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Hereunder follows the transcription of Houston Stewart Chamberlain's "The Foundations 
of the 19th Century", 2nd ed., published by John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1912. 

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HISTORY i 329 

HISTORY i 494 






A. The Teutons as Creators of a New Culture ii 187 

B. Historical Survey ii 233 

1. DISCOVERY 11261 

2. SCIENCE 11293 

3. INDUSTRY ii 329 




7. ART ii 495 
INDEX ii 565 










First Impression November 1910 
Second Impression January 1912 

Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, London 



SOME ten years ago there appeared in Germany a work of the highest importance which 
at once arrested the attention of the literary world, and was speedily declared to be one of 
the masterpieces of the century. The deep learning, the sympathy with knowledge in its 
most various forms, a style sometimes playful, sometimes ironical, always persuasive, 
always logical, pages adorned with brilliant passages of the loftiest eloquence — these 
features were a passport to immediate recognition. Three editions were exhausted in as 
many years, and now when it has gone through eight editions, and, in spite of the expense 
of the two bulky volumes, no fewer than sixty thousand copies have been sold in 
Germany, it is surely time that England should see the book clothed in the native 
language of its author. 

Houston Stewart Chamberlain was born at Southsea in 1855, the son of Admiral 
William Charles Chamberlain. Two of his uncles were generals in the English army, a 
third was the well-known Field-Marshal Sir Neville Chamberlain. His mother was a 
daughter of Captain Basil Hall, R.N., whose travels were the joy of the boyhood of my 
generation, while his scientific observations 


won for him the honour of Fellowship of the Royal Society. Captain Basil Hall's father. 
Sir James Hall, was himself eminent in science, being the founder of experimental 
geology. As a man of science therefore (and natural science was his first love), Houston 
Chamberlain may be regarded as an instance of atavism, or, to use the hideous word 
coined by Galton, "eugenics." 

His education was almost entirely foreign. It began in a Lycee at Versailles. Being 
destined for the army he was afterwards sent to Cheltenham College: but the benign 
cruelty of fate intervened; his health broke down, he was removed from school, and all 
idea of entering the army was given up: and so it came to pass that the time which would 
have been spent upon mastering the goose-step and the subtleties of drill was devoted 

under the direction of an eminent German tutor, Herr Otto Kuntze, to sowing the seed of 
that marvellous harvest of learning and scholarship the full fruit of which, in the book 
before us, has ripened for the good of the world. After a while he went to Geneva, where 
under Vogt, Graebe, Miiller Argovensis, Thury, Plantamour and other great professors he 
studied systematic botany, geology, astronomy, and later the anatomy and physiology of 
the human body. But the strain of work was too great and laid too heavy a tax upon his 
strength; so, for a time at any rate, natural science had to be abandoned and he migrated 
to Dresden, a forced change which was another blessing in disguise; for at Dresden he 
plunged heart and soul into the mysterious depths of the Wagnerian music and 
philosophy, the metaphysical works of the master probably exercising as strong an 
influence upon him as the musical dramas. 


Chamberlain's first published work was in French, Notes sur Lohengrin. This was 
followed by various essays in German on Wagnerian subjects: but they were not a 
success, and so, disgusted with the petty jealousies and unrealities of art-criticism, he fell 
back once more upon natural science and left Dresden for Vienna, where he placed 
himself under the guidance of Professor Wiesner. Again the miseries of health 
necessitated a change. Out of the wreck of his botanical studies he saved the materials for 
his Recherches sur la seve ascendante, a recognised authority among continental 
botanists, and natural science was laid aside, probably for ever. 

Happily the spell of the great magician was upon him. In 1 892 there appeared Das 
Drama Richard Wagners, which, frozen almost out of existence at first (five copies were 
sold in the twelvemonth, of which the author was himself the buyer), has since run into 
four greedily purchased editions. Then came that fine book, the Life of Wagner, which 
has been translated into English by Mr. Hight, and Chamberlain's reputation was made, to 
be enhanced by the colossal success of the Grundlagen des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts 
which followed in 1899. Naturally enough, criticism was not spared. The book was 
highly controversial and no doubt lent itself to some misunderstanding: moreover the 
nationality of the author could hardly fail to be in a sense provocative of some slight 
jealousy or even hostility. One critic did not hesitate to accuse him of plagiarism — 
plagiarism, above all, from Richard Wagner, the very man whose disciple and historian 
he was proud to be, whose daughter he was; years afterwards, to marry. But this attack is 
one for which Chamberlain might well be thankful, 


for it gave him the chance, in the preface to the third edition, of showing all his skill in 
fence, a skill proof even against the coup de Jarnac. His answer to his critics on his theory 
of Race, and his criticism of Delitzsch in the preface to the fourth edition are fine pieces 
of polemical writing. 

What is the Book? How should it be defined? Is it history, a philosophical treatise, a 
metaphysical inquiry? I confess, I know not: probably it is all three. I am neither an 
historian, alas! nor a philosopher, nor a metaphysician. To me the book has been a simple 
delight — the companion of months — fulfilling the highest function of which a teacher is 
capable, that of awakening thought and driving it into new channels. That is the charm of 
the book. The charm of the man is his obviously transparent truthfulness. Anything 

fringing upon fraud is abhorrent to him, something to be scourged with scorpions. As in 
one passage he himself says, the enviable gift of lying has been denied to him. Take his 
answer to Professor Delitzsch's famous pamphlet Babel und Bibel, to which I have 
alluded above. 

No writer is so dangerous as the really learned scholar who uses his learning, as a 
special pleader might, in support of that which is not true. Now, Professor Delitzsch is an 
authority in Assyriology and the knowledge of the cuneiform inscriptions. The object of 
his brilliant and cleverly named pamphlet was to arouse interest in the researches of the 
German Orientalischer Verein. in this sense any discovery which can be brought into line 
with the story of the Old Testament is an engine the price of which is above pearls. 
Accordingly, Professor Delitzsch, eager to furnish proof of Semitic monotheism, 


brings out the statement that the Semitic tribes of Canaan which, at the time of 
Khammurabi, two thousand years before Christ, flooded Assyria, were worshippers of 
one God, and that the name of that God was Jahve (Jehovah), and in support of that 
statement he translates the inscriptions on two tablets, or fragments of tablets, in the 
British Museum. Now it must be obvious to the poorest intelligence that an obscure script 
like that in the cuneiform character can only be read with any approach to certainty where 
there is the Opportunity of comparison, that is to say, where the same groups of wedges 
or arrowheads, as they used to be called, are found repeated in various connections: even 
so, the patience and skill which have been spent upon deciphering the inscriptions, from 
the days of Hincks and Rawlinson until now, are something phenomenal. Where a proper 
name occurs only once, the difficulty is increased a hundredfold. Yet this did not deter 
Delitzsch from making his astounding monotheistic assertion on the strength of an 
arbitrary interpretation of a single example of a group of signs, which signs moreover are 
capable of being read, as is proved by the evidence of the greatest Assyriologists, in six if 
not eleven different ways. Truly a fine case for doctors to disagree upon! Chamberlain, 
with that instinctive shying at a fraud which distinguishes him, at once detected the 
imposition. He is no Assyriologist, but his work brings him into contact with the masters 
of many crafts, and so with the pertinacity of a sleuth-hound he runs the lie to earth. In a 
spirit of delicate banter, through which the fierce indignation of the truth-lover often 
pierces, he tears the imposture to tatters; his attack is a fighting masterpiece, to which I 
cannot but 


allude, if only in the sketchiest way, as giving a good example of Chamberlain's methods. 
So much for Tablet No. I. 

The interpretation of the second tablet upon which Professor Delitzsch reads the 
solemn declaration "Jahve is God" fares no better at our author's hands; for he brings 
forward two unimpeachable witnesses, Hommel and Konig, who declare that Delitzsch 
has misread the signs which really signify "The moon is God." 

It is well known — a fact scientifically proved by much documentary evidence — that 
Khammurabi and his contemporaries were worshippers of the sun, the moon and the 
stars; the name of his father was Sin-mubalit, "the moon gives life," his son was 
Shamshuiluna, "the sun is our God." But no evidence is sufficient to check Professor 

Delitzsch's enthusiasm over his monotheistic Khammurabi! That much in the deciphering 
of Assyrian inscriptions is to a great extent problematical is evident. One thing, however, 
is certain in these readings of Professor Delitzsch: in the face of the authority of other 
men of learning, his whole fabric, "a very Tower of Babel, but built on paper, crumbles to 
pieces; and instead of the pompously announced, unsuspected aspect of the growth of 
monotheism, nothing remains to us but a surely very unexpected insight into the 
workshop of lax philology and fanciful history-mongering." 

It seems to me that Khammurabi has been made a victim in this controversy. Even if 
he was a worshipper of the sun and the stars and the moon, he was, unless we ignorant 
folk have been cruelly misled, a very great man: for he appears to have been the first king 
who recognised the fact that if a people has duties to its 


sovereign, the sovereign on the other hand has duties to his people — and that, for a 
monarch who reigned so many centuries before Moses, must be admitted to show a very 
high sense of kingly responsibility. But Delitzsch, in trying to prove too much, has done 
him the dis-service of exposing him to what almost amounts to a sneer from the Anti- 
Semites. I have submitted what I have written above to Dr. Budge of the British Museum, 
who authorises me to say that he concurs in Chamberlain's views of Professor Delitzsch's 

But it is time that we should leave these battles of the learned in order to consider the 
scheme, the scope and the conduct of the book. To write the story of the Foundations of 
the Nineteenth Century was a colossal task, for which the strength of a literary Hercules 
would alone be of any avail. Mr. Chamberlain, however, has brought to the undertaking 
such a wealth of various knowledge and reading, set out with unrivalled dialectical 
power, that even those who may disagree with some of his conclusions must perforce 
incline themselves before the presence of a great master. That his book should be popular 
with those scholars who are wedded to old traditions was not to be expected. He has 
shattered too many idols, dispelled too many dearly treasured illusions. And the worst of 
it is that the foundations of his beliefs — perhaps I should rather say of his disbeliefs — are 
built upon rocks so solid that they will defy the cunningest mines that can be laid against 
them. This is no mere "chronicle of ruling houses, no record of butcheries." It is the story of 
the rise of thought, of religion, of poetry, of learning, of civilisation, of art; the story of all 
those elements of which the complex life of the Indo-European 


of to-day is composed — the story of what he calls "Der Germane." 

And here let me explain once for all what Chamberlain means by "Der Germane": 
obviously not the German, for that would have been "Der Deutsche." To some people the 
name may be misleading; but he has adopted it, and I may have to use it again, so let us 
take his own explanation of it. In this term he includes the Kelts, the Germans, the Slavs, 
and all those races of northern Europe from which the peoples of modern Europe have 
sprung (evidently also the people of the United States of America). The French are not 
specifically mentioned, but it is clear from more than one passage that they too are 
included. As indeed how should they be left out? Yet it strikes one almost as a paradox to 
find Louis XIV. claimed as a "genuine Germane" for resisting the encroachments of the 

Papacy, and bearding the Pope as no other Catholic sovereign ever did; and blamed as a 
Germane false to his "Germanentum" for his shameless persecution of the Protestants! In 
the Germane, then, he describes the dominant race of the nineteenth century. Strange 
indeed is the beginning of the history of that race. 

Far away in Asia, behind the great mountain fastnesses of India, in times so remote 
that even tradition and fable are silent about them, there dwelt a race of white men. They 
were herdsmen, shepherds, tillers of the soil, poets and thinkers. They were called Aryas — 
noblemen or householders — and from them are descended the dominant caste of India, the 
Persians, and the great nations of Europe. The history of the Aryan migrations, their 
dates, their causes, is lost in the clouds of a mysterious 


past. All that we know is that there were at least three great wanderings: two southward 
to India and Persia, one, or perhaps several, across the great Asiatic continent to Europe. 
What drove these highly gifted people from their farms and pastures? Was it the search 
for change of climate? Was it pressure from the Mongols? There are some reasons for 
supposing that religious dissent may have had something to do with it. For instance, the 
evil spirits of the Zendavesta, the scriptures of the Zoroastrians are the gods of the 
Rigveda, the sacred poems of the Indian Aryans, and vice versa. Be that as it may, 
wherever the Aryans went they became masters. The Greek, the Latin, the Kelt, the 
Teuton, the Slav — all these were Aryans: of the aborigines of the countries which they 
overran, scarcely a trace remains. So, too, in India it was "Varna," colour, which 
distinguished the white conquering Arya from the defeated black man, the Dasyu, and so 
laid the foundation of caste. It is to the Teuton branch of the Aryan family that the first 
place in the world belongs, and the story of the Nineteenth Century is the story of the 
Teuton's triumph. 

While by no means ignoring, or failing to throw light upon, the Assyrian or Egyptian 
civilisations, this all-embracing book ascribes the laying of the Foundations of the 
Nineteenth Century to the life-work of three peoples: two of these, the Greek and Roman, 
being of Aryan extraction, the third, the Jew, Semitic. 

Of Greek poetry and art Chamberlain writes with all the passionate rapture of a lover. 
"Every inch of Greek soil is sacred." Homer, the founder of a religion, the maker of gods, 
stands on a pinnacle by himself. He was, as it were, the Warwick of Olympus. "That any 


one should have doubted the existence of the poet Homer will not give to future 
generations a favourable impression of the perspicacity of our times." It is just a hundred 
years since Wolf started his theory that there was no such poet as Homer — that the Hiad 
and Odyssey were a parcel of folk-songs of many dates and many poets pasted together. 
By whom? asks Chamberlain. Why are there no more such "able editors"? Is it paste that is 
lacking or brain-paste? Schiller at once denounced the idea as "simply barbarous" and 
proclaimed Wolf to be a "stupid devil." Goethe at first was caught by the idea, but when he 
examined the poems more closely, from the point of view of the poet, recanted, and came 
to the conclusion that there could be only one Homer. And now "Homer enters the 
twentieth century, the fourth millennium of his fame, greater than ever." No great work of 
art, as Chamberlain points out, was ever produced by the collaboration of a number of 

little men. The man who made the faith of a people was, as Aristotle put it, "divine before 
all other poets." If Greek poetry and Greek art were in those two branches of human 
culture the chief inheritance of the nineteenth century, then we may safely assert that 
Homer in that direction dominated all other influence and was the first prophet of our 
Indo-European culture. 

Never, indeed, did the sacred fire of poetry and art burn with a purer flame than it did 
in ancient Greece. Homer was followed by a radiant galaxy of poets. The tragic dramas 
of Aeschylus and Sophocles, the farces of Aristophanes, the idylls of Theocritus, the odes 
of Pindar, the dainty lyrics of Anacreon, have made the Greek genius the test by which all 
subsequent work must be 


judged. In architecture and sculpture the Greeks have never been equalled; of their 
painting we know less; but the men who were under the influence of a Phidias and a 
Praxiteles, we may safely say, would not have borne with a mere dauber. Poetry and art 
then were the very essence of Greek life; they penetrated the soul and thrilled every fibre 
of the ancient Hellenes. Their philosophy, the deep thoughts that vibrated in their brain, 
were poetry. Plato himself was, as Montesquieu said of him, one of the four great poets 
of mankind. He was the Homer of thought, too great a poet, according to Zeller, to be 
quite a philosopher. But Plato was Himself; and his spirit is as young and as fresh to-day 
as it was when he was so penetrated with the sense of beauty that he made his Socrates 
lecture only in the fairest scenes, and pray to the great god Pan that he might be beautiful 
in his inner self, and that his outer self should be in tune with it. "Much that has come 
between has sunk in oblivion; while Plato and Aristotle, Democritus, Euclid and 
Archimedes live on in our midst stimulating and instructing, and the half-fabulous figure 
of Pythagoras grows greater with every century." 

But — and it is a big "but" — when we come to metaphysics Chamberlain cries. Halt! With 
all his reverence for Plato as statesman, moralist and practical reformer; for Aristotle as 
the first encyclopedist; full of admiration for the philosophers of the great epoch so far as 
they represent a "creative manifestation" of the mind of man closely allied to the poetic art, 
in the history of human thought he dethrones them from the high place which has hitherto 
been assigned to them, he denies them the honour of having been the first thinkers. To 


indeed, with all his gifts, he traces the decadence of the Hellenic spirit. 

It has been the fashion among the schoolmen to hold the Greeks up to admiration as 
being historically the first thinkers. Nothing could be further from the truth. They laid the 
foundations of our science, of geography, natural history, logic, ethics, mathematics — of 
metaphysics they were not the founders, though they taught us to think. Bacon indeed 
condemned their philosophy as "childish, garrulous, impotent and immature in creative 
power." Centuries before the birth of the great Greeks, India had produced philosophers 
who in the realms of thought reached heights which never were attained by Plato or 
Aristotle. The doctrine of the transmigration of souls was brought by Pythagoras from 
India. In Greece, until it was published by Plato, it was regarded as the mystery of 
mysteries, only to be revealed to the elect — to the high priests of thought: but in India it 

was the common belief of the vulgar; whereas to the philosophers, a small body of deep 
thinkers, it was and is an allegorical representation of a truth only to be grasped by deep 
metaphysical pondering. The common creed of the Indian coolie, invested by Plato with 
the halo of his sublime poetry, became glorified as the highest expression of Greek 

Alas! for the long years wasted in the worship of false gods! Alas! for the idols with 
feet of clay, ruthlessly hurled from their pedestals! That the ancient Greek was the type of 
all that was chivalrous and noble was the accepted belief taught by the old-fashioned, 
narrow-minded pedagogues of two generations ago. They took the Greeks at their own 
valuation, accepting all their 


figures and facts without a question. Their battles were always fought against fearful 
odds; they performed prodigies of valour; their victories decided the fate of the world. To 
the student brought up in the faith of such books as Creasy' s Fifteen Decisive Battles of 
the World, it comes as a shock to be told that Marathon was a mere skirmish without 
result, in which, as a matter of fact, the Athenians had if anything rather the worst of it. 
Even Herodotus inconveniently let out the fact that Miltiades hurried on the battle 
knowing that his brave Hoplites were half minded to go over to the enemy, and that delay 
might cause this treacherous thought to be carried into effect. Another half-hour and the 
"heroes of Marathon" would have been seen marching against Athens side by side with the 
Persians. As it was, the latter quietly sailed back to Ionia in their Grecian ships, carrying 
with them several thousand prisoners and a great store of booty. Gobineau has shown that 
Salamis was no better, and he describes Grecian history as "la plus elaboree des fictions du 
plus artiste des peuples." 

In view of writers like Gobineau and Chamberlain the ancient Greek was a fraud, a 
rogue and a coward, a slave-driver, cruel to his enemies, faithless to his friends, without 
one shred of patriotism or of honour. Alcibiades changing colour like a chameleon, Solon 
forsaking his life's work and going over to Pisistratus, Themistocles haggling over the 
price for which he should betray Athens before Salamis, and living at the Court of 
Artaxerxes as the declared enemy of Greece, despised by the Persians "as a wily Greek 
snake," these and others are sickening pictures which Chamberlain draws of the Hellene 
when viewed as a man apart from his poetry and his art. 


Probably in these days of critical investigation the fanciful teaching of previous 
generations will be modified. The Greeks have enough really to their credit, they have a 
sufficient title to our gratitude for what they were, without being held up to our 
admiration for that which they distinctly were not. It seems laughable that Grote should 
have accepted as gospel truth, and held up as an example for future ages, what Juvenal 
had summed up, eighteen hundred years before, as "all that lying Greece dares in history." 

No two people could be in sharper contrast to one another than the Greeks and the 
Romans. From the creative genius of the Greeks we have inherited Olympus, the Gods, 
and Homer who made them, poetry, architecture, sculpture, philosophy, all that makes up 
the joy of life: not our religion — that comes from a higher source — and yet, even here 
perhaps something, some measure of religiosity which fitted us to receive the Divine 

Message. The gift of the matter-of-fact Roman, on the other hand, has been law, order, 
statecraft, the idea of citizenship, the sanctity of the family and of property. Borne on the 
pinions of imagination the Greek soared heavenward. The Roman struck his roots deep 
into the soil. In all that contributes to the welfare and prosperity of the State and of the 
man the Roman was past-master. In poetry, in the fine arts, in all that constitutes culture, 
he was an imitator, a follower — at a great distance — of the Greeks. A poet in the true sense 
of the word, he certainly was not. A poet means one who creates. Consider the 
translations and imitations wrought with consummate skill by Virgil, at the imperial 
command, into an epic in honour of a dynasty and a people. Compare these, masterpieces 


of their kind though they be, with the heaven-inspired creations of Homer, and you will 
see what Chamberlain means when he says that "to unite Greek poetry with Latin poetry 
in the one conception of classical literature, is a proof of incredible barbarism in taste, 
and of a lamentable ignorance of the essence and value of artistic genius." The Roman was 
no true poet, no creator. Horace, with all his charm — the most quotable of writers because 
his dainty wit had the secret of rendering with delicate fancy the ideas which occur at 
every step, on every occasion of our lives — was after all only the first and foremost of all 
society verse-writers. Chamberlain is inclined to make an exception in favour of 
Lucretius, of whom in a footnote he says that he is worthy of admiration both as thinker 
and bard. (I hesitate here to translate the word Dichter by "poet.") Yet in the same note he 
goes on to say that his thoughts are altogether Greek, and his materials preponderatingly 
so. "Moreover there lies over his whole work the deadly shadow of that scepticism that 
sooner or later leads to barrenness, and which must be carefully distinguished from the 
deep intuition of truly religious spirits that preserve the figurative in that which they set 
forth without thereby casting doubt upon the lofty truth of their inmost forebodings, their 
inscrutable mysteries." For Lucretius, Epicurus, the man who denied the existence of God, 
was the greatest of mortals. And yet there came a day when even Epicurus must needs 
fall down before Zeus. "Never," cried Diokles, who found him in the Temple, "did I see 
Zeus greater than when Epicurus lay there at his feet." Footnotes are apt to be skipped, and 
I have felt it right to dwell upon this one because of its 


importance as bearing upon Chamberlain's views of the "deadly shadow of scepticism." 
The poetry of Greece was the dawn of all that is beautiful, the bounteous fountain of 
all good gifts, at which, century after century, country after country, have quaffed the 
joyous cup, seeking inspiration that in their turn they might achieve something lovely. 

The influence which Rome has exercised upon our development has been in a totally 
different direction. From the beginning of time the races of Aryan extraction have been 
deeply imbued with the conviction of the importance of law. Yet it was reserved for the 
Romans to develop this instinct, and they succeeded because to them alone among the 
Aryans was possible the consolidation of the State. The law was the foundation of 
personal right; the State was based upon the sacrifice of that personal right, and the 
delegation of personal power for the common weal. If we realise that, we recognise the 
immense value of the inheritance bequeathed to us by the Romans. Without the great 
quality of patriotism this would have been impossible. 

The spot, upon which the Roman had settled had little physically to recommend it. 
There was no romantic scenery, there were no lofty mountains, no rushing rivers. The 
seven mean hills, the yellow mud of the Tiber, the fever-stricken marshes, a soil poor and 
unproductive, were not features to captivate the imagination. But the Roman loved it and 
cherished it in his heart of hearts. Surrounded by hostile tribes, his early history was one 
long struggle for life, in which his great qualities always won the day. Once defeated, he 
would have been wiped off the face of the earth: strength of character, deter- 


mination, courage above proof, saved him, and in the end made him the conqueror of the 
world. There was no need in his case to pass laws enforcing valour as in the case of 
Sparta, making men brave, as it were, by act of Parliament. There was no fear of his 
turning traitor; he was loyal to the core. His home, his family, his fatherland were sacred, 
the deeply treasured objects of his worship, a religion in themselves. Self was laid on one 
side — the good of the community was everything. It was the idea of the family carried into 
statecraft. One word represented it, Patria, the fatherland, and the man who worked for 
the Patria was the ideal statesman. 

Is it fair, asks Chamberlain, to call the Roman a conqueror or invader? He thinks not. 
He was driven to war not by the desire of conquest or of aggrandisement, but by the 
desperate determination to maintain his home or die. With the defeat and disappearance 
of the surrounding tribes, he found himself ever compelled to push his outposts farther 
and farther still; it was self-preservation, not the lust of conquest, which armed the 
Roman. For him war was a political necessity, and no people ever possessed the political 
instinct in so high a degree. 

The struggle with Carthage was a case in point. Historians from the earliest times, from 
Polybius to Mommsen, have denounced the barbarity shown by the Romans in the 
extermination of Carthage. Chamberlain in a few convincing paragraphs teaches us what 
was the real issue. He shows us that annihilation was an absolute necessity. Rome and 
Carthage could not exist together. The fight was for the supremacy in the Mediterranean, 
and therefore for the mastery of the world. On the one side was the civilising influence of 
Rome, colonising under 


laws so beneficent that nations even came to petition that they might be placed under her 
rule: on the other side a system of piratical colonisation undertaken in the sole cause of 
gain, the abolition of all freedom, the creation of artificial wants in the interest of trade, 
no attempt at legal organisation beyond the imposition of taxes, slavery, a religion of the 
very basest in which human sacrifices were a common practice. The Roman felt that it 
must be war to the knife without quarter. In his own interest, and, though he knew it not, 
in that of the world, there could be nothing short of extermination. "Delenda est Carthago" 
was the cry. Had he failed, had the piracy of the Semitic combination of Phoenicians and 
Babylonians won the day against the law and order of the Aryan, it is not too much to say 
that culture and civilisation would have come to a standstill, and the development of the 
nineteenth century would have been an impossibility, or at any rate hopelessly retarded. "It 
is refreshing," writes Chamberlain, "for once to come across an author who, like Bossuet, 
simply says, 'Carthage was taken and destroyed by Scipio, who herein proved himself 

worthy of his great ancestor,' without any outburst of moral indignation, without the 
conventional phrase, 'all the misery that later burst upon Rome was retribution for this 
crime.' " Caesar rebuilt Carthage, and it became a congeries of all the worst criminals, 
Romans, Greeks, Vandals, all rotten to the very marrow of their bones. It must have been 
something like Port Said in the early days some forty years ago, which seemed to be the 
trysting-place of the world's rascaldom: those who remember it can form some idea of 
what that second Carthage of Caesar's must have been. 


In the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans one sees the hand of Providence. It was 
largely the act of the Jew himself, the born rebel against State law, or any law save that 
which he deemed to be his own sacred inheritance. It was immaterial that he had himself 
petitioned Rome to save him from his own Semitic kings and to take him under her 
charge. He was a continual thorn in the side of his chosen rulers, and his final subjugation 
and dispersal became a necessity. Had the Jew remained in Jerusalem, Christianity would 
have become a mere sect of the Jews. Long before our era the Diaspora had taken place. 
Originally the Diaspora meant the Jews who, after the Babylonian captivity, refused to go 
back to Palestine because of the prosperity which they enjoyed in their place of exile. 
Later it embraced all those Jews who, for various reasons of trade, or convenience, or 
missionary enterprise, went forth into the world. In Alexandria alone these numbered 
over one million. The making of proselytes was universal. But wherever they might be, to 
Jerusalem they looked as to their home. To Jerusalem they sent tribute, in the interests of 
Jerusalem they worked as one man. The influence of Jerusalem was all-pervading. Even 
the first Christians, in spite of St. Paul, held to the rites of Judaism; those who did not 
were branded by St. John as "them of the Synagogue of Satan." In destroying the 
stronghold of Judaism the Romans, though here again they knew it not, were working for 
the triumph of Christianity. As it is, much of Judaism pervades our faith. Had Jerusalem 
stood, the "religious monopoly of the Jews," says Chamberlain, "would have been worse 
than the trade monopoly of the Phoenicians. Under the leaden 


pressure of these born dogmatists and fanatics, all freedom of thought and of belief would 
have vanished from the world: the flat materialistic conception of God would have been 
our religion, pettifoggery our philosophy. This is no fancy picture, there are too many 
facts crying aloud: for what is that stiff, narrow-minded, spiritually cramped dogmatising 
of the Christian Church, such as no Aryan people ever dreamt of; what is that 
bloodthirsty fanaticism disgracing the centuries down to the nineteenth, that curse of 
hatred fastening on to the religion of love from the very beginning, from which Greek 
and Roman, Indian and Chinese, Persian and Teuton, turn with a shudder? What is it if 
not the shadow of that Temple in which sacrifice was offered to the God of wrath and of 
revenge, a black shadow cast over the young generation of heroes striving out of the 
Darkness into the Light?" 

With the help of Rome, Europe escaped from the chaos of Asia. The imaginative 
Greek was ever looking towards Asia — to him the East called. The practical Roman 
transferred the centre of gravity of culture to find an eternal home in the West, so that 

Europe "became the beating heart and the thinking brain of all mankind." The Aryan had 
mastered the Semite for all time. 

It comes somewhat as a surprise to find Rome, the ideal Republic, pointed to as the 
fountain-head from which the conception of Constitutional Monarchy is drawn. The 
principle of Roman Law and the Roman State was, as we have seen, that of the rights of 
the individual and his power to choose representatives. In the course of time when Rome 
ceased to be Rome, when she fell under the rule of half-breeds from Africa, aliens from 
Asia Minor, 


baseborn men from Ulyria, not chosen by the people, but elected by the army; when she 
had ceased even to be the capital of her own Empire; one would have thought that the 
decay of the Republic would have been the end of all the constitutional principles which 
it had established. But it was not so. The jurists in the service of Diocletian, an lUyrian 
shepherd, of Galerius, an Ulyrian cowherd, of Maximinus, an lUyrian swineherd, were the 
men who based the imperial conception upon the theory of the will of the people, upon 
the same power which had elected the consuls and the other officers of the ancient State. 
Never before had the world beheld such a phenomenon. "Despots had ruled as direct 
descendants of the Gods, as in the case of the Egyptians and the Japanese of to-day, or as 
in Israel as representatives of the Godhead, or again by the Jus Gladii — the right of the 
sword." The soldier-emperors who had made themselves masters of the Roman Empire 
founded their rights as autocrats upon the constitutional law of the Republic. There was 
no usurpation, only delegation pure and simple. To this we owe the conception of the 
Sovereign and the Subject. 

In the meantime Christianity had become a power; and with it had taken place the 
abolition of slavery in Europe. Only a Sovereign could abolish slavery — that we saw in 
Russia in 1862. The nobles would never have given up their slaves, who were their 
property, their goods and chattels; far rather would they have made free men into 
bondsmen. But the establishment of the monarchical principle has been the main pillar of 
law and order and of that civic freedom from which, as we see, it originally sprang: it is 
one proof of the great debt of gratitude which Europe owes to ancient Rome. It is not the 
only one. 


It would be an impertinence were I to attempt to discuss Roman Law. The treatment of 
the subtleties and intricacies of a highly technical subject must be left to those who have 
made of them a special study. Yet it is impossible to pass over in silence the effect of the 
great legacy which the world has inherited from Rome. The effect is an historical fact and 
must be as patent to the layman as to the professed jurist. What Greece did for the higher 
aesthetic culture, that Rome did for law, good government and statecraft. The one made 
life beautiful, the other made it secure. As a poet, or as a philosopher, the Roman was 
insignificant; he had not even an equivalent for either word in his language; he must 
borrow the name, as he borrowed the idea, from the Greek. But in the practical direction 
of the life of the individual, of the life of the State, he remains, after more than twenty 
centuries, the unrivalled master. The pages in which Chamberlain brings into relief the 
noble qualities of the Roman character are, to my thinking, among the best and most 

eloquent in his book, and they should be read not without profit in an age which is 
singularly impatient of discipline. For after listening to Chamberlain we must come away 
convinced that it was discipline which made the Roman what he was. He learnt to obey 
that he might learn to command, and so he became the ruler of the world. That his 
conception of the law has become the model upon which all jurisprudence has been 
moulded, the State as he founded it being based upon the great principles of reciprocity 
and self-sacrifice on the one side and of protection of the sanctity of private rights on the 
other, is a fact which bears lasting testimony to the force of Roman character. There have 


been great jurists in many nations — professors learned in the law — laws have been 
amplified and changed to meet circumstances; but no single nation has ever raised such a 
legal monument as that of the Romans, which, according to Professor Leist, is "the 
everlasting teacher for the civilised world and will so remain." 

It is interesting to consider wherein lay the difference between Greek and Roman 
legislation. How came it, asks Chamberlain, that the Greeks, mentally so incomparably 
superior to the Romans, were able to achieve nothing lasting, nothing perfect, in the 
domain of law? The reason he gives is simple enough — simple and convincing. The 
Roman started with the principle of the family, and on the basis of the family he raised 
the structure of State and Law. The Greek, on the contrary, ignored the family, and took 
the State as his starting-point. Even the law of inheritance was so vague that questions in 
connection with it were left by Solon to the decision of the Courts. In Rome the position 
of the Father as King in his own house, the rank assigned to the Wife as house-mistress, 
the reverential respect for matrimony, these were great principles of which the Greeks 
knew nothing; but they were the principles upon which the existence of the private man 
depended, upon which the Res Publica was founded. The Jus Privatum and the Jus 
Publicum were inseparable, and from them sprang the Jus Gentium, the law of nations. 
The laws of Solon, of Lycurgus and others have withered and died; but the laws of Rome 
remain a stately and fruit-bearing tree, under whose wholesome shade the civilisation of 
Europe has sprung up and flourished. 

Few men have approached a great subject in a loftier 


spirit of reverence than that in which Chamberlain deals with what, to him, as to all of us, 
is the one great and incomparable event in the whole story of our planet. "No battle, no 
change of dynasty, no natural phenomenon, no discovery possesses a significance which 
can be compared with that of the short life upon earth of the Galilean. His birth is, in a 
sense, the beginning of history. The nations that are not Christian, such as the Chinese, 
the Turks and others have no history; their story is but a chronicle on the one hand of 
ruling houses, butcheries and the like, and on the other, represents the dull, humble, 
almost bestially happy life of millions that sink in the night of time without leaving a 

With the dogmas of the Church or Churches, Chamberlain has scant sympathy, and on 
that account he will doubtless be attacked by swarms as spiteful as wasps and as 
thoughtless. And yet how thoroughly imbued with the true spirit of Religion, as apart 
from Churchcraft, is every line that he has written! Christ was no Prophet, as Mahomet 

dubbed him. He was no Jew. The genealogies of St. Matthew and St. Luke trace to 
Joseph, but Joseph was not His father. The essence of Christ's significance lies in the fact 
that in Him God was made man. Christ is God, or rather since, as St. Thomas Aquinas 
has shown, it is easier to say what God is not than what He is, it is better to invert the 
words and say God is Christ, and so to avoid explaining what is known by what is not 
known. Such are but a few ideas of the author culled at random and from memory. But 
(and here is the stone of offence against which the Churchman will stumble) "it is not the 
Churches that form the strength of Christianity, but that Fountain 


from which they themselves draw their power, the vision of the Son of Man upon the 


In two or three masterly pages written with such inspiration that it is difficult to read 
them without emotion. Chamberlain has drawn a parallel between Christ and Buddha, 
between the love and life -breathing doctrine of the One and the withering renunciation of 
the other. Buddha tears from his heart all that is dear to man — parents, wife, child, love, 
hope, the religion of his fathers — all are left behind when he wanders forth alone into the 
wilderness to live a living suicide and wait for death, an extinction that can only be 
perfect, in the face of the doctrine of metempsychosis, if it is so spiritually complete that 
the dread reaper can harvest no seed for a new birth. How different is it with the teaching 
of Christ, whose death means no selfish, solitary absorption into a Nirvana, a passionless 
abstraction, but the Birth of the whole world into a new life. Buddha dies that there may 
be no resurrection. Christ dies that all men may live, that all men may inherit the 
Kingdom of Heaven. And this Kingdom of Heaven, what is it? Clearly no Nirvana, no 
sensuous Paradise like that of Mahomet. He gives the answer Himself in a saying which 
must be authentic, for His hearers could not understand it, much less could they have 
invented it. The Kingdom of God is within you. "In these sayings of Christ we seem to 
hear a voice: we know not His exact words but there is an unmistakable, unforgettable 
tone which strikes our ear and so forces its way to the heart. And then we open our eyes 
and we see this Form, this Life. Across the centuries we hear the words. Learn from me! 
and at last we understand what that means: 


to be as Christ was, to live as Christ lived, to strive as Christ died, that is the Kingdom of 
Heaven, that is eternal Life." 

As I sit writing I can see on a shelf a whole row of books written on Buddhism by 
eminent scholars and missionaries, comparing its doctrines with those of the Saviour. It is 
not too much to say that the sum of all the wisdom and learning of that little library of 
Buddhism is contained in the few paragraphs of which I have given the kernel. 
Chamberlain in burning words points out how radiant is the doctrine of hope preached by 
the Saviour — where is there room for pessimism since the Kingdom of God is within us? — 
and he contrasts, the teaching of our Lord with the dreary forebodings of the Old 
Testament, where all is vanity, life is a shadow, we wither like grass. The Jewish writers 
took as gloomy a view of the world as the Buddhists. But our Lord who went about 
among the people and loved them, taking part in their joys and in their sorrows — His was a 
teaching of love and sympathy, and above all of hope. Christ did not retire into the 

wilderness to seek death and annihilation. He came out of the wilderness to bring life 
eternal. Buddha represents the senile decay of a culture that has finished its life: Christ 
represents the Birth of a new day, of a new civilisation dawning under the sign of the 
Cross, raised upon the ruins of the old world, a civilisation at which we must work for 
many a long day before it may be worthy to be called by His name. 

Chamberlain is careful to tell us that he does not intend to lift the veil which screens 
the Holy of Holies of his own belief. But it must be clear from such utterances as those 
upon which I have drawn above, how 


noble and how exalted is the conception of Christ and of His teaching which is borne in 
on the mind of one of the foremost thinkers of our day. He draws his inspiration at the 
fountain head. For the dogmas of oecumenical councils, for the superstitions and fables 
of monks, he has an adequate respect: he preaches Christ and Him crucified: that is to 
him all-sufficing. Can there be a purer ideal? 

It is this same lofty conception which accounts for the contrast which this protestant 
layman draws between Catholicism and the hierarchy of Rome. For the former he has 
every sympathy: upon the latter he looks as a hindrance to civilisation and to the essential 
truths of Religion. How could it be otherwise with an institution which until the year 
1 822 kept under the ban of the Index every book which should dare to contest the 
sublime truth that the sun goes round the Earth? The whole Roman system, hierarchical 
and political, is in direct opposition to the development of Indo-European culture, of 
which the "Germane" constitutes the highest expression. The Catholic, on the other hand, 
when not choked by the mephitic vapours of Roman dogma and Roman imperialism, left 
free to follow the simple teaching of the cross, and to practise so far as in him lies the 
example of the Saviour, is worthy of all the respect which is due to the true Christian of 
whatsoever denomination he may be. He at any rate is no enemy to the Truth. 

