one had to offer proper sacrifice to the temples, and recite the appropriate prayers, for the rest he might cut out the eyes of his fallen enemy , cut off the hands and feet of captives, and roast their remainders alive in a furnace, without much offense to heaven.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part IV: The Gods of Babylon
  • This religion, with all its failings, probably helped to prod the common Babylonian into some measure of decency and civic docility, otherwise we would be hard put to explain the generosity of the kings to the priests. Even Alexander the great, who was not above dying of drinking, was shocked by the morals of Babylon.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part IV: The Morals of Babylon
  • The most striking figure of Babylonian life, to an alien observer, was a custom of free temple love in which every woman is obliged, once in her life to sit in the temple of Venus and have intercourse with a stranger who signals his interest by throwing a piece of silver in her lap. What was the reason for this strange rite? We do not know. Such women, of course were not prostitutes. But various classes of prostitutes lived within the temple precincts, plied there trade there, and amassed, some of them, great fortunes. In general the Babylonians were allowed considerable premarital experience. It was considered permissible for men and women to form unlicensed unions, trial marriages terminable at the will of either party; but the women is such cases was obliged to wear an olive in stone- as a sign that she was a concubine.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part IV: The Morals of Babylon
  • Legal marriage was arranged by the parents, and was sanctioned by an exchange of gifts obviously descended from marriage by purchase. The suitor presented to the father of the bride a substantial present, but the father was expected to give her a dowry greater in value than the gift. Despite these transactions, Babylonian marriage seems to have been as monogamous and faithful as marriage in Christendom is today.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part IV: The Morals of Babylon
  • Childlessness, adultery, incompatibility, or careless management of the household might satisfy the law as ground for granting the man a divorce, the woman, though she might not divorce her husband, was free to leave him, if she could show cruelty on his part and fidelity on her own; in such cases she could return to her parents, and take her marriage portion with her along with what other property she might have acquired. In general the position of woman in Babylonia was lower than in Egypt or Rome, and yet not worse than in classic Greece or medieval Europe.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part IV: The Morals of Babylon
  • A woman of Babylon could own property, enjoy its income, sell and buy, inherit and bequeath. Some women kept shops, and carried on commerce; some even became scribes, indicating that girls as well as boys might receive an education. But the Semitic practice of giving almost limitless power to the oldest male of the family won out against any matriarchal tendencies that may have existed in prehistoric Mesopotamia. Among the upper class the women were confined to certain quarters of the house, among the lower classes they were maternity machines, and if they had no dowry they were little better than slaves.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part IV: The Morals of Babylon
  • With some excuse, then, the Egyptians looked down upon the Babylonians as not quite civilized. We miss here the refinement of character and feeling indicated by Egyptian literature and art. After the Persian conquest the death of self-respect brought an end of self-restraint; the manners of the courtesan crept into every class; morals grew lax when the temples grew rich; and the citizens of Babylon wedded to delight, bore with equanimity the subjection of their city by the Kassites, the Assyrians, the Persians, and the Greeks.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part IV: The Morals of Babylon
  • Already by the time of Hammurabi the art of healing had separated itself in some measure from the domain and domination of the clergy; a regular, profession of physician had been established, with fees and penalties fixed by law. If the doctor bungled badly he had to pay damages to the patient. But this almost secularized science found itself helpless before the demand of the people for supernatural diagnosis and magical cures.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part VII: Babylonian Science
  • A nation is born stoic, and dies epicurean. In the beginning of all cultures a strong religious faith conceals and softens the nature of things, and gives men courage to bear pain and hardship patiently; evil does not destroy faith, but strengthens it. If victory comes, if war is forgotten in security and peace, then wealth grows; the life of the body gives way in the dominant classes to the life of the senses and the mind, toil and suffering are replaced by pleasure and ease, science weakens faith while thought and comfort weaken virility and fortitude.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part IX: Philosophers
  • Nebuchadnezzar, after a long reign of uninterrupted victory and prosperity, after beautifying his city with roads and pa;aces, and erecting fity-four temples to the gods, fell into a strange insanity, thought himself a beast, walked on all fours and ate grass. in 562 B.C. he passes away. Within thirty years of his passing his empire crumbles into pieces. The army fell into disorder; business men forgot love of country in the sublime internationalism of finance; the people, busy with trade and pleasure, unlearned the arts of war. The civilization of Babylonia was not as fruitful for humanity as Egypt's, not as varied and profound as India's not as subtle and mature as China. And yet it was from Babylonia that those fascinating legends came which became an inseparable portion of Europe's religious lore. They gave to us through the Greeks the foundations of mathematics, astronomy, medicine, grammar, lexicography, archaeology, history, and philosophy.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part X Epitaph
  • The laws of Hammurabi became for all ancient societies a legacy comparable to Rome's gift of order and government to the modern world. Through Assyria's conquest of Babylon, her appropriation of the ancients city's culture, and her dissemination of that culture throughout her wide empire; through the captivity of the Jews, through the Persian and Greek conquest the civilization of the Land between the Rivers passed down into the cultural endowment of the race.
    • Chapter IX: Babylonia Part IX. Epitaph
  • Meanwhile, three hundred miles north of Babylon another civilization had appeared. The population was a mixture of Semites from the civilized south with non-Semitic tribes from the west, possibly Hittite or Mitannian affinity and Kurdish mountaineers from the Caucasus. Their circumstances, however, forbade them to indulge in the effeminate ease of Babylon, from beginning to end they were a race of warriors, mighty in muscle and courage, their history is one of Kings and slaves, wars and conquests, bloody victories and sudden defeat.
    • Chapter X: Assyria Part I. Chronicles
  • If we should admit the imperial principle- that it is good, for the sake, of spreading law, security, commerce and peace, that many states should be brought, by persuasion or force, under the authority of one government- then we should have to concede to Assyria the distinction of having established in western Asia a larger measure and area of order and prosperity than that region of the earth had ever, to our knowledge, enjoyed before.
    • Chapter X: Assyria Part II. Assyrian Government
  • In some ways it was an liberal empire; its larger cities retained considerable local autonomy, and each nation in it was left its own religion, law and ruler, provided it paid its tribute promptly. In so loose an organization every weakening of the central power was bound to produce rebellions, or at best, a certain tributary negligence, so that the subject states had to be conquered again and again.
    • Chapter X: Assyria Part II. Assyrian Government
  • The army was therefore the most vital part of the government. Assyria recognized frankly that government is the nationalization of force, and her chief contributions to progress were in the art of war. Tactic centered about the idea of rapid movement making possible a piecemeal attack- so old is the secret of Napoleon. The nobility fought from chariots in the van of battle, and the King in his royal chariot, usually led them in person. The loyalty of the troops was secured by dividing a large part of the spoils among them; their bravery was ensured by the Near East rule that all captives of war might be enslaved or slain. No compunction seems to have been felt at this waste of human life; the birth rate would soon make up for it, and meanwhile it relieved the pressure of population upon the means of subsistence.
    • Chapter X: Assyria Part II Assyrian Government
  • Next to the army the chief reliance of the monarch was upon the church, and he paid lavishly for the support of the priest, the religion of Assyria was imported from Sumeria and Babylonia but the law was adapted with an eye toward more martial penalties. It included twenty to a hundred lashes, the slitting of the nose and ears, castration, pulling out the tongue, gouging out the eyes, impalement, and beheading. In general Assyrian law was less secular and more primitive than the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, which apparently preceded it in time.
    • Chapter X: Assyria Part II. Assyrian Government
  • Local administration, originally by feudal barons, fell in the course of time into the hands of provincial prefects or governors appointed by the King. The prefects were expected to collect taxes, to organize the corvee for works which, like irrigation, could not be left to personal initiative; and above all to raise regiments and lead them in royal campaigns. All in all, the Assyrian government was primarily an instrument of war. For war was often more profitable than peace; it cemented discipline, intensified patriotism, strengthened the royal power and brought abundant spoils and slaves for the enrichment and service of the capital.
    • Chapter X: Assyria Part II Assyrian Government
  • The weakness of Oriental monarchies was bound up with this addiction to violence. No only did the subject provinces repeatedly revolt; but within the royal palace or family itself violence again and again attempted to upset what violence had established and maintained. The nations of the Near East preferred violent uprisings to corrupt elections, and their form of recall was assassination. Some of these wars were inevitable; one reign of weakness would leave them open to the Scythians, Cimmerians or some other horde. Perhaps we exaggerate the frequency of war and violence; ancient monuments and modern chroniclers have preserved the dramatic record of battles, and ignored the victories of peace. Historians have been prejudiced in favor of bloodshed; they found it or thought their readers, would find, more interesting than the quiet achievements of the mind.
    • Chapter X: Assyria Part II Assyrian Government
  • The economic life of Assyria did not differ much from that of Babylonia, for in many ways the two countries were merely north and south of one civilization. Rich Babylonians were usually merchants, rich Assyrians were most often landed gentry actively supervising great estates. The people fell into five classes: Nobles, craftsmen, unskilled but free workmen, serfs and slaves. Though women rose to considerable power through marriage and intrigue, their position was lower than in Babylonia. Severe penalties were laid upon them for striking their husbands, strict fidelity was expected of them although the husbands could indulge in concubinage. In all departments of Assyrian life we meet with a patriarchal sternness natural to a people that lived by conquest, and in every sense on the border of barbarism.
    • Chapter X: Assyria Part III. Assyrian Life
  • Religion apparently did nothing to mollify this tendency to brutality and violence. It had less influence with the government that in Babylonia, the essential function of Assyrian religion was to train the future citizens to a patriotic docility, and to teach him the art of wheedling favors out of the gods by magic and sacrifice. We find no evidence of philosophical speculation, no secular attempts to explain the world.
    • Chapter X: Assyria Part III. Assyrian Life
  • Gradually the qualities of body and character that had helped to make Assyrian armies invincible were weakened by the victories they won; in each victory it was the strongest and bravest who died, while the infirm and cautious survived to multiply their kind; it was a dysgenic process that perhaps made for civilization by weeding out the more brutal types but it undermined the biological basis upon which Assyria had risen to power. The extent of her conquest had helped to weaken her; not only had they depopulated her fields but they had brought into Assyria, as captives, millions of destitute aliens who breed consistently and destroyed all national unity of character and blood, and by their numbers became a hostile and disintegrating force in the midst of the conquerors.
    • Chapter X: Assyria Part V. Assyria Passes
  • The Near Est was divided by mountains and deserts into localities naturally isolated and therefore naturally diverse in language and traditions; but the migrations and imperial deportations of vast communities so mingled stocks and speech that certain homogeneity of culture accompanied the heterogeneity of blood. By Indo-European then, we shall mean predominantly Indo-European; by Semitic we shall mean predominantly Semitic: no strain was unmixed, no culture was left uninfluenced by its neighbors or its enemies.
    • Chapter XI: A Motley of Nations Part II. The Semitic Peoples
  • The fount and breeding-place of the Semites was Arabia. Out of that arid region, where the man-plant grows so vigorously and hardly and other plant will grow at all, came, in succession of migrations, wave after wave of sturdy, reckless stoics bound to conquer a place for themselves in the shade. Those who remained behind created the civilization of Arabia and the Bedouin: the patriarchal family, the stern morality of obedience, the fatalism of a hard environment, nevertheless they did not take religion much to heart till Mohammed came, and they neglected the arts and refinements of life as effeminate devices for degenerate men.
    • Chapter XI: A Motley of Nations Part II. The Semitic Peoples
  • In the interior of their broad peninsula they built cities, palaces and temples, but they (Arabians) did not encourage foreigners to come and see them. For thousands of years they have lived their own life, kept their own customs, kept their own counsel; they are the same today as in the time of Cheops and Gudea; they have seen a hundred kingdoms rise and fall about them; and their soil is still jealously theirs, guarded from profane feat and alien eyes.
    • Chapter XI: A Motley of Nations Part II. The Semitic Peoples
  • Who, now, were those Phoenicians who have so been spoken of in these pages, whose ships sailed every sea, whose merchants bargained in every port? The historian is abashed before any question of origins: he must confess that he knows nothing about the early or the late history of this ubiquitous, yet elusive, people. The coast, a hundred miles long and only ten miles wide, between Syria and the sea was almost all of Phoenicia; the people never thought it worthwhile to settle in the Lebanon hills behind them, or to bring these ranges under their rule; those mountains compelled them to live on the water, they manufactured various forms and objects of glass and metal, the made enameled vases, weapons, ornaments and jewelry.
    • Chapter XI: A Motley of Nations Part II. The Semitic Peoples

