Skip to main content

Full text of "Political Science Of The State"

See other formats

offences, among which may be named atheism, denial of a
providence of the gods, ridicule of the divinities acknowledged
by the state, profanation, neglect and derision of the sacred
festivals, offerings, and games, departure from usage in mak-
ing offerings, injuries done to altars and temples, and viola-
tion of the right of asylum belonging to them, profanation of
graves and neglect of duties towards the dead, scoffing at
mysteries or revealing them to the uninitiated, rooting up the
sacred olive trees, intercourse with persons defiled by homi-
cide, and the entrance of a murderer into a holy place.* An-
other crime against religion, sacrilege (iepoa-vXia), seems to
have been viewed in two lights, as a desecration of a temple,
or as the abstraction of sacred property. In the worst form
it was punished with death, confiscation of property, and pro-
hibition of burial in Attic soil. The vague crime of impiety
was visited with no absolute penalty, but the accuser and the
court might estimate it as high as loss of life. It is highly
interesting to find the Athenians punishing opinions, and that
accusations were made against many of the philosophers.
Thus, besides the well-known case of Socrates, Anaxagoras is
said to have been prosecuted for teaching that the sun, then
still regarded as a living divinity, was but a fiery mass of stone.
Protagoras, Aristotle, Theodorus Atheus, and others are
said to have sustained similar prosecutions for impiety. And
it is remarkable that, with this censure of serious opinion,
great license was allowed to the comic poets of putting the
gods in the most ridiculous light, and even of introducing
them on the stage in the most censurable and immoral parts
of the national mythology.
Towards the end of the Roman republic, Jews began to fre-
Laws against jews ^uent the capital, and soon Christians also came
andchnsdans. ^rz, who at first were confounded with Jews.
They both were called, in popular language, through the
eastern provinces, atheists, either as having no visible object
of worship, or as rejecting the gods of the heathen among
* These are enumerated by Meier u. Schoem., Att. Proc., pp. 300,
301, whose words I have for the most part translated.