Very striking are the passages in which Chamberlain points out the ambiguous attitude 
of our Lord towards Jewish thought and the religion of which His teaching was the 
antithesis. How he brushed aside the narrow 


prescriptions of the Law, as for example in the great saying, "the Sabbath was made for 
man, not man for the Sabbath"; — and yet how, born in the midst of Jewish ideas and 
bigotry, the bearer of the new Glad Tidings, the Teacher who was to revolutionise the 
world, never altogether shook off the old traditions. Chamberlain's argument leads us a 
step farther. It is impossible not to feel how much more completely St. Paul, a Pharisee 
after the strictest sect of his religion, cut himself adrift from Judaism. There was no 
beating about the bush, no hesitation, no searching of the soul. A convert, he at once 
threw into his new faith all the zeal and energy with which up to that very moment he had 
persecuted it. He ceased to be a Jew: he became the Apostle to the Gentiles, and bade his 
followers refuse all "old wives' fables" (I Tim. iv. 7), while to Titus he says, "rebuke them 
sharply, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men, that turn from the 
truth" (Titus i. 14). Christ's life upon earth was spent among the Jews: it was to them that 
His "good tidings" were addressed. To touch the hearts of men you must speak to them in a 
language that they understand. St. Paul, on the other hand, who lived and worked among 

the Gentiles, was unfettered by any preconceived ideas on the part of his hearers. His 
doctrine was to them absolutely new, standing on its own foundation, the rock of 
Christianity — and yet, as Chamberlain points out in a later part of the book, it was St. Paul, 
the very man who after his conversion avoided the Jews and separated himself from them 
as much as he could, who did more than any of the first preachers of Christianity to weld 
into the new faith the traditions of the Old Testament. 


In the Epistle to the Romans the fall of man is given as an historical event; our Lord born 
"from the seed of David according to the flesh" is declared to be the son of God; Israel is 
the people of God, the good olive-tree into which the branches of the wild olive-tree, the 
Gentiles, may be "grafted." The death of the Messiah is an atoning sacrifice in the Jewish 
sense, &c. &c., all purely Jewish ideas preached by the man who hated the Jews. When 
we read these contradictions of the man's self we may say of St. Paul's epistles as St. Peter 
did, in another sense, "in which are some things hard to be understood." 

The influence of Judaism on Indo-European civilisation is a subject upon which the 
author of the Grundlagen dwells with special stress. He cannot withhold his admiration 
from the sight of that one small tribe standing out amid the chaos of nationalities, which 
was the legacy of the fallen Roman Empire, "like a sharply cut rock in the midst of a 
shapeless sea," maintaining its identity and characteristics in the midst of a fiery vortex 
where all other peoples were fused into a molten conglomerate destroying all definition. 
The Jew alone remained unchanged. His belief in Jehovah, his faith in the promises of the 
prophets, his conviction that to him was to be given the mastery of the world — these were 
the articles of his creed, a creed which might be summed up as belief in himself. 
Obviously to Chamberlain the Jew is the type of pure Race, and pure Race is what he 
looks upon as the most important factor in shaping the destinies of mankind. Here he 
joins issue with Buckle, who considered that climate and food have been the chief agents 
in mental and physical development. Rice as a staple 


food Buckle held to be the explanation of the special aptitudes of the Indian Aryans. The 
error is grotesque. As Chamberlain points out, rice is equally the food of the Chinese, of 
the hard-and-fast materialists who are the very antipodes of the idealist, metaphysical 
Aryans. In the matter of climate Chamberlain might have brought the same witnesses into 
court. There are more variations of climate in China than in Europe. The climate of 
Canton differs as much from that of Peking as from that of St. Petersburg. The Chinaman 
of the north speaks a different language from that of the south, though the ideographic 
script is the same: his food is different, the air that he breathes is different: but the racial 
characteristics remain identical. 

Race and purity of blood are what constitute a type, and nowhere has this type been 
more carefully preserved than among the Jews. I remember once calling upon a 
distinguished Jewish gentleman. Mr. D 'Israeli, as he was then, had just left him. "What did 
you talk about?" I asked at haphazard. "Oh," said my host, "the usual thing — the Race." No one 
was more deeply penetrated with the idea of the noble purity of "the Race" than Lord 
Beaconsfield. No one believed more fully in the influence of the Jew working alongside 
of the Indo-European. With what conviction does he insist upon this in Coningsby! 

That Race, however, does not drop ready-made from the skies is certain; nature and 
history show us no single example either among men or beasts of a prominently noble 
and distinctly individual race which is not the result of a mixture. Once the race 
established it must be preserved. The English constitute a Race and 


a noble one, though their pedigree shows an infusion of Anglo-Saxon, Danish and 
Norman bloods. In spite of its history which is its religion, there is proof that at a remote 
stage of its existence the Jewish race was actually formed of several elements. Its 
stability, unchanged for thousands of years, is one of the wonders of the world. One 
rigidly observed law is sufficient for their purpose. The Israelite maiden may wed a 
Gentile: such an affiance tends not to the degeneracy of the race: but the Jewish man 
must not marry outside his own nation, the seed of the chosen people of Jehovah must not 
be contaminated by a foreign alliance. That Chamberlain is a strong Anti-Semite adds to 
the value of the testimony which he bears to the nobility of the Sephardim, the intensely 
aristocratic Jews of Spain and Portugal, the descendants of the men whom the Romans, 
dreading their influence, deported westward. "That is nobility in the fullest sense of the 
word, genuine nobility of race! Beautiful forms, noble heads, dignity in speech and in 
deportment.... That out of the midst of such men prophets and psalmists should go forth, 
that I understood at the first glance — something which I confess the closest observation of 
the many hundred 'Bochers' in the Friedrichstrasse in Berlin had failed to enable me to do." 
To the Ashkenazim, the so-called German Jews, Chamberlain is as it seems to me unjust. 
That they have played a greater part in the history of the nineteenth century than the 
Sephardim is hardly to be denied. They are born financiers and the acquisition of money 
has been their characteristic talent. But of the treasure which they have laid up they have 
given freely. The charities of the great cities of Europe would be in a sad 


plight were the support of the Jews to be withdrawn; indeed many noble foundations owe 
their existence to them. Politically too they have rendered great services: one instance 
which Chamberlain himself quotes is the settlement of the French indemnity after the war 
of 1870. Bismarck was represented by a Jew, and the French on their side appointed a 
Jew to meet him, and these two Jews belonged to the Ashkenazim, not to the noble 

Who and what then is the Jew, this wonderful man who during the last hundred years 
has attained such a position in the whole civilised world? 

Of all the histories of the ancient world there is none that is more convincing, none 
more easily to be realised, than that of the wanderings of the patriarch Abraham. It is a 
story of four thousand years ago, it is a story of yesterday, it is a story of to-day. A tribe 
of Bedouin Arabs with their womenkind and children and flocks flitting across the desert 
from one pasture to another is a sight still commonly seen — some of us have even found 
hospitality in the black tents of these pastoral nomads, where the calf and the foal and the 
child are huddled together as they must have been in Abraham's day. Such a tribe it was 
that wandered northward from the city of Ur on the fringe of the desert, on the right bank 
of the Euphrates, northward to Padan Aram at the foot of the Armenian Highlands; six 
hundred kilometres as the crow flies, fifteen hundred if we allow for the bends of the 

river and for the seeking of pasture. From Padan Aram the tribe travels westward to 
Canaan, thence south to Egypt and back again to Canaan. It is possible that the names of 
the patriarchs may have been 


used to indicate periods, but however that may be, these journeys long in themselves, and 
complicated by the incumbrances of flocks and herds, occupied a great space in time; 
there were moreover long halts, residences lasting for centuries in the various countries 
which were traversed, during which intermarriages took place with the highly civilised 
peoples with whom the wanderers came in contact. 

The Bible story, ethnology, the study of skulls and of racial types, all point to the fact 
that the Jewish people, the descendants of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, united in 
themselves the five great qualifications which Chamberlain holds to be necessary for the 
establishment of a powerful race. First, to start with, a strong stock. This the Jew 
possessed in his Arab origin. No type, surely, was ever so persistent as that of the 
Bedouin Arab of the desert, the same to-day as he was thousands of years ago. Secondly, 
inbreeding. Thirdly, such inbreeding not to be at haphazard but carefully carried out, the 
best mating only with the best. Fourthly, intermarriage with another race or races. Fifthly, 
here again careful selection is essential. The Jewish race, built up under all these 
conditions, was, as we have seen, once formed, kept absolutely pure and uncontaminated. 
Of what happens where these laws are not observed the mongrels of the South American 
republics — notably of Peru — furnish a striking example. 

In the days of the Roman Republic the influence of the Israelite was already felt. It is 
strange to read of Cicero, who could thunder out his denunciations of a Catiline, dropping 
his voice in the law courts when of the Jews he spoke with bated breath lest he should 


their displeasure. In the Middle Ages high offices were conferred by Popes upon Jews, 
and in Catholic Spain they were even made bishops and archbishops. In France the Jews 
found the money for the Crusades — Rudolph of Habsburg exempted them from the 
ordinary laws. In all countries and ages the Jew has been a masterful man. Never was he 
more powerful than he is to-day. Well may Chamberlain count Judea as the third ancient 
country which with Greece and Rome has made itself felt in the development of our 
civilisation. It is not possible within the limits of this brief notice to give an idea of the 
extraordinary interest of Chamberlain's special chapter upon the Jews and their entry into 
the history of the West. I have already hinted that with some of his conclusions I do not 
agree: but I go all lengths with him in his appreciation of the stubborn singleness of 
purpose and dogged consistency which have made the Jew what he is. The ancient Jew 
was not a soldier — foreigners furnished the bodyguard of his king. He was no sailor like 
his cousins the Phoenicians, indeed he had a horror of the sea. He was no artist — he had to 
import craftsmen to build his Temple — neither was he a farmer, nor a merchant. * What 
was it then that gave 

* It was a common creed of the days of my youth that all the great musical composers 
were of Jewish extraction. The bubble has long since been pricked. Joachim, who was a 

Jew, and as proud of his nationality as Lord Beaconsfield himself, once expressed to Sir 
Charles Stanford his sorrow at the fact that there should never have been a Jewish 
composer of the first rank. Mendelssohn was the nearest approach to it, and after him, 
Meyerbeer. But in these days Mendelssohn, in spite of all his charm, is no longer counted 
in the first rank. Some people have thought that Brahms was a Jew, that his name was a 
corruption of Abrahams. But this is false. Brahms came of a Silesian family, and in the 
Silesian dialect Brahms means a reed. (See an interesting paper in Truth of January 13, 
1909). In 


him his wonderful self-confidence, his toughness of character, which could overcome 
every difficulty, and triumph over the hatred of other races? It was his belief in the sacred 
books of the law, the Thora: his faith in the promises of Jehovah: his certainty of 
belonging to the chosen people of God. The influence of the books of the Old Testament 
has been far-reaching indeed, but nowhere has it exercised more power than in the 
stablishing of the character of the Jew. If it means so much to the Christian, what must it 
not mean to him? It is his religion, the history of his race, and his individual pedigree all 
in one. Nay! it is more than all that: it is the attesting document of his covenant with his 

Within the compass of a few pages Chamberlain has performed what amounts to a 
literary feat: he has made us understand the condition of Europe and of the chief 
countries of the Mediterranean littoral at the time of the first symptoms of decay in the 
power of Rome. It was the period of what he calls the "Volker-chaos," a hurly-burly of 
nationalities in which Greeks and Romans, Syrians, African mongrels, Armenians, Gauls 
and Indo-Europeans of many tribes were all jumbled up together — a seething, 
heterogeneous conflicting mass of humanity in which all character, individuality, belief 
and customs were lost. In this witches' Sabbath only the Jew maintained his individuality, 
only the Teuton preserved the two great characteristics of his race, freedom and faith — 

poetry, on the other hand, the Jew excelled. The Psalms, parts of Isaiah, the sweet idyll of 
Ruth are above praise. The Book of Job is extolled by Carlyle as the finest of all poems, 
and according to Chamberlain poetry is the finest of all arts. In the plastic arts, as in 
music, the Jew has been barren. 


the Jew the witness of the past; the Teuton the power of the future. 

They were a wonderful people, these tall men with the fair hair and blue eyes, warriors 
from their birth, fighting for fighting's sake, tribe against tribe, clan against clan, so that 
Tiberius, looking upon them as a danger, could think of no better policy than to leave 
them alone to destroy one another. But the people who held in their hands the fate of 
mankind were not to be got rid of like so many Kilkenny cats. Their battlesomeness made 
them a danger to the State — to a Roman Emperor, ever under the shadow of murder, their 
trustworthiness made them the one sure source from which he could recruit his 
bodyguard. But they were not mere fighting machines, though war was to them a joy and 
a delight. From their Aryan ancestors, from the men to whom the poems of the Rigveda 
were a holy writ, they had received, instilled in their blood, a passion for song and for 

music, an imagination which revelled in all that is beautiful, and which loved to soar into 
the highest realms of thought. And so it came to pass that when in the fulness of time 
they absorbed the power of Europe, they knew how to make the most of the three great 
legacies which they had inherited: poetry and art from the Greeks, law and statecraft from 
the Romans, and, greatest of all, the teaching of Christ. By them, with these helps, was 
founded the culture of the nineteenth century. 

In the descendants of such men it is not surprising to see the union of the practical with 
the ideal. A Teuton writes The Criticism of Pure Reason. A Teuton invents the steam- 
engine. "The century of Bessemer and Edison is equally the century of Beethoven and 
Richard Wagner. 


... Newton interrupts his mathematical inquiries to write a commentary on the Revelation 
of St. John. Crompton troubles himself with the invention of the spinning mule, that he 
may have more leisure to devote to his one love — music. Bismarck, the statesman of blood 
and iron, in the critical moments of his life causes the sonatas of Beethoven to be played 
to him." Whoso does not realise all this, fails to understand the essence of the Teuton 
character, and is unable to judge of the part which it has played in the past and is still 
playing in the present. 

The Goths, who of course were Teutons, have been, as Gibbon puts it, "injuriously 
accused of the ruin of antiquity." Their very name has passed into a byword for all that is 
barbarous and destructive; yet, as a matter of fact, it was Theodosius and his followers 
who, with the help of the Christian fanatics, destroyed the Capitol and the monuments of 
ancient art, whereas it was Theodoric, the Ostrogoth, on the contrary, who issued edicts 
for the preservation of the ancient glories of Rome. Yet "this man could not write; for his 
signature he had to use a metal stencil.... But that which was beautiful, that which the 
nobler spirits of the Chaos of Peoples hated as a work of the devil, that the Goth at once 
knew how to appreciate: to such a degree did the statues of Rome excite his admiration 
that he appointed a special official for their protection." Who will deny the gift of 
imagination in the race which produced a Dante (his name Alighieri a corruption of 
Aldiger, taken from his grandmother who was of a Goth family from Ferrara), a 
Shakespeare, a Milton, a Goethe, a Schiller, not to speak of many other great and lesser 
lights? Who 


will dispute the powers of thought of a Locke, a Newton, a Kant, a Descartes? We have 
but to look around us in order to see how completely our civilisation and culture are the 
work of the Germane. 

Freedom, above all things Freedom, was the watchword of the Germane — Dante taking 
part with the Bianchi against the Neri and Pope Boniface; Wycliffe rebelling against the 
rule of the Church of Rome; Martin Luther leading a movement which was as much 
political as it was religious, or even more so; all these were apostles of Freedom. The 
right to think and to believe, and to live according to our belief, is that upon which the 
free man insists: our enjoyment of it is the legacy of those great men to us. Without the 
insistence of the Germane religious toleration would not exist to-day. 

We have seen that Chamberlain takes the year one — the birth of our Lord — as the first 
great starting-point of our civilisation. The second epoch which he signalises as marking 
a fresh departure is the year 1200. The thirteenth century was a period of great 
developments. It was a period full of accomplishment and radiant with hope. In Germany 
the founding and perfecting of the great civic league known as the Hans a, in England the 
wresting of Magna Charta from King John by the Barons, laid the foundation of personal 
freedom and security. The great religious movement in which St. Francis of Assisi was 
the most powerful agent "denied the despotism of the Church as it did the despotism of the 
State, and annihilated the despotism of wealth." It was the first assertion of freedom to 
think. Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Albertus Magnus and Roger Bacon were leaders, 
the first two in philosophical thought, the last two in 


modern natural science. In poetry, and not in poetry alone but in statecraft, Dante towers 
above all those of his day; and yet there were many poets, singers whose names are still 
famous, while at the same time lived Adam de la Halle, the first great master in 
counterpoint. Among painters we find such names as Niccolo Pisani, Cimabue, Giotto, 
from whom sprang the new school of art. And while these men were all working each at 
his own craft, great churches and cathedrals and monuments were springing up, 
masterpieces of the Gothic architect's skill. Well did the thirteenth century deserve the 
title given to it by Fiske, "the glorious century." * 

When we reach these times we stand on fairly firm ground. The details of history, 
when we think how the battle rages round events which have taken place in our own 
times [for instance, the order for the heroic mistake of the Balaclava charge, where "some 
one had blundered "] may not always command respect, but the broad outlines are clear 
enough. We are no longer concerned with the deciphering of an ambiguous cuneiform 
inscription. The 

* It is strange to see how great tidal waves of intellectual and creative power from time 
to time flood the world. Take as another example the sixteenth century, the era of the 
artistic revival in Italy, of the heroes of the Reformation. What a galaxy of genius is 
there. To cite only a few names Ariosto, Tasso, Camoens, Magellan, Copernicus, Tycho 
Brahe, St. Francis Xavier, St. Ignatius Loyola, Rabelais, Shakespeare. Bacon. The best 
works of Indian art are produced under the reign of the Moghul Akbar, Damascus turns 
out its finest blades; the tiles of Persia, and the porcelain of China under the Ming 
Dynasty, reach their highest perfection; while in far Japan Miyochin, her greatest artist in 
metal, is working at the same time as Benvenuto Cellini in Florence and Rome. Such 
epidemics of genius as those of the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries are mysteries 
indeed. This, however is but an aside, though as I think one worthy of note. 


works of the great men testify, and their witness commands respect. 

The second volume of the Grundlagen opens with a chapter entitled "Religion" — a chapter 
which leaves upon the mind of the reader a vivid impression of the superstitions and 
myths which gave birth to the dogmas of the Christian Church in its early years, dogmas 
the acceptance or rejection of which was decided by the votes of Councils of Bishops, 

many of whom could neither read nor write. It seems incredible that such sublime 
questions as those of the nature of the Godhead, the relation of the Father to the Son, 
Eternal Punishment and others, should have been settled by a majority of votes "like the 
imposition of taxes by our Parliaments." In the dark ages of Christianity, Judaism, Indian 
mythology, Egyptian mysteries and magic, were woven into a chequered woof, which 
was an essential contradiction of the touching simplicity of our Lord's teaching. It was a 
strange moment in the world's history, and one which lent itself to the welding together of 
utterly dissimilar elements. In the Chaos of Peoples, all mixed up in the weirdest 
confusion, the dogma-monger found his opportunity. Judaism, which up to that time had 
been absolutely confined to the Jews, was clutched at with eagerness by men who were 
tired of the quibbles, the riddles and the uncertainties of the philosophers. Here was 
something solid, concrete; a creed which preached facts, not theories, a religion which 
announced itself as history. In the international hodgepodge, a jumble in which all 
specific character, all feeling of race or country had been lost, the Asiatic and Egyptian 
elements of this un-Christian Christianity, this travesty of our Lord's teaching, found 
ready acceptance. The 


seed bed was ready and the seed germinated and prospered greatly. In vain did the nobler 
spirits, the wiser and more holy-minded of the early Fathers raise their voices against 
gross superstitions borrowed from the mysteries of Isis and of Horus. The Jews and 
dogma triumphed. The religion of Christ was too pure for the vitiated minds of the Chaos 
of Peoples, and perhaps dogma was a necessity, a hideous evil, born that good might 
arise. Men needed a Lord who should speak to them as slaves: they found him in the God 
of Israel. They needed a discipline, a ruling power; they found it in the Imperial Church 
of Rome. 

Conversion to Christianity was in the days of the Empire far less a question of 
religious conviction than one of Law arbitrarily enforced for political reasons by 
autocrats who might or might not be Christians. Aurelian, a heathen, established the 
authority of the Bishop of Rome at the end of the third century. Theodosius made heresy 
and heathenism a crime of high treason. Lawyers and civil administrators were made 
Bishops — Ambrosius even before he was baptized — that they might enforce Christianity, as 
a useful handmaid in government and discipline. As the power of the Empire dwindled, 
that of the Church grew, until the Caesarism of the Papacy was crystallised in the words 
of Boniface Vin., "Ego sum Caesar, ego sum Imperator." 

In vain did men of genius, as time went on and the temporal claims of the Popes 
became intolerable, rise in revolt against it. Charlemagne, Dante, St. Francis, all tried to 
separate Church from State. But the Papacy stood its ground, firm as the Tarpeian Rock, 
immutable as the Seven Hills themselves. It held to the inheritance 


which came to it not from St. Peter, the poor fisherman of the Sea of Galilee, but from the 
Caesars, like whom the Bishops of Rome claimed to be Sovereigns over the world. How 
much more tolerant the early Popes were in religious matters than in temporal is a point 
which Chamberlain forcibly brings out: they might bear with compromise in the one; in 

the other they would not budge an inch. Like the Phoenix in the fable, out of its own 
ashes the Roman Empire arose in a new form, the Papacy. 

It is not possible here to dwell upon our author's contrast between St. Paul and 
Augustine, that wonderful African product of the Chaos, in whom the sublime and the 
ridiculous went hand in hand, who believed in the heathen Gods and Goddesses as evil 
spirits, who took Apuleius and his transformation into an ass seriously, to whom witches 
and sorcerers, and a dozen other childish fancies of the brain, were realities. We must 
leave equally untouched his interesting sketches of Charlemagne and Dante and their 
efforts at Reformation. His main object in this chapter is to show the position of the 
Church at the beginning of the thirteenth century. The Papacy was in its glory. Its 
doctrines, its dogmas and its temporal supremacy had been enforced — politically it stood 
upon a pinnacle. The proudest title of the Caesars had been that of Pontifex Maximus. 
The Pontifex Maximus was now Caesar. 

And the present position — what of to-day? The Church of Rome is as solid as ever it 
was. The Reformation achieved much politically. It achieved freedom. But as the parent 
of a new and consistent religion. Protestantism has been a failure. Picking and choosing, 
accepting and rejecting, it has cast aside some of the 


dogmas of the early days of the Chaos, but it remains a motley crowd of sects without 
discipline, all hostile to one another, all more or less saturated with the tenets of the very 
Church against which they rebelled. Rome alone remains consistent in its dogmas, as in 
its claims, and, purged by the Reformation of certain incongruous and irreconcilable 
elements, has in religion rather gained than lost strength. It is easy to see what difficulties 
the lack of unity creates for Protestant missionaries. Church men. Chapel men, Calvinists, 
Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists and Heaven knows how many 
more, all pulling against one another! and the Roman Catholic Church against them all! 
The religion of Christ as He taught it absolutely nowhere! Small wonder that the heathen 
should grin and be puzzled. 

The building up of the ideal State as we know it to-day was the result of two mighty 
struggles which raged during the first twelve centuries of our era. The first, as we have 
seen, was the fight for power between the Caesars and the Popes for the Empire of the 
world in which now one, now the other, had the upper hand. The second was the struggle 
between "Universalism" and "Nationalism," that is to say, between the idea on the one hand 
of a boundless Empire, whether under Caesar or Pope, and on the other a spirit of 
nationality within sure bounds, and a stubborn determination to be free from either 
potentate, which ended in the organisation of independent States and the triumph of the 
Teuton. His rise meant the dawn of a new culture, not as we are bidden to remember a 
Renaissance in the sense of the calling back into life of a dead past, but a new birth into 
freedom, a new birth in which the cramping shackles, the 


levelling influences of the Imperium Romanum, of the Civitas Dei, were cast aside — in 
which at last, after long centuries of slavery, men might live, thinking and working and 
striving according to their impulses, believing according to the faith that was in them. 

Independent statecraft then, as opposed to the all-absorbing Imperium, was the work of 
the rebellious Teuton, the poet warrior, the thinker, the free man. It was a mighty victory, 
yet one in which defeat has never been acknowledged. From his prison in the Vatican the 
Pope continues to issue Bulls and Briefs hurling defiance at the world and at common 
sense; new saints are canonised, new dogmas proclaimed by oecumenical councils 
summoned from all parts of the inhabited world; and there are good men and, in many 
respects, wise men, who bow their heads and tremble. No one can say that the Papacy, 
though shorn of its earthly dominions, is not still a Power to be reckoned with: its 
consistency commands respect; but the Civitas Dei is a thing of the past: it is no more 
than a dream in the night, from which a weary old man wakens to find its sole remnant in 
the barren semblance of a medieval court, and the man-millinery of an out-of-date 
ceremonial. Truly a pathetic figure! 

A new world has arisen. The thirteenth century was the turning-point. The building is 
even now not ended. But the Teuton was at work everywhere, and the foundations were 
well and truly laid. In Italy, north and south, the land was overrun with men of Indo- 
European race — Goths, Lombards, Norsemen, Celts. It was to them that was owing the 
formation of the municipalities and cities which still remain as witnesses of their labour. 


It was their descendants, certainly not the hybrids of the Chaos, that worked out the so- 
called "Renaissance," and when owing to the internecine feuds and petty wars, as well as to 
the too frequent intermixture with the hybrids, the Teuton element became weaker and 
weaker, the glory of Italy waned likewise. Happily for the world the race was maintained 
in greater purity elsewhere. 

The leitmotiv which runs through the whole book is the assertion of the superiority of 
the Teuton family to all the other races of the world — and more especially, as we have 
seen, is this shown by the way in which the Germane threw off the shackles with which, 
under the guise of religion, the Papacy strove to fetter him. It is interesting to consider 
how Immanuel Kant, the greatest thinker that ever lived, treated this subject. He, the man 
who was so deeply penetrated with religious feeling that he held it to be "the duty of man 
to himself to have religion," saw in the teaching of Christ a "perfect religion." His demand 
was for a religion which should be one in spirit and in truth, and for the belief in a God 
whose kingdom is not of this world." He by no means rejected the Bible, but he held that 
its value lay not so much in that which we read in it, as in that which we read into it, nor 
is he the enemy of Churches, "of which there may be many good forms." But with 
superstition and dogma he will have no dealings. Nor is this to be wondered at when we 
consider how, by whom, and for what purpose dogmas, as we have seen above, were 
manufactured and what manner of men they were who degraded the early Church with 
their superstitions. In the mass of ignorant monks and bishops who were the 


so-called "Fathers of the Church" there are brilliant exceptions. Perhaps the greatest of 
these was St. Augustine. He was a good and a holy man, but even his great brain, as we 
have seen, was saturated with Hellenic mythology, Egyptian magic and witchcraft, 
Neoplatonism, Judaism, Romish dogmatism. If we cite him as an irrefutable authority on 
a point of dogma, we should, to be consistent, go a step farther, and equally hold him as 

irrefutable when he inclines to a belief in Apuleius and his ass, and in his views as to 
Jupiter, Juno and the theocracy of Olympus. Religious dogmas, superstitions, so bred, 
could not be accepted by a man of Kant's intellect. They were noxious weeds to be rooted 
up and swept out of existence. Christ's teaching being, as he held it to be, perfect, could 
only be degraded by being loaded with heathen fables and tawdry inanities. It was the 
scum of the people who invented superstitions, the belief in witches and demons: it was 
the priestcraft who welded those false doctrines into the semblance of a religion to which 
they gave Christ's name. * 

Kant said of himself that he was born too soon; that a century must elapse before his 
day should come. "The morning has dawned," as Chamberlain says in another book, t and "it 
is no mere chance that the first complete and exact edition of Kant's collected works and 
letters should have begun to appear for the first time in the 

* The Christian religion, I would point out here, is not the only one which has suffered 
in this way. Nothing can be simpler, nothing purer in its way than Buddhism as the 
Buddha taught it. Yet see what the monks have made of it! The parallel is striking. 

t Immanuel Kant, by Chamberlain. Bruckmann, Munich, 1905. The book which 
Chamberlain tells me that he himself considers the "most important" of his works. It is 
published in German. 


year 1900; the new century needed this strong guardian spirit, who thought himself 
justified in saying of his system of philosophy that it worked a revolution in the scheme 
of thought analogous to that of the Copernican system. There are to-day a few who know, 
and many who suspect, that this scheme of philosophy must form a pillar of the culture of 
the future. For every cultivated and civilised man Kant's thought possesses a symbolical 
significance; it wards off the two opposite dangers — the dogmatism of the Priests and the 
superstition of science — and it strengthens us in the devoted fulfilment of the duties of life." 
Now that thought is less cramped and Kant is beginning to be understood, the true 
religiosity of his august nature is surely being recognised, and the last charge that will be 
brought against him will be that of irreligion. If he destroyed, he also built; he was not 
one of those teachers who rob a man of what he possesses without giving anything in 
exchange. He completed the work which Martin Luther had begun. Luther was too much 
of a politician and too little of a theologian for his task; moreover he never was able 
altogether to throw off the monk's cowl. To the last he believed in the Real Presence in 
the Sacrament, and hardly knew what dogmas he should accept and what he should 
reject. Kant was the master who taught Christianity in all its beauty of simplicity. The 
kingdom of God is in you! There was no cowl to smother Kant. 

The foundation-stone of the nineteenth century was laid by Christ himself. For many 
centuries after His death upon the Cross, ignorant men, barbarians, under the cloak of 
religion, were at pains to hide that stone in an 


overwhelming heap of rubbish. Kant laid it bare, and revealed it to the world: his reward 
was the execration of men who were not worthy to unloose the latchet of his shoes: but 
the tables are turned now. His morning has indeed dawned, and the twentieth century is 

recognising the true worth of the man who, more than any other, has influenced the 
thought of the educated world. Goethe, indeed, said of Kant that he had so penetrated the 
minds of men that even those who had not read him were under his influence. 

The last section of Chamberlain's ninth chapter is devoted to Art. He has kept one of 
his most fascinating subjects for the end. And who is better qualified to write upon it than 
he? Here is not the conventional aspect of Art contained in the technical dictionaries and 
encyclopaedias, "in which the last judgment of Michael Angelo, or a portrait of 
Rembrandt by himself, are to be seen cheek by jowl with the lid of a beer-mug or the 
back of an arm-chair." Art is here treated as the great creative Power, a Kingdom of which 
Poetry and Music, twin sisters, inseparable, are the enthroned Queens. To Chamberlain, 
as it was to Carlyle, the idea of divorcing Poetry from Music is inconceivable. "Music," 
wrote Carlyle, "is well said to be the speech of angels; in fact nothing among the 
utterances allowed to man is felt to be so divine. It brings us near to the Infinite." "I give 
Dante my highest praise when I say of his Divine Comedy that it is in all senses 
genuinely a song." Again: "All old Poems, Homer's and the rest, are authentically songs. I 
would say in strictness, that all right Poems are; that whatsoever is not sung is properly 
no Poem, but a piece of Prose cramped into jingling lines, to the 


great injury of the grammar, to the great grief of the reader for the most part!" so spoke 
Carlyle, and so speaks Chamberlain, with the masterly competence of a man who as critic 
and disciple, for he is both, has sat at the feet of the great Tone-Poet of our times. * 

The hurry and bustle of this fussy age have largely robbed us of true enthusiasm, for 
which men substitute catchwords and commonplaces. All the more delight is there in 
meeting it in such sayings as this, coming straight from the heart of a man who is never in 
a hurry, whose convictions are the result of measured thought. "A Leonardo gives us the 
form of Christ, a Johann Sebastian Bach his voice, even now present to us." The influence 
of Religion upon Art, and in reflex action, that of Art upon Religion has never been better 
shown than in these words. Religion inspired the artists, furnished them with their 
subject; the artists, so inspired, have touched the hearts of thousands, infusing them with 
some perception, some share of their own inspiration. 

Who can say how many minds have been turned to piety by the frescoes of Cimabue 
and Giotto picturing the life of St. Francis at Assisi? Who can doubt the influence of the 
Saint upon the painters of the early Italian school? Who has not felt the religious 
influence of the architect, the painter, the sculptor? Two great principles are laid down for 
us by Chamberlain in regard to Art. 

* It is curious to note that of the three greatest English poets of our day, Tennyson, 
whose songs are music itself, knew no tune, Swinburne, whose magic verses read with 
the lilt of a lovely melody, had not the gift of Ear, while Browning, the rugged thinker, 
the most unvocal of poets, never missed an opportunity of listening to music in its most 
exalted form. 


First: Art must be regarded as a whole: as a "pulsing blood-system of the higher spiritual 

life." Secondly: all Art is subordinated to poetry. But not that which has been written is 

alone poetry: the creative power of poetry is widespread. As Richard Wagner said, "the 
true inventor has ever been the people. The individual cannot invent, he can only make 
his own that which has been invented." This I take it is the true spirit of folk-lore. If you 
think of it, the epic of Homer, the "mystic unfathomable song," as Tieck called it, of Dante, 
the wonders of Shakespeare, all prove the truth of Wagner's saying. The matter is there: 
then comes the magician: he touches it with his wand, and it lives! That is true creative 
art, the art which in its turn inspires, fathering all that is greatest and noblest in the world. 
It is the art upon which the culture of the nineteenth century has been founded and built. 

Rich indeed have been the gifts which have been showered upon mankind between the 
thirteenth and the nineteenth centuries. New worlds have been discovered, new forces in 
nature revealed. Paper has been introduced, printing invented. In political economy, in 
politics, in religion, in natural science and dynamics there have been great upheavals all 
paving the way for that further progress for which we are apt to take too much credit to 
ourselves, giving too little to those glorious pioneers who preceded us, to the true 
founders of the century. 

I have endeavoured to give some idea of the scope of Chamberlain's great work. I am 
very sensible of my inadequacy to the task, but it was his wish that I should 


undertake it, and I could not refuse. I console myself with the thought that even had I 
been far better fitted for it, I could not within the limits of these few pages have given a 
satisfying account of a book which embraces so many and so various subjects, many of 
which I had of necessity to leave untouched. Indeed, I feel appalled at the range of 
reading which its production must have involved; but as to that the book is its own best 
witness. We are led to hope that some day the history of the Foundations of the 
Nineteenth Century may be followed by an equally fascinating analysis of the century 
itself from the same pen. It will be the fitting crown of a colossal undertaking. It may be 
doubted whether there is any other man equipped as Chamberlain is to erect such a 
monument in honour of a great epoch. To few men has been given in so bountiful a 
measure the power of seeing, of sifting the true from the false, the essential from the 
insignificant; comparison is the soul of observation, and the wide horizon of 
Chamberlain's outlook furnishes him with standards of comparison which are denied to 
those of shorter sight: his peculiar and cosmopolitan education, his long researches in 
natural history, his sympathy and intimate relations with all that has been noblest in the 
world of art — especially in its most divine expression, poetry and music — point to him as 
the one man above all others worthy to tell the further tale of a culture of which he has so 
well portrayed the nonage, and which is still struggling heavenward. But in addition to 
these qualifications he possesses, in a style which is wholly his own, the indescribable 
gift of charm, so that the pupil is unwittingly drawn into a close union with the teacher, in 
whom he sees an example of the truth 


of Goethe's words, which Chamberlain himself more than once quotes: 

Hochstes Gliick der Erdenkinder 
1st nur die Personlichkeit. 



January 8, 1909 

NOTE. This introduction was in print before the writer had seen Dr. Lees ' translation. 
There may, therefore, be some slight discrepancies in the passages quoted. 



THE translator desires to express his great obligation to Miss Elizabeth A. J. Weir, M.A., 
for reading through the manuscript; to his colleagues. Dr. Schlapp of Edinburgh, Dr. 
SchoUe of Aberdeen, and Dr. Smith of Glasgow, for correcting portions of the proof; and 
above all to Lord Redesdale for his brilliant and illuminating introduction. Apart, 
however, from this, it is only just to say that Lord Redesdale has carefully read and re- 
read every page and revised many important passages. 

The publisher wishes to associate himself with the translator in making this entirely 
inadequate acknowledgment to Lord Redesdale for the invaluable assistance that he has 
so generously rendered. 

(Blank page) 



AUes beruht auf Inhalt, Gehalt und Tiichtigkeit eines zuerst aufgestellten Grundsatzes 
und auf der Reinheit des Vorsatzes. 


THE work of which this is the first Book is one that is not to be made up of fragments 
patched together, but one that has been conceived and planned out from the beginning as 
a complete and finished whole. The object, therefore, of this general introduction must be 
to give an idea of the scheme of the whole work when it shall have been brought to an 
end. It is true that this first book is, in form, complete in itself; yet it would not be what it 
is if it had not come into existence as a part of a greater conception. It is this greater 
conception that must be the subject of the preface to the "part which, in the first instance, 
is the whole." 

There is no need to dwell in detail upon the limitations which the individual must 
admit, when he stands face to face with an immeasurable world of facts. The mastery of 
such a task, scientifically, is impossible; it is only artistic power, aided by those secret 
parallels which exist between the world of vision and of thought, by that tissue which — 
like ether — fills and connects the whole world, that can, if fortune is favourable, produce a 
unity here which is complete, and that, too, though only fragments be employed to make 
it. If the artist does succeed in this, then his work has not 


been superfluous: the immeasurable has been brought within the scope of vision, the 
shapeless has acquired a form. In such a task the individual has an advantage over a 
combination of men, however capable they may be, for a homogeneous whole can be the 
work only of an individual mind. But he must know how to turn this advantage to good 
account, for it is his only one. Art appears only as a whole, as something perfect in itself; 
science, on the other hand, is bound to be fragmentary. Art unites and science 
disconnects. Art gives form to things, science dissects forms. The man of science stands 
on an Archimedean point outside the world: therein lies his greatness, his so-called 
objectivity; but this very fact is also the cause of his manifest insufficiency; for no sooner 
does he leave the sphere of actual observation, to reduce the manifoldness of experience 
to the unity of conception and idea, than he finds himself hanging by the thin thread of 
abstraction in empty space. The artist, on the contrary, stands at the world's centre (that is, 
at the centre of his own world), and his creative power takes him as far as his senses can 
reach; for this creative power is but the manifestation of the individual mind acting and 
reacting upon its surroundings. But for that reason also he cannot be reproached for his 
"subjectivity": that is the fundamental condition of his creative work. In the case before us 
the subject has definite historical boundaries and is immutably fixed for ever. Untruth 
would be ridiculous, caprice unbearable; the author cannot say, like Michael Angelo, "Into 
this stone there comes nothing but what I put there": 

in pietra od in candido foglio 

che nulla ha dentro, et evvi ci ch'io vogilo! 