Phoenicians were shrewd traders; they persuaded the natives of Spain to give them, in exchange for a cargo of oil, so great a quantity of silver that the holds of their ships could not contain it. Not satisfied with this, they enslaved the natives, and made them work for long hours in the mines for a subsistence wage. Like all early voyagers, they made scant distinction between trade and treachery, commerce and robbery; they stole from the weak, cheated the stupid, and were honest with the rest. They had much to do with giving the trading Semites of antiquity an evil reputation, especially with the Greeks, who did the same things

    • Chapter XI: A Motley of Nations Part II. The Semitic Peoples
  • The Phoenician ships had no compasses and drawing hardly five feet of water they kept close to shore and did not sail at night. Gradually their nautical skills developed where guiding themselves by the North Star, they adventured into the oceans, and at last circumnavigated Africa discovering the Cape of Good Hope some two thousand years before Vasco da Gama.
    • Chapter XI: A Motley of Nations Part II. The Semitic Peoples
  • Nourished by this trade, and skillfully governed by mercantile aristocracies too clever in diplomacy and finance to waste their fortunes in war, the cities of Phoenicia rose to a place among the richest and most powerful in the world. Phoenicians deserve their place in the hall of civilized nations, for it was probably their merchants who taught the Egyptian alphabet to the nations of antiquity
    • Chapter XI: A Motley of Nations Part II. The Semitic Peoples
  • Syria lay behind Phoenicia, in the very lap of the Lebanon hills, gathering its tribes together loosely under the rule of that capital (Damascus) who had successfully resisted the efforts of Assyria to make Syria one of her vassal states. Fashions, manners and morals in Damascus were very much as at Babylon, which was the Paris of the ancient East.
    • Chapter XI: A Motley of Nations Part II. The Semitic Peoples
  • It was the fortune and misfortune of Palestine that it lay midway between the capitals of the Nile and those of the Tigris and Euphrates. This circumstance brought trade to Judea, and it brought war; time and again the harassed Hebrews were compelled to take sides in the struggle of empires, to pay tribute or be overrun. Behind the Bible, behind the plaintive cries of the psalmists and the prophets for help from the sky, lay this imperiled place of the Jews between the upper and neither millstones of Mesopotamia and Egypt.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part I. The Promised Land
  • The Jews believed that the people of Abraham had come from Ur in Sumeria, and had settled in Palestine (2200 B.C.) a thousand years or more before Moses. We cannot tell when the Jews entered Egypt, nor whether they came to it as free men or as slaves. We may take as likely that the immigrants were at first a modest number, and that the many thousands of Jews in Egypt in Moses' time were the consequence of high birth rate. The story of bondage in Egypt, of the use of the Jews as slaves in great construction enterprises, their rebellion and escape- or emigration- to Asia, has many internal signs of essential truth. Even the story of Moses must not be rejected offhand; it is astonishing, however that no mention of him by either Amos or Isaiah, whose preaching appears to have preceded by a century the composition of the Pentateuch.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part I. The Promised Land
  • When Moses led the Jews to Mt. Sinai he was merely following the route laid down by Egyptian turquoise hunting expeditions for a thousand years before him. The account of the forty years' wandering in the desert, once looked upon as incredible, now seems reasonable enough in a traditionally nomadic people; the conquest of Canaan was but one more instance of a hungry nomad horde falling upon a settled community. Moses had been a patient statesman, but Joshua was only a plain, blunt warrior; Moses had ruled bloodlessly by inventing interviews with God, but Joshua ruled by the second law of nature- that the superior killer survives. In this realistic and unsentimental fashion the Jews took their Promised Land.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part I. The Promised Land
  • Of Jewish racial origins we can only vaguely say that they were Semites, not sharply distinct or different from the other Semites of western Asia. At their very first appearance they are already a mixture of of many stocks, no "pure" race could have existed among the thousand ethnic cross-currents of the Near East. But the Jews were the purist of all for they intermarried only very reluctantly with other peoples;
    • Chapter XII: Part II. Solomon In All His Glory
  • The Jewish invaders never formed a united nation, but remained for a long time as twelve more or less independent tribes, organized and ruled on the principals not of the state but of the patriarchal family, the oldest head of each family participated in a council of elders which was the last court of law and justice in the tribe.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part II. Solomon In All His Glory
  • Their (the Jews) first King, Saul, gave them good and evil instructively: fought their battles bravely, lived simply on his own estate at Gileah, pursued young David with murderous attentions, and was beheaded in flight from the Philistines. The Jews learned, then, at the first opportunity, that wars of succession are among the appendages of monarchy. Unless the little epic of Saul, Jonathan, and David is merely a masterpiece of literary creation- for their is no contemporary mention of them outside of the Bible, this first king, after a bloody interlude, was succeeded by David, heroic slayer of Goliath, tender lover of Jonathan and many maidens, and able kind of the Jews for almost forty years.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part II. Solomon In All His Glory
  • Here, so early in literature, is a character fully drawn, real with with all the contradictions and passions of a living soul: as ruthless as his time, tribe and his god, and yet as ready to pardon his enemies as Caesar was, he took Uriah's wife into his harem and send Uriah to the front to get rid of him; forgiving Saul almost seventy times seven, sparing and supporting Mephibosheth, a pretender to his throne; pardoning his ungrateful son Absalom and bitterly mourning his death- David was an authentic man, of full and varied elements, bearing within him all the vestiges of barbarism, and all the promise of civilization.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part II. Solomon In All His Glory
  • On coming to the throne Solomon, for his peace of mind, slew all rival claimants. This did not disturb Yahveh, who, taking a liking to the young king, promised him wisdom beyond all men before or after him. Perhaps Solomon deserves his reputation; for not only did he combine in his own life the epicurean enjoyment of every pleasure and luxury with a stoic fulfillment of all his obligations as a king, but he taught his people the values of law and order, and lured them from discord and war to industry and peace.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part II. Solomon In All His Glory
  • Most of his revenues went to the strengthening of his government and the beautification of his capital. He divided his kingdom, for administrative purposes, into twelve districts which deliberately crossed the tribal boundaries; by this plan he had hoped to lessen the clannish separatism of the tribes and weld them into one people. He failed and Judea failed with him.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part II. Solomon In All His Glory
  • As his reign proceeded he paid less and less attention to religion and frequented his harem rather more than the Temple. The Biblical chroniclers reproach him bitterly for his gallantry in building altars to the exoic deities of his foreign wives, and cannot forgive his philosophical or perhaps political impartiality to the gods. The people admired his wisdom but suspected in it a certain centripetal quality; the Temple and palace had cost them much gold and blood, and were not more popular with them than the Pyramids had been with the working men of Egypt. When Solomon died Israel was exhausted, and a discontented proletariat had been created whose labor found no steady employment, and whose sufferings were to transform the warlike cult of Yahveh into the almost socialistic religion of the prophets.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part II. Solomon In All His Glory
  • Next to the promulgation of the "Book of Law," the building of the Temple was the most important event in the epic of the Jews. It not only gave Yahveh a home, but it gave Judea a spiritual center and capital, a vehicle of tradition, a memory to serve as a pillar through centuries of wandering over the earth. The Temple played its part in lifting the Hebrew religion from a primitive polytheism to a faith intense and intolerant but nonetheless one of the creative creeds of history.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part III. The Gods of Hosts
  • As they first entered the historic scene the Jews were nomad Bedouins who feared the djinns of the air, and worshiped rocks, cattle sheep, and the spirits of caves and hills. Just as primitive polytheism survived in the worship of angels and saints, and in teraphim, or portable idols, that served as household gods. Slowly the conception of Yahveh as the one national god took from, and gave Jewish faith a unity an simplicity lifted up above the chaotic multiplicity of the Mesopotamian pantheons.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part III. The Gods of Hosts
  • The Jews took one of the god of Canaan, Yahu and recreated him in their own image as a stern warlike deity with almost lovable limitations. For this god makes no claim to omniscience: he asks Jews to identify their homes by sprinkling them with lamb's blood lest he should destroy their children inadvertently. Yahveh is not above making mistakes, of which man is his worst; he regrets, too late, that he created Adam, or allowed Saul to become king. He is, now and then, greedy, irascible, bloodthirsty, capricious, petulant: "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy to whom I will show mercy" He is talkative, and likes to make long speeches; but he is shy, and will not allow men to see anything of him but his hind parts. Never was there so throughly human a god.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part III. The Gods of Hosts
  • Yahveh will have no pacifist nonsense; he knows that even a Promised Land can be won, and held, only by the sword; he is a god of war because he had to be; it will take centuries of military defeat, political subjugation, and moral development, to transform him into the gentle and loving father of Hillel and Christ. To gain successes for his people he commits or commands brutalities as repugnant to our taste as they were acceptable to the morals of the age; he is so ferocious that he thinks of destroying all Jews for worshiping the Golden Calf; Moses had to argue with him that he should control himself. Like Moses, Abraham teaches Yahveh the principles of morals, and persuades him not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah; bit by bit he lures his god towards decency, and illustrates the manner in which the moral development of man compels the periodical re-creation of his deities.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part III. The Gods of Hosts
  • With the growth of political unity under David and Solomon, and the centering of worship in the Temple at Jerusalem, theology reflected history and politics, and Yahveh became the sole god of the Jews. Judaism was immensely superior to the other religions in philosophic unity and grasp, in moral fervor and influence. A sense of human nothingness before an arbitrary deity darkened all ancient Jewish thought. The worship of this awful divinity remained for many centuries a religion of fear rather than love. One wonders, looking back upon these faiths, whether they brought as much consolation as terror to humanity. Religions of hope and love are a luxury of security and order; the need for striking fear into a subject or rebellious people made most primitive religions cults of mystery and dread. The central idea in Judaic theology was that of sin. Never has another people been so found of virtue, since the flesh was weak and the Law complex, sin was inevitable, and the Jewish spirit was often overcast with the thought of sin's consequences.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part III. The Gods of Hosts
  • Since poverty is created by wealth, and never knows itself poor until riches stare it in the face, so it required the fabulous fortune of Solomon to mark the beginning of the class war in Israel. Solomon, like Peter and Lenin, tried to move too quickly from an agricultural to an industrial state. Not only did the toil and taxes involved in his enterprises impose a great burdens upon his people, but when those undertakings were complete a proletariat had been created in Jerusalem which, lacking sufficient employment, became a source of political faction and corruption in Palestine. Slums developed step by step with the rise of private wealth and the increasing luxury of the court.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part IV. The First Radicals

The growing gap between the needy and affluent, and the sharpening of that conflict between the city and the country which always accompanies an industrial civilization, had something to do with the division of Palestine into two hostile kingdoms after the death of Solomon: a northern kingdom of Ephraim, and a southern kingdom of Judah. From that time Jews were weakened by fraternal hatred and strife, breaking out occasionally into war.