On the contrary, unconditional respect for facts must be his guiding star. He must be 
artist, not in the sense of the creative genius, but only in the limited sense of one 


who employs the methods of the artist. He should give shape, but only to that which is 
already there, not to that which his fancy may mirror. Philosophical history is a desert; 
fanciful history an idiot asylum. We must therefore demand that the artistic designer 
should have a positive tendency of mind and a strictly scientific conscience. Before be 
reasons, he must know: before he gives shape to a thing, he must test it. He cannot look 
upon himself as master, he is but a servant, the servant of truth. 

These remarks will probably suffice to give the reader some notion of the general 
principles which have been followed in planning this work. We must leave the airy 
heights of philosophic speculation and descend to the earth. If in such undertakings the 

moulding and shaping of the materials at hand is the only task which the individual can 
entrust to himself, how is he to set about it in the present case? 

The Nineteenth Century! It seems an inexhaustible theme, and so it really is; and yet it 
is only by including more that it becomes comprehensible and possible of achievement. 
This appears paradoxical, but it is nevertheless true. As soon as our gaze rests long and 
lovingly upon the past, out of which the present age developed amid so much suffering, 
as soon as the great fundamental facts of history are brought vividly home to us and rouse 
in our hearts violent and conflicting emotions with regard to the present, fear and hope, 
loathing and enthusiasm, all pointing to a future which it must be our work to shape, 
towards which too we must henceforth look with longing and impatience — then the great 
immeasurable nineteenth century shrivels up to relatively insignificant dimensions; we 
have no time to linger over details, we wish to keep nothing but the important features 
vividly and clearly before our minds, in order that we may know who we are and whither 


we are tending. This gives a definite aim with a fair prospect of attaining it: the individual 
can venture now to begin the undertaking. The lines of his work are so clearly traced for 
him that he only requires to follow them faithfully. 

The following is the outline of my work. In the "Foundations" I discuss the first eighteen 
centuries of the Christian era with frequent reference to times more remote; I do not 
profess to give a history of the past, but merely of that past which is still living; as a 
matter of fact this involves so much, and an accurate and critical knowledge of it is so 
indispensable to every one who wishes to form an estimate of the present, that I am 
inclined to regard the study of the "Foundations" of the nineteenth century as almost the 
most important part of the whole undertaking. A second book would be devoted to this 
century itself: naturally only the leading ideas could be treated in such a work, and the 
task of doing so would be very much lightened and simplified by the "Foundations," in 
which our attention had been continually directed to the nineteenth century. A 
supplement might serve to form an approximate idea of the importance of the century; 
that can only be done by comparing it with the past, and here the "Foundations" would have 
prepared the ground; by this procedure, moreover, we should be able to foreshadow the 
future — no capricious and fanciful picture, but a shadow cast by the present in the light of 
the past. Then at last the century would stand out before our eyes clearly shaped and 
defined — not in the form of a chronicle or an encyclopaedia, but as a living "corporeal" 

So much for the general outline. But as I do not wish it to remain as shadowy as the 
future, I shall give some more detailed information concerning the execution of my plan. 
As regards the results at 


which I arrive, I do not feel called upon to anticipate them here, as they can only carry 
conviction after consideration of all the arguments which I shall have to bring forward in 
their support. 


In this first book it has been my task to endeavour to reveal the bases upon which the 
nineteenth century rests; this seemed to me, as I have said, the most difficult and 
important part of the whole scheme; for this reason I have devoted two volumes to it. In 
the sphere of history understanding means seeing the evolution of the present from the 
past; even when we are face to face with a fact which cannot be explained further, as 
happens in the case of every pre-eminent personality and every nation of strong 
individuality at its first appearance on the stage of history, we see that these are linked 
with the past, and it is from this point of connection that we must start, if we wish to form 
a correct estimate of their significance. If we draw an imaginary line separating the 
nineteenth from all preceding centuries, we destroy at one stroke all possibility of 
understanding it critically. The nineteenth century is not the child of the former ages — for 
a child begins life afresh — rather it is their direct product; mathematically considered, a 
sum; physiologically, a stage of life. We have inherited a certain amount of knowledge, 
accomplishments, thoughts, &c., we have further inherited a definite distribution of 
economic forces, we have inherited errors and truths, conceptions, ideals, superstitions: 
many of these things have grown so familiar that any other conditions would be 
inconceivable; many which promised well have become stunted, many have shot up so 
suddenly that they have almost broken their connection with the aggregate life, and while 
the roots of these new flowers reach down to forgotten generations, their fantastic 


blossoms are taken for something absolutely new. Above all we have inherited the blood 

and the body by which and in which we live. 

Whoever takes the admonition "Know thyself" seriously will soon recognise that at least 
nine-tenths of this "self" do not really belong to himself. And this is true also of the spirit of 
a century. The pre-eminent individual, who is able to realise his physical position in the 
universe and to analyse his intellectual inheritance, can attain to a relative freedom; he 
then becomes at least conscious of his own conditional position, and though he cannot 
transform himself, he can at least exercise some influence upon the course of further 
development; a whole century, on the other hand, hurries unconsciously on as fate impels 
it: its human equipment is the fruit of departed generations, its intellectual treasure — corn 
and chaff, gold, silver, ore and clay — is inherited, its tendencies and deviations result with 
mathematical necessity from movements that have gone before. Not only, therefore, is it 
impossible to compare or to determine the characteristic features, the special attributes 
and the achievements of our century, without knowledge of the past, but we are not even 
able to make any precise statement about it, if we have not first of all become clear with 
regard to the material of which we are physically and intellectually composed. This is, I 
repeat, the most important problem. 


My object in this book being to connect the present with the past, I have been 
compelled to sketch in outline the history of that past. But, inasmuch as my history has to 
deal with the present, that is to say, with a period of time which has no fixed limit, there 
is no case for a strictly defined beginning. The 


nineteenth century points onward into the future, it points also back into the past: in both 
cases a limitation is allowable only for the sake of convenience, it does not lie in the 
facts. In general I have regarded the year 1 of the Christian era as the beginning of our 
history and have given a fuller justification of this view in the introduction to the first 
part: but it will be seen that I have not kept slavishly to this scheme. Should we ever 
become true Christians, then certainly that which is here merely suggested, without being 
worked out, would become an historical actuality, for it would mean the birth of a new 
race: perhaps the twenty-fourth century, into which, roughly speaking, the nineteenth 
throws faint shadows, will be able to draw more definite outlines. Compelled as I have 
been to let the beginning and the end merge into an undefined penumbra, a clearly drawn 
middle line becomes all the more indispensable to me, and as a date chosen at random 
could not be satisfactory in this case, the important thing has been to fix the turning-point 
of the history of Europe. The awakening of the Teutonic peoples to the consciousness of 
their all-important vocation as the founders of a completely new civilisation and culture 
forms this turning point; the year 1200 can be designated the central moment of this 

Scarcely any one will have the hardihood to deny that the inhabitants of Northern 
Europe have become the makers of the world's history. At no time indeed have they stood 
alone, either in the past or in the present; on the contrary, from the very beginning their 
individuality has developed in conflict with other individualities, first of all in conflict 
with that human chaos composed of the ruins of fallen Rome, then with all the races of 
the world in turn; others, too, have exercised influence — indeed great influence — upon the 
destinies of mankind, but then always merely as opponents of the men from 


the north. What was fought out sword in hand was of but little account; the real struggle, 
as I have attempted to show in chaps, vii. and viii. of this work, was one of ideas; this 
struggle still goes on to-day. If, however, the Teutons were not the only peoples who 
moulded the world's history, they unquestionably deserve the first place: all those who 
from the sixth century onwards appear as genuine shapers of the destinies of mankind, 
whether as builders of States or as discoverers of new thoughts and of original art, belong 
to the Teutonic race. The impulse given by the Arabs is short-lived; the Mongolians 
destroy, but do not create anything; the great Italians of the rinascimento were all born 
either in the north saturated with Lombardic, Gothic and Prankish blood, or in the 
extreme Germano-Hellenic south; in Spain it was the Western Goths who formed the 
element of life; the Jews are working out their "Renaissance" of to-day by following in 
every sphere as closely as possible the example of the Teutonic peoples. From the 
moment the Teuton awakes, a new world begins to open out, a world which of course we 
shall not be able to call purely Teutonic — one in which, in the nineteenth century 
especially, there have appeared new elements, or at least elements which formerly had a 
lesser share in the process of development, as, for example, the Jews and the formerly 
pure Teutonic Slavs, who by mixture of blood have now become "un-Teutonised" — a world 
which will yet perhaps assimilate great racial complexes and so lay itself open to new 
influences from all the different types, but at any rate a new world and a new civilisation, 
essentially different from the Helleno-Roman, the Turanian, the Egyptian, the Chinese 

and all other former or contemporaneous ones. As the "beginning" of this new civilisation, 
that is, as the moment when it began to leave its peculiar impress on the world, we can, I 
think, fix the thirteenth century. Individuals 


such as Alfred the Great, Charlemagne, Scotus Erigena and others had long ago proved 
their Teutonic individuality by their civilising activity. It is, however, not individuals, but 
communities, that make history; these individuals had been only pioneers. In order to 
become a civilising power the Teuton had to awaken and grow strong in the exercise far 
and wide of his individual will in opposition to the will of others forced upon him from 
outside. This did not take place all at once, neither did it happen at the same time in all 
the spheres of life; the choice of the year 1200 as turning-point is therefore arbitrary, but I 
hope, in what follows, to be able to justify it, and my purpose will be gained if I in this 
way succeed in doing away with those two absurdities — the idea of Middle Ages and that 
of a Renaissance — by which more than by anything else an understanding of our present 
age is not only obscured, but rendered directly impossible. 

Abandoning these formulae which have but served to give rise to endless errors, we are 
left with the simple and clear view that our whole civilisation and culture of to-day is the 
work of one definite race of men, the Teutonic. * It is untrue that the Teutonic barbarian 
conjured up the so-called "Night of the Middle Ages"; this night followed rather upon the 
intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the raceless chaos of humanity which the dying 
Roman Empire had nurtured; but for the Teuton everlasting night would have settled 
upon the world; but for the unceasing opposition of the non-Teutonic peoples, but for that 
unrelenting hostility to everything Teutonic which has not yet died down among the 
racial chaos which has never been exterminated, we should have reached a stage of 
culture quite different 

* Under this designation I embrace the various portions of the one great North 
European race, whether "Teutonic" in the narrower Tacitean meaning of the word, or Celts 
or genuine Slavs — see chap. vi. for further particulars. 


from that witnessed by the nineteenth century. It is equally untrue that our culture is a 
renaissance of the Hellenic and the Roman: it was only after the birth of the Teutonic 
peoples that the renaissance of past achievements was possible and not vice versa; and 
this rinascimento, to which we are beyond doubt eternally indebted for the enriching of 
our life, retarded nevertheless just as much as it promoted, and threw us for a long time 
out of our safe course. The mightiest creators of that epoch — a Shakespeare, a Michael 
Angelo — do not know a word of Greek or Latin. Economic advance — the basis of our 
civilisation — takes place in opposition to classical traditions and in a bloody struggle 
against false imperial doctrines. But the greatest mistake of all is the assumption that our 
civilisation and culture are but the expression of a general progress of mankind; not a 
single fact in history supports this popular belief (as I think I have conclusively proved in 
the ninth chapter of this book); and in the meantime this empty phrase strikes us blind, 
and we lose sight of the self-evident fact — that our civilisation and culture, as in every 
previous and every other contemporary case, are the work of a definite, individual racial 

type, a type possessing, like everything individual, great gifts but also insurmountable 
limitations. And so our thoughts float around in limitless space, in a hypothetical 
"humanity," and we pass by unnoticed that which is concretely presented and which alone 
effects anything in history, the definite individuality. Hence the obscurity of our historical 
groupings. For if we draw one line through the year 500, and a second through the year 
1500, and call these thousand years the Middle Ages, we have not dissected the organic 
body of history as a skilled anatomist, but hacked it in two like a butcher. The capture of 
Rome by Odoacer and by Dietrich of Berne are only episodes in that entry of the 


peoples into the history of the world, which went on for a thousand years: the decisive 
thing, namely, the idea of the unnational world-empire, far from receiving its death-blow 
thereby, for a long time drew new life from the intervention of the Teutonic races. While, 
therefore, the year 1 — the (approximate) date of the birth of Christ — is a date which is ever 
memorable in the history of mankind and even in the mere annals of events, the year 500 
has no importance whatever. Still worse is the year 1500, for if we draw a line through it 
we draw it right through the middle of all conscious and unconscious efforts and 
developments — economic, political, artistic, scientific — which enrich our lives to-day and 
are moving onward to a still distant goal. If, however, we insist on retaining the idea of 
"Middle Ages" there is an easy way out of the difficulty: it will suffice if we recognise that 
we Teutons ourselves, together with our proud nineteenth century, are floundering in 
what the old historians used to call a "Middle Age" — a genuine "Middle Age." For the 
predominance of the Provisional and the Transitional, the almost total absence of the 
Definite, the Complete and the Balanced, are marks of our time; we are in the "midst" of a 
development, already far from the starting-point and presumably still far from the goal. 
What has been said may in the meantime justify the rejection of other divisions; the 
conviction that I have not chosen arbitrarily, but have sought to recognise the one great 
fundamental fact of all modern history, will be established by the study of the whole 
work. Yet I cannot refrain from briefly adducing some reasons to account for my choice 
of the year 1200 as a convenient central date. 

THE YEAR 1200 

If we ask ourselves when it is that we have the first sure indications that something 
new is coming into being, a new form of the world in place of the old shattered ruin, and 
of the prevailing chaos, we must admit that they are already to be met with in many 
places in the twelfth century (in Northern Italy even in the eleventh), they multiply 
rapidly in the thirteenth — the glorious century, as Fiske calls it — attain to a glorious early 
full bloom in the social and industrial centres in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, in 
art in the fifteenth and sixteenth, in science in the sixteenth and seventeenth, and in 
philosophy in the seventeenth and eighteenth. This movement does not advance in a 
straight line; in State and Church fundamental principles are at war with each other, and 
in the other spheres of life there is far too little consciousness to prevent men from ever 
and anon straying from the right path; but the all-important question we have to ask 

ourselves is, whether it is only interests that clash, or whether ideals, suggested by a 
definite individuality, are floating before the eyes of men; these ideals we do possess 
approximately since the thirteenth century; but we have not yet attained them, they are 
floating before us in the distance, and to this fact is due the feeling that we are still very 
deficient in the moral equilibrium and the aesthetic harmony of the ancients, but it is at 
the same time the basis of our hope for better things. When we glance backwards we are 
indeed entitled to cherish high hopes. And, I repeat, if when looking back we try to 
discover when the first shimmer of those rays of hope can be clearly seen, we find the 
time to be about the year 1200. In Italy the movement to found cities had begun in the 
eleventh century, that movement which aimed at the same time at the furtherance of trade 
and industry and 


the granting of far-reaching rights of freedom to whole classes of the population, which 
had hitherto pined under the double yoke of Church and State; in the twelfth century this 
strengthening of the core of the European population had become so widely spread and 
intensified that at the beginning of the thirteenth century the powerful Hansa and the 
Rhenish Alliance of Cities could be formed. Concerning this movement Ranke writes 
(Weltgeschichte, iv. 238): "It is a splendid, vigorous development, which is thus initiated 
... the cities constitute a world power, paving the way for civic liberty and the formation 
of powerful States." Even before the final founding of the Hansa, the Magna Charta had 
been proclaimed in England, in the year 1215, a solemn proclamation of the inviolability 
of the great principle of personal freedom and personal security. "No one may be 
condemned except in accordance with the laws of the land. Right and justice may not be 
bought nor refused." In some countries of Europe this first guarantee for the dignity of 
man has not to this day become law; but since that June 15, 1215, a general law of 
conscience has gradually grown out of it, and whoever runs counter to this is a criminal, 
even though he wear a crown. I may mention another important point in which Teutonic 
civilisation showed itself essentially different from all others: in the course of the 
thirteenth century slavery and the slave trade disappeared from European countries (with 
the exception of Spain). In the thirteenth century money begins to take the place of 
natural products in buying and selling; almost exactly in the year 1200 we see in Europe 
the first manufacture of paper — without doubt the most momentous industrial achievement 
till the invention of the locomotive. It would, however, be erroneous to regard the 
advance of trade and the stirring of instincts of freedom as the only indications of the 
dawn of a new day. Perhaps 


the great movement of religious feeling, the most powerful representative of which was 
Francis of Assisi (b. 1 182) is a factor of deeper and more lasting influence; in it a 
genuinely democratic impulse makes itself apparent; the faith and life of men like Francis 
call in question the tyranny of Church as of State, and deal a death-blow to the despotism 
of money. "This movement," one of the authorities * on Francis of Assisi writes, "gives men 
the first forewarning of universal freedom of thought." At the same moment the avowedly 
anti-Catholic movement, that of the Albigenses, came into dangerous prominence in 
Western Europe. In another sphere of religious life some equally important steps were 

taken at the same time: after Peter Abelard (d. 1 142) had unconsciously defended the 
Indo-European conception of religion against the Semitic, especially by emphasising the 
symbolic character of all religious ideas, two orthodox schoolmen, Thomas Aquinas and 
Duns Scotus, made in the thirteenth century an admission which was just as dangerous 
for the church dogma by conceding, in agreement with each other (though they were 
otherwise opponents), the right of existence to a philosophy which differed from 
theology. And while theoretical thinking here began to assert itself, other scholars, among 
whom Albertus Magnus (b. 1 193) and Roger Bacon (b. 1214) are especially conspicuous, 
laid the foundations of modern natural science by turning the attention of men from 
logical disputes to mathematics, physics, astronomy and chemistry. Cantor (Vorlesungen 
liber Geschichte der Mathematik, 2 Aufl. ii. 3) says that in the thirteenth century "a new 
era in the history of mathematical science" began; this was especially the work of 
Leonardo of Pisa, who was the first to introduce to us the Indian (falsely called Arabian) 
numerical signs, and of Jordanus Saxo, of the family of Count Eberstein, who initiated 

* Thode, Franz von Assisi, p. 4. 


us into the art of algebraic calculation (also originally invented by the Hindoos). The first 
dissection of a human body — which was of course the first step towards scientific 
medicine — took place towards the end of the thirteenth century, after an interval of one 
thousand six hundred years, and it was carried out by Mondino de' Luzzi, of Northern 
Italy. Dante, likewise a child of the thirteenth century, also deserves mention here — indeed 
very special mention. "Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita" is the first line of his great 
poem, and he himself, the first artistic genius of world-wide importance in the new 
Teutonic epoch of culture, is the typical figure at this turning-point of history, the point at 
which she has left behind her "the half of her way," and, after having travelled at break- 
neck speed downhill for centuries, sets herself to climb the steep, difficult path on the 
opposite slope. Many of Dante's sentiments in the Divina Comedia and in his Tractatus de 
monarchia appear to us like the longing glance of the man of great experience out of the 
social and political chaos surrounding him, towards a harmoniously ordered world; and 
such a glance was possible as a sure sign that the movement had already begun; the eye 
of genius is a ray of light that shows the way to others. * 

But long before Dante — this point must not be overlooked — a poetical creative power 
had manifested itself 

* I am not here thinking of the details of his proofs, coloured as they are by 
scholasticism, but of such things as his views on the relation of men to one another 
(Monarchia, I. chaps, iii. and iv.) or on the federation of States, each of which he says 
shall retain its own individuality and its own legislature, while the Emperor, as 
"peacemaker" and judge in matters that are "common and becoming to all," shall form the 
bond of union (I. chap. xiv.). In other things Dante himself, as genuine "middle" figure, 
allows himself to be very much influenced by the conceptions of his time and dwells in 
poetical Utopias. This point is more fully discussed in chap, vii., and especially in the 
introduction to chap. viii. of this book. 


in the heart of the most genuine Teutonic life, in the north, a fact in itself sufficient to 
prove how little need we had of a classical revival to enable us to create incomparable 
masterpieces of art: in the year 1200, Chrestien de Troyes, Hartmann von Aue, Wolfram 
von Eschenbach, Walther von der Vogelweide, Gottfried von Strassburg were writing 
their poems, and I mention only some of the most famous names, for, as Gottfried says, 
"of the nightingales there are many more." And up to this time the questionable separation 
of poetry and music (which originated from the worship of the dead letters) had not taken 
place: the poet was at the same time singer; when he invented the "word" he invented for it 
at the same time the particular "tone" and the particular "melody." And so we see music too, 
the most original art of the new culture, develop just at the moment when the peculiar 
individuality of this culture began to show itself in a perfectly new form as polyphonic 
harmonious art. The first master of note in the treatment of counterpoint is the poet and 
dramatist Adam de la Halle (b. 1240). With him — and so with a genuinely Teutonic word- 
and sound-creator — begins the development of music in the strict sense, so that the 
musical authority Gevaert can write: "Desormais Ton peut considerer ce treizieme siecle, si 
decrie jadis, comme le siecle initiateur de tout I'art moderne." Likewise in the thirteenth 
century those inspired artists Niccolo Pisano, Cimabue and Giotto revealed their talents, 
and to them we are indebted, in the first place, not merely for a "Renaissance" of the plastic 
and graphic arts, but above all for the birth of a perfectly new art, that of modern 
painting. It was also in the thirteenth century that Gothic architecture came into 
prominence (the "Teutonic style" as Ruhmor rightly wished to call it) almost all 
masterpieces of church architecture, the incomparable beauty of which we to-day admire 
but cannot 


imitate, originate in that one century. In the meantime (shortly before 1200), the first 
purely secular university had been founded in Bologna, at which only jurisprudence, 
philosophy and medicine were taught. * We see in how many ways a new life began to 
manifest itself about the year 1200. A few names would prove nothing; but the fact that a 
movement embraces all lands and grades of society, that the most contradictory 
phenomena point backwards to a similar cause and forwards to a common goal, proves 
that we have here to deal not with an accidental and individual thing but with a great, 
general process which is maturing with unconscious imperativeness in the inmost heart of 
society. And that peculiar "decline in historical sense and historical understanding about 
the middle of the thirteenth century," to which different scholars have wonderingly called 
attention, t should be taken also, I think, in this connection: under the guidance of the 
Teutonic peoples men have just begun a new life; they have, so to speak, turned a corner 
in their course and even the nearest past has completely vanished from their sight: 
henceforth they belong to the future. 

It is most surprising to have to chronicle the fact that exactly at this moment, when the 
new European world was arising out of chaos, the discovery of the remaining parts of the 
world also began, without which our blossoming Teutonic culture could never have 
developed its own peculiar power of expansion: in the second half of the thirteenth 
century Marco Polo made expeditions of discovery and thereby laid the foundations of 

our still incomplete knowledge of the surface of our planet. What is gained by this is, in 
the first place 

* The theological faculty was not established till towards the end of the fourteenth 
century (Savigny). 

t See DoUinger, Das Kaisertum Karls des Grossen (Akad. Vortrage iii. 156). 


and apart from the widening of the horizon, the capability of expansion; this, however, 
denotes only something relative; the most important thing is that European authority may 
hope within a measurable space of time to encompass the earth and thereby no longer be 
exposed, like former civilisations, to the plundering raids of unlooked for and unbridled 
barbaric Powers. 

So much to justify my choice of the thirteenth century as separating-line. 

That there is, nevertheless, something artificial in such a choice I have admitted at the 
very beginning and I repeat it now; in particular one must not think that I attribute a 
special fateful importance to the year 1200: the ferment of the first twelve centuries of the 
Christian era has of course not yet ceased, it still confuses thousands and thousands of 
intellects, and on the other hand we may cheerfully assert that the new harmonious world 
began to dawn in the minds of individuals long before 1200. The rightness or wrongness 
of such a scheme is revealed only by its use. As Goethe says: "Everything depends on the 
fundamental truth, the development of which reveals itself not so easily in speculation as 
in practice: this is the touch-stone of what has been admitted by the intellect." 


In consequence of this fixing of the turning-point of our history, this book, which treats 
of the period up to the year 1800, falls naturally into two parts: the one deals with the 
period previous to the year 1200, the other the period subsequent to that year. 

In the first part — the origins — I have discussed first the legacy of the old world, then the 
heirs and lastly the fight of the heirs for their inheritance. As everything new is attached 
to something already in existence, some- 


thing older, the first fundamental question is, "What component parts of our intellectual 
capital are inherited?" the second, no less important, is, "Who are we?" Though the 
answering of these questions may take us back into the distant past, the interest remains 
always a present interest, because in the whole construction of every chapter, as well as 
in every detail of the discussion, the one all-absorbing consideration is that of the 
nineteenth century. The legacy of the old world forms still an important — often quite 
inadequately digested — portion of the very youngest world: the heirs with their different 
natures stand opposed to one another to-day as they did a thousand years ago; the 
struggle is as bitter, as confused as ever; the investigation of the past means therefore at 
the same time an examination of the too abundant material of the present. Let no one, 
however, regard my remarks on Hellenic art and philosophy, on Roman history and 
Roman law, on the teaching of Christ, or, again, on the Teutonic peoples and the Jews, 

&c., as independent academic treatises and apply to them the corresponding standard. I 
have not approached these subjects as a learned authority, but as a child of to-day that 
desires to understand the living present world and I have formed my judgments, not from 
the Aristophanic cloud-cuckoo-land of a supernatural objectivity, but from that of a 
conscious Teuton whom Goethe not in vain has warned: 

Was euch nicht angehort, 
Mlisset ihr meiden; 
Was euch das Inn 're stort, 
Diirft ihr nicht leiden! 

In the eyes of God all men, indeed all creatures, may be equal: but the divine law of the 
individual is to maintain and to defend his individuality. I have formed my idea of 
Teutonicism on a scale quite as large; which means in this case "as large-heartedly as 
possible," and 


have not pleaded the cause of any particularism whatever. I have, on the other hand, 

vigorously attacked whatever is un-Teutonic, but — as I hope — nowhere in an unchivalrous 


The fact that the chapter on the entry of the Jews into western history has been made so 
long may perhaps demand explanation. For the subject of this book, so diffuse a 
treatment would not have been indispensable; but the prominent position of the Jews in 
the nineteenth century, as also the great importance for the history of our time of the 
philo- and anti-semitic currents and controversies, made an answer to the question, "Who 
is the Jew?" absolutely imperative. Nowhere could I find a clear and exhaustive answer to 
this question, so I was compelled to seek and to give it myself. The essential point here is 
the question of religion; and so I have treated this very point at considerable length, not 
merely in the fifth, but also in the third and in the seventh chapters. For I have become 
convinced that the usual treatment of the "Jewish question" is altogether and always 
superficial; the Jew is no enemy of Teutonic civilisation and culture; Herder may be right 
in his assertion that the Jew is always alien to us, and consequently we to him, and no one 
will deny that this is to the detriment of our work of culture; yet I think that we are 
inclined to under-estimate our own powers in this respect and, on the other hand, to 
exaggerate the importance of the Jewish influence. Hand in hand with this goes the 
perfectly ridiculous and revolting tendency to make the Jew the general scapegoat for all 
the vices of our time. In reality the "Jewish peril" lies much deeper; the Jew is not 
responsible for it; we have given rise to it ourselves and must overcome it ourselves. No 
souls thirst more after religion than the Slavs, the Celts and the Teutons: their history 
proves it; it is because of the lack of a true religion that 


our whole Teutonic culture is sick unto death (as I show in the ninth chapter), and this 
will mean its ruin if timely help does not come. We have stopped up the spring that 
welled up in our own hearts and made ourselves dependent upon the scanty, brackish 
water which the Bedouins of the desert draw from their wells. No people in the world is 

so beggarly-poor in religion as the Semites and their half-brothers the Jews; and we, who 
were chosen to develop the profoundest and sublimest religious conception of the world 
as the light, life and vitalising force of our whole culture, have with our own hands firmly 
tied up the veins of life and limp along like crippled Jewish slaves behind Jehovah's Ark 
of the Covenant! Hence my exhaustive treatment of the Jewish question: my object was 
to find a broad and strong foundation for so important a judgment. 

The second part — the gradual rise of a new world — has in these "Foundations" only one 
chapter devoted to it, "from the year 1200 to the year 1800." Here I found myself in a 
sphere which is pretty familiar even to the unlearned reader, and it would have been 
altogether superfluous to copy from histories of politics and of culture which are within 
the reach of all. My task was accordingly limited to shaping and bringing into clearer 
range than is usually the case the too abundant material which I could presume to be 
known — as material; and here again my one consideration was of course the nineteenth 
century, the subject of my work. This chapter stands on the border-line between the two 
parts, that now published and what is to follow; many things which in the preceding 
chapters could only be alluded to, not fully and systematically discussed, such for 
instance as the fundamental importance of Teutonicism for our new world and the value 
of our conceptions of progress and degeneration for the understanding of history, find 
complete treatment here; on the other hand, the short 


sketch of development in the various spheres of life brings us hurriedly to the nineteenth 
century, and the tabular statement concerning knowledge, civilisation and culture, and 
their various elements points to the work of comparison which forms the plan of the 
supplement and gives occasion for many an instructive parallel: at the same moment as 
we see the Teuton blossom forth in his full strength, as though nothing had been denied 
him, and he were hurrying to a limitless goal, we behold also his limitations; and this is 
very important, for it is upon these last characteristics that his individuality depends. 

In view of certain prejudices I shall probably have to justify myself for treating State 
and Church in this chapter as subordinate matters — or, more properly speaking, as 
phenomena among others, and not the most important. State and Church form henceforth, 
as it were, only the skeleton: the Church is an inner bone structure in which, as is usual, 
with advancing age an always stronger tendency to chronic anchylosis shows itself; the 
State develops more and more into the peripheric bone-cuirass, so well known in 
zoology, the so-called dermatoskeleton; its structure becomes always massier, it stretches 
over the "soft parts" until at last in the nineteenth century it has grown to truly megalotheric 
dimensions and sets apart from the true course of life and, if I may say so, "ossifies" an 
extremely large percentage of the effective powers of humanity as military and civil 
officials. This is not meant as criticism; the boneless and invertebrate animals have never, 
as is well known, played a great part in the world; it is besides far from my purpose to 
wish to moralise in this book; I wish merely to explain why in the second part I have not 
felt obliged to lay special stress upon the further development of Church and State. The 
impulse to their development had already been given in the thirteenth century, when 


having prevailed over imperialism, the latter was scheming how to win back what was 
lost; nothing essentially new was added later; even the movements against the all too 
prevalent violation of individual freedom by Church and State had already begun to make 
themselves felt very forcibly and frequently. Church and State serve from now onwards, 
as I have said, as the skeleton — now and then suffering from fractures in arms and legs but 
nevertheless a firm skeleton — yet take comparatively little share in the gradual rise of a 
new world; henceforth they follow rather than lead. On the other hand, in all European 
countries in the most widely different spheres of free human activity there arises from 
about the year 1200 onwards a really recreative movement. The Church schism and the 
revolt against State decrees are in reality rather the mechanical side of this movement; 
they spring from the deeply felt need, experienced by newly awakening powers, of 
making room for themselves; the creative element, strictly speaking, has to be sought 
elsewhere. I have already indicated where, when I sought to justify my choice of the year 
1200 as turning-point: the advance in things technical and industrial, the founding of 
commerce on a large scale on the thoroughly Teutonic basis of stainless uprightness, the 
rise of busy towns, the discovery of the earth (as we may daringly call it), the study of 
nature which begins diffidently but soon extends its horizon over the whole cosmos, the 
sounding of the deepest depths of human thought, from Roger Bacon to Kant, the soaring 
of the spirit up to heaven, from Dante to Beethoven: it is in all this that we may recognise 
the rise of a new world. 


With this study of the gradual rise of a new world, approximately from the year 1200 
to the year 1800, 


these "Foundations" come to a close. The detailed plan of the "Nineteenth Century" lies 
before me. In it I carefully avoid all artificial theorising and all attempts to find an 
immediate connection between the two parts. It is quite sufficient that the explanatory 
account of the first eighteen centuries has been already given even though frequent and 
express reference to it be not necessary, it will prove itself as the indispensable 
introduction; the supplement will then be devoted to drawing parallels and to the 
calculation of comparative values. Here I shall confine myself to considering one by one 
the most important phenomena of the century; the principal features of political, religious 
and social organisation, the course of development of the technical arts, the progress of 
natural science and the humanities, and, lastly, the history of the human mind as a 
thinking and creative power; everywhere, of course, only the principal currents will be 
emphasised and nothing but the highest achievements mentioned. 

The consideration of these points is led up to by an introductory chapter on the "New 
Forces" which have asserted themselves in this century and have given to it its 
characteristic physiognomy, but which could not be treated adequately within the limits 
of one of the general chapters. The press, for instance, is at the same time a political and a 
social power of the very first rank; its stupendous development in the nineteenth century 
it owes primarily to industry and art. I do not refer so much to the production of 
newspapers by timesaving machinery, &c., as to telegraphy, which supplies the papers 

with news, and to railways, which spread printed matter everywhere. The press is the 
most powerful ally of capitalism; on art, philosophy and science it cannot really exercise 
a distinct determining influence, but even here it can hasten or delay, and so exercise in a 
high degree a formative influence upon 


the age. This is a power unknown to previous centuries. In the same way technical 
developments, the invention and perfection of the railway and the steamboat, as also of 
the electric telegraph, have exercised no small influence upon all spheres of human 
activity and wrought a great change in the face of our earth and in the conditions of life 
upon it: quite direct is the influence on strategy and consequently upon politics, as well as 
on trade and industry, while science and even art have also been indirectly affected: the 
astronomers of all lands can with comparative ease betake themselves to the North Cape 
or the Fiji Islands to observe a total eclipse of the sun, and the German festival plays in 
Bayreuth have, towards the end of the century, thanks to the railway and the steamboat, 
become a living centre of dramatic art for the whole world. Among these forces I 
likewise reckon the emancipation of the Jews. Like every power that has newly dropped 
its fetters, like the press and quick transit, this sudden inroad of the Jews upon the life of 
the European races, who mould the history of the world, has certainly not brought good 
alone in its train; the so-called Classical Renaissance was after all merely a new birth of 
ideas, the Jewish Renaissance is the resurrection of a Lazarus long considered dead, who 
introduces into the Teutonic world the customs and modes of thought of the Oriental, and 
who at the same time seems to receive a new lease of life thereby, like the vine-pest 
which, after leading in America the humble life of an innocent little beetle, was 
introduced into Europe and suddenly attained to a world-wide fame of serious import. We 
have, however, reason to hope and believe that the Jews, like the Americans, have 
brought us not only a new pest but also a new vine. Certain it is that they have left a 
peculiar impress upon our time, and that the "new world" which is arising will require a 
very great exercise of its strength 


for the work of assimilating this fragment of the "old world." There are still other "new 
forces" which will have to be discussed in their proper place. The founding of modern 
chemistry, for example, is the starting-point of a new natural science; and the perfecting 
of a new artistic language by Beethoven is beyond doubt one of the most pregnant 
achievements in the sphere of art since the days of Homer; it gave men a new organ of 
speech, that is to say, a new power. 

The supplement is intended, as I have said, to furnish a comparison between the 
"Foundations" and the book which is to follow. This comparison I shall carry out point by 
point in several chapters, using the scheme of the first part; this method will, I think, be 
found to lead to many suggestive discoveries and interesting distinctions. Besides, it 
paves the way splendidly for the somewhat bold but indispensable glance into the future, 
without which our conception would not acquire complete plasticity; it is only in this way 
that we can hope to gain a bird's-eye view of the nineteenth century and so be able to 
judge it with perfect objectivity; this will be the end of my task. 

Such then is the extremely simple and unartificial plan of the continuation. It is a plan 
which, perhaps, I may not live to carry out, yet I am obliged to mention it here, as it has 
to no small degree influenced the form of the present book. 


In this general introduction I must also discuss briefly some specially important points, 
so that later we may not be detained by out-of-place theoretical discussions. 

Almost all men are by nature "hero-worshippers"; and no valid objection can be urged 
against this healthy instinct. Simplification is a necessity of the human 


mind; we find ourselves involuntarily setting up a single name in place of the many 
names representative of a movement; further, the personality is something given, 
individual, definite, while everything that lies beyond is an abstraction and an ever- 
varying circle of ideas. 