    • Chapter XII: Judea Part IV. The First Radicals
  • It was in this atmosphere of political disruption and economic war, and religious degeneration that the prophets appeared. Some were gloomy recluses, like Elijah; many of them lived in schools or monasteries near the temples; but most of them had private property and wives. The prophets developed into a responsible and consistent critics of their age and their people. We misunderstand them if we take them as prophets in the weather sense; their predictions were hopes or threats, or pious interpolations, the prophets themselves did not pretend to foretell, so much as to speak out; they were eloquent members of the Opposition.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part IV. The First Radicals
  • Amos described himself not as a prophet but as a simple village shepherd. Having left his herds to see Beth-El, he was horrifed at the unnatural complexity of the life which he discovered there, the inequality of fortune, the bitterness of competition, the ruthlessness of exploitation. Here, for the first time in the literature of Asia, the social conscience takes definite form, and pours into religion a content that lifts it from ceremony and flattery to a whip of morals and a call to nobility. With Amos begins the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part IV. The First Radicals
  • It was during the siege of Jerusalem in 733 B.C. that the prophet Isaiah became one of the great figures in Hebrew history. Less provincial than Amos, he thought in terms of enduring statesmanship. Convinced that little Judah could not resist the imperial power of Assyria, he pled with King Ahaz, and then with King Hezekiah, to remain neutral in the war between Assyria and Ephraim. When the Assyrians besieged Jerusalem, Isaiah counseled Hezekiah not to yield. The sudden withdrawal of the Assyrian host seemed to justify him, and for a time his repute was high with the King and people of Jerusalem. His strongest criticisms falls where it belongs- upon economic exploitation and greed. Isiah concludes by formulating the Messianic hope- the trust of the Jews in some Redeemer who will end their political divisions, their subjection, and their misery, and bring an era of universal brotherhood and peace.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part IV. The First Radicals
  • In Amos and Isaiah is the beginning of both Christianity and socialism, the spring from which has flowed a stream of Utopias wherein no poverty or war shall disturb human brotherhood and peace; they are the source of the early Jewish conception of a Messiah who would seize the government, reestablish the temporal power of the Jews, and inaugurate a dictatorship of the dispossessed among mankind. Isaiah and Amos began, in a military age, the exaltation of those virtues of simplicity and gentleness, of cooperation and friendliness. It was they who, when the Bible was printed in Europe, fired the Germanic mind with a rejuvenated Christianity & lighted the torch of the Reformation, it was their fierce and intolerant virtue that formed the Puritans. They offered to the unfortunate of the earth a vision of brotherhood that became the precious and unforgotten heritage of many generations.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part IV. The First Radicals
  • The prophets greatest contemporary influence was on the writing of the Bible. The priest Hilkiah announced to King Josiah that he had "found" the secret archives of the Temple and astonishing scroll in which the great Moses himself, at the dictation of Yahveh, had settled once and for all those problems of history and conduct that were being so hotly debated. We do not know just what this "Book of the Covenant" was; it may have been Exodus xx-xxiii, or it may have been Deuteronomy. We need not suppose that it had been invented on the spur of the situation; it merely formulated, and put into writing, decrees, demands and exhortations which had come from the Temple for centuries.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part V. The Death and Resurrection of Jerusalem
  • It was a dramatic hour in the history of Israel when at last Cyrus entered Babylon as a world-conqueror, and gave to the exiled Jews full freedom to return to Jerusalem. The Jews found themselves, then as now, not entirely welcome in their ancient home; other Semites had settled there. The returning Jews could not possible have established themselves had it not been for the strong and friendly empire that protected them.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part V. The Death and Resurrection of Jerusalem
  • About the year 444 B.C. Ezra, a learned priest called the Jews together in solemn assembly, and read to them, from morn to midday, the "Book of the Law of Moses". The people pledged themselves to accept this body of legislation as their constitution and the conscience, and to obey it forever. From those troubled times till ours that Law has been the central fact of life of the Jews; and their loyalty to it through all wanderings and tribulations had been one of the impressive phenomena of history.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part VI. The People of the Book
  • To ask whether these stories are true of false, whether "they really happened," would be to put a trivial and superficial question; their substance, of course is not the tales they tell but the judgments they convey.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part VI. The People of the Book
  • Of this legislation (The Torah) the cautious Sarton writes: " Its importance in the history of institutions and of law cannot be overestimated." The law became the tightest garment into which life was ever laced. Diet, medicine, personal, menstrual, and natal hygiene, public sanitation, sexual inversion, and bestiality were all subjects of divine ordinance. For the rest the code centered about those Ten Commandments which were destined to receive lip-service of half the world. In general it was a lofty code, sharing its defects with its age, and rising to virtues characteristically its own. Its influence upon the conduct of the people was at least as great as that of most legal or moral codes. It gave to Jews, through two thousand years of wandering, a portable father land, an intangible and spiritual state. It kept them united despite every dispersion, proud despite every defeat and brought them across the centuries to our own time a strong and apparently indestructible people.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part VI. The People of the Book
  • The Old Testament is not only law; it is history, poetry and philosophy of the highest order. After making every deduction for primitive legend and pious fraud, we find in them, nevertheless, not merely some of the oldest historical writing known to us, but also some of the best. This is the first recorded effort of man to reduce the multiplicity of past events to a measure of unity by seeking in them some pervading purpose and significance, some law of sequence and causation, some illumination for the present and the future.
    • Chapter XII: Judea Part VII. The Literature and Philosophy of the Bible
  • As Indo-Europeans they had probably come into western Asia about a thousand years before Christ, from the shores of the Caspian Sea. The Medes appear to have wandered through the region of Bokhara and Samarkand, and to have migrated father and farther south, at last reaching Persia. Being a simple and vigorous people they developed a prosperous agriculture on the plains and the slopes of the hills.
    • Chapter XIII: Persia Part I. The Rise and Fall of the Medes
  • To Persia the Medes gave their Aryan language, their alphabet of thirty-six characters, their replacement of clay with parchment and pen as writing materials, their moral code of conscientious husbandry in time of peace and limitless bravery in time of war. Their degeneration was even more rapid than their rise. Astyages, who succeeded his father Cyaxares, proved again that monarchy is a gamble, in whose royal succession great wits and madness are near allied. Astyages settled down to enjoy his rule, while the upper classes lost themselves in luxury. Astyages was desposed by Cyrus.
    • Chapter XIII: Persia Part I. The Rise and Fall of the Medes
  • So far as we can visualize him through the haze of legend, Cyrus was the most amiable of conquerors, and founded his empire upon generosity. His enemies knew he was lenient, and they did not fight him with that reckless courage which men show when their only choice is to kill or die. The first principal of his policy was that the various peoples of his empire should be left free in their religious worship and beliefs, like Napoleon he accepted indifferently all religions. He was slain in battle near the Caspian Sea.
    • Chapter XIII. Persia Part II. The Great Kings
  • At its greatest extent the Persian Empire included twenty provinces embracing Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Phoenicia, Lydia, Phrygia, Ionia, Assyria, Babylonia, Media, Persia, modern Afghanistan and India west of the Indus. Never before had history recorded so extensive an area brought under one government. Persia itself, which was to rule these forty million souls for two hundred years, was composed almost entirely of mountains and deserts, poor in rivers, subject to severe winters and hot arid summers, it could support its two million inhabitants only through such external contributions as trade or conquest might bring.
    • Chapter XIII. Persia Part III. Persian Life and Industry
  • The common man was contentedly illiterate, and gave himself completely to the culture of the soil. Some of the land was tilled by peasant proprietors, who occasionally joined several families in agricultural cooperatives to work extensive areas together, part of the land was tilled by foreign (never Persian) slaves. Barley and wheat were the staple crops and food, but much meat was eaten and much wine drunk. Persia did not apply herself to industry, she was content with receiving handicrafts through tribute from her vassal states. Persia applied herself to engineering and built great roads primarily for military and governmental purposes but they also served to stimulate commerce and the exchange of customs and ideas.
    • Chapter XIII. Persia Part III. Persian Life and Industry
  • The life of Persia was political and military rather than economic; its wealth was based not on industry but on power; it existed precariously as a little governing isle in an immense and unnaturally subject sea. The imperial organization that maintained this artifact was one of the most competent in history. At the head was the king, since lesser kings were vassals to him, the Persian ruler entitled himself "King of Kings". His power was theoretically absolute; he could kill with a word, without trial or reason given, after the manner of some very modern dictator. The king had the right to choose his successor from among his sons, but ordinarily the succession was determined by assassination and revolution. The royal power was limited in practice by the strength of the aristocracy that mediated between the people and the throne. It was a matter of custom that the six families that helped Darius I in his coup against Smerdis, should have exceptional privileges and be consulted in all matters of vital interest. The real basis of royal power and imperial government was the army; an empire exist only so long as it retains its superior capacity to kill. Despite high taxes, the Persian Empire was the most successful experiment in imperial government that the Mediterranean world had ever known. Under Darius I the Persian Empire was an achievement of political organization.
    • Chapter XIII. Persia Part III. Persian Life and Industry
  • As this system of belief came from Zarathustra it bordered upon monotheism. As creator and ruler of the world he was assisted by a legion of lesser divinities. The Zoroastrian conception of God might have satisfied particular a spirit as Matthew Arnold: Ahura-Mazda was the sum-total of all those forces of the world that make for righteousness; and morality lay in cooperation with those forces. By picturing the world as the scene of a struggle between good and evil, the Zoroastrians established in the popular imagination a powerful supernatural stimulus and sanction for morals. It was an ethic even more admirable than the theology- if men must have supernatural supports for their morality; it gave to the common life a dignity and significance grander than any that could come to it from a world-view that locked man (in medieval phrase) as a helpless worm or (in modern terms) as a mechanical automaton. Out of this general conception emerged a detailed but simple code of morals, centered about the Golden Rule. Man's duty, says the Avesta, is three-fold: " To make him who is an enemy a friend; to make him who is wicked righteous; and to make him who is ignorant learned."
    • Chapter XIII Persia. Part VI Zoroastrian Ethics.
  • Given a life of piety and truth, the Persian might face death unafraid: this, after all, is one of the secret purposes of religion. And yet-for it is the nature of religion to threaten and terrify as well as to console- the Persian could not look upon death unafraid unless he had been a faithful warrior in Ahura-Mazda's cause. All in all it was a splendid religion, less warlike and bloody, less idolatrous and superstitious, than the other religions of the time; it did not deserve to die so soon.
    • Chapter XIII Persia. Part VI Zoroastrian Ethics.
  • It is surprising how much brutality remained in the Medes and the Persians despite their relatively enlightened religion. Traitors were dealt with without sentiment: they and their leaders were crucified, their followers were sold as slaves, their towns pillaged, their boys castrated, the girls sold into harems. But it would be unfair to judge the people from their kings; virtue is not news, and virtuous men, like happy nations, have no history. Even the kings showed on occasion a fine generosity, and were known among the faithless Greeks for their fidelity. It was a testimony to the character of the Persians that whereas any one could hire Greeks to fight Greeks, it was rare indeed that a Persian could be hired to fight Persians.
    • Chapter XIII Persia. Part VII. Persian Manners and Morals
  • Persians were free and open in speech, generous, warm-hearted and hospitable. Etiquette was almost as punctilious among them as with the Chinese. When social equals met they embraced, and kissed each other on the lips; to persons of higher rank they made a deep obeisance; to those of lower rank they offered the cheek; to commoners they bowed. They thought it unbecoming to eat or drink anything in the street or to publically spit or blow their nose. Their code was again Judaically stern against the sins of the flesh. Onanism was punished with flogging; men and women guilty of sexual promiscuity or prostitution were punished severely.
    • Chapter XIII Persia. Part VII. Persian Manners and Morals
  • Virgins and bachelors were not encouraged by the code, but polygamy and concubinage were allowed. The family is ranked as the holiest of all institutions. In the time of the Prophet the position of woman in Persia was high, she moved in public freely and unveiled; she owned and managed property, she directed the affairs of her husband in his name or through his pen. After Darius her status declined, especially among the rich. Her seclusion during menstruation was the foundation of the Moslem institution of purdah. Upper class women could not venture out unveiled or without a escort; married women were forbidden to see even near male relatives. Concubines had greater freedom since they were employed to entertain their masters guests, in later reigns they were powerful at court rivaling eunuchs in their intrigues.
    • Chapter XIII Persia. Part VII. Persian Manners and Morals
  • Boys of the unpretentious classes were not spoiled with letters, but were taught only three things- to ride a horse, to use the bow, and to speak the truth. All boys were trained in the art of war. The life of young men in the aristocratic academies were arduous: the students rose early, ran great distances, rode difficult horses at high speeds, swam, hunted, pursued thieves, and learned to bear every change and rigor climate, to subsist on coarse foods, and to cross rivers while keeping their clothes and armor dry.
    • Chapter XIII Persia. Part VII. Persian Manners and Morals
  • Medicine was at first a function of the priests, who practiced it on the principle that the devil had created 99,999 diseases, which should be treated by a combination of magic and hygiene. They resorted more frequently to spells than drugs, although the spells rarely cured the illness, they didn't kill the patient which is more than could be said for the drugs.
    • Chapter XIII Persia. Part VIII Science and Art
  • The decline of Persia anticipated almost in detail the decline of Rome: immorality and degeneration among the people accompanied violence and negligence on the throne. The Persians, like the Medes before them, passed from stoicism to epicureanism in a few generations. Eating and drinking to excess became popular. It is in the nature of an empire to disintegrate soon, for the energy that created it disappears from those who inherit it, at the very time that it's subject peoples are gathering strength to resist their subjugation. In its two hundred years of empire Persia did nothing to unify her diverse realm, she was content to rule a mob of nations. The frequency of revolt and war exhausted the vitality of little Persia; the braver stocks were slaughtered in battle, only the cautious survived; when they were conscripted to face Alexander they proved to be cowards almost to a man.
    • Chapter XIII Persia. Part IX Decadence
  • Here is avast peninsula of nearly two million square miles; two-thirds of as large as the United States, and twenty times the size of its colonizer Great Britain; 320,000,000 souls more than all of North and South America combined, a democratic constitution of untraceable antiquity in the villages, artists raising giant temples for Hindu gods from Tibet to Ceylon and from Cambodia to Java, this is the India that patient scholarship is opening up to that western mind which only yesterday thought civilization a exclusively European thing.
    • Chapter XIV The Foundations of India Part I. Scene of the Drama
  • We should think of ancient India, not as a nation, like Egypt, Babylonia, or England, but as a continent as populous and polyglot as Europe, and almost as varied in climate and race, in literature, philosophy and art. The dominating fact of India is the heat: heat that has weakened the physique, shortened the youth, and affected the quietist religion and philosophy of the inhabitants.
    • Chapter XIV The Foundations of India Part I. Scene of the Drama
  • Forever the north produces rulers and warriors, the south produces artists and saints and the meek inherit heaven. Early Indians were described as Aryans, native to the Caspian region. Like the Germans invading Italy, these Aryans were rather immigrants than conquerors. But they brought with them strong physiques, a hearty appetite in both solids and liquids, a ready brutality, a skill and courage in war, which soon gave them mastery in northern India. The Aryans were too primitive to be hypocrites: they subjugated India without pretending to elevate it. They wanted land, and pasture for their cattle
    • Chapter XIV The Foundations of India. Part III. The Indo-Aryans
  • Like all peoples, the Aryans had rules of endogamy and exogamy-forbidding marriage outside the racial group or within near degrees of kinship. From these rules came the most characteristic of Hindu institutions. Out numbered b a subject people whom they considered inferior to themselves, the Aryans foresaw that without restrictions on intermarriage they would soon lose their racial identity; the first caste division was not by status but by color, it divided Aryans from Nagas and Dravidians
    • Chapter XIV. The Foundations of India. Part III. The Indo-Aryans
  • How did these Aryans Indians live? At first by war and spoliation; then by herding, farming and industry in a rural routine not unlike that of medieval Europe; for until the Industrial Revolution in which we live, the basic economic and political life has remained the same. They planted barley, the majority of the people were yeomen owning their own soil; the Aryans held it a disgrace to work for hire. They were , we are assured, no landlords and no paupers, no millionaires and no slums.
    • Chapter XIV. The Foundations of India. Part IV. Indo-Aryans Society
  • Trade and travel had advanced to the stage of horse and two wheeled wagon, but were still medievally difficult; caravans were held up by taxes at every petty frontier, and often by highwaymen at any turn. Trade was stunted by clumsy methods of exchange, later heavy copper coinage was issued, guaranteed, however, only by private individuals, there were no banks, money was hidden, buried or deposited with friends. Out of this in Buddha's age, grew a credit system: merchants in different towns facilitated trade by giving one another letters of credit. Gambling was also very popular and was sponsored by the king.
    • Chapter XIV. The Foundations of India. Part IV. Indo-Aryans Society
  • The Greek historian of Alexander the Greats campaigns describes the Hindus as "remarkable for integrity, so reasonable as seldom to have recourse to lawsuits, and so honest as to require neither locks to their doors nor writings to bind their agreements; they are in the highest degree truthful" The rig-veda speaks of incest, seduction, prostitution, abortion and adultery, and there are some signs of homosexuality; but the general picture that we derive from the Vedas and the epics is one of high standards in the relations of the sexes and the life of the family.
    • Chapter XIV. The Foundations of India. Part IV. Indo-Aryans Society
  • The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex of order and freedom, culture and peace, can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within.
    • Will Durant, The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage page 459.