We might therefore put together the history of a century by a mere list of names: it 
seems to me, however, that a different procedure is necessary to bring out what is really 
essential. For it is remarkable how slightly the separate individualities stand out in relief 
from each other. Men form inside their racial individualities an atomic but nevertheless 
very homogeneous mass. If a great spirit were to lean out from among the stars and, 
bending in contemplation over our earth, were capable of seeing not only our bodies but 
also our souls, the human population of any part of the world would certainly appear to 
him as uniform as an ant-heap does to us: he would of course distinguish warriors, 
workers, idlers and monarchs, he would notice that the one runs hither, the other thither, 
but on the whole his impression would be that all individuals obey, and must obey, a 
common impersonal impulse. Extremely narrow limits are set to the influence as well as 
to the arbitrariness of the great personality. All great and lasting revolutions in the life of 
society have taken place "blindly." A remarkable personality, as, for example, that of 
Napoleon, can lead us astray on this point, and yet even his, when closely examined, 
appears as a blindly working Fate. Its possibility is explained by previous events: had 
there been no Richelieu, no Louis XIV., no Louis XV., no Voltaire, no Rousseau, no 
French Revolution — there would have been no Napoleon! How closely linked, moreover, 
is the life-achievement of such a man with the national character of the whole people, 
with its virtues and its failings: without a French people, no Napoleon! The activity of 
this commander 


is directed in particular towards the outside world, and here again we must say: but for 
the irresolution of Friedrich Wilhelm HI., but for the want of principle in the House of 
Habsburg, but for the troubles in Spain, but for the criminal treatment of Poland just 
previously, no Napoleon had been possible! And if, in order to be quite clear on this 
point, we consult the biographies and correspondence of Napoleon, to see what were his 
aims and aspirations, we shall find that all of them remained unrealised, and that he sank 
back into the indistinguishable homogeneous mass, as clouds dissipate after a storm, as 
soon as the community rose to oppose the predominance of individual will. On the other 

hand, the radical change of our whole economic conditions of life, which no power on 
earth could prevent, the passing of a considerable portion of the property of nations into 
new hands, and further, the thorough remodelling of the relations of all parts of the earth, 
and so of all men, to one another, which we read of in the history of the world, took place 
in the course of the nineteenth century as the result of a series of technical discoveries in 
the sphere of quick transit and of industry, the importance of which no one even 
suspected. We need only read in this connection the masterly exposition in the fifth 
volume of Treitschke's Deutsche Geschichte. The depreciation of landed property, the 
progressive impoverishment of the peasant, the advance of industry, the rise of an 
incalculable army of industrial proletarians, and consequently of a new form of 
Socialism, a radical change of all political conditions: all this is a result of changed 
conditions of traffic and has been brought about, if I may so express it, anonymously, like 
the building of an ant's nest, in which each ant only sees the individual grains which it 
laboriously drags to the heap. The same, however, is true of ideas: they hold man in a 
tyrannical grasp, they clutch his mind as a bird of prey its quarry and no one can resist 
them; so long as any particular 


conception is dominant, nothing can be accomplished outside the sphere of its magic 
influence; whoever cannot feel as it dictates is condemned to sterility, however talented 
he may be. This we have seen in the second half of the nineteenth century in connection 
with Darwin's theory of evolution. This idea had already begun to appear in the eighteenth 
century, as a natural reaction from the old theory of the immutability of species, which 
Linnaeus had brought to formal perfection. In Herder, Kant and Goethe we meet with the 
idea of evolution in characteristic colouring; it is the revolt of great minds against dogma: 
in the case of the first, because he, following the course of Teutonic philosophy, 
endeavoured to find in the development of the idea "nature" an entity embracing man; in 
the case of the second, because he as metaphysician and moralist could not bear to lose 
the conception of perfectibility, while the third, with the eye of the poet, discovered on all 
sides phenomena which seemed to him to point to a primary relationship between all 
living organisms, and feared lest his discovery should evaporate into abstract nothingness 
if this relationship were not viewed as resting upon direct descent. This is how such 
thoughts arise. In minds of such phenomenal breadth as Goethe's, Herder's and Kant's there 
is room for very different conceptions side by side; they are to be compared with 
Spinoza's God, whose one substance manifests itself simultaneously in various forms; in 
their ideas on metamorphosis, affinities and development, I can find nothing contrary to 
other views, and I believe that they would have rejected our present dogma of evolution, 
as they did that of immutability. * I return to this point in another place. The 

* Compare in this connection Kant's extremely complete exposition which forms the 
concluding portion of the division "On the regulative use of ideas of pure reason" in his 
Critique of pure Reason. The great thinker here points to the fact that the idea of a 
"continuous gradation of creatures" did not and cannot originate from observation 


majority of men with their display of ant-like activity are quite incapable of viewing 
things in such an original manner; productive power can be generated only by simple 
healthy specialisation. A manifestly unsound system like that of Darwin exercises a much 
more powerful influence than the deepest speculations, just because of its "practicability." 
And so we have seen the idea of evolution develop itself till it spread from biology and 
geology to all spheres of thought and investigation, and, intoxicated by its success, 
exercised such a tyranny that any one who did not swear by it was to be looked upon as a 
simpleton. I am not here concerned with the philosophy of all these phenomena; I have 
no doubt that the spirit of man as a whole expresses itself appropriately. I may, however, 
appropriate Goethe's remark, "what especially impresses me is the people, a great mass, a 
necessary inevitable existence" and thus establish and explain my conviction, that great 
men are in reality the flower of history and not its roots. And so I consider it proper to 
portray a century not so much by an enumeration of its leading men as by an emphasising 
of the anonymous currents, from which it has derived its peculiar and characteristic stamp 
in the various centres of social, industrial and scientific life. 

but from an interest of reason. "The steps of such a ladder, as experience can supply them 
to us, are far, too far, removed from one another, and what we suppose to be little 
distinctions are commonly in nature itself such wide clefts that on such observations as 
intentions of nature we can lay no stress whatever (especially when things are so 
manifold, since it must always be easy to find certain resemblances and approximations)." 
In his criticism of Herder he reproaches the hypothesis of evolution with being one of 
those ideas "in the case of which one cannot think anything at all." Kant, whom even 
Haeckel calls the most important predecessor of Darwin, had thus gone so far as to 
supply the antidote to the dogmatic abuse of such a hypothesis. 


There is, however, one exception. When we are dealing not with the mere power of 
observation, of comparison, of calculation, or with the inventive, industrial or intellectual 
activity struggling for existence, but with a purely creative activity, then Personality is 
everything. The history of art and philosophy is the history of individual men, the history 
of the really creative men of genius. Here nothing else counts. Whatever outside this is 
achieved within the sphere of philosophy — and much of importance is so achieved — 
belongs to science; in art it belongs to mechanical art, that is, to industry. 

I lay all the more stress on this point, because at the present day regrettable confusion 
prevails with regard to it. The idea and consequently the word "Genius" originated in the 
eighteenth century; they arose from the necessity of possessing a particular defining 
expression for "specifically creative minds." No less a thinker than Kant calls our attention 
to the fact that "the greatest discoverer in the sphere of science differs only in degree from 
the ordinary man, the Genius, on the other hand, differs specifically." This remark of 
Kant's is beyond doubt just, but we make the one reservation, that of extending — as we 
cannot help doing — the term "work of genius" to every creation, in which the imagination 
plays a formative and predominant part, and in this connection the philosophic genius 
deserves the same place as the poetic or the plastic. Here let me say that I give to the 

word philosophy its old, wide signification, which embraced not only the abstract 
philosophy of reason, but natural philosophy, the philosophy of religion, and all thought 
which rises to the dignity of a philosophy of life. If the word genius is to retain a sense, 
we must employ it only of men who have everlastingly enriched our intellectual store by 


creations of their imagination, but it must be applicable to all such without exception. Not 
only the Iliad and Prometheus Bound, the Adorations of the Cross and Hamlet, but also 
Plato's World of Ideas and Democritus' World of Atoms, the Chandogya's tat-twam-asi and 
Copernicus' System of the Heavens are works of immortal genius; for just as 
indestructible as matter and power are the flashes of light which radiate from the brains 
of men endowed with creative power; they never cease to reflect for each other the 
generations and the nations, and if they sometimes pale for a time, they shine out brightly 
once more when they strike a creative eye. In recent years it has been discovered that in 
the depths of the ocean, to which the sunlight does not penetrate, there are fishes which 
light up this world of darkness electrically; even thus is the dark night of human 
knowledge lighted up by the torch of genius. Goethe lit a torch with his Faust, Kant 
another with his conception of the transcendental ideality of time and space: both were 
creators of great imaginative power, both were men of genius. The scholastic strife about 
the Konigsberg thinker, the battles between Kantians and anti-Kantians seem to me of 
just as much moment as the work of the zealous Faust critics: what is the use of logical 
hair-splitting here? What in such a case is the meaning of the phrase, "to be right"? Blessed 
are they who have eyes to see and ears to hear! If the study of the stone, the moss, the 
microscopic infusorium fills us with wonder and admiration, with what reverence must 
we look up to the greatest phenomenon that nature presents to us — Genius! 


I must here add a remark of some importance. Though we are to concern ourselves 
particularly with general 


tendencies, not with events and personages, still the danger of too wide generalisations 
must not be overlooked. We are but too prone to sum up prematurely. It is this tendency 
that makes men so often hang, as it were, a ticket round the neck of the nineteenth 
century, even though they must know that it is utterly impossible by means of a single 
word to be just both to ourselves and to the past. A fixed idea of this kind is quite 
sufficient to render a clear comprehension of historical development impossible. 

Quite commonly, for example, the nineteenth century is called the "century of natural 
science." When we remember what the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries 
have achieved in this very sphere, we must surely hesitate before bestowing any such title 
on the nineteenth. We have but continued to build and by our industry have discovered 
much, but whether we can point to a Copernicus and a Galileo, to a Kepler and a Newton, 
to a Lavoisier and a Bichat * appears to me at least doubtful. Cuvier's activity attains 
indeed to the dignity of philosophical importance, and the powers of observation and 

invention of men like Bunsen (the chemist) and Pasteur come remarkably near genius; of 
imperishable fame are men like Louis Agassiz, Michael Faraday, Julius Robert Mayer, 
Heinrich Hertz and perhaps some few others; but we must at least admit that their 
achievements do not surpass those of their predecessors. Some years ago a University 
teacher of the medical faculty with a fine reputation for theoretical as well as practical 
work remarked to me, "In the case of us scholars nowadays it is not so much a question of 
brain convolutions as of perseverance." It would indeed be false modesty, and an 
emphasising of the unimportant, to designate the nineteenth century the "century of 
perseverance." All the more so, since the 

* He died in 1802. 


designation of "the century of the rolling wheel" would certainly be quite as justifiable for 
an epoch which has produced the railway and the bicycle. Better, certainly, would be the 
general term "the century of science," by which would be understood that the spirit of 
accurate investigation which received its first encouragement from Roger Bacon had put 
all departments of study under its yoke. This spirit, however, if the matter be fully 
considered, will be found to have brought about less surprising results in the sphere of 
natural science, in which since earliest times the exact observation of the heavenly bodies 
formed the basis of all knowledge, than in other spheres, in which arbitrary methods had 
hitherto been the order of the day. Perhaps it would be a true and apt characterisation of 
the nineteenth century — though at the same time an unfamiliar one to most educated 
people — to style it the "century of philology." First called into being towards the end of the 
eighteenth century by such men as Jones, Anquetil du Perron, the brothers Schlegel and 
Grimm, Karadzic and others, comparative philology has in the course of a single century 
made quite extraordinary progress. To establish the organism and the history of language 
means not merely to throw light upon anthropology, ethnology and history, but 
particularly to strengthen human minds for new achievements. And while the philology 
of the nineteenth century thus laboured for the future, it unearthed buried treasures of the 
past, which are among the most valuable possessions of mankind. It is not necessary to 
feel sympathy for the pseudo-Buddhistical sport of half-educated idlers in order to 
recognise clearly that the discovery of the divine doctrine of understanding of the ancient 
Indians is one of the greatest achievements of the nineteenth century, destined to exercise 
an enduring influence upon distant ages. To this has been added the knowledge of old 
Teutonic poetry and mythology. Every- 


thing that tends to strengthen genuine individuality is a real safety anchor. The brilliant 
series of Teutonic and Indian scholars has, half unconsciously, accomplished a great 
work at the right moment; now we too possess our "holy books," and what they teach is 
more beautiful and nobler than what the Old Testament sets forth. The belief in our 
strength, which the history of the nineteenth century gives us, has been intensified to an 
incalculable extent by this discovery of our independent capacity for much that is of the 
highest, and to which our relation was hitherto one of subjection: in particular the myth of 
the peculiar aptitude of the Jew for religion is finally exploded; for this later generations 

will owe a debt of gratitude to the nineteenth century. This is one of the greatest and most 
far-reaching achievements of our time, and so the title "the century of philology" would be 
in a certain sense justified. In this connection we have mentioned another of the 
characteristic phenomena of the nineteenth century. Ranke had prophesied that our 
century would be a century of nationality; that was a correct political prognostic, for 
never before have the nations stood opposed to each other so clearly and definitely as 
antagonistic unities. It has, however, also become a century of races, and that indeed is in 
the first instance a necessary and direct consequence of science and scientific thinking. I 
have already said at the beginning of this introduction that science does not unite but 
dissects. That statement has not contradicted itself here. Scientific anatomy has furnished 
such conclusive proofs of the existence of physical characteristics distinguishing the 
races from each other that they can no longer be denied; scientific philology has 
discovered between the various languages fundamental differences which cannot be 
bridged over; the scientific study of history in its various branches has brought about 
similar results, especially by the 


exact determination of the religious history of each race, in which only the most general 
of general ideas can raise the illusion of similarity, while the further development has 
always followed and still follows definite, sharply divergent lines. The so-called unity of 
the human race is indeed still honoured as a hypothesis, but only as a personal, subjective 
conviction lacking every material foundation. The ideas of the eighteenth century with 
regard to the brotherhood of nations were certainly very noble but purely sentimental in 
their origin; and in contrast to these ideas to which the Socialists still cling, limping on 
like reserves in the battle, stern reality has gradually asserted itself as the necessary result 
of the events and investigations of our time. There are many other titles for which much 
might be said: Rousseau had already spoken prophetically of a "siecle des revolutions," 
others speak of a century of Jewish emancipation, century of electricity, century of 
national armies, century of colonies, century of music, century of advertisement, century 
of the proclamation of infallibility. Lately I found the nineteenth century described in an 
English book as the religious century, and could not quite dispute the statement; for Beer, 
the author of the Geschichte des Welthandels, the nineteenth century is the "economic" 
century, whereas Professor Paulsen in his Geschichte des gelehrten Unterrichts (2 Aufl. 
ii. 206) calls it the saeculum historicum in contrast to the preceding saeculum 
philosophicum, and Goethe's expression "ein aberweises Jahrhundert" could be applied 
quite as well to the nineteenth century as to the eighteenth. No such generalisation 
possesses any real value. 


These remarks bring me to the close of this general introduction. But before I write the 
last line I should 


like to place myself, according to an old custom, under the protection of highly honoured 


Lessing writes in his Briefe, die neueste Litteratur betreffend, that "history should not 
trouble with unimportant facts, should not burden the memory, but enlighten the 
understanding." Taken generally, this is saying too much. But in the case of a book which 
is directed not to historians but to the educated layman, the remark is perfectly justified. 
To enlighten the understanding, not to teach in the real sense of the word, but to suggest, 
to stimulate thoughts and conclusions, that is my aim. 

Goethe differs somewhat from Lessing in his conception of the task of the historian. 
He says, "The best thing that we get from history is the enthusiasm it arouses." These 
words, too, I have kept in mind in the course of my work, for I am convinced that 
understanding, however well enlightened, avails little, if not united to enthusiasm. The 
understanding is the machine; the more perfect every detail in it, the more neatly every 
part fits into the other, the more efficient will it be, but only potentially, for, in order to be 
driven, it requires the motive-power, and the motive-power is enthusiasm. Perhaps, 
however, it is difficult to take Goethe's hint and wax enthusiastic over the nineteenth 
century, simply for this reason, that self-love is so contemptible; we wish to test ourselves 
strictly, and tend to under-estimate rather than over-estimate; may future ages judge us 
more leniently. I find it difficult to grow enthusiastic because the material element is so 
predominant in this century. Just as our battles have generally been won not by the 
personal superiority of individuals but by the number of the soldiers, or to put it more 
simply by the amount of food for powder, so in the very same way have treasures in gold 
and knowledge and discoveries been piled up. Things have increased in numbers and in 
bulk, men 


have collected but not sifted; such, at any rate, has been the general tendency. The 
nineteenth century is essentially a century of accumulation, an age of transition and of the 
provisional; in other respects it is neither fish nor flesh; it dangles between empiricism 
and spiritism, between liberalismus vulgaris, as it has been wittily called, and the 
impotent efforts of senile conservatism, between autocracy and anarchism, doctrines of 
infallibility and the most stupid materialism, worship of the Jew and anti-Semitism, the 
rule of the millionaire and proletarian government. Not ideas, but material gains, are the 
characteristic feature of the nineteenth century. The great thoughts that have cropped up 
here and there, the mighty creations of art, from Faust, Part n., to Parsifal, have brought 
undying fame to the German people, but they are for future times. After the great social 
revolutions and the momentous intellectual achievements (at the close of the eighteenth 
and the early dawn of the nineteenth century) material for further development had again 
to be collected. And so this too great preoccupation with the material banished the 
beautiful almost entirely from life; at the present moment there exists perhaps no savage, 
at least no half-civilised people, which does not to my mind possess more beauty in its 
surroundings and more harmony in its existence as a whole than the great mass of so- 
called civilised Europeans. It is therefore, I think, necessary to be moderate in our 
enthusiastic admiration for the nineteenth century. On the other hand it is easy to feel the 
enthusiasm spoken of by Goethe, as soon as our glance rests not upon the one century 
alone but embraces all that "new world" which has been slowly unfolding for centuries. 
Certainly the commonly accepted idea of "progress" has by no means a sound philosophical 

foundation; under this flag sail almost all the refuse wares of our time; Goethe, who never 
tires of pointing to enthusiasm as the motive element 


in our nature, declares his conviction nevertheless to be that "Men become wiser and more 
discerning, but not better, happier and more vigorous, or if they do become so, it is only 
for a time." * But what could be more elevating than consciously to work towards such an 
epoch, in which, if only for a time, mankind will be better, happier and more vigorous? 
And when we regard the nineteenth century not as something isolated but as part of a 
much greater period of time, we discover soon that out of the barbarism which followed 
upon the downfall of the old world, and out of the wild ferment called forth by the shock 
of opposing forces, some centuries ago a perfectly new organisation of human society 
began to develop, and that our world of to-day — far from being the summit of this 
evolution — simply represents a transition stage, a "middle point" in the long and weary 
journey. If the nineteenth century were really a summit, then the pessimistic view of life 
would be the only justifiable one: to see, after all the great achievements in the 
intellectual and material spheres, bestial wickedness still so widespread, and misery 
increased a thousandfold, could cause us only to repeat Jean Jacques Rousseau's prayer: 
"Almighty God, deliver us from the sciences and the pernicious arts of our fathers ! Grant 
us ignorance, innocence and poverty once more as the only things which can bring 
happiness and which are of value in Thine eyes!" If, however, as I have said, we see in the 
nineteenth century a stage in the journey, if we do not let ourselves be blinded by visions 
of "golden ages," or by delusions of the future and the past, if we do not allow ourselves to 
be led astray in our sound judgment by Utopian conceptions of a gradual improvement of 
mankind as a whole, and of political machinery working ideally, then we are justified in 
the hope and belief that we Teutonic peoples, and the 

* Eckermann: October 23, 1828. 


peoples under our influence, are advancing towards a new harmonious culture, 
incomparably more beautiful than any of which history has to tell, a culture in which men 
should really be "better and happier" than they are at present. It may be that the tendency of 
modern education to direct the glance so unceasingly to the past is regrettable, but it has 
the advantage that one does not require to be a Schiller to feel with him that "no single 
modern man can vie with the individual Athenian for the prize of manhood." * For that 
reason we now direct our glance to the future, to that future the character of which is 
beginning to dawn upon us, as we are gradually becoming aware of the real significance 
of the present era which embraces the last seven hundred years. We will vie with the 
Athenian. We will form a world in which beauty and harmony of existence do not, as in 
their case, depend upon the employment of slaves, upon eunuchs, and the seclusion of 
women! We may confidently hope to do so, for we see this world slowly and with 
difficulty rising up around our brief span of life. And the fact that it does so 
unconsciously does not matter; even the half-fabulous Phoenician historian 
Sanchuniathon says in the first part of his first book, when speaking of the creation of the 
world: "Things themselves, however, knew nothing of their own origin." The same holds 

true to-day; history endlessly illustrates Mephisto's words, "Du glaubst zu schieben und du 
wirst geschoben." When, therefore, we look back at the nineteenth century, which 
certainly was driven more than it drove, and in most things deviated to an almost 
ridiculous extent from the paths it had originally intended to pursue, we cannot help 
feeling a thrill of honest admiration and almost of enthusiasm. In this century 

* This famous sentence is only conditionally true; I have submitted it to a thorough 
criticism in the last chapter, to which I here refer in order to avoid misconceptions. 


an enormous amount of work has been done, and that is the foundation of all "growing 
better and happier"; this was the morality of our age, if I may so express myself. And 
while the workshop of great creative ideas was seemingly unproductive, the methods of 
work were perfected in a manner hitherto undreamt of. 

The nineteenth century is the triumph of method. In this more than in any political 
organisation we see a victory of the democratic principle. Men as a whole rose hereby a 
step higher, and became more efficient. In former centuries only men of genius, later only 
highly gifted men could accomplish anything; now, thanks to method, every one can do 
so. Compulsory education, followed by the imperative struggle for existence, has 
provided thousands to-day with the "method" to enable them, without any special gift, to 
take part in the common work of the human race as technicians, industrials, natural 
investigators, philologists, historians, mathematicians, psychologists, &c. The mastery of 
so colossal a material in so short a space of time would otherwise be quite unthinkable. 
Just consider what was understood by "philology" a hundred years ago! Where was there 
such a thing as true "historical investigation"? We meet with exactly the same spirit in all 
spheres which lie far remote from science: the national armies are the most universal and 
simple application of method and the HohenzoUerns are in so far the democrats of the 
nineteenth century that they set the fashion for others: method in arm and leg movement, 
but at the same time method in education of the will, of obedience, of duty, of 
responsibility. Skill and conscientiousness have in consequence — unfortunately not 
everywhere, but nevertheless in many spheres — decidedly increased: we make greater 
demands on ourselves and on others than we did of old; in a sense a general technical 
improvement has taken place — an improvement 


which extends even to men's habits of thinking. This amelioration of conditions can 
hardly fail to have a bearing upon morality: the abolition of human slavery outside 
Europe — at least in the officially recognised sense of the word — and the beginning of a 
movement to protect animal slaves are omens of great significance. 

And so I believe that in spite of all doubts a just and loving contemplation of the 
nineteenth century must both "enlighten the understanding" and "awaken enthusiasm." To 
begin with, we consider only its "Foundations," that is, the "sum of all that has gone before" — 
that Past out of which the nineteenth century has laboriously but successfully extricated 






Plan of the Work, lix — The Foundations, Ixiii — The Turning-point, Ixiv — The Year 1 200, 
Ixx — Division into two parts, Ixxvi — The Continuation, bcxxi — Anonjmious Forces, Ixxxiv — 
Genius, Ixxxix — Generalisations, xc — The Nineteenth Century, xciv. 




Historical Principles, 3 — Hellas, Rome, Judea, 8 — Philosophy of History, 12. 


Man's Awakening, 14 — Animal and Man, 17 — Homer,27 — Artistic Culture, 33 — Shaping, 40 — 
Plato, 45 — Aristotle, 49 — Natural Science, 51 — Public Life, 58 — Historical Falsehoods, 60 — 
Decline of Religion, 69 — Metaphysics, 80 — Theology, 87 — Scholasticism, 89 — Conclusion, 


Disposition, 93 — Roman History, 95 — Roman Ideals, 104 — The Struggle against the 
Semites, 112 — Rome under the Empire, 122 — The Legacy of Constitutional Law, 128 — 
Jurisprudence as a Technical Art, 1 35 — Natural Law, 140 — Roman Law, 145 — The Family, 
155 — Marriage, 160 — Woman, 163 — Poetry and Language, 166 — Summary, 171. 


Introductory, 1 74 — The Religion of Experience, 1 77 — Buddha and Christ, 1 82 — Buddha, 
184 — Christ, 187 — The Galileans, 200 — Religion, 213 


— Christ not a Jew, 221 — Historical Religion, 228 — Will in the Semitic Race, 238 — The 

Prophet, 244 — Christ a Jew, 246 — The Nineteenth Century, 248. 



The Chaos, 251 — The Jews, 253 — The Teutonic Races, 256. 


Scientific Confusion, 258 — Importance of Race, 269 — The Five Cardinal Laws, 275 — Other 
Influences, 289 — The Nation, 292 — The Hero, 297 —The Raceless Chaos, 299 — Lucian, 302 — 
Augustine, 309 — Ascetic Delusion, 314 — Sacredness of Pure Race, 317 — The Teutonic 
Peoples, 320. 


The Jewish Question, 329 — The "Alien People," 336 — Historical Bird's-eye View, 345 — 
Consensus Ingeniorum, 344 — Princes and Nobility, 347 — Inner Contact, 351 — Who is the 
Jew? 352 — Systematic Arrangement of the Investigation, 356 — Origin of the Israelite, 360 — 
The Genuine Semite, 368 — The Syrian, 371 — The Amorites, 381 — Comparative Numbers, 
387 — Consciousness of Sin against Race, 390 — Homo Syriacus, 393 — Homo Europaeus, 
396 — Homo Arabicus, 397 — Homo Judaeus, 408 — Excursus on Semitic Religion, 411 — Israel 
and Judah, 441 — Development of the Jew, 448 — The Prophets, 466 — The Rabbis, 472 — The 
Messianic Hope, 477 — The Law, 483 — The Thora, 486 — Judaism, 488. 


The Term "Germanic," 494 — Extension of the Idea, 498 — The Germanic Celt, 499 — The 
Germanic Slav, 505 — The Reformation, 511 — Limitation of the Notion, 517 — Fair Hair, 522 
— The Form of the Skull, 526 — Rational Anthropology, 534 — Physiognomy, 538 — Freedom 
and Loyalty, 542 — Ideal and Practice, 550 — Teuton and Anti-Teuton, 552 — Ignatius of 
Loyola, 564 — Backward Glance, 574 — Forward Glance, 575. 

V CONTENTS (page originally from vol. 2, but for convenience's sake placed here) 


Leading Principles, 3 — Anarchy, 5 — Religion and State, 8. 


Christ and Christianity, 13 — Religious Delirium, 15 — The Two Main Pillars, 17 — 
Mythology of Outer Experience, 24 — Corruption of the Myths, 27 — Mythology of Inner 
Experience, 31 — Jewish Chronicle of the World, 41 — Paul and Augustine, 54 — Paul, 57 — 
Augustine, 71 — The Three Main Tendencies, 80 — The "East," 82 — The "North," 90 — 
Charlemagne, 101 — Dante, 104 — Religious Instincts of Race, 108 — Rome, 112 — The Victory 
of the Chaos, 123 — Position To-day, 134 — "Oratio pro Domo," 137. 


Emperor and Pope, 139 — The "Duplex Potestas," 143 — Universalism against Nationalism, 
149 — The Law of Limitation, 153 — The Struggle for the State, 160 — The Delusion of the 
Unlimited, 172 — Limitation Based on Principle, 180. 



A. The Teutons as Creators of a New Culture 

Teutonic Italy, 1 87 — The Teutonic Master-builder, 196 — So-called "Humanity," 200 — The So- 
called "Renaissance," 211 — Progress and Degeneration, 214 — Historical Criterion, 222 — Inner 
Contrasts, 225 — The Teutonic World, 228. 

vi CONTENTS (page originally from vol. 2, but for convenience's sake placed here) 

B. Historical Survey 

The Elements of Social Life, 233 — Comparative Analyses, 246 — The Teuton, 255. 

1. DISCOVERY (From Marco Polo to Galvani). 

The Inborn Capacity, 261 — The Impelling Powers, 264 — Nature as Teacher, 269 — Unity of 
the Work of Discovery, 282 — Idealism, 289. 

2. SCIENCE (From Roger Bacon to Lavoisier). 

Our Scientific Methods, 293 — Hellene and Teuton, 303 — Nature of our Systematising, 305 — 
Idea and Theory, 312 — The Goal of Science, 327. 

3. INDUSTRY (From the Introduction of Paper to Watt's Steam-engine). 

Ephemeral Nature of all Civilisation, 329 — Autonomy of Modern Industry, 334 — Paper, 

4. POLITICAL ECONOMY (From the Lombardic League of Cities to Robert Owen, the 
Founder of Co-operation). 

Co-operation and Monopoly, 344 — Guilds and Capitalists, 348 — Farmer and Landlord, 354 — 
Syndicates and Socialism, 358 — The Machine, 363. 

5. POLITICS AND CHURCH (From the Introduction of Compulsory Confession, 1215, 
to the French Revolution). 

The Church, 365 — Martin Luther, 366 — The French Revolution, 377 — The Anglo-Saxons, 

6. PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION (From Francis of Assisi to Immanuel Kant). 

The Two Courses, 389 — The Course of Truth, 392 — The Course of Falsehood, 394 — 
Scholasticism, 396 — Rome and Anti-Rome, 400 — The Four Groups, 403 — The Theologians, 
404 — The Mystics, 41 1 — The Humanists, 429 — The Naturalist-Philosophers, 436 — The 
Observation of Nature, 440 — Exact Not-Knowing, 446 — Idealism and Materialism, 456 — 
The First Dilemma, 457 — The Metaphysical 

vii CONTENTS (page originally from vol. 2, but for convenience's sake placed here) 
Problem, 460 — Nature and the Ego, 470 — The Second Dilemma, 476 — Science and 
Religion, 479 — Religion, 484 — Christ and Kant, 490. 

7. ART (From Giotto to Goethe). 

The Idea "Art," 495 — Art and ReUgion, 500 — Poetry Wedded to Music, 506 — Art and Science, 
513 — Art as a Whole, 525 — The Primacy of Poetry, 529 — Teutonic Music, 532 — The 

Tendency of Music, 544 — Naturalism, 546 — The Straggle for Individuality, 552 — The Inner 
Struggle, 556 — Shakespeare and Beethoven, 558 — Summary, 561 — Conclusion, 563. 

INDEX 565 




(Blank page) 




Und keine Zeit und keine Macht zerstiickelt 
Gepragte Form, die lebend sich entwickelt. 


(Blank page) 



Das Edelste, was wir besitzen, haben wir nicht von uns selbst; unser Verstand mit seinen 
Kraften, die Form, in welcher wir denken, handeln und sind, ist auf uns gleichsam 
herabgeerbet. — HERDER. 



"THE WORLD," says Dr. Martin Luther, "is ruled by God through a few heroes and pre- 
eminent persons." The mightiest of these raling heroes are the princes of intellect, men 
who without sanction of diplomacy or force of arms, without the constraining power of 

law and police, exercise a defining and transforming influence upon the thought and 
feeling of many generations, men who may be said to be all the more powerful the less 
power they have, but who seldom, perhaps never, ascend their throne during their 
lifetime; their sway lasts long, but begins late, often very late, especially when we leave 
out of account the influence which they exercise upon individuals and consider the 
moment when that which filled their life begins to affect and mould the life of whole 
peoples. More than two centuries elapsed before 


the new conception of the Cosmos, which we owe to Copernicus, and which was bound 
to revolutionise all human thought from its foundations, became common property. Men 
as important among his contemporaries as Luther said of Copernicus that he was "a fool 
who turned upside down the whole art of astronomia." Although his system of the world 
was already taught in antiquity; although the works of his direct predecessors, 
Regiomontanus and others, had prepared everything that made the last discovery 
inevitable, so that one might safely say that the Copernican system was only awaiting for 
its completion the spark of inspiration in the brain of the "most pre-eminent"; although it 
was here not a question of baffling problems in metaphysics and morals, but of a simple 
and, moreover, a demonstrable conception; although no material interest whatever was 
threatened by the new doctrine, much time was needed for this conception, which was in 
so many important respects of a revolutionary character, to travel from the brain of its 
author into that of a few other privileged men, and, ever spreading, finally take 
possession of the whole of mankind. It is well known how Voltaire in the first half of the 
eighteenth century fought for the recognition of the great triad — Copernicus, Kepler, 
Newton — but as late as the year 1779 the worthy Georg Christoph Lichtenberg felt himself 
compelled to undertake a campaign in the Gottingisches Taschenbuch, against the 
"Tychonians," and it was not till the year of grace one thousand eight hundred and twenty- 
two that the Congregation of the Index authorised the printing of books which teach that 
the earth moves ! 

I make this statement in advance that the reader may comprehend in what sense the 
year 1 is here chosen as the starting-point of our age. It is no random date, chosen for 
reasons of convenience, or because the outward course of political events had stamped 
this year as 


particularly noteworthy; it has been adopted because the simplest logic compels us to 
trace a new force back to its origin. It is a matter of "history" how slowly or how quickly it 
grows into an effective power; the actual life of the hero is, and cannot but be, the living 
source of all subsequent developments. 

The birth of Jesus Christ is the most important date in the whole history of mankind. * 
No battle, no dynastic change, no natural phenomenon, no discovery possesses an 
importance that could bear comparison with the short earthly life of the Galilean; almost 
two thousand years of history prove it, and even yet we have hardly crossed the threshold 
of Christianity. For profoundly intrinsic reasons we are justified in calling that year the 

"first year," and in reckoning our time from it. In a certain sense we might truly say that 
"history" in the real sense of the term only begins with the birth of Christ. The peoples that 
have not yet adopted Christianity — the Chinese, the Indians, the Turks and others — have all 
so far no true history; all they have is, on the one hand, a chronicle of ruling dynasties, 
butcheries and the like: on the other the uneventful, humble existence of countless 
millions living a life of bestial happiness, who disappear in the night of ages leaving no 
trace behind; whether the kingdom of the Pharaohs was founded in the year 3285 or in 
the year 32850 is in itself of no consequence; to know Egypt under one Rameses is the 
same as to know it under all fifteen Ramesides. And so it is with the other pre-Christian 
nations (with the exception of those three — of which I shall speak presently — that stand in 
organic relation to our Christian epoch): their culture, their art, their religion, in short 
their condition may interest us, achievements of their intellect or their 

* The fact that this birth did not take place in the year 1 , but in all probability some years 
before, is for us here of no special consequence. 


industry may even have become valuable parts of our own life, as is exemplified by 
Indian thought, Babylonian science and Chinese methods; their history, however, purely 
as such, lacks moral greatness, in other words, that force which rouses the individual man 
to consciousness of his individuality in contrast to the surrounding world and then — like 
the ebb and flow of the tide — makes him employ the world, which he has discovered in his 
own breast, to shape that which is without it. The Aryan Indian, for example, though he 
unquestionably possesses the greatest talent for metaphysics of any people that ever 
lived, and is in this respect far superior to all peoples of to-day, does not advance beyond 
inner enlightenment: he does not shape; he is neither artist nor reformer, he is content to 
live calmly and to die redeemed — he has no history. No more has his opposite, the 
Chinaman — that unique representative of Positivism and Collectivism; what our historical 
works record as his "history" is nothing more than an enumeration of the various robber 
bands, by which the patient, shrewd and soulless people, without sacrificing an iota of its 
individuality, has allowed itself to be ruled: such enumerations are simply "criminal 
statistics," not history, at least not for us: we cannot really judge actions which awaken no 
echo in our breast. 

Let me give an example. While these lines are being written (1897], the civilised world 
is clamorously indignant with Turkey; the European Powers are being compelled by the 
voice of public opinion to intervene for the protection of the Armenians and Cretans; the 
final destruction of the Turkish power seems now only a question of time. This is 
certainly justified; it was bound to come to this; nevertheless it is a fact that Turkey is the 
last little corner of Europe in which a whole people lives in undisturbed prosperity and 
happiness. It knows nothing of social questions, of the bitter 


struggle for existence and other such things; great fortunes are unknown and pauperism is 
literally non-existent; all form a single harmonious family, and no one strives after wealth 

at the expense of his neighbour. I am not simply repeating what I have read in 
newspapers and books, I am testifying to what I have seen with my own eyes. If the 
Mohammedan had not practised tolerance at a time when this idea was unknown to the 
rest of Europe, there would now be idyllic peace in the Balkan States and in Asia Minor. 
Here it is the Christian who throws in the leaven of discord; and with the cruelty of a 
ruthlessly reacting power of nature, the otherwise humane Moslem rises and destroys the 
disturber of his peace. In fact, the Christian likes neither the wise fatalism of the 
Mohammedan nor the prudent indifferentism of the Chinese. "I come not to bring peace, 
but a sword," Christ himself said. The Christian idea can, in a certain sense, be said to be 
positively anti-social. Now that the Christian has become conscious of a personal dignity 
otherwise never dreamt of, he is no longer satisfied with the simple animal instinct of 
living with others; the happiness of the bees and the ants has now no charm for him. If 
Christianity be curtly characterised as the religion of love, its importance for the history 
of mankind is but superficially touched upon. The essential thing is rather this: by 
Christianity each individual has received an inestimable, hitherto unanticipated value — 
even the "hairs on his head are all numbered by God" (Matthew x. 30); his outward lot does 
not correspond to this inner worth; and thus it is that life has become tragic, and only by 
tragedy does history receive a purely human purport. For no event is in itself historically 
tragic; it is only rendered tragic by the mind of those who experience it; otherwise what 
affects mankind remains as sublimely indifferent as all other natural phenomena. I shall 
return soon to 


the Christian idea. My purpose here has been merely to indicate, first, how deeply and 
manifestly Christianity revolutionises human feeling and action, of which we still have 
living proofs before our very eyes; * secondly, in what sense the non-Christian peoples 
have no true history, but merely annals. 


History, in the higher sense of the word, means only that past which still lives actively 
in the consciousness of man and helps to mould him. In pre-Christian times, therefore, it 
is only when it concerns peoples which are hastening towards the moral regeneration 
known as Christianity that history acquires an interest at once scientific and universally 
human. Hellas, Rome, ludea alone of the peoples of antiquity are historically important 
for the living consciousness of the men of the nineteenth century. 

Every inch of Hellenic soil is sacred to us, and rightly so. On the other side of the 
strait, in Asia, not even the men had or yet have a personality; here, in Hellas, every river, 
every stone is animate and individualised, dumb nature awakes to self-consciousness. 
And the men by whom this miracle was performed stand before us, from the half- 
fabulous times of the Trojan War on to the supremacy of Rome, each one with his own 
incomparable physiognomy: heroes, rulers, warriors, thinkers, poets, sculptors. Here man 
was born: man capable of becoming a Christian. Rome presents in many respects the 

most glaring contrast to Greece; it is not only geographically but also mentally more 
distant from Asia, that is, from Semitic, Babylonian and 

* It is altogether erroneous to think one must attribute such effects not to the awakened 
soul-life, but merely to race; the Bosniac of pure Servian descent and the Macedonian of 
Grecian stock are, as Mohammedans, just as fatalistic and anti-individualistic in their 
mode of thinking as any Osmanli whatever. 


Egyptian influences; it is not so bright and easily satisfied, not so flighty. Possession is 
the ambition of the people as it is of the individual. The Roman mind turns from the 
sublimely intuitive in art and philosophy to the intellectual work of organisation. In 
Greece a single Solon, a single Lycurgus in a way created fundamental laws of State as 
dilettanti, from purely individual conviction of what was right, while later a whole people 
of glib amateurs forcibly took the supreme power into their own hands; in Rome there 
grew up a long-lived community of sober, serious legislators, and while the outward 
horizon — the Roman Empire and its interests — continually widened, the horizon of internal 
interests grew most perilously narrower. Morally, however, Rome stands in many 
respects higher than Greece: the Greek has from the earliest times been what he is to-day, 
disloyal, unpatriotic, selfish; self-restraint was foreign to him and so he has never been 
able either to control others or to submit with dignified pride to being controlled. On the 
other hand, the growth and the longevity of the Roman state point to the shrewd, strong, 
conscious political spirit of the citizens. The family and the law that protects it are the 
creations of Rome. And indeed this is true of the family in the narrower sense of an 
institution laying the foundation of every higher morality, as well as in the extended 
sense of a power which unites the whole of the citizens into one firm state capable of 
self-defence; only from the family could a permanent state arise, only through the state 
could that which to-day we call civilisation become a principle of society capable of 
development. All the states of Europe are grafts on the Roman stem. And however 
frequently of old, as to-day, might prevailed over right, the conception of right is our 
inheritance from the Roman. Meanwhile, just as the day is followed by the night (the 
sacred night, which reveals to our eye the secret of other 


worlds, worlds above us in the firmament of heaven and worlds within ourselves, in the 
depths of our silent hearts), so the glorious positive work of the Greeks and Romans 
demanded a negative completion; and this was provided by Israel. To enable us to see the 
stars, the light of day must be extinguished; in order to become truly great, to attain that 
tragic greatness which, as I have said, alone gives vivid purport to history, man had to 
become conscious not only of his strength but also of his weakness. It was only by clear 
recognition and unsparing accentuation of the triviality of all human action, the 
pitiableness of reason in its heavenward flight, the general baseness of human feelings 
and political motives, that thought was able to take its stand upon a totally new 
foundation, from which it was to discover in the heart of man capacities and talents, that 

guided it to the knowledge of something that was sublimer than all else; Greeks and 
Romans would never by their methods have reached this sublimest goal; it would never 
have occurred to them to attach so great importance to the life of the single individual. If 
we contemplate the outward history of the people of Israel, it certainly offers at the first 
glance little that is attractive; with the exception of some few pleasing features, all the 
meanness of which men are capable seems concentrated in this one small nation; not that 
the Jews were essentially baser than other men, but the grinning mask of vice stares at us 
from out their history in unveiled nakedness; in their case no great political sense excuses 
injustice, no art, no philosophy reconciles us to the horrors of the struggle for existence. 
Here it was that the negation of the things of this world arose, and with it the vague idea 
of a higher extra-mundane vocation of mankind. Here men of the people ventured to 
brand the princes of this earth as "companions of thieves," and to cry out upon the rich, 
"Woe unto 


them that join house to house, that lay field to field till there be no place, that they may be 
placed alone in the midst of the earth." That was a different conception of right from that 
of the Romans, to whom nothing seemed more sacred than property. But the curse 
extended not merely to the mighty, but also to "them that are wise in their own eyes and 
prudent in their own sight," and likewise to the joyous heroes, who "drink wine," and have 
chosen the world as their sporting place. So speaks an Isaiah already in the eighth century 
before the birth of Christ. * But this first outcry against what is radically evil in man and 
in human society rings louder and louder in the course of the following centuries from the 
soul of this strange people: it grows in earnestness, until Jeremiah cries out, "Woe unto 
me, O mother, that thou hast given me birth!" Finally the negation becomes a positive 
principle of life, and the sublimest of prophets suffers on the cross out of love. Now it 
matters not whether we adopt the attitude of a believing Christian or simply that of the 
objective historian; one thing is certain, that in order to understand the figure of Christ, 
we must know the people who crucified Him. One point of course must be kept in mind: 
in the case of the Greeks and Romans their deeds were their positive and permanent 
achievement; in the case of the Jews, on the other hand, it was the negation of the deeds 
of this people that was the only positive achievement for mankind. But this negation is 
likewise an historical fact, a fact indeed that has "grown historically." Even if Jesus Christ, 
as is extremely probable, was not descended from the Jewish people, t nothing but the 
most superficial partisanship 

* See Isaiah, chaps, i. and v. 

t For the proof that Christ was no Jew (in the sense of Jew by race) and also for the 
exposition of his close relation to the moral life of the real Jewish people, see chap, iii.; 
chap. V. then deals more fully with the Jewish people. 


can deny the fact that this great and divine figure is inseparably bound up with the 
historical development of that people. 

Who could doubt it? The history of Hellas, that of Rome, and that of Judea have had a 
moulding influence upon all centuries of our era and still had a living influence upon the 
nineteenth century. Indeed they were not merely living, but also life-retarding influences, 
inasmuch as they obstructed our free view into the purely human sphere in many 
directions by a fence of man's height. This is the unavoidable fate of mankind: what 
advances him, at the same time fetters him. And so the history of these peoples must be 
carefully noted by any one who proposes to discuss the nineteenth century. 

In the present work a knowledge of pure history, of the chronology of the world, has 
been assumed. I can attempt only one thing here, viz., to define with the greatest possible 
brevity what are the most essential distinguishing marks of this "legacy of the old world". 
This I shall do in three chapters, the first of which treats of Hellenic art and philosophy, 
the second of Roman law, and the third of the advent of Jesus Christ. 


Before concluding these introductory remarks, one more warning! The expression, this 
or that "had to" happen, slipped from my pen a moment ago; perhaps it will recur in what 
follows. Thereby I am far from admitting that the philosophy of history has any right to 
dogmatise. The contemplation of the past from the point of view of the present admits the 
logical conclusion that certain events "had to" happen at that time, in order that the present 
should become what it has become. The subtle question as to whether the course of 


might have been different from what it was would be out of place here. Scared by the 
dreary clamour of so-called scientism, most of our modern historians have handled this 
subject with timidity. And yet it is clear that it is only when considered sub specie 
necessitatis that the present acquires an instructive significance. Vere scire est per causas 
scire, says Bacon; this way of viewing things is the only scientific one; but how shall it be 
successfully applied if necessity is not everywhere recognised? The phrase "had to" 
expresses the necessary connection of cause and effect, nothing more; it is with such 
examinations as these that we men gild the main beams of our narrow intellectual sphere, 
without imagining that thereby we have flown out into the open air. The following 
should, however, be borne in mind: if necessity be a shaping power, then round this 
central point wider and wider circles form themselves, and no one can blame us if, when 
our purpose demands it, we avoid the long circuitous path, in order that we may take our 
stand as near as possible to the axis which while causing motion is itself hardly moved — 
that point where what appears to be an arbitrary law almost merges into undeniable 




Nur durch den Menschen tritt der Mensch in das Tageslicht des Lebens ein. — JEAN 


Much wit has been spent in defining the difference between man and beast, but the 
distinction between man and man seems to me to be even more important, preparing the 
way, as it does, for the recognition of a fact of greater significance. The moment a man 
awakens to a consciousness of freely creative power, he crosses a definite boundary and 
breaks the spell which showed how closely, in spite of all his talent and all his 
achievements, he was related even in mind to other living creatures. Through art a new 
element, a new form of existence, enters into the cosmos. 

In expressing this as my conviction, I put myself on the same footing as some of 
Germany's greatest sons. This view of the importance of art corresponds, too, if I am not 
mistaken, to a specific tendency of the German mind; at any rate so clear and precise a 
formulation of this thought, as we find in Lessing and Winckelmann, Schiller and 
Goethe, Holderlin, Jean Paul and Novalis, in Beethoven and Richard Wagner, would 
hardly be met with among the other members of the related Indo-Teutonic group. In order 
to do justice to this view, we must in the first place know exactly what is here meant 


by "art." When Schiller writes, "Nature has formed creatures only, art has made men," we 
surely cannot believe that he was thinking here of flute-playing or verse-writing? 
Whoever reads Schiller's writings (especially of course his Briefe liber die asthetische 
Erziehung des Menschen) carefully and repeatedly, will recognise more and more that the 
idea "art" means to the poet-philosopher something very vivid, something glowing in him, 
as it were, and yet a very subtle thing, which can scarcely be confined within a brief 
definition. A man must have misunderstood him if he believes himself free of such a 
belief. Let us hear what Schiller says, for an understanding of this fundamental idea is 
indispensable not merely for the purpose of this chapter, but also for that of the whole 
book. He writes: "Nature does not make a better beginning with man than with her other 
works: she acts for him, while he cannot yet act for himself as a free intelligent being. 
But what precisely makes him a man is the fact that he does not stand still as mere nature 
made him, but is endowed with the capacity of retracing with the aid of reason the steps 
which nature anticipated with him, of transforming the work of necessity into a work of 
his free choice and of raising the physical necessity to a moral one." First and foremost 
then it is the eager struggle for freedom which, according to Schiller, betokens the artistic 
temperament. Man cannot escape necessity, but he "transforms" it, and, in so doing, shows 
himself to be an artist. As such he employs the elements, which nature offers him, to 
create for himself a new world of semblance; but a second consideration follows from 
this, which must not on any account be overlooked: by placing himself "on his aesthetic 
standpoint," as it were, "outside the world and contemplating it," man for the first time 
clearly sees this world, the world outside himself! The desire to tear himself away from 
nature had indeed been a 


delusion, but it is this very delusion which is now bringing him to a full and proper 
consciousness of nature: for "man cannot purge the semblance from the real without at the 
same time freeing the real of the semblance." It is only when man has begun to invent 
artistically that he also begins to think consciously, it is only when he himself builds that 
he begins to perceive the architectonics of the universe. Reality and semblance are at first 
mixed up in his consciousness; the conscious, freely creative dealing with the semblance 
is the first step towards attaining to the freest and purest possible cognition of reality. 
True science — a science that not only measures and records, but contemplates and 
perceives — owes its origin, according to Schiller, to the direct influence of the artistic 
efforts of man. Then for the first time philosophy finds a place in the human intellect; for 
it hovers between the two worlds. Philosophy is based at once on art and on science: it is, 
if I may so express myself, the latest artistic elaboration of a reality which has been sifted 
and purified. But this does not by any means exhaust the import of Schiller's conception 
of art. For "beauty" (that freely transformed, new world) is not simply an object, in it rather 
there is mirrored also "a condition of our subject": "Beauty is, in truth, form, because we 
contemplate it, but it is at the same time life, because we feel it. In a word, it is at once a 
state and an achievement" * To feel artistically, to think artistically denotes then a 
particular condition of man in general; it is a phase of feeling, or rather attitude of mind — 
still better, perhaps, a latent store of power, which must everywhere act as a "freeing," 
"transforming," "purging" element in the life of the individual man, as well as in the life of a 
whole nation, even where art, 

* Cf. Aesthetische Erziehung, Bd. 3, 25, 26. Further particulars in chap. ix. div. 7 of 
this book (vol. ii.). 


science and philosophy are not directly concerned. Or, to present this relation to 
ourselves from a different side, we can also — and indeed here too with Schiller * — say, 
"From being a successful instrument, man became an unsuccessful artist." That is the 
tragedy of which I spoke in the introductory remarks. 

We must, I think, admit that this German conception of "man becoming man" goes 
deeper, embraces more, and throws a brighter light upon that future of mankind after 
which we have to strive than any narrowly scientific or purely utilitarian one. However 
that may be, one thing is certain: whether such a view is to have unconditional or merely 
conditional validity, it is of the very greatest service for a study of the Hellenic world and 
the sure revelation of its principle of life; for though in this subjective formulation it may 
be a characteristically German conception, it leads back in the main to Hellenic art and to 
Hellenic philosophy, which embraced natural science, and proves that Hellenism lived on 
in the nineteenth century not merely outwardly and historically, but also as an inherent 
force that has helped to mould the future, f 


Not every artistic activity is art. Numerous animals evince extraordinary skill in the 
construction of dwellings; the song of the nightingale vies successfully with the natural 
song of the savage; capricious imitation we find 

* Cf. Etwas liber die erste Menschengesellsehaft, div. I. 

t To avoid misunderstanding, I wish to mention that here at the beginning of my book I 
have without further criticism joined hands with Schiller, to ensure that what follows may 
be more easily understood; only in my final chapter can I establish my view that in the 
case of the Teutonic peoples, in contrast to the Hellenes, the turning point in "man 
becoming man" is to be sought not in art, but in religion — this however does not mean a 
deviation from Schiller's conception of "art" but purely and simply a particular gradation. 


highly developed in the animal kingdom, and that too in the most various spheres — 
imitation of activity, of sound, of form — and here it must also be remembered that we 
know next to nothing of the life of the higher apes; * language, that is, communication of 
feelings and judgments from one individual to another, is widespread throughout the 
whole animal kingdom and the means adopted are so incredibly sure that not only 
anthropologists but also philologists t do not consider it superfluous to warn us against 
thinking that vibration of the human vocal chords — or for that matter sound in general — is 
the only thing that can be called language, t By instinctively uniting into civic 
organisations, no matter how complex and intricate they may be, the human race 
similarly achieves nothing which is in principle an advance on the exceedingly complex 
animal communities; modern sociologists, indeed, consider the origin of human society 
as having a close organic connection with the development of the social instincts in the 
surrounding animal kingdom. § If we consider 

* See, however, the observations of J. G. Romanes in the case of a female chimpanzee, 
given in fullest detail in Nature, vol. xi., p. 160 ff, condensed in the books of the same 
author. In a short time this ape learned to count up to seven with unfailing accuracy. On 
the other hand, the Bakairi (South American Indians) are able to count only up to six, and 
that with great difficulty. (See Karl von Steinen: Unter den Naturvolkern Brasiliens.) 

t See, for example, Whitney, The Life of Language (Fr. edit. p. 238 f). 

t Compare especially the instructive remarks of Topinard in his Anthropologic, pp. 159- 
162. It is interesting to know that so great and at the same time so extremely cautious a 
naturalist as Adolf Bastian, with all his abhorrence of everything fantastic, claims for the 
articulata (with the tentacles with which they touch each other) a language analogous to 
ours and in keeping with their nature; see Das Bestandige in den Menschenrassen, p. viii. 
of the preface. In Darwin's Descent of Man, chap, iii., we find an exceedingly interesting 
review of the facts pertaining to this question and an energetic refutation of the paradoxes 
of Max Mliller and others. 

§ See, for example, the Principles of Sociology of the American Professor Franklin H. 
Giddings (Fr. edit., 1897, p. 189): "Les bases de I'empire de I'homme furent posees sur les 
associations zoogeniques des plus humbles formes de la vie consciente." 


the civic life of the ants, and see by what daring refinements they ensure the practical 
efficiency of the social mechanism and the faultless fitting of all parts into each other — as 
an example I shall mention only the removal of the baneful sexual impulse in a large 
percentage of the population, and that too not by mutilation, as is the case with our 
wretched makeshift castration, but by shrewd manipulation of the fecundating germs — 
then we must admit that the civic instinct of man is not of a high standard; compared with 
many animal species we are nothing but political blunderers. * Even in the special 
exercise of reason we can indeed recognise a peculiar specific feature of man, but hardly 
a fundamentally new natural phenomenon. Man in his natural condition uses his superior 
reason exactly as the stag his speed of foot, the tiger his strength, the elephant his weight; 
it is his finest weapon in the struggle for existence, it takes the place of agility, bulk and 
so many other things that he lacks. The times are past when men had the effrontery to 
deny that animals have reason; not only do the ape, the dog and all higher animals 
manifest conscious reflection and unerring judgment, but insects have been 
experimentally proved to do the same: a colony of bees, for example, placed in 
unaccustomed and absolutely new surroundings, adopts new measures, tries this and that, 
till it has found what 

* See Carl Vogt's amusing Untersuchungen liber die Tierstaaten (1851). In Brehm, 
Vom Nordpol zum Aequator (1890), we find very noteworthy facts concerning the 
waging of war by baboons; their tactics change according to the nature of the ground, 
they divide their forces into definite groups, first line, second line of attack, &c., several 
work together, so as to roll a large boulder down on the enemy, &c. Perhaps the most 
amazing social life is that of the farming ants from South America, first reported upon by 
Belt, Naturalist in Nicaragua, then by the German Alfred MoUer; now we can observe 
these animals in the Zoological Garden in London, where it is especially easy to follow 
the activity of the large-headed "overseers," which rush forward and shake up the workers 
whenever they take things easy! 


suits it. * There is no doubt that if we investigate with more care and insight the 
psychological life — so far 

* Cf. Huber, Nouvelles observations sur les abeilles, ii. 198, and the fine book by 
Maurice Maeterlinck, La vie des abeilles, 1901. The best and shortest recent resume of 
the most important facts pertinent to our case is probably that by J. G. Romanes, Essays 
on Instinct, 1897; even this distinguished pupil of Darwin is, however, under the constant 
necessity of referring to the series of observations of the two Hubers as being the most 
brilliant and reliable; but too little known is another work, that of J. Traherne Moggridge, 

Observations on harvesting Ants and Trapdoor Spiders (Reeve, London, 1873); in 
general the psychologists of the animal kingdom should direct more attention to the 
spiders, which beyond doubt are endowed with special gifts of their own. But see H. C. 
MacCook, American Spiders (Philadelphia, 1889), and the various volumes of the 
invaluable Souvenirs entomologiques by Fabre. Among older writings, Kirby's History, 
Habits, and Instincts of Animals is of lasting value. Of the more philosophic writings I 
shall here call attention especially to Wundt's Vorlesungen liber die Menschen- und 
Tierseele and to Fritz Schulze's Vergleichende Seelenkunde (Second Part, "The 
Psychology of Animals and Plants," 1897). In this note I should like at the same time to 
put in an express caveat, namely, that here and further on I do not fail to recognise the 
deep gulf between the intellect of thinking man and that of the animal; it was high time 
that a Wundt with all his intellectual keenness should openly oppose our almost 
ineradicable inclination to anthropomorphic interpretations; but it seems to me that 
Wundt himself and with him Schulze, Lubbock and others fall into the opposite error: 
they make indeed a just protest against the uncritical over-estimation of the thought-life 
of the animals, yet these learned men, accustomed from their earliest years to think and 
speculate unceasingly, do not seem to have any idea of the minimum of consciousness 
and reflection with which mankind as a whole manages to go through life; they are in 
general inclined to attach too great importance to "consciousness" and "reflection"; this 
manifests itself in their treatises on the elementary conditions of the human \\ivx'{\ and — 
perhaps still more clearly — in their lack of ability to explain the nature of the real act of 
creative genius (Art and Philosophy). One Wundt having reduced the estimate of animal 
intelligence to its right level, we should need a second to expose our tendency to overrate 
enormously our own importance. The following point also seems to me never to have 
been properly emphasised: that in our observations of animals we, do what we will, 
remain anthropomorphists; for we cannot even conceive a sense (I mean a physical 
instrument for acquiring knowledge of the surrounding world) if we do not possess it 
ourselves, and we must of necessity remain for ever blind and deaf to all manifestations 
of feeling and understanding, which are not immediately echoed in our own intellectual 
life. It is all very well for Wundt to warn against "false analogies"; in this whole sphere no 
conclusions but those of analogy are possible. As Clifford has clearly shown (cf. Seeing 


practically unknown to us — of animals from remote classes, we shall everywhere find 
similar things. 

Thinking), we can proceed neither purely objectively nor purely subjectively here; this 
mixed method of knowing he has therefore termed an "ejective" one. We estimate those 
animals as most intelligent whose intelligence most closely resembles our own, and is 
therefore best understood by us, but is not this extremely simple and thoughtless in 
reference to a cosmic problem such as that of intellect? Is this not disguised 
anthropomorphism? Most certainly. When Wundt therefore maintains, "In this sphere 
experiment is in a high degree superior to mere observation," one can only very 
conditionally agree with him; for experiment is from the outset a reflex of our purely 

human conceptions, whereas the loving observation of a quite differently organised 
creature in its own most normal conditions and that with the desire not to criticise its 
achievements but to understand them — as far as our human narrow intellectual horizon 
permits us — would be bound to lead to many surprising discoveries. And so old blind 
Huber has taught us much more about bees than Lubbock in his — nevertheless admirable — 
book on Ants, Bees and Wasps (1883). And so it is that the rough trainers, who demand 
of each animal only such tricks as they can expect from it on the basis of daily 
observation of its capabilities, achieve such remarkable results. Here as elsewhere our 
science of to-day is still in the toils of Helleno-Jewish anthropomorphism, and not least 
just where it warns us against it. — Since the above has been written, the sensational book 
of Bethe, Dlirfen wir Ameisen und Bienen psychische Qualitaten zuschreiben? has 
appeared, which in its whole argumentation is a classical example of disguised 
anthropomorphism. By ingenious (though in my opinion by no means conclusive) tests, 
Bethe has come to the conclusion that ants recognise by smell that they belong to the 
nest, and their finding of their way depends on the excretion of a chemical substance, &c. 
The whole is "Chemoreflex," the whole life of these animals "purely mechanical." One is 
astonished to find such an abyss of philosophical barbarity. Why, is not the whole sense- 
life as such inevitably mechanical? Can I recognise my own father without help of a 
mechanism? Does not the dog recognise its master almost entirely by smell? Are 
Descartes' automata always to rise into life again, as though science and philosophy had 
stood still for three hundred years? Here we have the real ineradicable 
anthropomorphism. In the case of vertebrates their strict analogy with our own structure 
lets us draw conclusions about psychical processes; in the insect, on the other hand, a 
totally strange being is before us, built on a plan which is so fundamentally at variance 
with that of our body that we are not in a position to explain with certainty even the 
purely mechanical working of the organs of sense (see Gegenbaur, Vergleichende 
Anatomic) and in consequence cannot know at all what a world of sense-impressions and 
of possibilities of communication, &c., quite closed to us, may surround these creatures. 
Not to comprehend this fact is to display an ant-like naivete. — (Addenda of the 


Thus the comparatively enormous development of the human brain * gives us after all 
only a relative superiority. Man does not walk upon earth like a God, but as a creature 
among other creatures, perhaps it would be no exaggeration to say as primus inter pares; 
for it is difficult to comprehend why a higher differentiation, with its countless 
disadvantages, should be forthwith regarded as higher "perfection"; the relative perfection 
of an organism should be judged, in my opinion, by its suitability to given conditions. 
Through all the fibres of his nature man is organically and closely connected with his 
surroundings; all this is blood of his blood; if we think him apart from nature, he is a 
fragment, an uprooted stem. 

What now distinguishes man from other beings? Many will answer, his inventive 
power: it is the instrument which shows him to be prince among the animals. Yet even 
with this he still remains an animal among animals. Not only the anthropoid, but also the 

third edition.) In the opening speech of the fourth International Congress of Zoologists on 
August 23, 1898, Sir John Lubbock violently attacked the automata theory and said, inter 
alia: "Many animals possess organs of sense, the meaning of which is inscrutable to us 
men. They notice sounds which we cannot hear, they see things which remain invisible to 
us, they receive impressions of sense, which lie beyond the sphere of our power of 
conception. The world which we know so well must have for them quite a different 
physiognomy." Montaigne had already expressed the opinion: "Les betes ont plusieurs 
conditions qui se rapportent aux notres; de celles-la, par comparaison, nous pouvons tirer 
quelque conjecture: mais ce qu'elles ont en particulier, que savons-nous que c'est?" The 
psychiatrician Forel became convinced after thirty years of diligent observation that ants 
possessed memory, had the capacity of unifying in their brain various impressions of 
sense and acted with conscious reflection. (Speech delivered on August 13, 1901, at the 
Congress of Zoologists in Berlin.) 

* It is well known that Aristotle has made a serious mistake here, as he often does: man 
possesses, neither absolutely nor relatively (that is, in relation to weight of body), the 
largest brain; the superiority of this apparatus in his case is based on other things. (See 
Ranke, Der Mensch, second edition, I., pp. 551 and 542 f.). 


ape, invents simpler instruments (any one can obtain information on this point by 
referring to Brehm's Tierleben), and the elephant is, if perhaps not in invention, yet in the 
employment of instruments a real master. (See Romanes, Die geistige Entwickelung im 
Tierreich, pp. 389 ff.) The most ingenious dynamo machine does not raise men one inch 
over the earth-surface which is common to all creatures; all such things denote merely a 
new accumulation of strength in the struggle for existence; man becomes thereby in a 
way a more highly potentiated animal. Instead of going to bed, he illumines with tallow 
candles, oil, gas or electricity; he thereby gains time and can do more work; but there are 
likewise countless animals which procure light for themselves, many by 
phosphorescence, others, particularly the deep sea fishes, by electricity; * we travel by 
bicycle, by train, and shall perhaps soon travel by airship — the bird of passage and the 
inhabitant of the sea had brought travelling long ago into fashion, and just like them, men 
travel in order to subsist. The incalculable superiority of man shows itself certainly in 
this, that he can invent all these things rationally and can unite individual discoveries, so 
as to make still further progress. The impulse to imitate and the capacity for assimilation 
which one certainly finds in all mammals are in his case of so high a standard that the 
same thing becomes, so to speak, a different thing; in analogous manner we see in 
chemical substances that frequently the addition of a single essentially similar atom, 

* Emin Pasha and Stanley tell about chimpanzees which go out at night with torches 
on their predatory raids. With Romanes, one would do well to doubt this fact till further 
information is available. Stanley did not see it himself and Emin Pascha was exceedingly 
shortsighted. If apes have really discovered the art of lighting fires, to us men there would 
remain nevertheless the invention of the figure of Prometheus, and that this, and not that, 
is what makes man man forms exactly the substance of my remarks. 


accordingly a simple numerical addition, fundamentally changes the qualities of the 
substance in question; if one adds oxygen to oxygen, a new compound, ozone, is formed 
(02+01=03). One should, however, not forget that all human discoveries rest on 
assimilation and imitation; man "finds out" (er-findet) what is there and has only awaited 
his coming, just as he "discovers" what hitherto was covered with a veil; nature plays at 
"hide and seek" and "blind man's buff" with him. Quod invenitur, fuit, says TertuUian. The 
fact that he understands this, that he seeks what is hidden, and bit by bit reveals and finds 
so much, certainly testifies to the possession of incomparable gifts; but if he did not 
possess them, he would indeed be the most miserable of creatures, for there he stands 
weaponless, powerless, wingless; bitter necessity is his incentive, the faculty of invention 
his salvation. 

Now man becomes truly man, a creature differing from all animals, even human ones, 
when he reaches the stage of inventing without necessity, when he exercises his 
incomparable gifts of his own free will and not because nature compels him, or — to use a 
deeper and more suitable expression — when the necessity which impels him to invent 
enters his consciousness, no longer from outside, but from his inner self; when that which 
was his salvation becomes his sanctuary. The decisive moment is when free invention 
consciously appears, that is, therefore, when man becomes artist. The study of 
surrounding nature, as, for example, of the starry heavens, may have made great strides, 
and a complex cult of gods and spirits have been formed without thereby anything 
fundamentally new entering into the world. All this proves a latent capacity; essentially, 
however, it is nothing more than the half-unconscious exercise of an instinct. It is only 
when an individual man, like Homer, invents the gods of his own free will as he wishes 


to be; it is only when an observer of nature, like Democritus, from free creative power 
invents the conception of the atom; when a pensive seer, like Plato, with the wilfulness of 
the genius superior to the world throws overboard all visible nature and puts in its place 
the realm of ideas that man has created; it is only when a most Sublime Teacher 
proclaims, "Behold the kingdom of Heaven is within you" — it is only then that a completely 
new creature is born, that being of whom Plato says, "He has generative power in his soul 
rather than in his body," it is only then that the macrocosm contains a microcosm. The 
only thing that deserves to be called culture is the daughter of such "creative freedom," or 
in a word "art," and with art philosophy — genuine, creative philosophy and science — is so 
closely related that both must be recognised as two sides of the same being; every great 
poet has been a philosopher, every philosopher of genius a poet. That which lies outside 
this microcosmic life of culture is nothing more than "civilisation," that is, a more and more 
highly potentiated, increasingly more industrious, easier and less free ant-like state- 
existence, certainly rich in blessing and in so far desirable, nevertheless a gift of the ages, 
in the case of which it frequently remains exceedingly questionable whether the human 
race does not pay more for it than it receives from it. Civilisation is in itself nothing, for it 
denotes something merely relative; a higher civilisation could be regarded as a positive 

gain (i.e., an "advance") only when it led to an increasingly intensive intellectual and 
artistic shaping of life and to an inner moral enlightenment. Because this seemed to him 
not to be the case with us, Goethe, as the most competent judge, could make the 
melancholy confession, "These times are worse than one thinks." On the other hand, the 
undying importance of Hellenism lies in this, that it understood how to create for itself an 
age better than any that we can conceive, 


an age incomparably better, if I may so express it, than its own backward civilisation 
deserved. To-day all ethnographists and anthropologists distinguish clearly between 
morals and religion, and recognise that both in a certain sense are independent of each 
other; it would be just as useful to learn to distinguish clearly between culture and 
civilisation. A highly developed civilisation is compatible with a rudimentary culture: 
Rome, for example, exemplifies a wonderful civilisation with very insignificant and quite 
unoriginal culture. Athens, on the other hand (with its free citizens) reveals a stage of 
culture in comparison with which we Europeans of the nineteenth century are in many 
respects still barbarians, and this is united with a civilisation which — in comparison with 
ours — may with perfect justice be termed really barbaric. * Compared with all other 
phenomena of history, Hellenism represents an exuberantly rich blossoming of the human 
intellect, and the reason of this is that its whole culture rests on an artistic basis. The 
freely creative work of human imagination was the starting-point of the infinitely rich life 
of the Hellenes. Their language, religion, politics, philosophy, science (even 
mathematics), history and geography, all forms of imaginative invention in words and 
sounds, their whole public life and the whole inner life of the individual — everything 
radiates from this work, and everything finds itself in it once more as in a figurative and 
at the same time organic centre, a centre which reduces the greatest divergencies in 

* We have an excellent example of this in the case of the Indo-Aryans in their original 
home, where the formation of a language, "which surpassed all others, was completely 
uniform and wonderfully perfect," apart from other intellectual achievements, pointed to a 
high culture. These men were nevertheless a race of shepherds who walked abroad almost 
naked and knew neither cities nor metals. (See in particular Jhering, Vorgeschichte der 
Indoeuropaer, p. 2.) For a definite distinction between knowledge, civilisation and culture 
I refer readers to vol. ii. chap. ix. of this book and the synopsis contained in it. 


interests and endeavours to reach a living conscious unity. At this central point stands 


The fact that the existence of the poet Homer has been open to doubt will give later 
generations no very favourable idea of the intellectual acumen of our epoch. It is exactly 
a century ago since F. A. Wolf published his hypothesis; since that time our neo- 
Alexandrians have bravely "sniffed and shovelled away," till at last they arrived at the 
conclusion that Homer was merely a pseudo-mythical collective term and the Iliad and 
the Odyssey nothing more than a skilful pasting together and re-editing of all sorts of 
poems.... Pasted together by whom? and by whom so beautifully edited? Well, naturally 
by learned philologists, the ancestors of the modern ones! The only matter for surprise is 
that, as we are once more in possession of such an ingenious race of critics, these 
gentlemen have not taken the trouble to piece together for us poor wretches a new Hiad. 
There is truly no lack of songs, no lack of genuine, beautiful folksongs; is there, perhaps, 
a lack of paste, of brainpaste? The most competent judges in such a question are clearly 
the poets, the great poets; the philologist clings to the shell which has been exposed to the 
caprice of centuries; but the congenial glance of the poet, on the other hand, penetrates to 
the kernel and perceives the individual creative process. Now Schiller, with his unerring 
instinct, immediately stigmatised as "simply barbaric" the view that the Hiad and the 
Odyssey were not, in all essential points of their construction, the work of a single 
inspired individual. Indeed, in his excitement, he so far oversteps the mark that he calls 
Wolf a "stupid Devil"! The opinion of Goethe is almost more interesting. His much-lauded 
objectivity manifested itself, among other things, in this, that he unreservedly 


and unresistingly let himself be influenced by an impression; Wolf's great philological 
merits and the mass of correct statements which his expositions contained, misled the 
great man; he felt convinced and declared this openly. But later, when he again had the 
opportunity of studying the Homeric poems thoroughly — and viewed them no longer from 
a philologico-historical but from a purely poetic standpoint — he retracted his over-hasty 
endorsement of the "subjective trash" (as he now called it), for now his knowledge was 
precise; behind these works there stands a "glorious unity, a single, higher poetical sense." 
* But the philologists too, in their necessarily roundabout way, have come to the same 
view, and Homer enters the twentieth century, the fourth millennium of his fame, greater 
than ever, t 

* See, for example, the small work. Homer noch einmal, of the year 1826. 

1 1 must take care to avoid even the slightest assumption of a learning which I do not 
possess; a man in my position can only note the results of learned research; but it is his 
right and his duty to approach these results as a free man, possessing unexceptionable 
critical power. Indeed, he must, in my opinion, use his critical power above all in the 
same way as a monarch whose wisdom has especially to prove itself in the choice of his 
advisers; the layman cannot sit in judgment on the value of learned arguments, he can, 
however, from style, language and train of thoughts very well form an estimate of the 
individual scholar and distinguish between mason and architect. It is not therefore in the 
sense of a material proof, but merely in order that the reader himself may be able, in the 
sense alluded to, to gauge my ability to form a critical judgment, that I now and then refer 
in the notes to my "authorities." As I have pointed out in the text, I here in the first place 

hold with Socrates that musicians are the best judges of flute-playing, poets of poetical 
works. Goethe's opinion with regard to Homer is worth more to me than that of all the 
philologists together who have lived since the beginning of the world. I have, however, 
informed myself, as far as a layman can, in regard to the latter, and in so complicated a 
question this is very essential. The summary accounts of Niese, Die Entwickelung der 
Homerischen Poesie, 1882, and of Jebb, Homer, 1888, enable us to follow the course of 
the discussion up to modern times, but nothing more. On the other hand, in Bergk, 
Griechische Litteraturgeschichte, 1872-84, we have a safe guide. That Bergk was a 
Hellenist of the first rank is admitted by all Homeric scholars and even the ordinary man 
is impressed by the comprehensive and penetrating character of his knowledge, com- 


For besides many philologising nonentities, Germany has produced an undying race of 
really great linguistic and literary scholars; F. A. Wolf himself was one of them; he never 
lowered himself to the absurd idea afterwards propounded, that a great work of art could 
be produced by the united efforts of a number of insignificant men or directly from the 
vague consciousness of the masses, and he would be the first to learn with satisfaction of 
the successful issue that finally attended the protracted scientific researches. Even if as 
great a genius as Homer himself had devoted himself to improving and embellishing 
Homer's works — this is of course almost a senseless supposition — the history of all art 
teaches us that genuine individuality defies all imitation; but the farther the critical 
investigations of the nineteenth century advanced, the more was every capable 
investigator compelled to realise that even the most important imitators, completers and 
restorers of the epics of Homer all differed from him in this, that not one of them 
approached even in the slightest degree 

bined as it is with a moderation which bordered on the jejune; Bergk is not a fiery spirit; 
his attitude in this question forms the complement to the lightning intuition of a Schiller. 
One should read not only the chapter, "Homer an historical personality," but particularly 
also in the later paragraph, "Homer in modern times," the remarks on the song-theory, of 
which Bergk says, "The general premisses, from which the advocates of the song-theory 
proceed, prove themselves on closer examination, especially when one considers the 
Homeric poems in connection with the whole development of epic poetry, as quite 
untenable. This theory could only be formulated by critics by whom the Homeric epic, 
separated from its surroundings and without any regard to the history of Greek literature, 
was submitted to their disintegrating criticism" (i. 525). One should read also his proof 
that the use of writing was common in Homer's time and that external as well as internal 
facts testify that Homer actually left his works in writing (i. 527 ff). — 1905. In the 
meantime the discoveries in Crete have proved that the use of script was common among 
the Hellenes long before the Achaeans entered the Peloponnese. In the palace of Minos, 
the most modern parts of which can be proved to have been built not later than 1550 
years before Christ, whole libraries and archives have been discovered (cf. the 
publications of A. J. Evans in the last volumes of the Annual of the British School at 


his commanding genius. Disfigured though they were by countless misconceptions, 
copyists' mistakes, and still more by the supposed improvements of irrepressible 
wiseacres and the interpolations of well-meaning followers, the more the patchwork of 
the present form of these poems was shown up by the polishing work of research, the 
more they testified to the incomparable divine creative power of the original artist. What 
marvellous power of beauty must have been possessed by works which could so 
successfully defy for centuries the stormy social conditions, and for a still longer time the 
desecrating tempest of narrow-mindedness, mediocrity and pseudogenius, that even to- 
day, from the midst of the ruins, the ever youthful charm of artistic perfection greets us 
like the good fairy of our own culture! At the same time other investigations, which had 
gone their own independent way — historical and mythological studies — clearly proved that 
Homer must have been an historical personage. It has, in fact, been shown that in these 
poems both saga and myth have been treated very freely and according to definite 
principles of conscious artistic shaping. To mention only the most essential point: Homer 
was a remarkable simplifier, he unravelled the tangled clue of popular myths, and from 
the planless medley of popular sagas, which had a different form in every district, he 
wove certain definite forms in which all Hellenes recognised themselves and their gods, 
although this very delineation was quite new to them. What we have now discovered 
after so much toil the ancients knew very well; I quote in this connection the remarkable 
passage in Herodotus: "From the Pelasgians the Hellenes took their gods. But whence each 
of the gods comes, whether they were always there, what their form is, we Hellenes only 
know as it were since yesterday. For it is Hesiod and Homer, in the first place, who 
created for the Greeks their race of 


gods, who gave the gods their names, distributed honours and arts among them, and 
described their forms. The poets, however, who are supposed to have lived before these 
two men, in my opinion at least, really came after them" (Book n. 53). Hesiod lived about 
a hundred years after Homer and was directly influenced by him; with the exception of 
this little error the simple naive sentence of Herodotus contains all that the gigantic 
critical work of a century has brought to light. It has been proved that the poets who 
according to the priestly tradition lived before Homer — e.g., Orpheus, Musaeos, Eumolpos 
from the Thracian school, or Olen and others of the Delian school — in reality lived after 
him; * and it is likewise proved that the religious conceptions of the Greeks have been 
drawn from very different sources; the Indo-European inheritance forms the main capital; 
to this were added all kinds of motley Oriental influences (as Herodotus had also shown 
in the passage which precedes that above quoted): upon this chaos a hand was now laid 
by the one incomparable man with the sovereign authority of the freely creative, poetic 
genius, and out of it he formed by artistic means a new world; as Herodotus says: he 
creates for the Greeks their race of gods. 