II - The Life of Greece (1939)[edit]

  • No man who is in a hurry is quite civilized.
    • Ch. XII : Work and Wealth in Athens, p. 277

III - Caesar and Christ (1944)[edit]

  • There is no greater drama in human record than the sight of a few Christians, scorned or oppressed by a succession of emperors, bearing all trials with a fierce tenacity, multiplying quietly, building order while their enemies generated chaos, fighting the sword with the word, brutality with hope, and at last defeating the strongest state that history has known. Caesar and Christ had met in the arena, and Christ had won.
    • Chapter 30, part 1, p. 652.
  • A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within.
    • Epilogue: "Why Rome Fell", p. 665

VI - The Reformation (1957)[edit]

  • I have tried to be impartial, though I know that a man's past always colors his views, and that nothing else is so irritating as impartiality.
    • Preface
  • I feel for all faiths the warm sympathy of one who has come to learn that even the trust in reason is a precarious faith, and that we are all fragments of darkness groping for the sun. I know no more about the ultimates than the simplest urchin in the streets.
    • Preface

On the Meaning of Life (1931)[edit]

  • I am attempting to face a question which our generation, perhaps more than any, seems always ready to ask and never able to answer-- What is the meaning or worth of human life? Astronomers have told us that human affairs constitute but a moment tin the trajectory of a star; geologist tell us that civilization is but a precarious interlude between ice ages; biologists have told us that all life is war, a struggle for existence among individuals, groups, nations, and species; historians have told us that progress is a delusion whose glory ends in inevitable decay. The industrial revolution has destroyed the home, and the discovery of contraceptives is destroying the family. Democracy has degenerated into such corruption as only Milo's Rome knew; and our youthful dreams of socialist Utopia disappear as we see, day after day, the inexhaustible acquisitiveness of men.
    • p. 2
  • We are driven to conclude that the greatest mistake in human history was the discovery of truth. It has not made us free, except from delusions that comforted us and restraints that preserved us. It has not made us happy for truth is not beautiful, and did not deserve to be so passionately chased.
    • p. 3
  • I who have loved philosophy for many years, now turn back to life itself, and ask you, as one who has lived as well as thought, to help me understand. Spare me a moment to tell me what meaning has life has for you, what keeps you going, what help -- if any-- religion gives you what are the sources of your inspiration and energy.
    • p.3
  • The natural condition of humanity, and even of philosophers, is hope. Great religions arise and flourish out of the need men feel to believe in their worth and destiny; and great civilizations have normally rested on these inspiring religions.
    • p.4
  • When the 18th century laid the foundations of the 19th, it staked everything on one idea -- the replacement of theology with science. Given science, and there would soon be wealth, which would make men happy; given science, and there would soon be truth, which would make men free.
    • p.6
  • The astronomers reported that earth, which had been the footstool of God and the home of the redeeming Christ, was a minor planet circling about a minor sun; that it had its birth in a violent disruption, and would end in collision and conflagration, leaving not a shadow of mans work to tell his tale. The geologists reported that life was tolerated transiently upon the earth at the leisure of ice and heat, at the mercy of falling lava and failing rain. The biologists reported that all life lives at the expense of other life, that big things eat little things and are eaten in turn; that strong organisms use and abuse the weak organisms in a hundred thousand ways forever; that the ability to kill is the ultimate test of survival.
    • p.7
  • Slowly we cease to be the center and summit of the universe; our species -- in the scientific eye -- are trivial fragment, flying off at a tangent towards destruction.
    • p.10
  • A thousand civilizations have disappeared under the ocean or the earth, leaving like Atlantis, merely a legend behind. Consider their grandeur and decadence, and see how uncertain a thing history is, how its greatest names are writ in water, and how even Shakespeare may become to his countrymen, within a century of his death, a half-forgotten barbarian given to melodramatic fustian and bad puns.
    • p.12
  • What we call progress is, perhaps, mere superficial change; a succession of fashions in dress, transportation, government, psychology, and religion. Underneath these varying phenomena the essence remains the same; the man who uses the steam shovel and the electric drill, the tractor and the tank, is the same man who used wooden ploughs, flint knives, bows and arrows; the tool differs, the end is the same; the scale is vaster, the purposes as crude and selfish, as stupid and contradictory, as murderous and suicidal, as in prehistoric or ancient days; everything has progressed except man.
    • p.12
  • Our schools are like our inventions -- they offer us new ideas , new means of doing old things. They stake all on intellect, only to find that character wins in the end.
    • p. 13
  • We dreamed of socialism, and found our own souls too greedy to make it possible, in our hearts we too are capitalists, and have no serious objections to becoming rich. We dreamed of emancipation through organized labor, and found great unions working hand in hand with corrupt machines and murderous gangs. We turned to Russia, and found her conquering poverty at the cost of that freedom of body and mind, of work and thought which has been the soul of liberalism and radicalism.
    • p.13
  • Over all the drama hovers, like a many-armed Shiva, the merry god of war. The grandeur of Egypt is the child of brutal conquest and despotism; the glory of Greece is rooted in the mire of slavery; history is on the side of Big Bertha (a large artillery weapon) it laughs at artists and philosophers, destroys their work in a moment of patriotism and gives its honors, its statues and its pages to Mars. The scale and grandeur of construction and progress and equaled by the scale and terror of destruction and war.
    • p.15
  • There was something ferocious in the old faiths; the gentle gospels of Buddha and Christ were blackened by time into holy orgies of revenge; every paradise had its inferno, to which good people fervently consigned those who had succeeded to well in life, or had adopted the wrong myth.
    • p.16
  • The greatest question of our time is not communism vs. individualism, not Europe vs. America, not even the East vs. the West; it is whether men can bear to live without God.
    • p.19
  • Thought undermined morality by shearing it of its supernatural sanctions and sanctity, and revealing it as a social utility designed to save policemen; and a morality without God is as weak as a traffic law when the policemen is on foot. Thought undermined society by separating sex from parentage, removing the penalty from promiscuity, and liberating the individual from the race; now only the ignorant transmit their kind.
    • p.20
  • I know the heavy price which must be paid in amiable hypocrisy for the privilege of holding office in a democratic state.
    • p.23
  • You ask me in brief, what satisfaction I get out of life, and why I go on working. I go on working for the same reason a hen goes on laying eggs. There is in every living creature an obscure but powerful impulse to active functioning. Life demands to be lived. - H. L. Mencken
    • p.24
  • I like to think that most of my ideas have been sound ones, but I really don't care. The world may take them or leave them. I have had my fun hatching them. -- H. L. Mencken
    • p.26
  • As for religion, I am quite devoid of it. Never in my adult life have I experienced anything that could be plausibly called a religious impulse. I was sent Sunday school as a boy and exposed to the Christian theology I was never taught to believe it. My father thought I should learn what it was, but it apparently never occurred to him that I would accept it. Instead I developed a firm conviction that the Christian faith was full of palpable absurdities, and the Christian God preposterous. Since that time I have read a great deal of theology -- perhaps more than the average clergyman -- but I have never discovered any reason to change my mind. - H.L Mencken
    • p.26
  • The act of worship, as carried on by Christians, seems to me to be a debasing rather than ennobling. It involves groveling before a Being who if He really exist, deserves to be denounced instead of respected. It seems to me that, on the strength of His daily acts, He must be set down a most stupid, cruel and villainous fellow. I can say this with a clear conscience, for He has treated me very well. But I can't help thinking of his barbaric torture of most of the rest of humanity. - H.L. Mencken
    • p. 26
  • I do not believe in immortality, and have no desire for it. The belief in it issues from the puerile egos of inferior men. In its Christian form it is little more than a device for getting revenge upon those who are having a better time on this earth. What the meaning of human life may be I don't know: I incline to think that it has none. All I know about it is that, to me at least, it is very amusing while it lasts. Even its troubles, indeed, can be amusing. Moreover, they tend to foster the human qualities that I admire most --courage and its analogues. - H.L. Mencken
    • p.27
  • Ethics not as a divine commandment but as a matter of social convenience. - Sinclair Lewis
    • p.28
  • Though we sometimes speak of a primrose path, we all know that a bad life is just as difficult, just as full of obstacles and hardships, as a good one. We are told that the way is straight which leads to salvation; the only choice is the kind of life one would care to spend one's efforts on. I believe the divine element in man is whatever it is which makes us wish to lead a life worth remembering, harmless to others, helpful to them. -John Erskine
    • p.31
  • Long ago the poet Milton, I think it was, said that the truth comes to us first in hideous mien, meaning that it disturbs our old delusions and assurances. We are driven by the biological force within us, by the necessity of earning a living, and discharging the obligations which we have gathered on the way. I am convinced that the world is not a mere bog in which men and women trample themselves in the mire and die. Something magnificent is taking place here amid the cruelties and tragedies, and the supreme challenge to intelligence is that of making the noblest and best in our curious heritage prevail. -Charles A. Beard
    • p.33
  • It is easy, and just now rather fashionable, to say that there is no soul, but we do not know whether there is a soul or not. I can only know my native inability to believe that there is one. There is nothing in the thought of annihilation that frightens me; for it would be, at the worst, nothing more terrible than going to sleep at the end of a long day, whether a pleasant or a painful one or both. -Edwin Arlington Robinson
    • p.38
  • I shall not doubt life, or the beauty of the moment, or the happiness of action. I tell you that nothing exists except victory and life. What shall we know of our death? Either the soul is immortal and we shall not die, or it perishes with the flesh and we shall not know that we are dead. -Andre Maurois
    • p. 42
  • The whole thing -life- is a racket so get a few laughs, do the best you can, take nothing serious, for nothing is certainly depending on this generation. Each one lives in spite of the previous one and not because of it. Live your life so that whatever you lose, you are ahead. -Will Rogers
    • p. 47
  • If anything is worthwhile it may be the increase and diffusion of knowledge. If no one has found a meaning for life, neither has anyone demonstrated that life has no meaning. -Vilhjalmur Stefansson
    • p. 51
  • You ask me What keeps me going? My answer is the answer which all smart alecks laugh at -- it is work. I get a tremendous kick out of seeing my ideas take form and bring concrete results. The fact that countless ideas do not work out does not take away from the pleasure I derive from from those that do. -Carl Laemmle
    • p.55
  • The man with a family to feed has no time for conscious philosophy; if he had he might say that the meaning of life was to feed one's family; and it would be hard to better that answer.
  • p. 56
  • The worth of human life seems to me to be in the opportunity it offers to be. -Ernest M. Hopkins
    • p. 56
  • The enduring value of religion is in its challenge to aspiration and hope in the mind of man. Feelings are not necessarily untrue because they cannot be expressed. Every great religious leader has in one way or another declared in substance what Jesus said: that he had come to give life, and to give it more abundantly. -Ernest M. Hopkins
    • p.57
  • I inherited good health and sound moral principals; I found pleasure in work that came to my hand and in doing it conscientiously; I found joy and satisfaction in being helpful to my parents and others, and in thus making my life worthwhile found happiness and consolation.-Adolph Ochs
    • p. 58
  • More and more it stands out that a man must combine action with thought in order to lead a life that shall have unity and significance.
    • p.58
  • I can only tell you that I have found mental equilibrium and strength and inspiration in the thought that I am doing my bit for a mighty cause and that my labor cannot be in vain. I work for results of course but action itself, so long as I am convinced that it is right action, gives me satisfaction. -Jawaharlal Nehru
    • p.61
  • To have a great purpose to work for, a purpose larger than ourselves, is one of the secrets of making life significant; for then the meaning and worth of the individual overflow his personal borders, and survive his death.
    • p.61
  • The desire to labor, to achieve and to help others to do likewise, these are the motive powers which have kept me going. I find self-control and not self-indulgence to be the real source of happiness. In the last resort, to win victory of oneself is a greater thing than conquering the whole world. -C.V. Raman
    • p.62
  • I try to think when I have felt most happy because I felt the most alive. Surely, in the experience of love; surely also in hours of crisis, when I have cast all on some great hazard. These are all experiences of creation -- of action that brings order out of chaos and beauty out of order, and thus, within its compass, Makes all things new.-John Haynes Holmes
    • p.63
  • Better never to have learned anything than know that the universe is a battlefield of cruel forces. Better, a thousand times better, to spends one's short life ignoring all this than be depressed or tortured by knowledge. -Abbe Dimnet
    • p.64
  • Pragmatism or no, there are two ways of looking at the so-called facts of science. Mine has been hopeful. There was a time when neither man nor any visible promise of man existed on our globe, then man appeared, consciousness manifested itself in a thousand ways, science was created, developed itself and finally took hold of the world in a way I can never sufficiently admire. No of it could have been anticipated a million years ago, to me the idea is full of possibilities. -Abbe Dimnet
    • p.66
  • Would that our enemies, i.e., our wives and sweethearts, would write a book about themselves, and honestly -- what revelation such a document would be to men!
    • p.68
  • Jesus Christ is to me the supreme revelation of Love and so of God, and His life an inspiration showing how a human life may be lived in kind if not in degree -Mary E. Woolley
    • p.68
  • The real reason of being is Love, which ties us one to the other, while living, which ties us to those who have left us, to posterity. When I had some experiences in life the reason of my life has been to synthesize this experience so that as many people as possible can make use of it.- Gina Lombroso
    • p. 70
  • I know that I would hate life if I were deprived of the right of trying, hunting, working for some objective within which there lies the beauty of perfection. Even if I may be lacking in talent , I shall have the pleasure of action -- and there is always Hope-- at least in a young restless heart. -Helen Wills Moody
    • p.74
  • Perhaps there is on will to live but only a fear of death; just as there is no social instinct, but only a terror of solitude.
  • p.78
  • What we can be certain of in science is not its metaphysical assumptions but its physical achievements; the steamship, the airplane, and public sanitation are a little more real than this effervescence of test tubes into philosophy.
    • p.82
  • I grant you that our economic and political life is in chaos, and that if we can invent no better system for organizing the work and government of the world we may as well surrender the earth to another species, or another race. It is true that all government irks us, and that men have been as misruled and discontent under monarchies and aristocracies as under our present democracy of bribes and spoils; and perhaps in our anger at the breakdown of our acquisitive economy in the present century we forget ungratefully its turbulent creativeness in the nineteenth-- no other system has produced such wealth or spread such comforts before.
    • p.82
  • The only difference in motive between the rich man and ourselves is seldom a difference in scruples, but is usually a difference in opportunity and skill. In the end we are all guilty together. Until life is quite secure, and no man need worry about food for himself and those dependent upon him, men will continue to acquire greedily, and to hoard against evil days.
    • p. 83
  • Meanwhile its natural that people should be acquisitive, that they should judge men according to their success in winning security, and that nations should rise or fall according to their economic power.
    • p.83
  • Students despair of their own age because they compare the average man of their acquaintance with the exceptional men of the past.
    • p.84
  • We judge the morals of today with the standards of yesterday. We forget that these standards were made for an agricultural life, and can have no absolute validity in an industrial and urban age. It is ridiculous to expect the morals of rural community from men delaying marriage till thirty, and living among a million contacts, opportunities and stimuli of the city -- other times other morals.
    • p.84
  • Nature will destroy me, but she has a right to -- she made me, and burned my senses with a thousand delights; she gave me all that she will take away.
    • p. 85
  • Do not be so ungrateful about love. Yes, at bottom it is a matter of hydraulic pressure and chemical irritation; but at the top it becomes, occasionally, a ballade of devotion and chivalry -- no longer a mutual itching, but mutual consideration.
    • p. 85
  • I know that such mates quarrel regularly, and get upon each others nerves; but there is ample recompense for that in the unconscious consciousness that someone is interested in you, depends upon you, exaggerates you, and is waiting to meet you at the station. Solitude is worse than war.
    • p.85
  • By a pessimist I do not mean one who has a realistic awareness of the evils and hardships of human life; I mean one who, unable to face those hardships with equanimity, concludes from his own weakness that all life is a worthless snare.
    • p. 85
  • Be a whole or join a whole. For to give life meaning one must have a purpose larger than one's self, and more enduring than one's life. A man feels significant in proportion as he contributes, physically or mentally, to the entity of which he acknowledges himself a part. We who are too superior to belong to groups, who are too wise to marry or too clever to have children, find life empty and vain, and wonder if it has any meaning.
    • p.86
  • For me the meaning of life lies perhaps too narrowly in my family and my work; I wish I could boast of consecration to a larger cause. The sources of my energy are egotism and a selfish altruism -- the greed of applause and a mad devotion to those dependent upon me. The goal and motive force of my work? -- to see happiness around me, and to win, at last the approval of my betters.
    • p.88
  • All in all, experience is a marvelously rich panorama, from which any sense should be able to draw sustenance for living. What help does religion give me? As I write the question I look out the window and see, in the valley below, a little hamlet gathered about a church. I can imagine what incredible theological nonsense is preached under that white spire, what bigotry and sectarianism are nourished there. But my heart goes out to them, I like them better than the village atheist who knows so well how to say the right thing at the wrong time. To be in haste to destroy the faith of such people is surely the mark of a shallow and ungenerous mind.
    • p.88
  • There is something selfish in the desire for personal immortality, and a heaven crowded to suffocation with interminable egos would be and insufferable place; but I suspect that I, too shall be sorry to go, and should be glad to know, when I am gone, what fate befalls my children and my friends, and the causes I tried to serve.
    • p. 89

Fallen Leaves (2014, posthumous)[edit]