May I here be permitted to quote the words of Erwin Rohde, t recognised as one of the 
most learned of living Hellenists: "The Homeric epic can only be called folk-poetry 
because it is of such a nature that the whole Greek-speaking people willingly took it up 

and could make it their own, not because the 'people' in any mystic way were engaged in 
its production. Many hands have been at work on the two poems, but all in 

* See in particular Flach, Geschichte der griechischen Lyrik nach den Quellen 
dargestellt, I. pp. 45 ff, 90 ff. 

t Since the above was written, German science has had to deplore the death of this 
extraordinary man. 


the direction and in the sense which the greatest poetic genius among the Greeks, and 
probably of mankind, and not the people or the saga, as one certainly hears maintained, 
gave to them. In Homer's mirror Greece appears united and uniform in belief, in dialect, 
in constitution, customs and morals. One may, however, boldly maintain that this unity 
cannot in reality have existed; the elements of Panhellenism were doubtless present, but it 
was the genius of the poet alone that collected and fused them together in a merely 
imaginary whole." * Bergk, whose whole rich scholastic life was devoted to the study of 
Greek poetry formulates the opinion: "Homer draws chiefly from himself, from his own 
inner soul; he is a truly original spirit, not an imitator, and he practises his art with full 
consciousness" (Griechische 

Litteraturgeschichte, p. 527). Duncker, too, the historian, remarks that "what was lacking 
in the imitators of Homer — what accordingly distinguished this one man — was the 
comprehensive eye of genius." t And to close these quotations in a worthy manner I refer to 
Aristotle, in whom one must admit some competence, so far as critical acumen is 
concerned. It is striking and consoling to see that he too discovers the distinguishing- 
mark of Homer to be his eye; in the eighth chapter of his Poetics (he is speaking of the 
qualities of poetic action), he says: "But Homer, just as he is different in other things also, 
seems here too to have seen aright, either by art or by nature." A profound remark! which 
prepares us for the surprising outburst of enthusiasm in the twenty-third chapter of the 
Poetics: Homer is above all other poets divine. 

* Seelenkult und Unsterblichkeitsglaube der Griechen, pp. 35, 36. 
t Geschichte des Altertums, v. 566). 



I have felt bound to prove this, even at the cost of some detail; not because it is of 
importance for the subject treated in this book, whether one man named Homer wrote the 
Iliad, or in how far the poem, which to-day is so entitled, may correspond to the original 
poem; the special proof is a side issue. It is, on the other hand, essential for my whole 
work that I should emphasise the incomparable importance of personality in general; it is 
likewise essential to recognise the fact that every work of art always and without 
exception presupposes a strong individual personality, — a great work of art a personality 
of the first rank, a Genius; it is, finally, imperative that we should grasp the fact, that the 

secret of the magic power of Hellenism lies locked in this idea "personality." For indeed if 
we would understand what Hellenic art and Hellenic thought have meant for the 
nineteenth century, if we would know the secret of so lasting a power, we must realise 
especially that it is the power of great personalities that, coming down from that vanished 
world, still influences us with the freshness of youth. 

Hochstes Gliick der Erdenkinder 
1st nur die Personlichkeit: 

says Goethe; this greatest gift — hochstes Gliick — the Greeks possessed as no other people 
ever did, and it is this very thing that surrounds them with that sunny halo which is 
peculiarly theirs. Their great poems and their great thoughts are not the work of 
anonymous commercial companies as are the so-called art and wisdom of the Egyptians, 
Assyrians, Chinese, e tutu quanti; the life-principle of this people is heroism; the 
individual steps forward alone: boldly crossing the boundary 


of what is common to all, he leaves behind all that civilisation which has accumulated 
instinctively, unconsciously and uselessly, and fearlessly hews out a path in the ever- 
deepening gloom of the primeval forest of accumulated superstitions, — he dares to have 
Genius! And this daring gives rise to a new conception of manhood; for the first time 
man has "entered into the daylight of life." 

The individual, however, could not accomplish this alone. Personalities can clearly 
reveal themselves as such, only when surrounded by other personalities; action receives a 
conscious existence only after reaction has taken place; the genius can breathe only in an 
atmosphere of genius. If then a single, surpassingly great, incomparably creative 
personality has undoubtedly been the condition and absolutely indispensable primum 
mobile of the whole Grecian culture, we must recognise as the second characteristic 
factor in this culture the fact that the surroundings proved themselves worthy of so 
extraordinary a personality. That which is lasting in Hellenism, that which keeps it alive 
to-day and has enabled it to be a bright ideal, a consolation and a hope to so many of the 
best men in the nineteenth century, can be summed up in one word: it is its element of 
Genius. What would a Homer have availed in Egypt or Phoenicia? The one would have 
paid no heed to him, the other would have crucified him; yes, even in Rome... but here 
we have the experimental proof before our eyes. Has all the poetry of Greece succeeded 
in striking even a single spark out of this sober, inartistic heart? Is there among the 
Romans a single true poetic genius? Is it not pitiful that our schoolmasters are condemned 
to embitter the fresh years of our childhood by compulsory admiration of these rhetorical, 
unnatural, soulless, hypocritical imitations of genuine poetry? And is this example alone 


enough to prove — a few poets more or less make really no difference — how all culture is 
linked to art? What is one to say to a history which embraces more than 1200 years and 

does not show a single philosopher, not even a philosopher in miniature? What to a 
people which has to conceal its own modest claims in this respect by the importation of 
the latter-day persecuted, anaemic Greeks, who, however, are not philosophers at all but 
merely very commonplace moralists? How low must the quality of genius have sunk 
when a good Emperor, who wrote maxims in his leisure hours, is commended to the 
reverence of coming generations as a thinker! * Where is there a great, creative natural 
scientist among the Romans? Surely not the industrious encyclopaedist, Pliny? Where is 
there a mathematician 

* Lucretius might be named as a man certainly worthy of admiration both as a thinker 
and as a poet; but his thoughts are, as he admits, always Greek thoughts, and his poetical 
apparatus is predominantly Greek. And withal there lies over his great poem the deadly 
shadow of that scepticism, which sooner or later leads to unproductivity, and which must 
be carefully distinguished from the deep insight of truly religious minds, which become 
aware of the figurative element in their conceptions, without for that reason doubting the 
sublime truth of what they vaguely feel in their hearts but cannot fathom, as when, for 
example, the Vedish seer suddenly exclaims: 

From what it has arisen, this creation 
Whether created it has been or not — 
Whoever in the heavens watches o'er it. 
He knows it well! Or does he too not know? 
Rigveda, x. 129. 

or as Herodotus in the passage quoted a few pages previously, where he expresses the 
opinion that the poet created the gods. And Epicurus himself, the "atheist," the man whom 
Lucretius describes as the greatest of all mortals, the man from whom he takes his whole 
system — do we not learn that in his case "religious feeling must have been so to speak 
inborn?" (See the sketch of Epicurus' life by K. L. von Knebel, which Goethe 
recommends.) "Never," exclaimed Diodes when he found Epicurus in the temple, "never 
have I seen Zeus greater than when Epicurus lay at his feet!" The Latin fancied he had 
spoken the last word of wisdom with his Primus in orbe deos fecit timor; the Greek, on 
the other hand, as an enlightened being, knelt more fervently than ever before the 
glorious god-image, which heroism had freely created for itself, and in so doing testified 
to his own genius. 


of importance? Where a meteorologist, a geographer, an astronomer? All that was 
achieved under the sway of Rome, in these and other sciences, is derived without 
exception from the Greeks. But the poetical fountain had dried up, and so too, bit by bit, 
creative thinking and creative observation were exhausted, even among the Greeks of the 
Roman Empire. The life-giving breath of genius was gone; neither in Rome nor in 
Alexandria was there anything of this manna of the human spirit for the ever upward- 
soaring Hellenes; in the one city the superstition of utility, in the other, scientific 
elephantiasis, gradually choked every movement of life. Learning indeed steadily 

increased, the number of known facts multiplied continually, but the motive-power, 
instead of increasing, decreased, where increase was badly needed. Thus the European 
world, in spite of its great progress in civilisation, underwent a gradual decline in culture — 
sinking down into naked bestiality. Nothing probably is more dangerous for the human 
race than science without poetry, civilisation without culture. * 

In Hellas the course of events was quite different. So long as art flourished, the torch of 
genius flashed up heavenward in all spheres. The power, which in Homer had fought its 
way to a dominant individuality, recognised in him its vocation, narrowed down in the 
first instance to the purely artistic creation of a world of beautiful semblance. Around the 
radiant central figure arose a countless army of poets and a rich gradation of poetical 
styles. Immediately after Homer's time and later, originality formed the hall-mark of 
Greek creation. Inferior powers naturally took their direction from those of greater 
eminence; but there were so many of the latter, and 

* Compare in vol. ii., chap, ix., the remarks about China, &c. 


these had invented so infinitely manifold forms, that the lesser talent was enabled to 
choose what was exactly fitted to it, and thus achieve its highest possibilities. I am 
speaking not only of poetry in words wedded to music, but also of the unexampled glory 
of the poetry that delights the eye, which grew up beside the other, like a dearly beloved 
younger sister. Architecture, sculpture, painting, like epic, lyric and dramatic poetry, like 
the hymn, the dithyramb, the ode, the romance, and the epigram, were all rays of that 
same sun of art, only differently refracted according to the individual eye. It is surely 
ridiculous that schoolmen cannot distinguish between true culture and ballast, and should 
inflict on us interminable lists of unimportant Greek poets and sculptors; the protest — ever 
growing in violence — which began to be made against this at the end of the nineteenth 
century, must be welcome; but before we consign the many superfluous names to a 
deserved oblivion, we would express our admiration of the phenomenon as a whole; it 
gives evidence of a supremacy of good taste which is always desirable, of a fineness of 
judgment never since equalled, and of a widespread creative impulse. Greek art was a 
truly "living" thing, and so it is alive to-day. That which lives is immortal. It possessed a 
solid, organic central point, and obeyed a spontaneous and therefore unerring impulse, 
which knitted into one creative artistic whole of the most varied luxuriance the most 
trifling fragments, and even the wildest excrescences. In short — if I may be forgiven for 
the apparent tautology — Hellenic art was an artistic art, and no individual, not even a 
Homer, could make it that; it could only become such by the united efforts of a whole 
body of artists. Since that time nothing similar has happened, and so it is that Greek art 
not only still lives, works and preaches in our midst, but the greatest of our artists (of our 


creators of actions, sounds, words, figures) have in the nineteenth century as in former 
ages felt themselves drawn to Greece as to a home. Among us the man of the people has 

only an indirect knowledge of Greek art; for him the gods have not, as for Epicurus, 
ascended a still higher Olympus; they have been hurled down and dashed to pieces by 
rude Asiatic scepticism and rude Asiatic superstition; but he meets them on our fountains 
and theatre curtains, in the park, whither he resorts on Sundays for fresh air, and in the 
museums, where sculpture has always had a greater attraction for the masses than 
painting. The "man of culture" carries fragments of this art in his head as the undigested 
material of education: names rather than living conceptions; yet he meets it too frequently 
at every step, to be able ever to lose sight of it completely; it has a greater share in the 
building of his intellect than he himself is aware of. The artist, on the other hand — and 
here I mean every artistic mind — cannot help turning eyes of longing to Greece, not 
merely because of the individual works which arose there — for among us too many a 
glorious thing has been created since the year 1200: Dante stands alone, Shakespeare is 
greater and richer than Sophocles, the art of a Bach would have been a complete novelty 
for a Greek — no, what the artist finds there and misses here is the artistic element, artistic 
culture. Since the time of the Romans, European life has had a political basis: and now it 
is gradually becoming economic. Whereas among the Greeks no free man could venture 
to be a merchant, among us every artist is a born slave: art is for us a luxury, a realm of 
caprice; it is not a State necessity, and it does not lay down for our public life the law that 
the feeling for beauty should pervade everything. Even in Rome it was the caprice of a 
single Maecenas that called poetry into life, and 


since that time the greatest achievements of the most glorious minds have depended 
largely on a Pope's passion for building, on the conceit of a prince educated in the 
classics, or on the extravagant taste of a pompous commercial guild. Now and then a 
lifegiving breath was wafted from higher spheres, as, for example, from the religious 
New Birth which the great and saintly Francis of Assisi tried to bring about — a movement 
which gave the first impetus to our modern art of painting — or from the gradual awakening 
of the German soul to which we owe that glorious new art German music. But what has 
become of the pictures? The wall-paintings were covered over with plaster because they 
were thought ugly; the pictures were torn from the sacred places of worship and hung 
side by side on the walls of museums; and then — because otherwise the evolution up to 
these most treasured masterpieces could not have been scientifically explained — the 
plaster was scratched off, well or badly as the case might be, the pious monks were 
turned out and cloisters and campi santi became a second class of museums. Music fared 
little better; I have myself been present at a concert where J. S. Bach's "Passion of Matthew" 
was given. It was in one of the capitals of Europe — which, moreover, is specially famed 
for its educated musical taste — and here every "number" was followed by applause and the 
Chorale "O Haupt voU Blut und Wunden" was actually received with cries of "Da capo" ! We 
have much that the Greeks did not possess, but such instances are clear yet painful proofs 
of how much is lacking in us that they possessed. One can well understand how Holderlin 
could exclaim to the artist of to-day: 

Stirb! Du suchst auf diesem Erdenrunde, 
Edler Geist, umsonst dein Element! 

(Die! Thou seekest on this earthly ball, 
In vain, O noble mind, thine element!) 


It is not lack of inner strength or of originality that draws the heart of the artist of to-day 
to Greece, but the consciousness and the experience that the individual, by himself, 
cannot be really original. For originality is quite different from caprice; originality is the 
free pursuit of the path involuntarily marked out for itself by the particular nature of the 
personality in question; but the artist can only find this freedom where he is surrounded 
by a thoroughly artistic culture; such a culture he cannot find to-day. It would of course 
be absolutely unjust to deny to our European world of to-day artistic impulses: the 
interest in music shows that men's minds are in a mighty ferment, and modern painting is 
laying hold upon well-defined but at the same time extensive circles, and rousing an 
enthusiasm which amounts to an almost uncanny passion, but all this remains outside the 
life of the nations, it is a supplement — for hours of leisure and men of leisure; and so 
fashion and caprice and manifold hypocrisy are predominant, and the atmosphere in 
which the genuine artist lives lacks all elasticity. Even the most powerful genius is now 
bound, hemmed in, repelled on many sides. And so Hellenic art lives on in our midst as a 
lost ideal, which we must strive to recover. 


Under a happier star Hellenic philosophy and natural science enjoy with us children of 
the nineteenth and twentieth centuries a hospitality gladly and gratefully bestowed. Here 
too it is not a question of mere lares, or worship of ancestry; on the contrary, Hellenic 
philosophy is very much alive among us, and Hellenic science, so helpless on the one 
hand, and so incredibly powerful in intuition on the other, compels 


us to take in it not merely an historical but also a living interest. The pure joy excited in 
us by contemplating Greek thought may be due, to some extent, to the consciousness that 
we have advanced so much further here than our great ancestors. Our philosophy has 
become more philosophical, our science more scientific: an advance which, 
unfortunately, we do not find in the domain of art. So far as philosophy and science are 
concerned, our modern culture has shown itself worthy of its Hellenic origin; we have a 
good conscience. 

It cannot pertain to my purpose here to point out connections of which every educated 
man must be aware. These connections, so far as philosophy is concerned, are purely 
genetic, since it was only through contact with Greek thought that modern thought 
awoke, acquiring from it indeed that power of contradiction and independence which was 
the last to reach maturity: so far as mathematics, the foundation of all science, are 
concerned, they were equally genetic; in the case of the sciences of observation * they 
were less genetic, and in former years rather a hindrance than a help. My one task must 

be to explain in a few words what secret power gave these old thoughts such a tenacious 
spirit of life. 

How much of what has been done since has passed into everlasting oblivion, while 
Plato and Aristotle, Democritus, Euclid and Archimedes still live on in our midst, 
inspiring and teaching us, and while the half-fabulous form of Pythagoras grows greater 
with every century! t And I am of opinion that what gives everlasting youth to the thought 
of a Democritus, a Plato, a Euclid, an 

* With regard to the last point one must, however, remark that many a splendid 
achievement of Hellenic talent in this sphere remained unknown to us till a short time 

t This is a return to a former view. When the Romans were commanded by an oracle to 
erect a statue to the wisest of the Hellenes, they put up the statue of Pythagoras (Plutarch, 
Numa, chap, xi.) 


Aristarchus * is that same spirit, that same mental power which makes Homer and 
Phidias ever young: it is the creative and — in the widest sense of the word — the really 
artistic element. For the important thing is that the conception by which man seeks to 
master the inner world of his Ego, or the outer world, and assimilate them in himself, 
should be sharply defined and shaped with absolute clearness. If we glance back at about 
three thousand years of history, we shall see that while the human mind has certainly 
been broadened by the knowledge of new facts, it has been enriched only by new ideas, 
that is, by new conceptions. This is that creative power, of which Goethe speaks in the 
Wanderjahre, which "glorifies nature" and without which in his opinion "the outer world 
would remain cold and lifeless." t But its creations are lasting only when beautiful and 
perspicuous, that is, artistic. 

As imagination bodies forth 

The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen 

Turns them to shapes. 


But only those conceptions which have been transformed into shapes form a lasting 
possession of human consciousness. The supply of facts is ever changing, hence the 
centre of gravity of the Actual (if I may so express it) is subject to constant shifting; 
besides, about the half of our knowledge or even more is provisional: what was yesterday 
regarded as true is false to-day; nor can the future change anything in this respect, since 
the multiplication of the material of knowledge keeps pace with the extension of 
knowledge itself, rj: On the other hand, that which man in the capacity of 

* Aristarchus of Samos, the discoverer of the so-called Copernican system of the 

t One sees that according to Goethe a creative act of the human mind is necessary, in 
order that life itself may become "living"! 

t A general text-book of botany or of zoology of the year 1875 is, for example, useless 
to-day, and that not solely or even chiefly 


artist has formed, the figure into which he has breathed the breath of life, does not decay. 
I must repeat what I have already said: what lives is immortal. We know that to-day most 
zoologists teach the theory of immortality — physical immortality — of the germ-plasma; the 
gulf between organic and inorganic, that is, between living and dead nature, which at the 
beginning of the nineteenth century was thought to have been bridged, 

because of the new material collected, but because actual relations are viewed differently 
and exact observations are overthrown by still more exact ones. Trace, for example, the 
dogma of Imbibition with its endless series of observations from its first appearance in 
1838 to its point of highest popularity, about 1868; then begins the countermine and in 
the year 1898 the zealous student hears no more about it. It is particularly interesting to 
observe how in zoology, in which at the beginning of the nineteenth century great 
simplification had been considered possible and in which, under Darwin's influence, there 
had been an effort to reduce, if possible, all animal forms to one single family, now, as 
our knowledge has gradually increased, an ever greater complication of the original 
scheme of types has revealed itself. Cuvier thought four "general structure-plans" 
sufficient. Soon, however, it was necessary to recognise seven different types, all 
disconnected, and about thirty years ago Carl Claus found that nine was the minimum. 
But this minimum is not enough. When we disregard all but the convenience and needs of 
the beginner (Richard Hertwig's well-known and otherwise excellent text-book is an 
example), when we weigh structural differences against each other without reference to 
richness of forms and so on — we find now that anatomical knowledge is more thorough, 
that not less than sixteen different groups, all equally important as types, must be taken 
into account. (See especially the masterly Lehrbuch der Zoologie, by Fleischmann, 
1 898.) — At the same time opinions with regard to many fundamental zoological facts have 
been quite changed by more exact knowledge. For instance, twenty years ago when I 
studied zoology under Karl Vogt it was considered an established fact that worms stood 
in direct genetic relation to vertebrates; even such critically independent Darwinists as 
Vogt considered this settled and could tell many splendid things about the worm, which 
had developed as high as man. In the meantime much more accurate and comprehensive 
investigations on the development of animals in the embryo have led to the recognition of 
the fact that there are two great groups inside the "metazoa" (which comprises animals that 
do not consist of simple separable cells), the development of which from the moment of 
the fecundation of the embryo proceeds on quite different lines, so that every true — not 
merely apparent — relationship between them is out of the question, not only the genetic 
relationship which the evolutionists assume, but also the purely architectonic. And 
behold! the worms belong to 


becomes deeper every day; * this is not the proper place for a discussion on the subject; I 
merely adduce this fact by way of analogy, to justify me in extending to the intellectual 
sphere the sharp distinction which I have drawn between organised and inorganised 
conceptions, and in expressing my conviction that nothing which the style of the creative 
artist has formed into a living figure has ever yet died. Cataclysms may bury 

the one group (which reaches its highest point in the insects), and the vertebrates belong 
to the other and might as well be said to be descended from cuttle-fishes and sea-urchins! 
(Cf. especially Karl Camillo Schneider: Grundzuge der tierischen Organisation in the 
Preussische Jahrbiicher, 1900, July number, p. 73 ff.) Such facts serve to prove and 
confirm what has been said on p. 42, and it is absolutely necessary that the layman, who 
is ever apt to suppose that the science of his time is perfection, should learn to recognise 
in it only a transition stage between a past and a future theory. 

* See, for example, the standard work of the American zoologist, E. B. Wilson 
(Professor in Columbia): The Cell in Development and Inheritance, 1896, where we read: 
"The investigation of cell activity has on the whole rather widened than narrowed the great 
gulf which separates the lowest forms of life from the phenomena of the inorganic world." 
Privy Councillor Wiesner lately assured me of the absolute correctness of this statement 
from the standpoint of pure natural science. Wilson's book has in the meantime (1900) 
appeared in a second enlarged edition. The sentence quoted stands unaltered on p. 434. 
The whole of the last chapter. Theories of Inheritance and Development, is to be 
recommended to all who desire not mere phrases but real insight into the present state of 
scientific knowledge with reference to the important facts of the animal form. They will 
find a chaos. As the author says (p. 434), "The extraordinary dimensions of the problem of 
development, whether ontogenetic or phylogenetic, have been underestimated." Now it is 
recognised that every newly discovered phenomenon does not bring enlightenment and 
simplification, but new confusion and new problems, so that a well-known embryologist 
(see Introduction) lately exclaimed: "Every animal embryo seems to carry its own law in 
itself!" Rabl arrives at similar results in his investigations on Der Bau und die 
Entwickelung der Linse (1900); he finds that every animal form possesses its specific 
organs of sense, the differences between which are already conditioned in the embryo 
cell. And thus by the progress of true science — as distinguished from the nonsense 
regarding power and matter, with which generations of credulous laymen have been 
befooled — our view of life became always "more living," and the day is surely not far distant 
when it will be recognised as more reasonable to try to interpret the dead from the 
standpoint of the living than the other way about. (I refer to my Immanuel Kant, p. 482 f.) 


such figures, but centuries later they once more emerge in perpetual youth from their 
supposed grave; it frequently occurs also that the children of thought, like their brothers 
and sisters, the marble statues, become maimed, broken or even completely shattered; 
that is, however, a mechanical destruction, not death. And thus Plato's theory of ideas, 
more than one thousand years old, has been a living factor in the intellectual life of the 
nineteenth century, an "origin" of very many thoughts; almost every philosophical 
speculation of importance has been connected with it at one point or another. In the 

meantime the spirit of Democritus has been paramount in natural science: fundamental as 
were the alterations that had to be made on his brilliant theory of atoms in order to adapt 
it to the knowledge of to-day, he still remains the inventor, the artist. It is he who, to use 
the language of Shakespeare, has by the force of his imagination bodied forth "the forms 
of things unknown," and then "turned them to shapes." 


Instances of the manner in which Hellenic creative power has given life and efficacy to 
thought are not difficult to find. Take Plato's philosophy. His material is not new; he does 
not sit down, like Spinoza, to evolve a logical system of the world out of the depths of his 
own consciousness; nor does he with the splendid simplicity of Descartes reach into the 
bowels of nature, in the delusion that he will there find as explanation of the world a kind 
of clockwork; he rather takes here and there what seems to him the best — from the 
Eleatics, from Heraclitus, the Pythagoreans, Socrates — and forms out of this no really 
logical, but certainly an artistic, whole. The relation of Plato to the former philosophers 
of Greece is not at all unlike that of Homer 


to past and contemporary poets. Homer, too, probably "invented" nothing, just as little as 
Shakespeare did later on; but from various sources he laid hold of that which suited his 
purpose and welded it into a new whole, something thoroughly individual, endowed with 
the incomparable qualities of the living individual and burthened with the limitations, 
failings, and peculiarities inseparably bound up with his nature — for every individual says 
with the God of the Egyptian mysteries: "I am who I am," and stands before us a new, 
inscrutable, unfathomable thing. * Similar is Plato's philosophy. Professor Zeller, the 
famous historian of Greek philosophy, expresses the opinion that "Plato is too much of a 
poet to be quite a philosopher." It would probably be difficult to extract any definite sense 
out of this criticism. Heaven knows what a philosopher in abstracto may be. Plato was 
himself, and no one else, and his example shows us how a mind had to be fashioned in 
order that Greek thought might yield its highest fruit. He is the Homer of this thought. If 
a competent man were to analyse the doctrine of Plato in such a way that we could 
clearly see what portions are the original property of the great thinker, not merely by the 
process of reproduction through genius but as entirely new inventions, then the poetical 
element in his work would certainly become specially clear. For Montesquieu, too (in his 
Pensees), calls Plato one of the four great poets of mankind. Especially that which is 
blamed as inconsistent and contradictory would reveal itself as an artistic necessity. Life 
is in itself a contradiction: la vie est I'ensemble des fonctions qui resistent a la mort, said 
the great Bichat; each living thing has therefore something fragmentary about it, 

* "A genuine work of art is, like a work of nature, always infinite to our mind; it is seen, 
felt; it produces its effect, but it cannot really be known, much less can its essence, its 
merit, be expressed in words." (Goethe.) 


which might be called arbitrary; the addition which man makes to it — a free, poetical and 
only conditionally valid addition — is the sole thing that makes the joining of the two ends 
of the magic girdle possible. Works of art are no exception. Homer's Iliad is a splendid 
example of this, Plato's philosophy a second, Democritus' theory of the world a third of 
equal importance. And while the philosophies and theories so finely carved by the "logical" 
method disappear one after the other in the gulf of time, these old ideas take their place in 
all the freshness of youth, side by side with the most recent. Clearly it is not "objective 
truth," but the manner in which things receive shape, I'ensemble des fonctions, as Bichat 
would say, that is the decisive thing. 

Still another remark in reference to Plato; again it is only a hint — for the space at my 
disposal will not allow of lengthy treatment — but enough, I hope, to leave nothing vague. 
That Indian thought has exercised an influence of quite a determinative character upon 
Greek philosophy is now a settled fact; our Hellenists and philosophers have, it is true, 
long combated this with the violent obstinacy of prejudiced scholars; everything was 
supposed to have originated in Hellas as autochthon; at most the Egyptians and the 
Semites were allowed to have exercised a moulding influence — whereby philosophy 
would in truth have had little to gain; the more modern Indologists, however, have 
confirmed the conjectures of the oldest (particularly of that genius Sir William Jones). It 
has been fully proved in regard to Pythagoras especially that he had a thorough 
knowledge of Indian doctrines, * and as Pythagoras is being recognised more and more 
as the ancestor of Greek thought, that in itself means a great deal. Besides, direct 
influence upon the Eleatics, Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, Democritus, &c., has been 

* Cf. on this point Schroeder: Pythagoras und die Inder (1884). 


shown to be most probable. * In these circumstances it cannot be surprising that so lofty a 
spirit as Plato forced his way through much misleading extraneous matter and — especially 
in reference to some essential points in all genuine metaphysics — endorses in every detail 
some of the sublimest views of Indian thinkers, t But compare Plato and the Indians, his 
works and their works! Then we shall no longer wonder why Plato lives and influences, 
while the Indian philosophers live indeed but do not directly affect the wide world and 
the progress of mankind. Indian thought is unsurpassed in depth and comprehensive 
many-sidedness; if Professor Zeller thought that Plato was "too much of a poet to be quite 
a philosopher," we see from the example of the Indian what becomes of a philosopher 
when a thinker is too "completely" a philosopher to be at the same time something of a 
poet. This pure thinking of the Indians lacks all capacity of being communicated — and we 
find this simply but at the same time profoundly expressed by the Indians themselves, for 
according to their books the highest and final wisdom can be taught only by silence, t 
How different the Greek! Cost what it 

* The best summary account of recent times that is known to me is that of Garbe in his 
Samkhya-Philosophie (1894), p. 85 f.; there we also find the most important 

t For the comparison between Plato and the Indians in reference to the recognition of 
the empirical reality and transcendental ideality of experience see specially Max Mliller: 
Three Lectures on the Vedanta Philosophy (1894), p. 128 f. Plato's relation to the Eleatics 
becomes hereby for the first time clear. Fuller information in Deus sen's works, especially 
in his lecture, "On the Philosophy of the Vedanta in Relation to the Metaphysical 
Doctrines of the West," Bombay, 1893. 

t "When Bahva was questioned by Vashkali, the former explained Brahmanism to him 
by remaining silent. And Vashkali said, 'Teach me, O revered one, Brahmanism!' But the 
latter remained quite silent. When now the other for the second or third time asked, he 
said, 'I am indeed teaching you it, but you do not understand it; this Brahmanism is 
silence.' " (Sankara in the Sutra's of Vedanta, iii. 2, 17). And in the Taittiriya Upanishad we 
read (ii. 4): "From the great joy of knowledge all language and all thought turn away, 
unable to reach it." 


might, he must "body forth the forms of things unknown and give them shape." Read in this 
connection the laboured explanation in Plato's Theaetetus, where Socrates ultimately 
admits that we may possess truth without being able to explain it, but that this is not 
knowledge; what knowledge is remains certainly undecided at the end (a proof of Plato's 
profundity!); however, in the culminating-point of the dialogue it is termed "right 
conception," and the remark is made that we must be able to give a reasoned explanation 
of right conception; we should also read in this connection the famous passage in the 
Timaeus, where the cosmos is compared to a "living animal." It must be conceived and 
endowed with shape: that is the secret of the Greek, from Homer to Archimedes. Plato's 
theory of ideas bears exactly the same relation to metaphysics as Democritus' theory of 
atoms to the physical world: they are creations of a freely creative, shaping power and in 
them, as in all works of art, there wells up an inexhaustible fountain of symbolical truth. 
Such creations bear the same relation to material facts as the sun to the flowers. Hellenic 
influence has not been an unqualified blessing: much that we have received from the 
Greeks still weighs like a nightmare upon our struggling culture. But the goodly 
inheritance which we hold from them has been first and foremost this flower-compelling 


It was under the direct influence of Plato that Aristotle, one of the mightiest sages that 
the world has ever seen, shot up into the empyrean. The nature of his intellect accounts 
for the fact that in certain respects he developed as the opposite of Plato: but without 
Plato he would never have become a philosopher, at any rate not a metaphysician. A 
critical appreciation of this 


great man would take me too far: I could not do it adequately even if I were to limit 
myself to the scope and object of this chapter. I could not, however, pass him by 
unnoticed, and I take it for granted that no one fails to admire the creative power that he 
revealed in his logical Organon, his Animal History, his Poetics, &c. These have been the 
admiration of all ages. To appropriate a remark of Scotus Erigena: it was in the sphere of 
naturalium rerum discretio that he achieved unparalleled results and won the gratitude of 
the most distant generations. Aristotle's greatness lies not in the fact that he was right — no 
man of the first rank has made more frequent or more flagrant mistakes — but in the fact 
that he knew no peace, till he had wrought in all spheres of human life and evolved order 
out of chaos. * In so far he is a genuine Hellene. Certainly we have paid dear for this 
"order." Aristotle was less of a poet than perhaps any of the great philosophers of Greece; 
Herder says of him that he was perhaps the driest writer that ever used a stylus; t he must, 
I fancy, be "philosopher enough" even for Professor Zeller; certainly he was this in a 
sufficient degree — thanks to his Hellenic creative power — to sow more persistent error in 
the world than any man before or after him. Till a short time ago he had paralysed the 
natural sciences at all points; philosophy and especially metaphysics have not yet shaken 
off his yoke; our theology is, if I might call it so, his natural child. In truth, this great and 
important legacy of the old world was a two-edged sword. I shall return shortly in another 
connection to Aristotle and Greek philosophy; here I shall only add that the Greeks 
certainly had great need of an Aristotle to lay emphasis 

* Eucken says in his essay, Thomas von Aquin und Kant, p. 30 (Kantstudien, 1901, vi. 
p. 12): The intellectual work of Aristotle is "an artistic or more accurately speaking a 
plastic shaping." 

t Ideen zur Geschichte der Menschheit, Xni., chap. v. 


upon empiric methods and in all things to recommend the golden mean; in their brilliant 
exuberance of pride and creative impulse they were inclined to dash upwards and 
onwards with thoughtless disregard of the serious ground of reality, and this in time was 
bound to have a baneful influence; it is nevertheless characteristic that Aristotle, Greek as 
he was, exercised comparatively little influence, to begin with, on the development of 
Greek intellectual life; the healthy instinct of a people that rejoiced in creating rebelled 
against a reaction which was so fatally violent, and had perhaps a vague feeling that this 
pretended empiricist brought with him as his curative medicine the poison of dogma. 
Aristotle was, of course, by profession a doctor — he was a fine example of the doctor who 
kills to cure. But this first patient of his had a will of his own; he preferred to save 
himself by flying to the arms of the neo-Platonic quack. But we, hapless posterity, have 
inherited as our legacy both doctor and quack, who drench our healthy bodies with their 
drugs. Heaven help us! 


One word more about Hellenic science. It is only natural that the scientific 
achievements of the Greeks should hardly possess for us anything more than an historical 
interest. But what cannot be indifferent to us is the perception of the incredible advances 
which were made in the correct interpretation of nature when newly discovered artistic 
capacities began to develop and exercise influence. We are involuntarily reminded of 
Schiller's statement that we cannot separate the phantom from the real without at the same 
time purging the real of the phantom. 

If there is a sphere in which one might expect less than nothing from the Greeks, it is 
that of geography. What we remember having read in their poems — the 


wanderings of Odysseus and of lo &c. — seemed to us rather confused and was rendered 
still more confusing by contradictory commentaries. Moreover, up to the time of 
Alexander, the Greeks did not travel far. But if we glance at Dr. Hugo Berger's 
Geschichte der wissenschaftlichen Erdkunde der Griechen, a strictly scientific work, we 
shall be lost in amazement. At school we learn at most something of Ptolemaeus, and his 
geographical map strikes us as almost as curious as his heavenly spheres encased in each 
other; that, however, is all the result of a period of decay, of a science wonderfully 
perfect, which, however, had become weak in intuition, the science of a raceless chaos of 
peoples. Let us, on the other hand, inquire into the geographical conceptions of the 
genuine Greeks, from Anaximander to Eratosthenes, and we shall understand Berger's 
assertion: "The achievements of the remarkably gifted Greek nation in the sphere of 
scientific geography are indeed worth investigating. Even to-day we find their traces at 
every step and cannot do without the foundations laid by them" (i. p. vi.). Particularly 
striking are the comparatively widespread knowledge and the healthy conceptive power 
possessed by the ancient lonians. There was serious falling off later, due especially to the 
influence of "the despisers of physics, meteorology and mathematics, the cautious people, 
who would believe only their own eyes or the credible information gained at first hand by 
eye-witnesses" (i. 139). Still later, investigators had further to contend with so deeply 
rooted scientific prejudices that the voyages of the "first North Pole explorer," Pytheas (a 
contemporary of Aristotle), with their accurate descriptions of the coasts of Gaul and 
Britain, their narratives of the sea of ice, their decisive observations with regard to the 
length of day and night in the northern latitudes were declared by all scholars of antiquity 
to be lies (iii. 7, compare the 


opinion of men of to-day, iii. 36). Philipp Paulitschke in his work. Die geographische 
Erforschung des afrikanischen Kontinents (second edition, p. 9), calls attention to the fact 
that Herodotus possessed a more accurate conception of the outlines of Africa than 
Ptolemaeus. The latter, however, was considered an "authority." Thereby hangs a tale, and 
it is with genuine regret that I establish the fact that we have inherited from the Hellenes 
not only the results of their "remarkable ability," as Berger puts it, but also their mania for 
creating "authorities" and believing in them. In this connection the history of palaeontology 

is specially instructive. With the artless simplicity of unspoiled intuitive power the 
ancient Greeks had, long before Plato and Aristotle, noticed the mussels on mountain- 
tops, and recognised even the impressions of fishes for what they are; upon these 
observations men like Xenophanes and Empedocles had based theories of historical 
development and geocyclic doctrines. But the authorities declared this view to be absurd; 
when the facts multiplied, they were simply explained away by the grand theory of vis 
plastica; * and it was not till the year 1517 that a man ventured once more to express the 
old opinion, that the mountain-tops once lay beneath the sea: "in the year of the 
Reformation, accordingly, after 1500 years, knowledge had reached the point at which it 
had stood in classical antiquity." t Fracastorius' idea received but scant support, and should 
it be desired to estimate — it is really very difficult after the advance of science — how great 
and venerable a power of truth lay in the seeing eye of these ancient poets (Xenophanes 
and Empedocles were in the first place poets and singers), I recommend the student to 
consult the writings of the 

* According to Quenstedt this hypothesis is due to Avicenna; but it is to be traced back 
to Aristotle and was taught definitely by Theophrastus (see Lyell, Principles of Geology, 
12th ed., i. 20). 

t Quenstedt, Handbuch der Petrefaktenkunde, 2nd ed., p. 2. 


free-thinker Voltaire and to see what abuse he hurled at the palaeontologists even as late 
as the year 1768. * Just as amusing are the frantic efforts of his scepticism to resist 
evidence. Oysters had been found on Mont Cenis: Voltaire is of opinion that they fell 
from the hats of Roman pilgrims ! Hippopotamus bones had been dug up not far from 
Paris: Voltaire declares un curieux a eu autrefois dans son cabinet le squelette d'un 
hippopotame! Evidently scepticism does not suffice to clear a man's sight, t On the other 
hand, the oldest poems provide us with examples of peculiar discernment. Even in the 
Iliad, for instance, Poseidon is called the "shaker of the earth," this god, that is, water and 
especially the sea, is always mentioned as the cause of earthquakes: that is exactly in 
accordance with the results arrived at by science to-day. However, I wish merely to point 
to such features as a contrast to the ignorance of those heroes of a pretended "age of 
enlightenment." — Much more striking examples of the freeing of the real from the phantom 
are met with in the sphere of astrophysics, especially in the school of Pythagoras. The 
theory of the spherical shape of the earth is found in the earliest adepts, and even a great 
deal that is fantastic in the conceptions of these ancients is rich in instruction, because it 
contains in a manner in nuce what afterwards proved to be correct, t And so 

* See Des singularites de la Nature, chaps, xii. to xviii., and L'Homme aux quarante 
ecus, chap, vi., both written in the year 1768. Similar remarks in his letters (see 
especially, Lettre sur un ecrit anonyme, 19.4.1772). 

t This same Voltaire had the presumption to describe the great astronomical 
speculations of the Pythagoreans as "galimatias," on which the famous astronomist 
Schiaparelli remarks with justice: "Such men do not deserve to understand what great 
speculative power was necessary to attain to a conception of the spherical form of the 

earth, of its free floating in space and its mobility; ideas without which we should have 
had neither a Copernicus nor a Kepler, a Galileo nor a Newton" (see the work mentioned 
below, p. 16). 

t Zeller, Die Philosophic der Griechen, 5th ed., Pt. I., p. 414 ff. More technical, but 
explained with remarkable lucidity in the work of 


in the case of the Pythagoreans, as time went on, to the theory of the earth as a sphere and 
the inclination of its orbit, there was added that of its revolving on its axis, and that of 
motion round a central point in space, vouched for from Philolaeus, a contemporary of 
Democritus, onward; a generation later the hypothetical "central fire" had been replaced by 
the sun. Not of course as a philosopher, but as an astronomer, Aristarchus had at a later 
time (about 250 B.C.) founded the heliocentric system upon clear lines and had 
undertaken to calculate the distance from sun and moon, and recognised in the sun (1900 
years before Giordano Bruno) one of the countless fixed stars. * 

Schiaparelli, Die Vorlaufer des Kopernikus im Altertum (translated into German from the 
Italian original by the author and M. Curtze, published in the Altpreussische 
Monatsschrift, 1 876). "We are in a position to assert that the development of the physical 
principles of this school was bound by logical connection of ideas to lead to the theory of 
the earth's motion" (see 5 f.). More details of the "really revolutionary view, that it is not the 
earth that occupies the centre of the universe," in the recently published book of Wilhelm 
Bauer, Der altere Pythagoreismus (1897), p. 54 ff. 64 ff. &c. The essay too of Ludwig 
Ideler, Uber das Verhaltnis des Kopernikus zum Altertum in the Museum flir 
Altertumswissenschaft, published by Fr. Aug. Wolf, 1810, p. 391 ff. is still worth 

* "Aristarchus puts the sun among the number of the fixed stars and makes the earth 
move through the apparent track of the sun (that, is the ecliptic), and declares that it is 
eclipsed according to its inclination," says Plutarch. For this and the other evidences in 
reference to Aristarchus compare the above-mentioned book of Schiaparelli (pp. 121 ff. 
and 219). This astronomer is moreover convinced that Aristarchus only taught what was 
already discovered at the time of Aristotle (p. 117), and here too he shows how the 
method adopted by the Pythagoreans was bound to lead to the correct solution. But for 
Aristotle and neo-Platonism the heliocentric system would, even at the time of Christ's 
birth, have been generally accepted; in truth, the Stagyrite has honestly deserved his 
position as official philosopher of the orthodox church! On the other hand, the story of 
the Egyptians having contributed something to the solution of the astrophysical problem 
has been proved to be quite unfounded, like so many other Egyptian stories (Schiaparelli, 
pp. 105-6). Moreover Copernicus himself tells us in his introduction dedicated to Pope 
Paul ni.: "I first found in Cicero that Nicetus had believed that the earth moved. 
Afterwards I found also in Plutarch that some others had likewise been of this opinion. 
This was what caused me too to begin to think about the earth's mobility." 


What imaginative power, what capacity of bodying forth, as Shakespeare calls it, this 
presupposes is clearly seen by later history: Bruno had to pay for his imaginative power 
with his life, Galileo with his freedom; it was not till the year 1822 (2000 years after 
Aristarchus) that the Roman Church took the work of Copernicus off the Index and 
sanctioned the printing of books which taught that the earth moves, without, however, 
annulling or in any way lessening the validity of the Papal bulls, in which it is forbidden 
to believe in the motion of the earth. * We must, moreover, always bear in mind that it 
was the Pythagoreans, who were decried as mystagogues, who led up to this brilliant 
"purging the real of phantom," and they were supported by the idealist Plato, particularly 
towards the end of his life, whereas the herald of the sole saving grace of induction, 
Aristotle, attacked the theory of the motion of the earth with the whole weight of his 
empiricism. "The Pythagoreans," he writes, in reference to the theory of the earth's turning 
on its axis, which he denied, "do not deduce grounds and causes from phenomena 
observed, but endeavour to make phenomena harmonise with views and assumptions of 
their own; they thus attempt to interfere with the formation of the world" (De Coelo, ii. 
13). This contrast should certainly give pause to many of our contemporaries; for we 
have no lack of natural scientists who still cling to Aristotle, and in our newest scientific 
theories there is still as much stiff-necked dogmatism as in the Aristotelian and Semitic 
doctrines grafted upon the Christian Church, t — The progress of mathematics and 
especially of geometry affords us in quite a different 

* Cf. Franz Xaver Kraus in the Deutsche Literaturzeitung, 1900. Nr. 1. 

t What the English scientist, John Tyndall, in his well-known speech in Belfast, 1 874, 
said, "Aristotle put words in the place of things; he preached induction, without practising 
it," will be considered by later ages as just as apt for many an Ernst Haeckel of the 
nineteenth century. It should also be mentioned that the system of 


form a proof of the life-giving influence of Greek creative power. Pythagoras is the 
founder of scientific mathematics in Europe; that he owed his knowledge, especially the 
so-called "Pythagorean theorem," the idea of irrational magnitudes, and — very probably — 
also his arithmetic, to the Indians is of course an established fact, * and with regard to 
abstract arithmetical calculation, the so-called "Arabian cyphers" which we owe to the 
Aryan Indians, Cantor says, "Algebra attained among the Indians to a height which it has 
never been able to reach in Greece." t But see to what transparent perfection the Greeks 
have brought formal mathematics, geometry! In the school of Plato was educated Euclid, 
whose Elements of Geometry are such a perfect work of art that it would be exceedingly 
regrettable if the introduction of simplified and more modem methods of teaching were 
to remove such a jewel from the horizon of educated people. Perhaps I should be 
expressing my partiality for mathematics too simply if I confessed that Euclid's Elements 
seem to me almost as fine as Homer's Iliad. At any rate I may look upon it as no accident 
that the incomparable geometrician was also an enthusiastic musician, whose Elements of 
Music, if we possessed them in the original form, would perhaps form a worthy 
counterpart to his Elements of Geometry. And here I may recognise the cognate poetical 
spirit, that power of bodying forth and of giving an artistic form to conceptions. This 

sunbeam will not readily be extinguished. Let me here make a remark which is of the 
highest importance for our subject: it was the almost pure poetry of arithmetical theory 
and geometry that caused the Greeks at a later 

Tycho de Brahe is also of Hellenic origin; see details in Schiaparelli, (p. 107 ff. and 
especially p. 115); no possible combination could indeed escape the richness of this 

* See Leopold von Schroeder: Pythagoras und die Inder, p. 39 ff. 

t Cantor: Vorlesungen liber Geschichte der Mathematik, i. 51 1 (quoted from Schroeder, 
p. 56). 


time to become the founders of scientific mechanics. As in the case of everything 
Hellenic so here too the meditation of many minds received shape and living power in the 
life-work of one single all-powerful genius: the "century of mechanics" has, I think, every 
reason to venerate Archimedes as its father. 


Inasmuch as I am only concerned here with the achievements and the individuality of 
the Greeks in so far as they were important factors in our modern culture and living 
elements of the nineteenth century, much must be omitted, though in connection with 
what has been said, one would be tempted to go into more detail. Rohde told us above 
that creative art was the unifying force for all Greece. Then we saw art — widening 
gradually to philosophy and science — laying the foundations of a harmony of thinking, 
feeling and knowing. This next spread to the sphere of public life. The endless care 
devoted to the development of beautiful, powerful human frames followed artistic rules; 
the poet had created the ideals, which people henceforth strove to realise. Every one 
knows how great importance was attached to music in Greek education; even in rough 
Sparta it was highly honoured and cultivated. The great statesmen have all a direct 
connection with art or philosophy: Thales, the politician, the practical man, is at the same 
time lauded as the first philosopher and the first mathematician and astronomer; 
Empedocles, the daring rebel, who deals the death-blow to the supremacy of the 
aristocracy in his native city, the inventor of public oratory (as Aristotle tells us), is also 
poet, mystic, philosopher, natural investigator and evolutionist. Solon is essentially a poet 
and a singer, Lycurgus was the first to collect the Homeric 


poems and that too "in the interests of the State and of morality." * Pisistratus is another 
instance: the creator of the Theory of Ideas is statesman and reformer; it was Cimon who 
prepared for Polygnotus a suitable sphere of activity, and Pericles did the same for 
Phidias. As Hesiod puts it, "Justice (Dike) is the maiden daughter of Zeus" t and in this 
observation is contained a definite philosophy embracing all state relations, a philosophy 

which though also religious is mainly artistic; all literature, too, even the most abstruse 
writings of Aristotle, and even remarks like that of Xenophanes (meant, indeed, as a 
reproach) that the Greeks were accustomed to derive all their culture from Homer, t testify 
to the same fact. In Egypt, in Judea, and later in Rome we see the law-giver laying down 
the rules of religion and worship; among the Teutonic peoples the king decrees what his 
people shall believe; § in Hellas the reverse holds good: it is the poet, the "creator of the 
race of gods," the poetical philosopher (Anaxagoras, Plato, &c.), who understands how to 
lead all men to profound conceptions of the divine and the moral. And those men who — in 
the period of its greatness — give the land its laws, have been educated in the school of 
these same poets and philosophers. When Herodotus gives each separate book of his 
history the name of a Muse, when Plato makes Socrates deliver his finest speeches only 
in the most beautiful spots inhabited by nymphs, and represents him as closing dialectical 
discussions with an invocation to Pan — "Oh, grant that I may be inwardly beautiful. 

* Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus, chap. iv. 
t Work and Days, 256. 

t Fragment 4 (quoted from Flach, Geschichte der griechischen Lyrik, ii. p. 419). 
§ The principle introduced at the time of the Reformation "cujus est regio, illius est 
religio" only expresses the old condition of law as it existed from time immemorial. 


and that my outward appearance may be in harmony with the inner!" — when the oracle at 
Thespiae promises a "land rich in fruits of the soil" to those who "obey the agricultural 
teaching of the poet Hesiod" * — such traits (and we meet them at every step) point to an 
artistic atmosphere permeating the whole life: the memory of it has descended to us and 
coloured many an ideal of our time. 


Hitherto I have spoken almost solely of a positive beneficial inheritance. It would, 
however, be entirely one-sided and dishonest to let the matter rest there. Our life is 
permeated with Hellenic suggestions and achievements and I fear that we have adopted 
the baneful to a greater extent than the good. If Greek intellectual achievements have 
enabled us to enter the daylight of human life, Greek achievements have, on the other 
hand — thanks perhaps to the artistic creative power of this remarkable people — also played 
a great part in casting a mist over the light of day and hiding the sun behind a jealous 
mask of clouds. Some items of the Hellenic inheritance which we have dragged into the 
nineteenth century, but which we had been better without, need not be touched upon until 
we come to deal with that century; some other points must, however, be taken up here. 
And in the first place let us consider what lies on the surface of Greek life. 

That to-day, for example, — when so much that is great and important claims our whole 
attention, when we have piled up endless treasures of thought, of poetry 

* French excavation of the year 1890. (See Peppmliller: Hesiodos 1896, p. 152.) One 
should note also such passages as Aristophanes, Frogs, I, 1037 ff. 


and above all of knowledge, of which the wisest Greeks had not the faintest idea and to a 
share of which every child should have a prescriptive right — that to-day we are still 
compelled to spend valuable time learning every detail of the wretched history of the 
Greeks, to stuff our poor brains with endless registers of names of vainglorious heroes in 
ades, atos, enes, eiton, &c., and, if possible, wax enthusiastic over the political fate of 
these cruel, short-sighted democracies, blinded with self-love, and based upon slavery 
and idleness, is indeed a hard destiny, the blame for which, however, if we do but reflect, 
lies not with the Greeks but with our own shortsightedness. * Certainly the Greeks 
frequently set 

* I said "cruel" and in fact this trait is one of the most characteristic of the Hellenes, 
common to them and the Semites. Humanity, generosity, pardon were as foreign to them 
as love of truth. When they meet these traits for the first time in the Persians, the Greek 
historians betray an almost embarrassed astonishment: to spare prisoners, to give a kingly 
reception to a conquered prince, to entertain and give presents to envoys of the enemy, 
instead of killing them (as the Lacedaemonians and Athenians did, Herodotus, vii. 113), 
indulgence to criminals, generosity even to spies, the assumption that the first duty of 
every man is to speak the truth, ingratitude being regarded as a crime punishable by the 
State — all this seems to a Herodotus, a Xenophon, almost as ridiculous as the Persian 
custom not to spit in presence of others, and other such rules of etiquette (cf. Herodotus i, 
133 and 138). How is it possible that in the face of such a mass of indubitable facts our 
historians can go on systematically falsifying history? Leopold van Ranke, for instance, 
tells in his Weltgeschichte (Text edition, i. 129) the well-known anecdote of the 
disgraceful treatment of the corpse of Leonidas, and how Pausanias rejected the proposal 
to avenge himself by a similar sin against the corpse of the Persian commander 
Mardonius, and continues: "This refusal affords food for endless thought. The contrast 
between East and West is here expressed in a manner which henceforth was to remain the 
tradition." And yet the whole of Greek history is filled with the mutilation not only of 
corpses, but of living people, torture, and every kind of cruelty, falsehood and treachery. 
And thus, in order to get in a high-sounding empty phrase, to remain true to the old 
absurd proverb of the contrast between Orient and Occident (how ridiculous in a 
spherical world!), in order to retain cherished prejudices and give them a stronger hold 
than ever, one of the first historians of the nineteenth century simply puts aside all the 
facts of history — facts concerning which even the most ignorant man can inform himself 
in Duncker, 


an example of heroism, though indeed frequently also of the opposite; but courage is the 
commonest of all human virtues, and the constitution of such a State as the 
Lacedaemonian would lead us rather to conclude that the Hellenes had to be forced to be 

brave, than that they naturally possessed the proud contempt of death which distinguishes 
every Gallic circus-fighter, every Spanish toreador and every Turkish Bashi-bazouk. * 
"Greek history," says Goethe, "has in it little that is gratifying — besides, that of our own days 
is really great and stirring; the battles of Leipzig and Waterloo, for example, after all 
throw into the shade Marathon and others like it. Our own heroes, too, are not 
behindhand; the French marshals, and Bliicher and Wellington may well be put side by 
side with those of antiquity." t But Goethe does not go nearly far enough. The traditional 
history of Greece is, in many points, a huge mystification: we see that more clearly every 
day; and our modern teachers — under the influence of a "suggestion" that has completely 
paralysed their honesty — have falsified it worse than the Greeks themselves. With regard 
to the battle of Marathon, for example, Herodotus admits quite honestly that the Greeks 
were in this battle put to flight, 

Geschichte des Altertums; Gobineau, Histoire des Perses; Maspero, Les premieres 
Melees des peuples, &c. — and the credulous student is forced to accept a manifest untruth 
with regard to the moral character of the different human races, on the basis of a doubtful 
anecdote. Such unscrupulous perfidy can only be explained in the case of such a man by 
the supposition of a "suggestion" paralysing all judgment. As a matter of fact, from India 
and Persia we derive the one kind of humanity and generosity and love of truth, from 
Judea and Arabia the other (caused by reaction) — but none from Greece, nor from Rome, 
that is, therefore, none from the "Occident." How far removed Herodotus is from such 
designed misrepresentation of history! for, when he has told of the mutilation of 
Leonidas, he adds, "Such treatment is not the custom among the Persians. They more than 
all other nations are wont to honour brave warriors" (vii. 238). 

* Helvetius remarks exquisitely (De 1 'Esprit, ed. 1772, n. 52): "La legislation de 
Lycurgue metamorphosait les hommes en heros." 

t Conversation with Eckermann, Nov. 24, 1824. 


where they were opposed by Persians and not Hellenes (iv. 113); how this fact is always 
explained away by us ! And with what infantile credulity — though we know quite well how 
utterly unreliable Greek numbers are — all our historians still copy from the old stories the 
number of 6400 Persian slain and 192 Hoplites who met their death bravely, but omit to 
mention what Herodotus in the same chapter (vi. 117) relates with inimitable artlessness 
how an Athenian became blind with fright in that battle. This "glorious victory" was in 
reality an unimportant skirmish, in which the Greeks had rather the worst than the best of 
it. * The Persians, who had come to Greece in Ionian ships, not of their own accord, but 
because they were invited by the Greeks, returned in all tranquillity to Ionia with several 
thousand prisoners and rich booty, because these ever fickle allies thought the moment 
unfavourable (see Herodotus, vi. 118). t In the same way the whole description of the later 
struggle between Hellas and the Persian empire is falsified, t but after all we must not 
criticise the Greeks too harshly 

* Since these lines were written, I have received the well known English Hellenist 
Professor Mahaffy's A Survey of Greek Civilisation, 1897, in which the battle of 
Marathon is termed "a very unimportant skirmish." 

t See Gobineau: Histoire des Perses, ii. 138-142. 

t Particularly the famous battle of Salamis, of which one gets a refreshing description in 
the above-mentioned work of Count Gobineau, ii. 205-211): "C'est quand les derniers 
bataillons de I'arriere-garde de Xerxes eurent disparu dans la direction de la Beotie et que 
toute sa flotte fut partie, que les Grecs prirent d'eux-memes et de ce qu'ils venaient de faire 
et de ce qu'ils pouvaient en dire 1 'opinion que la poesie a si heureusement mise en oeuvre. 
Encore fallut-il que les allies apprissent que la flotte ennemie ne s'etait pas arretee a 
Phalere pour qu'ils osassent se mettre en mouvement. Ne sachant ou elle allait — ils 
restaient comme eperdus. lis se hasarderent enfin a sortir de la bale de Salamine, et se 
risquerent jusqu'a la hauteur d'Andros. C'est ce qu'ils appelerent plus tard avoir poursuivi 
les Perses! Us se garderent cependant d'essayer de les joindre, et rebroussant chemin, ils 
retournerent chacun dans leurs patries respectives" (p. 208). In another place (ii, 360) 
Gobineau characterises Greek history as "la plus elaboree des fictions du plus artiste des 


for this, as the same tendency * has manifested and still manifests itself among all other 
nations. However, if Hellenic history is really to mould the intellect and the judgment, it 
would need, one would fancy, to be a true, just history, grasping events by their deepest 
roots and revealing organic connections, not the immortalisation of half-invented 
anecdotes and views, which could only be excused by the bitterness of the struggle for 
existence, and the crass ignorance and infatuation of the Greeks. Glorious indeed is the 
poetic power by which gifted men in that land sought to inspire with patriotic heroism a 
fickle, faithless, corruptible people inclined to panic, and — where the discipline was firm 
enough, as in Sparta — actually succeeded in doing so. Here too we see art as the animating 
and moving power. But that we should impose as truth upon our children the patriotic lies 
of the Greeks, and not merely on our children, but also — in works like Grote's — should force 
them as dogmas upon the judgment of healthy men and let them become an influential 
factor in the politics of the nineteenth century, is surely an extreme abuse of our Hellenic 
legacy, after Juvenal 1800 years ago mockingly had said: 

creditur quidquid Graecia mendax audet in historia. 

Still worse does it seem to me to force us to admire 

* The principal thing is clearly not what is found in learned books, but what is taught 
in school, and here I can speak from experience, for I was first in a French "Lycee," then in 
an English "college," afterwards I received instruction from the teachers of a Swiss private 
school, and last of all from a learned Prussian. I testify that in these various countries 
even the best certified history, that of the last three centuries (since the Reformation), is 
represented in so absolutely different ways that without exaggerating I may affirm that 
the principle of historical instruction is still everywhere in Europe systematic 

misrepresentation. While the achievements of our own country are always emphasised, 
those of others passed over or suppressed, certain things put always in the brightest light, 
others left in the deepest shadow, there is formed a general picture which in many parts 
differs only for the subtlest eye from naked lies. The foundation of all genuine truth: the 
absolutely disinterested love of justice is almost everywhere absent; a proof that we are 
still barbarians ! 


political conditions, which should rather be held up as an example to be avoided. It is no 
business of mine to take any side, either that of Great Greece or of Little Greece, of 
Sparta or of Athens, either (with Mitford and Curtius) that of the nobility, or (with Grote) 
of the Demos; where the political characters, individually or as a class, are so pitiful, no 
lofty political conditions could exist. The belief that we even received the idea of 
freedom from the Hellenes is a delusion; for freedom implies patriotism, dignity, sense of 
duty, self-sacrifice, but from the beginning of their history to their suppression by Rome, 
the Hellenic States never cease to call in the enemies of their common fatherland against 
their own brothers; indeed, within the individual States, as soon as a statesman is 
removed from power, away he hurries, it may be to other Hellenes, or to Persia or to 
Egypt, later to the Romans, in order to reduce his own city to ruin with their help. 
Numerous are the complaints of the immorality of the Old Testament; to me the history 
of Greece seems just as immoral; for among the Israelites we find, even in their crimes, 
character and perseverance, as well as loyalty to their own people. It is not so with the 
Greeks. Even a Solon goes over at last to Pisistratus, denying the work of his life, and a 
Themistocles, the "hero of Salamis," bargains shortly before the battle about the price for 
which he would betray Athens, and later actually lives at the court of Artaxerxes as 
"declared enemy of the Greeks," but rightly regarded by the Persians as a "crafty Greek 
serpent" and of little account; as for Alcibiades, treachery had become with him so entirely 
a life-principle that Plutarch can jokingly say that he changed colour "quicker than a 
chameleon." All this was so much a matter of course with the Hellenes that their historians 
do not disturb themselves about it. Herodotus, for instance, tells us with the greatest tran- 


quillity how Miltiades forced on the battle of Marathon by calling the attention of the 
commander-in-chief to the fact that the Athenian troops were inclined to go over to the 
Persians, and urging him to attack as soon as possible, that there might not be time to put 
this "evil design" into execution; half an hour later, and the "heroes of Marathon" would have 
marched with the Persians against Athens. I remember nothing like this in Jewish history. 
In such a soil it is manifest that no admirable political system could flourish. "The Greeks," 
says Goethe again, "were friends of freedom, yes, but each one only of his own freedom; 
and so in every Greek there was a tyrant." If any one wishes to make his way to the light 
through this primeval forest of prejudices, phrases and lies, which have grown up 
luxuriantly in the course of centuries, I strongly recommend him to read the monumental 
work of Julius Schvarcz, Die Demokratie von Athen, in which a statesman educated 
theoretically as well as practically, who is at the same time a philologist, has shown once 

for all what importance is to be attached to this legend. The closing words of this full and 
strictly scientific account are: "Inductive political science must now admit that the 
democracy of Athens does not deserve the position which the delusion of centuries has 
been good enough to assign to it in the history of mankind" (p. 589). * 

One single trait moreover suffices to characterise the whole political economy of the 
Greeks — the fact that Socrates found it necessary to prove at such length that to be a 
statesman one must understand something of the business of State! He was condemned to 
death for preaching this simple elementary truth. "The cup of poison was given purely and 
simply to the political 

* It is the first part (published 1877) of a larger work: Die Demokratie, the second part 
of which appeared in two volumes in 1891 and 1898 under the title Die Romische 


reformer," * not to the atheist. These ever-gossiping Athenians combined in themselves 
the worst conceit of an arrogant aristocracy and the passionate spitefulness of an ignorant 
impudent rabble. They had at the same time the fickleness of an Oriental despot. When, 
shortly after the death of Socrates, as the story goes, the tragedy Palamedes was acted, the 
assembled spectators burst into tears over the execution of the noble, wise hero; the 
tyrannical people lamented its mean act of vengeance, t Not a jot more did it listen to 
Aristotle and other wise men, on the contrary it banished them. And these wise men! 
Aristotle is wondrous acute and as a political philosopher as worthy of our admiration as 
the great Hellenes always are, when they rise to artistically philosophical intuition; he, 
however, played no part as a statesman, but calmly and contentedly watched the 
conquests of Philip, which brought ruin on his native land, but procured for him the 
skeletons and skins of rare animals; Plato had the success in statesmanship which one 
would expect from his fantastic constructions. And even the real statesmen — a Draco, a 
Solon, a Lycurgus, yes, even a Pericles — seem to me, as I said already in the preface to 
this chapter, rather clever dilettanti than politicians who in any sense laid firm 
foundations. Schiller somewhere characterises Draco as a "beginner" and the constitution of 
Lycurgus as "schoolboyish." More decisive is the judgment of the great teacher of 
Comparative History of Law, B. W. Leist: "The Greek, without understanding the 
historical forces that rule the life of nations, believed himself to be completely master of 
the present. Even in his highest aspirations he looked upon the actual present of the State 
as an object 

* Schvarcz, loc. cit. p. 394 ff. 

t According to Gomperz, Griechische Denker, ii 95, this anecdote is an "empty tale": but 
in all such inventions, as in the eppur si muove, &c., there lives an element of higher 
truth; they are just the reverse of "empty." 


in which the philosopher might freely realise his theory, taking over from history as a 
guide only so much as might suit this theory." * In this sphere the Greeks lack all 
consistency and self-control; no being is more immoderate than the Hellene, the preacher 
of moderation (Sophrosyne) and the "golden mean"; we see his various constitutions sway 
hither and thither between hyperfantastic systems of perfection and purblind prejudice for 
the interests of the immediate present. Even Anacharsis complained, "In the councils of 
the Greeks it is the fools who decide." And so it is clear we should seek to admire and 
emulate not Greek history in truth, but Greek historians, not the heroic acts of the Greeks — 
which are paralleled everywhere — but the artistic celebration of their deeds. It is quite 
unnecessary to talk nonsense about Occident and Orient, as if "man" in the true sense could 
arise only in a definite longitude; the Greeks stood with one foot in Asia and the other in 
Europe; most of their great men are lonians or Sicilians; it is ridiculous to seek to oppose 
their fictions with the weapons of earnest scientific method, and to educate our children 
with phrases; on the other hand, we shall ever admire and emulate in Herodotus his grace 
and naturalness, a higher veracity, and the victorious eye of the genuine artist. The 
Greeks fell, their wretched characteristics ruined them, their morality was already too old, 
too subtle and too corrupt to keep pace with the enlightenment of their intellect; the 
Hellenic intellect, however, won a greater victory than any other intellect has won; by it — 
and by it alone — "man entered into the daylight of life"; the freedom which the Greek hereby 
won for mankind was not political freedom — he was and remained a tyrant and a slave- 
dealer — it was the freedom to shape not merely instinctively but with conscious creative 
power — the freedom to invent as a poet. This is the freedom of 

* Graeco-italische Rechtsgeschichte, pp. 589, 595, &c. 


which Schiller spoke, a valuable legacy, for which we should be eternally grateful to the 
Hellenes, one worthy of a much higher civilisation than theirs and of a much purer one 
than ours. 

It has been necessary for me to discuss these matters as paving the way for a last 


If we realise the fact that the educationist has the power to restore dead bodies to life 
and to force mummies as models upon an active, industrious generation, then we must on 
closer investigation see that others can do the same thing in a still higher degree, since 
among the most living portions of our Hellenic inheritance we find a really considerable 
part of our Church doctrine — not indeed its bright side, but the deep shade of weird and 
stupid superstition, as well as the arid thorns of scholastic sophistry, bereft of all the 
leaves and blossoms of poetry. The angels and devils, the fearful conception of hell, the 
ghosts of the dead (which in this presumably enlightened nineteenth century set tables in 
motion to such an extent with knocking and turning), the ecstatically religious delirium, 
the hypostasis of the Creator and of the Logos, the definition of the Divine, the 

conception of the Trinity, in fact the whole basis of our Dogmatics we owe to a great 
extent to the Hellenes or at least to their mediation; at the same time we are indebted to 
them for the sophistical manner of treating these things: Aristotle with his theory of the 
Soul and of the Godhead is the first and greatest of all schoolmen; his prophet, Thomas 
Aquinas, was nominated by the infallible Pope official philosopher of the Catholic 
Church towards the end of the nineteenth century (1879); at the same time a large 
proportion of the logic-chopping 


free-thinkers, enemies of all metaphysics and proclaimers of a new "religion of reason," 
like John Stuart Mill and David Strauss, &c., based their theories on Aristotle. Here, as is 
evident, we have to deal with a legacy of real living force, and it reminds us that we 
should speak with humility of the advances made in our time. 

The matter is an exceedingly complicated one; if in this whole chapter I have had to be 
satisfied with mere allusions, I shall here have to confine myself to hinting at allusions. 
And yet in this very matter relations have to be pointed out, which, so far as I know, have 
never been revealed in their proper connection. I wish to do this with all modesty, and yet 
with the utmost precision. 

It is the common practice to represent the religious development of the Hellenes as a 
popular superstitious polytheism, which in the consciousness of some pre-eminent men 
had gradually transformed itself into a purer and more spiritualised faith in a single God; — 
the human spirit thus advancing from darkness to ever brighter light. Our reason loves 
simplifications: this gradual soaring of the Greek spirit, till it was ripe for a higher 
revelation, is very much in tune with our inborn sluggishness of thought. But this 
conception is in reality utterly false and proved to be false: the faith in gods, as we meet it 
in Homer, is the most elevated and pure feature of Greek religion. This religious 
philosophy, though, like all things human, compassed and limited in many ways, was 
suited to the knowledge, thought and feeling of a definite stage of civilisation, and yet it 
was in all probability as beautiful, noble and free as any of which we have knowledge. 
The distinguishing-mark of the Homeric creed was its intellectual and moral freedom — 
indeed, as Rohde says, "almost free-thinking"; this religion is the faith acquired through 
artistic intuition and 


analogy (that is, purely by way of genius) in a cosmos — an "order of the world," which is 
everywhere perceived, but which we are never able to think out or comprehend, because 
we after all are ourselves elements of this cosmos — an order which nevertheless reflects 
itself of necessity in everything, and which therefore in Art becomes visible and directly 
convincing. The conceptions which are held by the people, and have been produced by 
the poetical and symbolising faculty of each simple mind as yet innocent of dialectics, are 
here condensed and made directly visible, and that, too, by lofty minds, which are still 
strong enough in faith to possess the most glowing fervour and at the same time free 
enough to fashion according to their own sovereign artistic judgment. This religion is 
hostile to all faith in ghosts and spirits, to all clerical formalism; everything of the nature 

of popular soul-cult and the like which occurs in the Iliad and the Odyssey is wonderfully 
cleared, stripped of all that is terrible, and raised to the eternal truth of something 
symbolical; it is equally hostile to every kind of sophistry, to all idle inquiries regarding 
cause and purpose, to that rationalistic movement, therefore, which has subsequently 
shown itself in its true colours as merely the other side of superstition. So long as these 
conceptions, which had found their most perfect expression in Homer and some other 
great poets, still lived among the people, the Greek religion possessed an ideal element; 
later (particularly in Alexandria and Rome) it became an amalgam of Pyrrhonic, satirical, 
universal sceptisism, gross superstitious belief in magic and sophistical scholasticism. 
The fine structure was undermined from two different quarters, by men who appeared to 
possess little in common, who, however, later joined hands like brothers, when the 
Homeric Parthenon (i.e., "temple of the Virgin") had become a heap of ruins within which a 
philological "stone-polishing workshop" had been set 


up: it was these two parties that had found no favour with Homer, priestly superstition 
and hypersubtle hunting after causality. * 

The results of anthropological and ethnographic study allow us, I think, to distinguish 
between superstition and religion. Superstition we find everywhere, over the whole earth, 
and that too in definite forms which resemble each other very much in all places and 
among the most different races, and which are subject to a demonstrable law of 
development; superstition cannot in reality be eradicated. Religion, on the other hand, as 
being a collective image of the order of the world as it hovers before the imagination, 
changes very much with times and peoples; many races (for instance the Chinese) feel 
little or no religious craving; in others the need is very pronounced; religion may be 
metaphysical, materialistic or symbolistic, but it always appears — even where its external 
elements are all borrowed — in a completely new, individual form according to time and 
country, and each of its forms is, as history teaches us, altogether transitory. Religion has 
something passive in it; while it lives it reflects a condition of culture; at the same time it 
contains arbitrary moments of inestimable consequence; how much freedom was 
manifested by the Hellenic poets in their treatment of the material of their faith! To what 
an extent did the resolutions of the Council of Trent, as to what Christendom should 
believe and should not believe, depend on diplomatic moves and the fortune of arms ! 
This cannot be said of superstition; its might is assailed in vain by power of Pope and of 
poets; it crawls along a thousand hidden paths, slumbers unconsciously in every 

* It matters little that in Homer's time there may have been no "philosophers"; the fact 
that in his works nothing is "explained," that not the least attempt at a cosmogony is found, 
shows the tendency of his mind with sufficient clearness. Hesiod is already a manifest 
reaction, but still too magnificently symbolical to find favour with any rationalist. 


breast and is every moment ready to burst out into flame; it has, as Lippert says, "a 
tenacity of life which no religion possesses"; * it is at the same time a cement for every 

new religion and an enemy in the path of every old one. Almost every man has doubts 
about his religion, no one about his superstition; expelled from the direct consciousness 
of the so-called "educated" classes, it nestles in the innermost folds of their brains and plays 
its tricks there all the more wantonly, as it reveals itself in the mummery of authentic 
learning, or of the noisiest freethinking. We have had plenty of opportunity t of observing 
all this in our century of Notre Dame de Lourdes, "Shakers," phrenology, odic force, spirit 
photographs, scientific materialism, and "healing priestcraft," t &c. To understand rightly 
the Hellenic inheritance we must learn to make a distinction there too. If we do so, our 
eyes will open to the fact that even in Hellas, at the brilliant epoch of the glorious art- 
inspired religion, an undercurrent of superstitions and cults of quite a different kind had 
never ceased to flow: at a later period, when the Greek spirit began to decline and the 
belief in gods was a mere form, it broke out in a flood and united with the rationalistic 
scholasticism which had in the meantime been abundantly fed from various sources, till 
finally it presented in pseudo-Semitic neo-Platonism the grinning caricature of lofty, free 
intellectual achievements. This stream of popular belief, restrained in the Dionysian cult, 
which through tragedy reached the highest artistic perfection, flowed on underground by 
Delphi and Eleusis; the ancient soul-cult, the awe-stricken and reverent remem- 

* Christentum, Volksglaube und Volksbrauch, p. 379. In the second part of this book 
there is an instructive list of pre-Christian customs and superstitions still prevalent in 

t "Even the most civilised nations do not easily shake off their belief in magic." — Sir John 
Lubbock, The Prehistoric Age (German edition, ii. 278). 

rj: F. A. Lange used the expression, "medizinisches Pfaffentum," somewhere in his 
Geschichte des Materialismus. 


brance of the dead formed its first and richest source; with this became gradually 
associated, by inevitable progression (and in various forms) the belief in the immortality 
of the soul. Doubtless the Hellenes had brought the original stock of their various 
superstitions from their former home; but new elements were constantly added, partly as 
Semitic * imports from the coasts and islands of Asia Minor, but with more permanent 
and disturbing influence from that North which the Greeks thought they despised. It was 
not poets that proclaimed these sacred "redeeming" mysteries but Sibyls, Bacchides, female 
utterers of Pythian oracles; ecstatic frenzy took hold of one district after the other, whole 
nations became mad, the sons of the heroes who had fought before Troy whirled round in 
circles like the Dervishes of today, mothers strangled their children with their own hands. 
It was these people, however, who fostered the real faith in souls, and even the belief in 
the immortality of the soul was spread by them from Thrace to Greece, t 

* The Semitic peoples in old times do not seem to have believed in the immortality of 
the individual soul; but their cults supplied the Hellene, as soon as he grasped this 
thought, with weighty stimulus. The Phoenician divine system of the Cabiri (i.e., the 
seven powerful ones) was found by the Greeks on Lemnos, Rhodes and other islands, and 
with regard to this Duncker writes in his Geschichte des Altertums, 14, 279, "The myth of 

Melcart and Astarte, of Astarte who was adopted into the number of these gods, and of 
Melcart, who finds again the lost goddess of the moon in the land of darkness and returns 
from there with her to new light and life — gave the Greeks occasion to associate with the 
secret worship of the Cabiri the conceptions of life after death, which had been growing 
among them since the beginning of the sixth century." 

t We need not be surprised that this belief (according to Herodotus, iv. 93) was 
prevalent in the Indo-European race of the Getae and from there found its way into 
Greece; it was an old racial possession; it is very striking, on the other hand, that the 
Hellene at the period of his greatest strength had lost this belief or rather was quite 
indifferent to it. "An everlasting life of the soul is neither asserted nor denied from the 
Homeric standpoint. Indeed, this thought does not come into consideration at all" (Rohde, 
Psyche, p. 195); a remarkable confirmation of Schiller's assertion that the aesthetic man, 
i.e., he in whom the sensual and the moral are not diametrically opposed in aim "needs no 


In the mad Bacchantic dance the soul for the first time (among the Greek people] 
separated itself from the body — that same soul about which Aristotle from the stillness of 
his study had so much that was edifying to tell us; in the Dionysian ecstasy man felt 
himself one with the immortal gods and concluded that his individual human soul must 
also be immortal, a conclusion which Aristotle and others at a later time attempted 
ingeniously to justify. * It seems to me that we are still suffering from something of this 
vertigo! And for that reason let us attempt to come to a sensible conclusion regarding this 
legacy which clings so firmly to us. 