  • Vanity increases with age
    • Preface
  • Children and fools speak the truth; and somehow they find happiness in their sincerity
    • p. 1
  • See him, the newborn, dirty but marvelous, ridiculous in actuality, infinite in possibility, capable of that ultimate miracle, growth
    • p. 1
  • Life is that which is discontent, which struggles and seeks, which suffers and creates.
    • p. 3
  • Childhood may be defined as the age of play; therefore some children are never young, and some adults are never old.
    • p. 3
  • Man is as young as the risks he takes
    • p. 4
  • Happiness is the free play of the instincts, and so is youth
    • p. 4
  • Let us ask the Gods not for possessions, but for things to do; happiness is in making things rather than consuming them.
    • p. 4
  • Youth is learning to read (which is all that one learns in school), and is learning where and how to find what he may later need to know (which is the best of the arts that he acquires in college).
    • p. 6
  • It is life that educates, and perhaps love more that anything else in life.
    • p. 6
  • The principle of the family was mutual aid; but the principle of society is competition, the struggle for existence, the elimination of the weak and the survival of the strong
    • p. 7
  • Here is a fulfillment of long centuries of civilization and culture; here, in romantic love, more than the triumph of thought or the victories of power is the topmost reach of human beings.
    • p. 8
  • Wisdom, if it were young, would cherish love, nursing it with devotion, deepening it with sacrifice, vitalizing with parentage, making all things subordinate to it till the end. Even though it consumes us in its service and overwhelms us with tragedy, even though it breaks us down with separations, let it be first. How can it matter what price we pay for love?
    • p. 9
  • Middle age begins with marriage; for then work and responsibility replace carefree play, passion surrenders to the limitations of social order, and poetry yields to prose.
    • p. 10
  • As we find a place in the economic world the rebellion of youth subsides; we disapprove of earthquakes when our feet are on the earth. We forget then the radicalism then in a gentle liberalism-which is radicalism softened with the consciousness of a bank account.
    • p. 11
  • She is a woman now, and not an idle girl, not a domestic ornament or a sexual convenience anymore.
    • p. 14
  • A man is as old as his arteries, and as young as his ideas.
    • p. 16
  • Here and everywhere is the struggle for existence, life inextricably enmeshed with war. All life living at the expense of life, every organism eating other organisms forever.
    • p. 17
  • Life is that which can hold a purpose for three thousand years and never yield.
    • p. 19
  • Space, subjectively, is the coexistence of perceptions-perceiving two objects at once.
    • p. 22
  • Time, subjectively, is the conscious sequence of perceptions.
    • p. 22
  • By mind I mean the totality of perceptions, memories and ideas in an organism.
    • p. 22
  • A sensation is the feeling of an external stimulus or an internal condition.
    • p. 22
  • The soul as distinct from the mind, I mean an inner directive and energizing force in every body, and in every cell and organ of a body.
    • p. 23
  • Will is desire expressed in ideas that become actions unless impeded by contrary or substitute desires and ideas. Character is the sum of our desires, fears, propensities, habits, abilities, and ideas.
    • p. 24
  • Logic itself is a human creation, and may be ignored by the universe.
    • p. 25
  • Though I am fond of my unique soul, I do not expect it to survive the complete death of my body.
    • p.26
  • I am quite content with mortality; I should be appalled at the thought of living forever.
    • p. 27
  • When death comes in due time, after a live fully lived, it is forgivable and good. If in my last gasps I say anything contrary to this bravado, pay no attention to me. We must make room for our children.
    • p.27
  • My conceptions of order and disorder, as of beauty and sublimity and ugliness, are subjective; they are, so to speak, my prejudices, since my mind can deal better with things when I have put order into them and the universe has no obligation to follow my preferences.
    • p.28
  • Every people in every epoch reinterpreted God after its own fashion, and has been willing to die, or at least to kill, in defense of that passing conception.
    • p.30
  • Let me then keep the term God for the inventive vitality and abounding fertility of Nature, the eon-long struggle of "matter" to rise form atomic energy to intelligence, consciousness, and informed and deliberate will, to statesmen, poets, saints, artiest, musicians, scientists,and philosophers. Let me have something to worship!
    • p.32
  • I would rather contribute a microscopic mite to improving the conduct of men and statesmen than write one hundred best books.
    • p.33
  • To me the "death of God" and the slow decay of Christianity in the educated classes of Christendom constitute the profoundest tragedy in modern Western history, of far deeper moment than the great wars or the competition between capitalism and communism.
    • p.35
  • I can rephrase "original sin" as man's inherited disposition to follow those instincts of pugnacity, sexual promiscuity, and greed which may have been necessary in the hunting stage of human history, but which need a variety of controls in an organized society that guarantees its members protection against violence, theft, and rape; we are born with the taint of ancestral passions in our blood.
    • p.36
  • "He that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow," for knowledge can destroy a happy innocence and many a comforting or inspiring delusion.
    • p. 36
  • Heaven and Hell remain for me not places in another world, but states of mind often associated with virtue and vice in this life.
    • p. 36
  • I could think of Church leaders as religious statesmen who, whatever they themselves might believe, used the Bible, theology, and ritual as aids in transforming congenital savages into responsible and orderly citizens.
    • p.37
  • So many are the functions that supernatural religion fulfills that the skeptic must learn to make his peace with it, only hoping that the love which radiated from Christ will overcome the fearful intolerance of empowered creeds.
    • p.39
  • We may, however, ask that a religion shall soften the heart of man, that it shall inspire courage, conscience, and charity, that it shall make the strong and little more generous to the weak, that it shall mitigate the rigor of competition and the brutality of war.
    • p.41
  • We picture one after another of the great Christian denominations meeting in enthusiastic assembly, redefining Christianity as sincere acceptance of the moral ideas of Christ, and inviting to their membership any person, of whatever race or creed, who is willing to receive those ideals as the test and goal of his conduct and development.
    • p.42
  • For the rest of us we can only promise to do our best obstinately to try to treat all men as brothers; this is all that Christianity demands. To exact of all men a saintly level of selflessness would be to condemn Christianity to everlasting hypocrisy.
    • p.44
  • We know how much our pride and prejudice, our fearful hate and unwilling ignorance, obstruct the fulfillment of this dream; we do not expect this second coming of Christ to take place before these mortal eyes.
    • p.44
  • Religion has been the worship of supernatural powers.
    • p.47
  • Morality is the quality of that which conforms to right ideas or principles of human conduct.
    • p.47
  • Personally I should define morality as the consistency of private conduct with public interest as understood by the group. It implies a recognition by the individual that his life, liberty, and development depend upon social organization, and his willingness, in return, to adjust himself to the needs of the community.
    • p.48
  • No number of laws or policemen can replace the moral discipline inculcated by parents, teachers and priest; that in attacking these formative and protective institutions you are sapping the dykes that have been raised through the labor and wisdom of centuries against the individualistic, disorderly and savage impulses that lurk in the hearts of men.
    • p.48
  • I am not at all confident that man's unsocial impulses can be controlled by a moral code shorn of religious belief.
    • p. 48
  • The Church has overlaid the incomparable ethics of Jesus with a complex structure of incredible dogma echoing St. Paul and mostly unknown to Christ, and with an omnipresent incubus of organization and theocratical police lying heavy upon the human mind, ready to stifle any independent thought by using the powers of the state to imprison, confiscate, and kill. The local priests and nuns still remembered Christianity, but the hierarchy forgot it in a lust for unassailable and infallible authority.
    • p.49
  • The principal and overspreading cause of our moral "decay" has been the Industrial Revolution. The passage from rural mutual surveillance to concealment of the individual in the urban multitude has almost ended the force of neighborly opinion to control personal behavior.
    • P.50
  • Industrial competition among corporations and individuals has strengthened the profit motive and other individualistic instincts, and has broken down moral restraints in the conduct of business.
    • p.50
  • Technology has extended and depersonalized war, and has vastly developed man's ability to murder or destroy.
    • p51
  • The character and frequency of modern war is second only the Industrial Revolution as a cause of moral change. To fight such a war great number of young men are trained to use lethal weapons, and to kill with zest and a good conscience.
    • p.51
  • Thus the military class rises in prestige and influence, and its ways of thought, freed from moral considerations, affect the government and the people.
    • p.51
  • Nationalism overrides morality, defers social reform, and becomes a religion stronger that any church.
    • p.52
  • Obviously the old moral code was adjusted to agricultural society, and could not be expected to fit the conditions of modern industrial life. The present age is experimenting to find how far individual freedom can comport with the stability of society, the protection of women, and the security of person and property.
    • p.52
  • I am not sure, but I can reasonably hope, that the United States will gradually develop a secular ethic that-with lessened poverty and widened education- will function as effectively and a theological morality.
    • p.53
  • It does not seem impossible to make a youth understand that the stability of a society, the prevalence of moral restraint, are prerequisites to personal security, and that moral self-restraint is one of the surest guarantees of personal advancement and fulfillment.
    • p.54
  • Morality is unnatural, goes against the grain; we are equipped by nature for a hunting life in woods and fields rather than a mechanical life in cities and offices, and factories. But the problem of moral degeneration must be solved, for in the last analysis morality and civilization are one.
    • 54
  • The boy welling with hormones and coursing blood wonders why he should not solicit the cooperation of a similarly fretting girl in achieving detumescence. I warn him that such a pas de deux can plunge a generous and careless maiden into venereal infection, or to a pregnancy leading to a dangerous abortion, or to a hasty marriage, or to a career of complaisance that may win her nothing more permanent than a night lodging. I insist that a gentleman will refrain from coitus with any young lady whose social status and marital marketability would be injured by his passing triumph.
    • p.56
  • Our forefathers could find no better way of promoting youthful continence that by adopting a policy of silence and concealment. This involved much hypocrisy; but it made premarital restraint more bearable.
    • p.57
  • I have a lingering inclination toward the Catholic view of divorce- that the annulment of a marriage should only be allowed under conditions of extreme personal or national need. I believe that most divorces lead to difficulties as acute as before; we carry into a second union the same character that shared in breaking the previous bond. Better to fight out the battle on the original field than run from one duel and surface to another.
    • p.58
  • Family limitation, of course, is unnatural, even through abstention, but so is any mode of locomotion except walking or running; civilization exist by checking nature at every turn.
    • p.59
  • We give our offspring twenty years of care and education and then conscript them for murder and death in foreign wars. We preach Christ to them and then cheat so much in business that the government has to intervene to protect the consumer from deceptive labels, dangerous cars, poisonous drugs, chemicalized food, and shoddy goods, while the government itself competes in corruption and mendacity.
    • P.60
  • However I cannot admit the claim of many young enthusiast that every person has a right to reject any law that his conscience finds unacceptable; no government could subsist on such a basis; the judgment of the community, as expressed by elected legislators, rightly overrides the judgement of the individual. The individual may still carry active legitimate protest to active disobedience, but he should take his punishment as due process of law.
    • p.60
  • Civilization is at every moment dependent upon the repression of instincts, and intelligence itself involves discrimination between desires that may be pursued and those that should be subdued.
    • p. 61
  • There is an anarchist in all of us that inclines us to sympathize with a felon who is desperately and cleverly eluding the police; nobody loves a policeman until he needs one.
    • p.61
  • We need not make our penal code a machinery of punishment and revenge; we should treat criminals as victims of mental disturbance or arrested development. Let us put them not in prisons that are nurseries and colleges of crime, but in securely enclosed state farms where steady labor in the open air could make for health and stability and accumulate a fund to finance the prisoners's reentry into civil life.
    • p.62
  • We had no conception of the white man's fear of black power growing in the North, we subsided into the unconscious satisfaction of belonging to the locally dominant race. We had underrated the spread and comfortable acceptance of propaganda proclaiming the inherent inferiority and limited educability of the black mind. We saw many successful black physicians, lawyers, clergymen, and office holders, and rejoiced in their mounting number and rapid advancement, but we have never felt the horror of a lynching, the humiliating rejection from hotels and restaurants, the hopeless poverty of Harlem or Watts.
    • P.65
  • So the South as far as its need of manual laborers would permit, encouraged the black man to go north. He went dreaming of justice and plenty. For a time he found work where muscle was needed and servility was required; or he lived for a while on public aid, and alarmed the whites with his fertility.
    • p.66
  • In crowded enclaves amid our wealth, poverty became race-colored and race-conscious, and drove men into wild hostility that sanctioned any crime. White citizens returned dislike for hate, and shrugged their shoulders at civil right.
    • P. 67
  • I should be a ridiculous upstart if I pretended to have solutions for all of these problems. They arise from the nature of man, which words alone cannot change. We distrust the unfamiliar for we have not learned to deal with it; and when, in some moods and places, it speaks of burning us, we do not warm to the prospect.
    • p. 67
  • I believe that the nonwhite mind and character are as capable of improvement as any, provided that they have not been stunted by a hostile environment.
    • p.67
  • Do we not owe it to conscience and justice that every person-irrespective of their race- has full and equal opportunity to enter into the promise of American life?
    • p.67
  • Let me before I die, sing a hymn in praise of women.
    • p.68
  • No one will believe me when I claim that I have often been aroused by the beauty of a woman without desiring her in any physical sense or degree; according to me my excitement was purely aesthetic.
    • p. 68
  • Time and time again I have longed to approach a woman timidly a thank her for being such a joy to behold, and that in this longing I felt no ambition to possess her.
    • P. 69
  • I admit that women have many faults. Many are acquisitive, possessive, jealous, and proud. They are seldom capable of lasting friendships, since they must give so much time in winning, keeping, and giving love. They are capable of stealing another woman's husband, breaking hearts, and breaking up homes. They seldom think as objectively as some men; they are interested in ideas only so far as these are attached to interesting men; they often mistake wishes for facts, and repetitions for arguments.
    • p. 70
  • They listen more readily than men to peddlers of supernatural hope and consolation, for their worries and grief are not so soon forgotten in the swift turmoil of the world. They give the race fewer geniuses than men do, but also fewer idiots. Intellect is sharpened in men by economic competition or political finagling; women do not need so much of it because they are normally destined for motherhood where instinct rules; usually they win by instinct all the male has acquired by intellect. I put all the faults of woman aside because she is consumed and exalted in carrying on the race.
    • p.70
  • I see her first as a girl, doubling her beauty with modesty, and vaguely, broodingly conscious that she is soon to be a hunted prey, then a fettered captive, then a racial tool.
    • p.70
  • My heart goes out to her as her adolescence nears its end, and I see young males gathering around her anxious for her favor. I can imagine the winding narrow road she must find between flirt and prude, between self-canceling conquests and intact solitude. And what a burden is laid upon her in our time- to choose a suitor who does not stupefy her with adoration but, by his stability, restraint, and economic sense, gives promise of being a faithful husband, a competent provider a sound and sane father for their children.
    • p.70
  • I marvel at the velvet smoothness of her skin, the creamy softness of her hands, the delicate touch with which she strokes your face and lightens your wallet.
    • p. 71
* Many years ago, after watching Ariel's pains in giving birth to Ethel, I left the room dazed with shame at my helplessness and mumbling to myself "I must always be kind to women." Let the sins of woman lie gently on her head, for she is the forgiving mother of us all. 
    • P.72
  • A mother does not have to ask if life has any meaning; when she see her children growing in body and mind she knows that she is fulfilling her destiny, and that her destiny is fulfilling her. If life is lived honorably and fully it is its own reward, needing no significance outside itself.
    • p.72
  • In evolutionary theory those organisms that felt the strongest urge to mingle their seed bred most abundantly, so that in the course of the generations, the sexual instinct grew to an intensity surpassed only in the quest for food. When this basic quest has been satisfied, and man can turn his thoughts away from food and money, his soul lies open to all the lure and tyranny of sex.
    • p.75
  • Sometimes I resent the power that the sexual instinct has over us; I see it ruining lives, disordering states, making agitated apes of would-be philosophers. I can understand why past civilizations have labored, by might and myth, to build dams against that swelling surge. The institution of marriage is a device to control the flow of that stream, whether by requiring monogamy in Christendom, or by allowing polygamy, and even concubinage, in Asia and Africa.
    • p. 76
  • If we educate the body to health and the mind to a tempering harmony of instincts with reason, we shall retain the stimulus of sexual feeling while keeping it within bounds by a decent respect for public order, and a prudent foresight of our own good.
    • p. 76
  • For five hundred centuries, two thousand generations have struggled for that terrain in a calendar of wars whose beginning is as obscure as its end. Even the sophisticated mind made blase by habituation to magnitude and marvels, is appalled by the panorama of historic wars.
    • p.78
  • Such a chronicle of conflict exaggerates, without doubt, the role of war in the record of our race. Strife is dramatic, an peaceful generations appear to have no history. So our chroniclers leap from battle to battle, and unwittingly deform the past into shambles. In our saner moments we know that it is not so; that lucid intervals of peace far outweigh, in any nation's story, the mad seizures of war.
    • p. 79
  • War has always been. Will it always be? What are its cause in the nature of men and in the structure of societies? Can it be prevented, or diminished in frequency or in any measure controlled? The causes of war are psychological, biological, economic and political-that is, they lie in the natural impulses of men, in the competition of groups, in the material needs of societies, and in the fluctuations of national ambition and power.
    • p. 79
  • The major instincts of mankind-acquisition, mating, fighting, action, and association-are the ultimate sources of war. For thousands, perhaps millions, of years men were uncertain of their food supply; not knowing yet the bounty of husbanded soil, they depended their fortunes of the hunt. Having captured prey they tore it to pieces on the spot and ate until they could eat no more; how could they tell when they might eat again? Greed is eating, or hoarding, for the future; wealth is originally a hedge against starvation. war is at first a raid for food.
    • p. 80
  • Perhaps all vices were once virtues, indispensable in the struggle for existence; they became vices only in the degree to which social order and increasing security rendered them unnecessary for survival. A hundred millenniums of insecurity bred into the race those acquisitive and possessive impulses which no laws or moral or ideas, but only centuries of security, can mitigate or destroy.
    • p. 80
  • The lust for power is in most men a useful stimulus to ambition and creation, but in exceptional men it can become a dangerous disease, a cancer to the soul, which goads them on to fight a thousand battles usually by proxy.
    • p. 81
  • Men fear solitude, and naturally seek the protection of numbers. Slowly a society develops within whose guarded frontiers men are free to live peaceably, to accumulate knowledge and goods, and worship their gods. Since our self-love overflows by an extension of the ego into love of our parents and children,our homes and possessions, our habits and institutions, our wonted environment and transmitted faith, we form in time an emotional attachment for the nation and the civilization of which these are constituent parts; when any of them is threatened, our instinct of pugnacity is aroused to the limit demanded by the natural cowardice of mankind. In a divided and lawless world such patriotism is reasonable and necessary, for without it the group could not survive, and the individual could not survive without the group. Prejudice is fatal to philosophy but indispensable to a nation.
    • p. 81
  • On either scale some armament is necessary, for struggle is inevitable, and competition is the trade of life.
    • p. 82
  • To make war successfully, a modern nation must be wealthy; to be wealthy it must develop industry; to maintain industry, it must, in most cases import food, fuel, and raw materials, to pay for these, it must export manufactured goods; to sell these, it must find foreign markets; to win these, it must undersell its competitors or wage foreign war. As like it or not it will make war for any of the goods it considers vital, or for control or the routes by which they must come.
    • p. 82
  • Since men are by nature unequal it follows that in any society a majority of abilities will be possessed by minority of men; from which it follows that sooner or later, in any society, a majority of goods will be possessed by an minority of men. But this natural concentration of wealth impedes, by the repeated reinvestment of profits in promoting production, widespread purchasing power among the people; production leaps ahead of consumption; surpluses rise and generate either depression or war. Either production has to stop to let consumption catch up or foreign markets must be found to take the surplus that went unpurchased at home.
    • p. 84
  • The first law of governments is self-preservation; their second law is self-extension; their appetite grows by what it feeds on, and they believe when state ceases to expand it begins to die.
    • p. 84
  • Vague appeals to the conscience of mankind to put an end to war have had little effect throughout history, for there is no conscience of mankind. Morality is a habit of order generated by centuries of compulsion; international morality awaits international order; international order awaits international force; conscience follows the policeman. A wise people will love peace and keep their powder dry.
    • p.85
  • In the end we must steel ourselves against utopias and be content, as Aristotle recommended, with a slightly better state. We must not expect the world to improve much faster than ourselves.
    • p. 86
  • If we can become conscious of the needs a views and hopes of other peoples, and sensitive to the diverse values and beauties of diverse cultures and lands, we shall not so readily plunge into competitive homicide, but shall find room in our hearts for a wider understanding and an almost universal sympathy. Someday, let us hope, it will be permitted us to love our country without betraying mankind.
    • p. 87
  • The possession of power tempts its use; the definition of national interest widens to cover any aim; the demand for security suggests and excuses the acquisition and arming of ever more distant frontiers.
    • p. 88
  • The Constitution of the United States reserves to Congress the right to declare war, but it does not forbid the president to wage war if he can call it by another name. In effect as regards to war and peace, the American presidency is a dictatorship limited in time.
    • p. 89
  • Armed with this strategy, American Presidents have repeatedly initiated military intervention in foreign states, and Congress, face with an accomplished fact, has felt compelled to approve.
    • p.89
  • The United States, which was born of revolution, becomes, all by itself, another Holy Alliance, dedicated to the suppression of every revolutionary movement in Europe. Was this part of the American Dream?
    • p.90
  • Great Britain is no longer able to finance its old role of protecting the rights, interests, and civilization of the white man in Asia. If no other power undertakes this role the numerical superiority of the foreign races, added to their rabid adoption of Western technology, inevitably entail the subordination of Western Europe and America to a spreading coalition of Asia and Africa. Unless immediate and effective resistance is made to the extension of Chinese power the white man is doomed to second-class status in the world of the twentieth century.
    • p.90
  • We are not asserting the superiority of the white man to men of other races; it happens that we are white, and feel an obligation to defend our like, even though they may have made mistakes and committed sins in the past. We need not stress the fact that through such an extension of Chinese power Western Europe and America would lose their Oriental allies, markets, supplies, commercial facilities, and trade routes. Western Europe would be thrown back upon its own natural resources for materials and fuels, which are already inadequate.
    • p.91
  • Granting that these fears may be exaggerated, is it not wiser for America to meet the danger outset, and to fight it out on foreign, rather than wait for the problem to be doubled and trebled by delay, while we sit supine until the enemy is at our doors?
    • p.91
  • I know that political practitioners have implied that a government must feel free to like, steal, and kill whenever in its judgement this is required by the national interest. I admit that a government which, in its dealing with other states, observed the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, would run great risk of having these rules ignored by its enemies; in such a case there would be no effective superior power to appeal to.
    • p.94
  • I would rather have America lose her empire than have her forfeit all the inspiration that she has meant to mankind.
    • p.94
  • All the faults of democracy in America: dependence upon a public opinion misinformed, mislead and thoughtlessly passionate; it nominations controlled by political machines favoring obedient mediocrities; its municipal officaldom corrupt and incompetent; its legislatures and Congress subservient to lobbies and wealth; its leaders too busy with electioneering to have time to think.
    • p.96
  • Since 1929 the American democracy has matched its defects with its achievements. The national government has met the challenges of depression, racial crisis, and two world wars. It has often been far ahead of public opinion in measures that later won general acclaim. It has made almost as many concessions to labor as to business; it has begun to protect borrowers from usurers, and purchasers from false packaging or labeling. It has saved the American economy by mitigating capitalistic rigors with the welfare state.
    • p.97
  • The welfare state is distrusted by many sincere conservatives as biologically unsound; men, they believe, are naturally averse to labor, and need the fear of hunger and want as a prod to work. To them poverty is mostly due to native inferiority in body, mind, and character rather than to inequities in the relations between employers and employees. A few would agree that the poor are societies excrement and we must resign ourselves to their necessity.
    • p.98
  • The welfare state must be preserved and extended, not only as a dictate of decency but as a measure of insurance against class conflict at home and foreign competition for the suffrages of mankind.
    • p.98
  • The cheapest alternative to this vicious spiral ( of wealth concentration) is an ampler distribution of the wealth generated by the dust and stimulus of capitalism. The government of the United States achieved this by encouraging the organization and bargaining power of Labour, by extending the graduated tax on income and estates, and by payments from the treasury to promote Public Health, security, education, Recreation, and employment by extending the welfare state.
    • p.99
  • The war against poverty is in its early stages; it is an immense and unprecedented enterprise; it is entitled to make mistakes. It is handicapped by the growth of ghettos in our cities and racial animosities in our hearts. In these respects Western Europe is more fortunate than the US. Its traditions of social order are more deeply rooted in time and character, and its unassimilated ethnic minorities are relatively small.
    • p.100
  • I believe that ability has more abundant opportunities to opportunities to reach maturity and influence in our democracy than under aristocracies or monarchies- or under democracies still obstructed by aristocratic privilege. I am grateful for the freedom of mind that I have enjoyed in America.
    • p. 102
  • Many evils tarnish our record-aggressive war, childish chauvinism, political corruption, business chicanery, racial inequities, proliferating crime, and declining morals. But I see the best as well as the worst, and I will not apologize for my country. If the Founding Fathers could come back they would be amazed at the degree to which we have reduced poverty, drudgery, illiteracy, and governmental tyranny.
    • p.102
  • Let us continue to complain, to demand, and to rebel; this, too, is part of our virtue. But as for me, favored and fortunate, I should be the worst ingrate if I did not thank the fates that deposited me here between these seas, and within these liberties.
    • p.102
  • Why do we become more conservative as we age? Is it because we have found a place in the existing system, have risen to a larger income, and have invested our savings in an economy, which any significant revolt might alter to our loss? I believe this to be the primary cause; a secondary one being a growing knowledge of human nature, and the limits that human behavior puts upon the attainment of ideals.
    • P.104
  • Rebels have the same instincts as other people, without the caution that keeps others in line.
    • p.105
  • The architects of the welfare state recognized the virtues of capitalism: they perceived the creative stimulus that had been given to invention, enterprise, production, and commerce by the freedom that the laissez-faire governments, after 1789, had allowed to the acquisitive and competitive instincts of mankind. But they also saw that unchecked liberty permitted the natural inequality of economic ability to develop an extreme concentration of wealth, and that most of this wealth was reinvested in accelerating production, and that this caused periodic depressions dangerous to the survival of the system. What use was capitalism if it did not increase the purchasing power of the people?
    • p.108
  • Year by year the government took and disseminated more of the wealth, managed or controlled more of the economy. Socialism inserted itself into capitalism without destroying it; enterprise, competition, and the pursuit of profit still enjoyed stimulating freedom.
    • p.108
  • Each of the rival systems (Capitalism vs. Communism) has drawbacks that their rivalry has helped to reduce. Capitalism still suffers from a periodic imbalance between production and consumption; from dishonesty in advertising, labeling, and trade; from the efforts of large corporations to crush competition; from involuntary unemployment due to the replacement of labor. Communism suffers from the difficulty of substituting governmental prevision of what the consuming public will need or demand for the capitalist way of letting the public demand determine what shall be produced and supplied; it suffers from restraints on competition, from inadequate incentives to invention, and from reluctance to appeal to the profit motive in individuals and companies.
    • p.110
  • A hundred signs suggest that the nature of man, the danger and compulsions of conflict, and the growth of communication and trade will eventually bring the competing economies toward basic similarity. The communistic and capitalistic systems already resemble each other in many basic ways. Each has subordinated its internal economy to the needs of actual or potential war. Each aims at world hegemony, though one disguises its aim in terms of "wars of of liberation," the other with the plea that it must serve as the policeman or order in a dangerously chaotic world. In both systems the men who can manage men manage the men who can manage only things.
    • p.110
  • Why does and artist make art? Presumably because he wishes to express himself, his ideas, his moods; because he longs for distinction and reward; because he has a keener sense of beauty than most of us; because he aspires to combine the partial beauties and veiled meanings of transitory forms in a vision of clear significance or more lasting loveliness. Usually he sees more than we see, in fuller intensity of detail; he wishes to remove some of these perceived aspects in order to leave the essence and import of the scene more movingly visible to our eyes and souls.
    • p.114
  • Aristotle considered the basic elements of beauty to be symmetry, proportion, and an organic order of parts in a united whole
    • p.114
  • The most distressing feature of contemporary art is its revolt against beauty. It aims to express an emotion or attitude rather than create a pleasing or inspiring form.
    • p.115
  • I admit that change and experiment are essential to development. I can sympathize with the new art's unwillingness to go on painting landscapes, pretty faces, and moneyed heads
    • p.116
  • Art exist not merely to express but to transmit an emotion, an aspiration, or an idea. Any art that has no ruling form is the empty vanity of an undisciplined mind. The essence of art as of beauty, lies not in content or elements but in structure and form. Art without science is poverty, and science without art is barbarism. Let every science strive to fulfill itself in beauty or wisdom, and let us rejoice when a science becomes and art.
    • p.119

The progress of science has long since outstripped my understanding. Scientist differ from priest in allowing heresies among the initiated, but let them find an infallible leader, and they would be a church.

    • p.120
  • Some of the skepticism that injured my religious faith has overflowed into timid doubts of science. I distrust the astronomers when they calculate the distance of fixed stars. I am a bit dubious of the changing pictures by which the physicists represent the inside of the atom.
    • p.121
  • I mourn when I see so much scientific genius dedicated to the art to massacre, so little to the art of peace; yet I realize that scientist are not made to rule, since their gift is handling ideas and facts, not men.
    • p.121
  • We need more knowledge, and must submit to a heavy stress upon science in education and government, for we are subject to international challenges that force us to keep pace with every technological advance. But we need something more than knowledge, we need the wisdom and character to use our knowledge with foresight and caution. What is character? It is the rational harmony and hierarchy of desires in coordination with capacity. What is wisdom? It is an application of experience to present problems, a view of the part in the light of the whole. I do not despair. Man has committed a million blunders evident to our hindsight, but he has done great and noble things.
    • p.124
  • That education is of most worth which opens to the body and the soul, to the citizen and the state, the fullest possibilities of their harmonious life. Education is the perfecting of life-the enrichment of the individual by the heritage of the race.
    • p.127
  • Since morality is rooted biologically in the family, I should base moral instruction upon a deliberate exaltation of family life. I would restore the ancient stigma that was attached to celibacy, and would suggest, the moral wisdom of marriage at a natural age. The gift of children should be our payment to the race for the heritage of civilization.
    • p.129
  • I would ask such persistent moral instruction as would help the individual to see his neighbor in some degree his brother, and his community as in some degree his family, and to apply to them those principals of mutual aid which the family inoculates as the first necessity of social existence and the highest goal of social organization.
    • p.129
  • Though I respect and cherish all nations and races that have enriched our racial inheritance, I do not understand how a country can defend itself against attack if its citizens have not learned to love it in some special way as their national hearth and home.
    • p.130
  • I should never think it the purpose of education to make scholars, so much as to form human beings. The basic skill we should ask a teacher to impart to their pupil is the ability to discipline themselves. Every individual has in the long run only two options: effective self-government, or practical subjection; somewhere there must be will.
    • p. 130
  • Intellect is the capacity for acquiring and accumulating ideas; intelligence is the ability to use experience-even the experience of others- for the clarification and attainment of one's ends.
    • p.131
  • Health, character, and intelligence help us to control ourselves and our lives, and therefore constitute the bases of a free personality, and the primary goals of education. Education should teach us not only the technique but also the limits of control, an the art of accepting those limits graciously. Everything natural is forgivable.
    • p.133
  • I would like my children to be instructed in the give-and-take of human association, in the tolerance that alone can preserve a friendship through growing diversity of interests and views, and in the mutual solitude that perpetually nourishes the fragile plant of love. I would want them to learn something of the origin and development of love, so that they might approach this vital and sometimes destructive experience with a modest measure of understanding.
    • p.133
  • Psychology is largely a theory of human behavior, philosophy is an ideal of human behavior and history is occasionally a record of human behavior. No man is educated, or fit for statesmanship, who cannot see his time in the perspective of the past.
    • p.138
  • There is another way to view history; history as man's rise from savagery to civilization-history as the record of the lasting contributions made to man's knowledge, wisdom, arts, morals, manners, skills-history as a laboratory rich in a hundred thousand experiments in economics, religion, literature, science, and government. History is our roots and our illumination, as the road by which we came and the only light that can clarify the present and guide us to the future; that history tells us how we have behaved for six thousand years. One who knows that record has learned the limitations of human nature, and bears with equanimity the faults of his neighbors and the imperfections of states.
    • p. 145
  • The root of crime, in all classes, nations and ages, is the basically lawless nature of man, formed by a million years of hunting, fighting, killing and greed. Man to become civilized, must be subjected to a system of national law possessing superior force, So we must relinquish the childish dreams of unfettered liberty that inspired many of us in our youth.
    • p.147
  • A central challenge of civilization is that it is harder to produce food than beget children; so in nearly all ages the growth of population has out run the production of food, the balance between births and deaths has been restored by the ruthless Malthusian trinity of famine, pestilence, and war. The question is how long can we defer the explosive confrontation between the limited productivity of arable soil and the uncontrolled reproductive ecstasy of men?
    • p.148
  • In the United States and France education became almost wholly a furnishing of the intellect; the formation of character was turned back by the teacher to the family and the Church. But these were losing their influence, the student grew daily in sharpness of intellect and looseness of character. For the intellect is a constitutional individualist; it thinks of self first, and only in mature development does it consider the group.
    • p.150
  • How does this American capitalism compare with other economic systems in history? In productivity, of course in has no equal, and no precedent. Never before has an economic system poured forth so great and varied an abundance of goods and services, tools and labor-saving devices, books and journals, comforts and amusements. Never before has so large a proportion of the people been raised to so high a standard of living.
    • p.155
  • Capitalism is showing dangerous defects; poisoning our air, waters, and food. It uses at a reckless rate the mineral resources of our soil. Above all, it seems by its very nature to stimulate repeated concentrations of wealth, leading to concentrations of purchasing power and depressions. So economic history in this aspect, is the slow heart beat of the social organism, a vast diastole and systole of concentrating wealth and explosive revolution.
    • p.157
  • Revolt of course, is and inborn right of youth; its a mark of the ego become conscious of itself and demanding a place in the world. The youth's challenge is to our ruthless competition, our greed for possessing wealth and power, our barbaric wars for the raw material of the earth, the refusal of our governments to obey the moral code (or laws) it preaches to its citizens.
    • p.158
  • Though there are many sluggards among the poor, and discouraging abuses in the administration of relief, we must recognize that the majority of the poor are victims of racial discrimination and environmental handicaps. We must tax ourselves to provide adequate education, and a minimum of food, clothing, contraceptives, and shelter for all, as a far less costly procedure than social and political disorder through minority violence and authoritarian force, crushing between them not only democracy but perhaps civilization itself.
    • p.159
  • War is the Darwinism or natural selection of states, and not all our tears will wash it out of history until the people and governments of the world agree, or are forced, to yield their sovereignty to some superstate; and then there will be revolutions and civil wars.
    • p.160
  • Can we improve our heritage before we pass it on? I would make parentage a privilege and not a right. No one has the right to bring a child into the world without having passed test of physical and mental fitness to breed. The unity of the family and the authority of the parents should be strengthened by making parents legally responsible for their dependent children of minor age and by making the earnings of such children subject to parental control.
    • p.162
  • I would like every religious institution to preach morality rather than theology, and welcome into its fellowship every person who accepts the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments as the ideal toward which he strives to grow.
    • p.162
  • Every encouragement should be given to the further organization of labor, as a desirable counterpoise to the organization of industrialists, merchants, bankers, and generals.

p.162

  • I should advise youth to be skeptical of revolution as a monster that devours its fathers and children. Less alluring, but less costly, are those process of reform, by persistent propaganda and gradual implementation, which have achieved so many beneficent changes in our economic and political life in this country.
    • p.163

Heroes of History (2001)[edit]

  • To me history is a part of philosophy. Philosophy is an attempt to achieve a wide perspective, a large perspective of life and reality - history is the attempt to achieve that perspective by a study of events in time.
    • p.10
  • The motif of virtually all of Will Durant's writing was that civilizations have advanced certain ideas for the betterment of humankind and that the verdict on the efficacy of these ideas has already been rendered by the court of history- our human heritage has concrete examples of whether or not such a principle engendered the desired result or caused an unanticipated catastrophe. -John Little
    • p.13
  • Man is one of countless millions of species and, like the all the rest, is subject to the struggle for existence and the competition of the fittest to survive. All psychology, philosophy, statesmanship, and utopias must make their peace with theses biological laws.
    • p.15
  • Humans have lived forty times longer as hunter-gatherers than as tillers of the soil in a settled life. In those 975,000 years their basic nature was formed and remains a challenge to civilization because in that hunting stage man was eagerly and greedily acquisitive, because he had to be. His food supply was uncertain so he always needed to be ready to fight; for his food, his mate, or his life. If he could he took more mates than one, for hunting and fighting were mortally dangerous and left a surplus of women over men. For these and other reasons acquisitiveness, pugnacity, and ready sexuality were qualities that made for survival.
    • p.15
  • Century by century Man reconciled himself to a home and settled life. Women had domesticated the sheep, the dog, the ass, and the pig; now she domesticates man, he succumbs to civilization partially and reluctantly. Slowly he learns from her the social qualities; family love, kindness, sobriety, cooperation, communal activity. Such I believe, was the beginning of civilization- of being civil citizens. Now begins the continuing conflict between nature and civilization - between individualistic instincts deeply rooted in the hunting stage of human history, and the social instincts more weakly developed by a recently settled life.
    • p.16
  • The state -which is ourselves and our impulses multiplied for organization and defense- expresses our old instincts of acquisition and pugnacity because, like primitive man, it feels insecure; its greed is a hedge against future needs and famine. Individuals became civilized when they were made secure by membership in an effectively protective communal group; states will become civilized when they a re made secure by loyal membership in an effectively protective federated group.
    • p.16
  • No economic system can long maintain itself without appealing to acquisitive instincts and eliciting superior abilities by offering superior rewards. It (civilization) knew that no individual or state can long survive without a willingness to fight for self-preservation. It saw that no race or religion will last if it does not breed.
    • p.16
  • On the other hand if acquisitiveness were not checked it would lead to retail theft, wholesale robbery, and political corruption and to such a concentration of wealth as would invite revolution. If aggression were not checked, it would lead to brawls at every corner, to domination of every neighborhood by its heaviest thug. If sex were not controlled, it would leave every girl at the mercy of every seducer, every wife at the mercy of her husband's secret itching for the charms and variety of youth. These powerful instincts must be controlled or civilization would be impossible and men would remain savages.
    • p.16
  • The family, in the agricultural regime, taught the uses and comforts of association and mutual aid. Religion buttressed the moral commandment by attributing them to an all seeing, rewarding and punishing God. Parents and teachers transmitted the divinely sanctioned code by precept and example. Laws supported large parts of the code by the used of fear and organized force; Public opinion checked immorality with adjectives and contumely, and encouraged good behavior with praise, promotion, and power.
    • p.18
  • Now what if the forces that made for order and civilization are failing to preserve them? The family has been weakened by the disappearance of that united labor that held it together on the farm, religion has been weakened by the growth of wealth and cities; by the exciting developments of science, our educational system is discouraged by class and race war and by the revolt of overburdened tax payers. Laws lose their edge by their multiplication and their bias. Public opinion loses force through division, fear, apathy, and the universal worship of wealth.
    • p.18
  • We need not close our eyes to the evils that challenge us - we should work undiscourageably to lessen them- but we make take strength from the achievements of the past; the splendor of our inheritance. Let us varying Shakespeare's unhappy king, sit down and tell brave stories of noble women and great men.
    • p.19

With Ariel Durant[edit]

  • Power dements even more than it corrupts, lowering the guard of foresight and raising the haste of action.

External links[edit]

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