To this belief in a soul Hellenic poetry as such has contributed nothing; it reverently 
adapted itself to the conventional — the ceremonious burial of Patroclus, for instance, who 
otherwise could not enter on his last rest — the performance of the necessary acts of 
consecration by Antigone beside the corpse of her brother — and nothing more. It did 
unconsciously help to promote the belief in immortality, by maintaining that the gods 
must be conceived not indeed as uncreated but, for their greater glorification, as undying — 
an idea quite foreign to the Aryan Indians, f The idea of sempiternity, that is, the 

immortality to support and hold him" (Letter to Goethe, August 9, 1796). Whether or not 
the Getae were Goths and so belonged to the Teutonic peoples, as Jacob Grimm asserted, 
does not here much matter; however, a full discussion of this interesting question is to be 
found in Wietersheim-Dahn, Geschichte der Volkerwanderung, i. 597; the result of the 
investigation is against Grimm's view. The story that the Getic King Zalmoxis learned the 
doctrine of immortality from Pythagoras is characterised by Rohde as an "absurd 
pragmatical tale" (Psyche, p. 320). 

* On this very important point, the genesis of the belief in immortality among the 
Greeks, see especially Rohde, Psyche, p. 296. 

t In an old Vedic hymn, which I quoted on p. 35, a verse runs, "The Gods have arisen on 
this side of creation"; in their capacity as individuals, however, they too cannot, according 
to the Indian conviction, possess "sempiternity," and ^ankara says in the Vedanta Sutra's, 
when speaking of the individual gods, "Such words as Indra, &c., signify, like the word 

'General,' only occupation of a definite post. Whoever therefore occupies the post in 
question bears the title Indra" (i. 3, 28, p. 170 of Deussen's translation). 


immortality of an individual who at some time had come into being, was in consequence 
familiar to the Greeks as an attribute of their gods; poetry probably found it already 
existing, but at any rate it was first raised to a definite reality by the power of poetical 
imagination. Art had no greater share in it than this. Art rather endeavours as far as 
possible to remove, to temper, to minimise that "belief in daemons which has everywhere 
to be taken as primeval," * the conception of a "lower world," the story of "islands of the 
blest" — in short, all those elements which, growing up out of the subsoil of superstition, 
force themselves on the human imagination — and all this in order to gain a free, open field 
for the given facts of the world and of life, and for their poetically religious, imaginative 
treatment. Unlike art, popular belief, not being satisfied with a religion so lofty and 
poetic, preferred the teaching of the barbarous Thracians. Neither was it accepted by 
philosophy, which held a position inferior to such poetical conceptions, until the day 
came when it felt itself strong enough to set history against fable, and detailed knowledge 
against symbol; but the stimulus in this direction was not drawn by philosophy from itself 
nor from the results of empiric science, which had nowhere dealt with the doctrines of 
souls, the entelechies of Aristotle, immortality and the rest; it was received from the 
people, partly from Asia (through Pythagoras), partly from Northern Europe (as Orphic 
or Dionysian cult). The theory of a soul separable from the living body and more or less 
independent; the theory easily deduced therefrom of bodiless and yet living souls — those, 
for example, of the dead, which live on as mere souls, as also of a "soul-possessed" divine 
principle (quite analogous to the Nous of Anaxagoras, that is, of power distinct from 
matter) — furthermore, the theory of 

* Deussen, AUgemeine Geschichte der Philosophic, i. 39. See also Tylor. 


the immortality of this soul — all these are, to begin with, not results of quickened 
philosophical thought, nor do they form in any sense an evolutional development, a 
glorification of that Hellenic national religion which had found its highest expression in 
the poets; it is rather that people and thinker here put themselves in opposition to poet and 
religion. And though obeying different impulses, people and thinker played into each 
other's hands, and together caused the decline and fall of poetry and religion. And when 
the crisis thus brought about was past, the result was that philosophers had taken the 
place of artists as the heralds of religion. To begin with, both poets and philosophers had 
of course derived their material from the people; but which of the two, I ask, has 
employed it the better and more wisely? Which has pointed the way to freedom and 
beauty, and which to bondage and ugliness? Which has paved the way for healthy 
empiric science and which has checked it for almost twenty centuries? In the meantime, 
from quite another direction, from the midst of a people that possessed neither art nor 
philosophy, a religious force had entered the world, so strong that it could bear, without 

breaking down, the madness of the whirling dance that had been elevated to a system of 
reason — so full of light that even the dark power of purely abstract logic could never dim 
its radiance — a religious power, qualified by its very origin to promote civilisation rather 
than culture; had that power not arisen, then this supposed elevation to higher ideals 
would have ended miserably in ignominy, or rather its actual wretchedness would never 
have remained concealed. If any one doubts this, let him read the literature of the first 
centuries of our era, when the State-paid, anti-Christian philosophers entitled their theory 
of knowledge "Theology" (Plotinus, Proclus, &c.), let him see how these worthies in the 
leisure hours which remained to 


them after picking Homer to pieces, commenting on Aristotle, building up Trinities, and 
discussing the question whether God had the attribute of life as well as of being, and 
other such subtleties, wandered from one place to another in order that they might be 
initiated into mysteries, or admitted as hierophants into Orphic societies — the foremost 
thinkers sunk to the grossest belief in magic. Or if such reading appals him, let him take 
up the witty Heinrich Heine of the second century, Lucian, and complete the information 
there given by the more serious but no less interesting writings of his contemporary 
Apuleius * — and then say where there is more religion to be found and where more 
superstition, where there is free, sound, creative human power and where fruitless, 
slovenly working of the treadmill in a continual circle. And yet the men who stand in that 
Homeric circle seem to us childishly pious and superstitious, these on the other hand 
enlightened thinkers ! t 

One more example! We are wont according to old custom to commend Aristotle more 
warmly for his teleological theory of the universe than for anything else, whereas we 
reproach Homer with his anthropomorphism. If we did not suffer from artificially 
produced atrophy of the brain, we should be bound to see the absurdity of this. Teleology, 
that is, the theory of finality according to the measure of human reason, is 
anthropomorphism in its highest potency. When man can grasp the plan of the cosmos, 
when he can say whence the world comes, whither it goes and what the purpose of each 
individual thing is, 

* See particularly in the eleventh book of the Golden Ass the initiation into the 
mysteries of Isis, Osiris, Serapis and the admission into the association of the Pastophori. 
Plutarch's writing On Isis and Osiris should also be read. 

t Bussell, The School of Plato, 1896, p. 345, writes of this philosophical period: "The 
daemons monopolise a worship, which cannot be devoted to a mere idea, and philosophy 
breathes out its life on the steps of smoking sacrificial altars and amid the incantations 
and delusions of prophecy and magic." 


then he is really himself God and the whole world is "human"; this is expressly stated by 
the Orphics and — Aristotle. But the poet's attitude is quite different. Every one quotes, and 
has done so even from the times of Heraclitus and down to those of Ranke, the charge 

which Xenophanes made against Homer that he forms the gods like Hellenes, but that the 
negroes would invent a black Zeus and horses would think of the gods as horses. No 
remark could be more senseless or superficial. * The reproach is not even correct in fact, 
since the gods in Homer appear in all possible forms. As K. Lehrs says in his fine but 
unfortunately almost forgotten book, Ethik und Religion der Griechen (pp. 136-7): "The 
Greek gods are by no means images of men, but antitypes. They are neither cosmic 
potencies (as the philosophers first regarded them) nor glorified men! They frequently 
occur in animal form and only bear as a rule the human form as being the noblest, most 
beautiful and most suitable, but every other form is in itself just as natural to them." 
Incomparably more important, however, is the fact that in Homer and the other great 
poets all teleology is wanting; for undeniable anthropomorphism did not appear till this 
idea did. Why should I not represent the gods in the image of man? Should I introduce 
them into my poem as sheep or beetles? Did not Raphael and Michael Angelo do the very 
same thing as Homer? Has the Christian religion not accepted the idea that God appeared 
in human form? Is the Jehovah of the Israelites not a prototype of the noble and yet 
quarrelsome and revengeful Jew? It would surely not be advisable to recommend to the 
imagination of the artist the Aristotelian "being without size which thinks 

* Giordano Bruno, enraged at this fundamentally wrong and pedantically narrow 
judgment, writes: "Only insensate bestie et veri bruti would be capable of making such a 
statement" (Italienische Schriften, ed. Lagarde, p. 534). One should compare also M. W. 
Visser, Die nicht menschengestaltigen Gotter der Griechen, Leyden, 1903. 


the thing thought." On the other hand, the poetical religion of the Greeks does not presume 
to give information about the "uncreated" and to "explain according to reason" the future. It 
gives a picture of the world as in a hollow mirror and thinks thereby to quicken and to 
purify the spirit of man, and nothing more. Lehrs demonstrates, in the book mentioned 
above, how the idea of teleology was introduced by the philosophers, from Socrates to 
Cicero, but found no place in Hellenic poetry. "The idea of beautiful order, harmony, 
cosmos, which pervades Greek religion, is," he says (p. 117), "a much higher idea than that 
of teleology, which in every respect has something paltry about it." To bring the matter 
quite home to us, I ask. Which is the anthropomorphist. Homer or Byron? Homer, whose 
personal existence could be doubted, or Byron, who so powerfully grasped the strings of 
the harp and attuned the poetry of our century to the melody, in which Alps and Ocean, 
Past and Present of the human race only serve to mirror, and form a frame for the 
individual Ego? I should think it almost impossible for each of us to-day, surrounded as 
we are by human actions and permeated with the dim idea of an ordered Cosmos to 
remain to so small a degree anthropomorphic, so very "objective" as Homer. 


It is essential to distinguish between philosophy and philosophy, and I think I have 
above warmly expressed my admiration for the Hellenic philosophy of the great epoch. 

particularly where it appeared as a creative activity of the human spirit closely related to 
poetry; in this respect Plato's theory of ideas is unsurpassed, while Aristotle appears to be 
incomparably great in analysis and method, but at the same time, as a philosopher in the 


sense given, the real originator of the decay of the Hellenic spirit. But here as elsewhere 
we must guard against over-simplification; we must not attribute to a single man what 
was peculiar to his people and only found in him its most definite expression. In reality 
Greek philosophy from the very beginning contained the germ of its fatal development 
later; the inheritance which still lies heavily upon us goes back almost to Homer's time. 
For it will be found upon reflection, that the old Hylozoists are related to the 
Neoplatonists: whoever, like Thales, without further ado "explains" the world as having 
arisen from water, will afterwards equally find an "explanation" of God; his nearest 
successor, Anaximander, establishes as principle the "Infinite" (the Apeiron), the 
"Unchangeable amid all changes": here in truth we are already in the toils of the most 
unmitigated scholasticism and can calmly wait till the wheel of time sets down on the 
surface of the earth Ramon Lull and Thomas Aquinas. The fact that the oldest among the 
well-known Greek thinkers believed in the presence of countless daemons, but at the 
same time from the beginning * attacked the gods of the popular religion and of the poets 
— Heraclitus would "gladly have scourged" t Homer — serves only to complete the picture. 
However, one thing must be added: a man like Anaximander, so subordinate as a thinker, 
was a naturalist and theorist of the first rank, a founder of scientific geography, a 
promoter of astronomy; all these people are presented to us as philosophers, but in reality 
philosophy was for them something quite apart; surely we should not reckon the 
agnosticism of Charles Darwin or the creed of Claude Bernard among the philosophical 
achievements of our 

* Authenticated at least from Xenophanes and Heraclitus onwards. 

1 1 quote from Gomperz: Griechische Denker, i. 50; according to Zeller's account so 
violent an expression would seem unlikely. If I remember rightly, it is Xenophanes who 
assigns the words to Heraclitus. 


century? Here is a characteristic example of the many traditional consecrated confusions; 
we find the name of Sankara (certainly one of the greatest metaphysicians that ever lived) 
in no history of philosophy, while on the other hand the worthy olive-farmer Thales is 
ever paraded as the "first philosopher." And, if the matter be closely investigated, it will be 
found that almost all so-called philosophers at the zenith of Hellenic greatness are in a 
similar position: so far as we can judge from contradictory reports, Pythagoras did not 
found a philosophic school, but a political, social, dietetic and religious brotherhood; 
Plato himself, the metaphysician, was a statesman, moralist, practical reformer; Aristotle 
was a professional encyclopaedist, and the unity of his philosophy is due much more to 
his character than to his forced, half-traditional, contradictory metaphysics. Without 
therefore underestimating in any way the achievements of the Greek thinkers, we shall 

yet, I think, be able to assert (and so put an end to the confusion), that these men have 
paved the way for our science (including logic and ethics), and for our theology, and that 
they, through their poetically creative genius, have poured a flood of light upon the paths 
which speculation and intellectual investigation were afterwards to follow; as 
metaphysicians, in the real narrower sense of the word, they were, however, with the solo 
exception of Plato, comparatively of much less importance. 

That nothing may remain obscure in a matter so weighty that it strikes into the depths 
of our life to-day, I should like briefly to refer to the fact, that in the person of the great 
Leonardo da Vinci we have an example — closely related to modern thought and feeling — of 
the deep gulf which separates poetical from abstract perception, religion from 
theologising philosophy. Leonardo brands the intellectual sciences as "deceptive" (le 


bugiarde scientie mentali); "all knowledge," he says, "is vain and erroneous, unless brought 
into the world by sense-experience, the mother of all certainty"; especially offensive to 
him are the disputes and proofs regarding the entity of God and of the soul: he is of 
opinion that "our senses revolt against" these conceptions, consequently we should not let 
ourselves be deluded: "where arguments of reason and clear right are wanting, clamour 
takes their place; in the case of things which are certain, however, this does not happen"; 
and thus he arrives at the conclusion: "dove si grida non e vera scientia," where there is 
clamour there is no genuine knowledge (Libro di pittura. Part I., Division 33, Heinrich 
Ludwig's edition). This is Leonardo's theology! Yet it is this very man — and surely the only 
one, the greatest not excepted — who paints a Christ which comes near being a revelation, 
"perfect God and perfect man," as the Athanasian creed puts it. Here we have close intrinsic 
relationship with Homer: all knowledge is derived from the experience of sense, and from 
this the Divine, proved by no subtleties of reasoning, is formed as free creation, with 
popular belief as its basis — something everlastingly true. Thanks to special circumstances 
and particular mental gifts, thanks above all to the advent of men of great genius who 
alone give life, this particular faculty had become so intensely developed in Greece that 
the sciences of experience received a new and greater impulse, as they did later among us 
through the influence of Leonardo, whereas the reaction of philosophising abstraction 
was never able to develop freely and naturally, but degenerated either into scholasticism 
or the clouds of fancy. The Hellenic artist awoke to life in an atmosphere which gave him 
at the same time personal freedom and the elevating consciousness that he was 
understood by all; the Hellenic philosopher (as soon as he trod the path of logical 
abstraction) had not this gift; on the contrary 


he was hemmed in on all sides, outwardly by custom, beliefs and civic institutions, 
inwardly by his whole personal education, which was principally artistic, by everything 
that surrounded him during his whole life, by all impressions which eye and ear conveyed 
to him; he was not free: because of his talent he did achieve great things, but nothing that 
satisfied — as his art did — the highest demands of harmony, truth and universal acceptance. 
In the case of Greek art the national element is comparable to pinions that raise the spirit 

to lofty heights, where "all men become brothers," where the separating gulf of times and 
races adds to rather than detracts from the charm; Hellenic philosophy, on the contrary, is 
in the limiting sense of the word fettered to a definite national life and consequently 
hemmed in on all sides. * 

It is exceedingly difficult with such a view to prevail against the prejudice of centuries. 
Even such a man as Rohde calls the Greeks the "most fruitful in thought among nations" 
and asserts that their philosophers "thought in advance for all mankind"; t Leopold von 
Ranke, who has no other epithet for Homeric religion than "idolatry" (!) writes as follows: 
"What Aristotle says about the distinction between active and passive reason, only the first 
of which, however, is the true one, autonomous and related to God, I should be inclined 
to say was the best thing that could be said about the human spirit, with the exception of 
the Revelation of the Bible. We may say the same, if I am not mistaken, of Plato's 
doctrine of the soul." t Ranke tells us further that the mission of Greek philosophy was to 
purge the old faith of its idolatrous element, to unite rational and 

* Cf., further, vol. ii. pp. 270 and 554. 

t Psyche, p. 104. 

t Weltgeschichte (Text edition) i. 230. This axiom of wisdom reminds one perilously of 
the well-known story from the nursery: "Whom do you love most, papa or mamma? — Both!" 
For though Aristotle starts from Plato, one can hardly imagine anything more 


religious truth; but that the democracy frustrated this noble design, because it "held fast to 
idolatry" (i. 230). * These examples may suffice, though one could quote many others. I 
am convinced that this is all illusion, indeed baneful illusion, and in essential points the 
very opposite of truth. It is not true that the Greeks have thought in advance for all 
mankind: before them, at their time and after them there has been deeper thinking, more 
acute and more correct. It is not true that the red-tape theology of Aristotle ad usum of the 
mainstays of society is "the best thing that could be said": this Jesuitical scholastic 
sophistry has been the black plague of philosophy. It is not true that Greek thinkers have 
purified the old religion: they have rather attacked in it that very thing that deserved 
everlasting admiration, namely, its free, purely artistic beauty; and while they pretended 
to substitute rational for symbolical truth, they in reality only adopted popular 
superstition and set it, clad in logical rags, upon the throne, from which they — in company 
with the mob — had hurled down that poetry which proclaimed an everlasting truth. 

As regards the so-called "thinking in advance," it will suffice to call attention to two 
circumstances to prove the erroneous nature of this assertion: in the first place, the 
Indians began to think before the Greeks, their thought was pro founder and more 
consistent, and in their various systems they have exhausted more possibilities; in the 
second place, our own western European thought only began on the day when a great 
man said, "We must admit that the philosophy which we have received from 

different than their theories of the soul (as well as their whole metaphysics). How then 
can both have said "the best thing"? Schopenhauer has expressed the matter correctly and 
concisely, "The radical contrast to Aristotle is Plato." 

* O twenty-fourth century! What sayest thou to this? I for my part am silent — at least 
with regard to personalities — and follow the example of wise Socrates in sacrificing a cock 
to the idols of my century! 


the Greeks is childish, or at least that it rather encourages talk than acts as a creative 
stimulus." * To pretend that Locke, Gassendi, Hume, Descartes, Kant, &c., chewed the 
cud of Greek philosophy is one of the worst sins of Hellenic megalomania against our 
new culture. Pythagoras, the first great Hellenic thinker, offers a conclusive instance in 
reference to Hellenic thought. From his Oriental journeys he brought back all kinds of 
knowledge, significant and trifling, from the idea of redemption to the conception of the 
ether and the forbidding of the eating of beans: all of it was Indian ancestral property. 
One doctrine in particular became the central point of Pythagoreanism, its religious lever, 
if I may say so: this was the secret doctrine of the transmigration of souls. Plato 
afterwards robbed it of the aureole of secrecy and gave it a place in public philosophy. 
But among the Indians the belief in the transmigration of souls long before Pythagoras 
formed the basis of all ethics; though much divided in politics, religion and philosophy, 
and though living in open opposition, the whole people was united in the belief in the 
never-ending series of rebirths." In India one never finds the question put, as to whether 
the soul transmigrates: it is universally and firmly believed." t But there was a class there, a 
small class, which did not believe in the transmigration of souls, in so far as they 
considered it to be a symbolical conception, a conception which to those wrapt in the 
illusions of world-contemplation allegorically conveys a loftier truth to be grasped more 
correctly by deep metaphysical thinking alone: this small class was (and is to-day) that of 
the philosophers. "The idea of 

* Bacon of Verulam: Instauratio Magna, Introduction. "Et de utilitate aperte dicendum 
est: sapientiam istam, quam a Graecis potissimum hausimus, pueritam quandam scientiae 
videri, atque habere quod proprium est puerorum; ut ad garriendum prompta, ad 
generandum invalida et immatura sit. Controversiarum enim ferax, operum effoeta est." 

t Schroeder, Indiens Litteratur und Kultur, p. 252. 


the soul transmigrating rests on ignorance, while the soul in the sense of the highest 
reality is not transmigratory": such is the teaching of the Indian thinker. * A really "secret 
doctrine," such as the Greeks following Egyptian example loved, the Indians never knew: 
men of all castes, even women, could attain to the highest knowledge; but these profound 
sages knew very well that metaphysical thought requires special faculties and special 
development of those faculties; and so they let the figurative alone. And this figure, this 
magnificent conception of the transmigration of souls, which is perhaps indispensable for 
morals though essentially but a popular belief, while in India it was prevalent among the 
whole people from the highest to the lowest with the exception of the thinkers alone, 
became in Greece the most sublime "secret doctrine" of their first great philosopher, never 
quite disappeared from the highest regions of their philosophical views, and received 

from Plato the alluring charm of poetical form. These are the people who are said to have 
paved the way for us in thought, "the richest in thought of nations"! No, the Greeks were no 
great metaphysicians. 


But they have just as little claim to be considered great moralists and theologians. Here 
too one example 

* Sankara: Sutra's des Vedanta, i, 2, 11. Of course Sankara lived long after Pythagoras 
(about the eighth century of our era) but his teaching is strictly orthodox, he makes no 
risky assertion which is not based on old canonical Upanishads. It is clear that an actual 
"transmigration" was, even at the time of and according to the oldest Upanishads, for the 
man who truly had insight, a conception only serving popular ends. Further proof with 
regard to this matter will be found in Sankara in the introduction to the Sutra's and in i. 1, 
4, but especially in the magnificent passage ii. 1, 22, where the Samsara, in conjunction 
with the whole creation, is described as an illusion, "which like the illusion of partings and 
separations by birth and death does not exist in the sense of the highest reality." 


instead of many. The belief in daemons is everywhere current; the idea of a special 
intermediate race of daemons (between the gods in heaven and men on earth) was very 
probably derived by the Greeks from India (by way of Persia), * but that does not matter; 
in philosophy, or, as it may be called, in "rational religion," these creatures of superstition 
were first adopted by Plato. Rohde writes on this point as follows: f "Plato is the first of 
many to write about a whole intermediate hierarchy of daemons, entrusted with all that is 
wrought by invisible powers but seems beneath the dignity of the sublime gods. Thus the 
Divine itself is freed from everything evil and degrading." So with full consciousness and 
for the "rational" and flagrantly anthropomorphic purpose of "freeing" God of what seems 
evil to us men, that superstition which the Hellenes shared with bushmen and Australian 
blacks was adorned with a philosophical and theological aureole, recommended to the 
noblest minds by a noble mind and bequeathed to all future generations as an inheritance. 
The fortunate Indians had long before discarded the belief in daemons; it was retained 
only by the totally uneducated people; among the Indians the philosopher was bound no 
longer to any religious ceremony; for without denying their existence, like the superficial 
Xenophanes, he had learned to see in the gods symbols of a higher truth not able to be 
grasped by the senses — what use then had such people for daemons? Homer, however, it 
should be noticed, had been on the same path. It is true that the hand of Athene stops the 
hastily raised arm of Achilles, and Here inspires the hesitating Diomedes with courage — 
with such divine freedom does the poet interpret, inspiring all ages with poetical thoughts 
— but genuine 

* Colebrooke, Miscellaneous Essays, p. 442. 

t In a short summary, Die Religion der Griechen, published in 1895 in the Bayreuther 
Blatter (also printed separately in 1902). 


superstition plays a very subordinate part in Homer, and by his "divine" interpretation he 
raises it out of the sphere of real daemonism; his path was sunnier, more beautiful than 
that of the Indo-Aryan; instead of indulging in speculative metaphysics like the latter, he 
consecrated the empiric world and thereby guided mankind to a glorious goal. * Then 
came Socrates; — old, superstitious, advised by Pythian oracles, taught by priestesses, 
possessed by daemons, and after him Plato and the others. O Hellenes! if only you had 
remained true to the religion of Homer and the artistic culture which it founded! If you 
had but trusted your divine poets, and not listened to your Heraclitus and Xenophanes, 
your Socrates and Plato, and all the rest of them! Alas for us who have for centuries been 
plunged into unspeakable sorrow and misery by this belief in daemons, now raised to 
sacred orthodoxy, who have been hampered by it in our whole intellectual development, 
who even to this day are under the delusions of the Thracian peasants ! f 


Not one whit better is that Hellenic thought which follows neither the path of 
mysticism nor that of poetical suggestion, but openly links itself to natural science and 
with the 

* See, for example, in Book XXIV. of the Hiad (verse 300 ff.) the appearance "from the 
right" of the eagle which presages good. Very significant are the words of Priam in the 
same book with regard to a vision he has seen (verse 220 ff.): "Had any other of mortal 
men bidden me believe it, an interpreter of signs or prophet or sacrificial priest, I should 
have called it deceit and turned from it with contempt." Magnificent, too, is the conception 
of "spirits" in Hesiod, although he is much nearer to the popular superstition than Homer 
(Works and Days, 124 ff.): "They defend the right and hinder deeds of impiety: 
everywhere over the earth they wander, hidden in mist, and scatter blessings; this is the 
kingly office which they have received." 

t DoUinger calls the "systematic belief in daemons" one of the "Danaan gifts of Greek 
imagining" (Akad. Vortrage, i. 182). 


help of philosophy and rational psychology undertakes to solve the great problems of 
existence. Here the Greek spirit at once falls into scholasticism, as already hinted. "Words, 
words, nothing but words!" In this case detailed treatment would unfortunately go far 
beyond the scope of this book. But if any one is shy of the higher philosophy, let him take 
up a catechism, he will find plenty of Aristotle in it. Talk of the Divinity with such a man, 
and tell him that it "did not come into existence and was not created; that it has been from 
all time and is immortal," and he will think that you are quoting from the creed of an 

oecumenical council, whereas, as a matter of fact, it is a quotation from Aristotle! And if 
you further say to him that God is "an everlasting, perfect, unconditioned being, gifted 
with life, but without bulk, one who in eternal actuality thinks himself, for (this serves as 
explanation) thinking becomes objective to itself by the thinking of the thing thought, so 
that thinking and the thing thought become identical," the poor man will fancy that you are 
reading from Thomas Aquinas or at least from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, but again 
it is a quotation from Aristotle. * The rational doctrine of God, the rational doctrine of the 
soul, above all the doctrine of a purposed order of the world suitable to human reason, or 
teleology (through which Aristotle, by the way, introduced such grotesque errors into his 
natural science), that was the inheritance in this sphere! How many centuries did it take 
till there came a brave man who threw this ballast overboard and showed that one cannot 
prove the existence of God, as Aristotle had made twenty centuries believe: — till a man 
came who ventured to write the words, "Neither experience nor conclusions of reason 
adequately inform us whether man possesses a soul (as a substance dwelling in him, 
distinct from body and capable of thinking independently of it and 

* Metaphysics, Book XII. chap. vii. 


therefore a spiritual substance), or whether life may not rather be a property of matter." * 
But enough. I think I have shown with sufficient clearness that Hellenic philosophy is 
only genuinely great when we take the word in its widest sense, somewhat in the English 
sense, according to which a Newton and a Cuvier, or a Jean Jacques Rousseau and a 
Goethe are called "philosophers." As soon as the Greek left the sphere of intuition — right 
from Thales onward — he became fatal; he became all the more fatal when he proceeded to 
use his incomparable plastic power (which is so strikingly absent in the metaphysical 
Indian) in giving a seductive shape to shadowy chimeras and in emasculating and 
bowdlerising deep conceptions and ideas that do not lend themselves to any analysis. I do 
not blame bim because he had mystical tendencies and a plainly expressed need of 
metaphysics, but because he attempted to give shape to mysticism in a way other than the 
artistically mythical, and, going blindly past the central point of all metaphysics (I always 
naturally except Plato), tried to solve transcendent questions by prosaic empirical means. 
If the Greek had continued to develop his faculties on the one hand purely poetically, on 
the other purely empirically, his influence would have become an unmixed and 
inexpressible blessing for mankind; but, as it is, that same Greek who in poetry and 
science had given us an example of what true creative power can effect, and so of the 
way in which the development of man has taken place, at a later time proved to be a 
cramping and retarding element in the growth of the human intellect. 


It may be that these last remarks rather trespass on the province of a later part of my 
book. But I had to 

* Kant: Metaphysische Anfangsgriinde der Tugendlehre, Part I., Ethische 
Elementarlehre, § 4. 


face the difficulty. Great as has been the influence which the Hellenic inheritance has 
exercised upon our century, as upon those which preceded it, there has been no little 
confusion and no lack of misunderstanding concerning it. In order that the sequel might 
be understood, it was necessary that the mental condition of the heirs should be set out as 
clearly as the many-sided and complex nature of the inheritance which they received. 

No summary is needed. Indeed what I have said about our rich Hellenic inheritance, 
which so deeply penetrates our intellectual life, is of itself a mere summary — a mere 
indication. If we were to carry this experiment further we should arrive at a point where 
every concrete idea would become sublimated, where the sinuous lines of Life would 
shrivel into mere degrees in a scale, and there would remain nothing but a geometrical 
figure — a construction of the mind — instead of the representation of that manifold truth 
which has the gift of uniting in itself all contradictions. The philosophy of history, even 
in the hands of the most distinguished men, such as Herder for example, has a tendency 
rather to provoke contradiction than to encourage the formation of correct opinions. My 
object, moreover, is not so far-reaching. It is no part of my plan to pronounce judgment 
upon or to explain historically the spirit of ancient Greece: it suffices for me to bring 
home to our consciousness how boundless is the gift which it has brought us, and how 
actively that gift still works upon our poetry, our thought, our faith, our researches. I 
could not be exhaustive; — I have contented myself with the endeavour to give a vivid and 
truthful picture. In so doing I have inflicted upon my readers some trouble, but this could 
not be avoided. 




Von Jugend auf ist mir Anarchic verdriesslicher gewesen als der Tod. — GOETHE 


TO define in clear terms what we have inherited from Rome, what out of that vast 
manufactory of human destinies still exercises a living influence, is certainly impossible, 
unless we have a clear conception of what Rome was. Even Roman Law in the narrower 
sense of the word (Private Law), which, as every one knows, forms the chief material on 
which all juristical minds are to this day trained, and provides the actual basis even for 
the freest, most divergent and more modern systems of law, cannot be judged in a way 
that will give a proper estimate of its peculiar value, if it be simply regarded as a kind of 
lay Bible, a canon, which has taken a permanent place, hallowed by tens of centuries. If 
this blind attachment to Roman legal dicta is the result of a superficial historical 

appreciation, the same may be said of the violent reaction against Roman Law. Whoever 
studies this law and its slow tedious development, even if only in general outlines, will 
certainly form a different judgment. For then he will see how the Indo-European races * 
even in earliest times possessed certain clearly expressed 

* In another place I shall have to recur to the difficult question of races (see chap. iv.). 
I shall here only insert a very important remark: 


fundamental legal convictions, which developed in different ways in the different races, 
without ever being able to attain to any full development; he will see that they could not 
do so because no branch could succeed in founding a free and at the same time a lasting 
State; then he will be surprised to perceive how this small nation of men of strong 
character, the Romans, established both State and Law — the State by every one desiring 
permanently to establish his own personal right, the Law by every one possessing the 
self-control to make the necessary sacrifices and to be absolutely loyal to the common 
weal; and whoever gains this insight will certainly never speak except with the greatest 
reverence of Roman Law as one of the most valuable possessions of mankind. At the 
same time he will certainly perceive that the highest quality of Roman Law and the one 
most worthy of imitation is its exact suitability to definite conditions of life. He cannot, 
however, fail to note that State and Law — both creations of the "born nation of lawyers" * 

while from various sides the existence of an Aryan race is called in question, while many 
philologists doubt the validity of the language criterion (see Salomon Reinach, L'origine 
des Aryens) and individual anthropologists point to the chaotic results of the measuring 
of skulls (e.g., Topinard and Ratzel), the investigators in the sphere of history of law 
unanimously use the expression Aryans or Indo-Europeans, because they find a definite 
conception of law in this group of linguistically related peoples, who from the beginning 
and through all the branchings of a manifold development have fundamentally nothing in 
common with certain equally ineradicable legal conceptions prevalent among the 
Semites, Hamites, &c. (See the works of Savigny, Mommsen, Jhering and Leist.) No 
measuring of skulls and philological subtleties can get rid of this great simple fact — a 
result of painfully accurate, juristical research — and by it the existence of a moral 
Aryanism (in contrast to a moral non-Aryanism) is proved, no matter how varied are the 
elements of which the peoples of this group should be composed. 

* Jhering: Entwickelungsgeschichte des romischen Rechts, p. 81. An expression which 
is all the more remarkable as this great authority on law is wont to deny vigorously that 
anything is innate in a people; he even goes the length in his Vorgeschichte der 
Indoeuropaer (p. 270) of making the extraordinary statement that the inherited physical 
(and with it simultaneously the moral) structure of man — 


— are here inseparable, and that we cannot understand either this State or this Law, if we 
have not a clear conception of the Roman people and its history. This is all the more 

indispensable, as we have inherited from the Roman idea of State as well as from Roman 
Private Law a great deal that still lives to-day — not to speak of the political relations 
actually created by the Roman idea of State, relations to which we owe the very 
possibility of our existence to-day as civilised nations. Hence it may be opportune to ask 
ourselves. What kind of people were the Romans? What is their significance in history? 
Naturally only a very hasty sketch can be given here: but it may, I hope, suffice to give us 
a clear idea of the political achievements of this great people in their essential outlines 
and to characterise with clearness the somewhat complicated nature of the legacy of 
politics and of political law that has been handed down to our century. Then and then 
only will it be feasible and profitable to consider our legacy of private law. 


One would think that, as the Latin language and the history of Rome play such an 
important role in our schools, every educated person would at least possess a clear 
general conception of the growth and achievements of the Roman people. But this is not 
the case, and indeed it is not possible with the usual methods of instruction. 

for this is surely what the term "race" is intended to designate — has absolutely no influence 
on his character, but solely the geographical surroundings, so that the Aryan, if 
transferred to Mesopotamia, would eo ipso have become a Semite and vice versa. In 
comparison with this, Haeckel's pseudo-scientific phantasma of different apes, from each 
of which a different race of men derives its origin, seems a sensible theory. Of course one 
must not forget that Jhering had to contend all his life against the mystic dogma of an 
"innate corpus juris," and that it is his great achievement to have paved a way for true 
science in this matter; that explains his exaggerations in the opposite direction. 


Of course every person of culture is, to a certain point, at home in Roman history: the 
legendary Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Brutus, the Horatii and Curiatii, the Gracchi, 
Marius, Sulla, Caesar, Pompey, Trajan, Diocletian and countless others, are all at least 
just as familiar to us (i.e., in regard to names and dates) as our own great men; a youth 
who could not give information about the Second Punic War or confused the different 
Scipios would feel just as ashamed as if he could not explain the advantages of the 
Roman legions and maniples over the Macedonian phalanx. One must also admit that 
Roman history, as it is usually presented to us, is a remarkably rich store of interesting 
anecdotes; but the knowledge one derives from it is one-sided and absolutely defective. 
The whole history of Rome almost assumes the appearance of a great and cruel sport, 
played by politicians and generals, whose pastime it is to conquer the world, whereby 
they achieve many marvellous results in the art of systematic oppression of foreign 
peoples and egging on of their own, as well as in the equally noble art of inventing new 
stratagems of war and of putting them into practice with as large herds of human cattle as 
possible. There is beyond doubt some truth in this view. There came a time in Rome 
when those who considered themselves aristocrats chose war and politics as their life- 

work, instead of taking them up only in time of necessity. Just as with us a short time 
ago, a man of family could only become an officer, diplomatist or administrative official, 
so the "upper ten thousand" in later Rome could enter only three professions that did not 
degrade them socially — res militaris, juris scientia and eloquentia. * And as the world was 
still young and the province of science not too large to be covered, a man of ability could 
master all three; if in addition he had plenty of money, his qualifications 

* Cf. Savigny: Geschichte des romischen Rechtes im Mittelalter, chap. i. 


for politics were complete. It is only necessary to read over again the letters of Cicero to 
see from his simple confessions, hopelessly entrammelled as he was in the ideas of his 
time, and unable to look beyond his own nose, how mighty Rome and its destinies 
became the play-ball of idle dawdlers and how much truth there is in the assertion that 
Rome was not made but unmade by its politicians. Politics have their peculiarities in 
other countries as well as in Rome. From Alexander to Napoleon, one can hardly over- 
estimate the power of criminal obstinacy in purely political heroes. A brief discussion of 
this point is all the more appropriate in this chapter, as Rome in particular is rightly 
regarded as a specifically political State and we may therefore hope to learn from it how 
and by whom great and successful politics are achieved. 

What Gibbon says about kings in general, that "their power is most effective in 
destruction," is true of almost all politicians — as soon as they possess sufficient power. I am 
not sure that it was not the wise Solon who made a prosperous development of the 
Athenian State impossible for all time, by doing away with the historically given 
composition of the population from various tribes and introducing an artificial class- 
division according to property. This so-called timocracy (honour to him who has money) 
comes in, it is true, of its own accord almost everywhere to a smaller or greater extent, 
and Solon at least took the precaution of making duties increase with increase of wealth; 
nevertheless he it was with his constitution that laid the axe to the root, from which — 
however painfully — the Athenian State had grown. * A less 

* Many will think, but unjustly so, that the constitution of Lycurgus is still more 
arbitrary. For Lycurgus does not undermine the foundations provided by historical 
development; on the contrary, he strengthens them. The peoples that had migrated, one 
after another, into Lacedaemonia, formed layers above each other, the latest comers at the 
top — and Lycurgus allowed this to remain so. Though the 


important man would not have ventured to make such a revolutionary change in the 
natural course of development, and that would probably have been a blessing. And can 
we form a different opinion of Julius Caesar? Of the famous generals in the history of the 
world as a politician he probably played the greatest part; in the most widely different 
spheres (think only of the improvement of the calendar, the undertaking of a universal 
legal code, the founding of the African colony) he revealed a penetrating understanding; 

as an organising genius he would, I think, not have been surpassed by Napoleon, under 
equally favourable conditions — and withal he had the inestimable advantage of being not a 
foreign condottiere, like Napoleon or Diocletian, but a good genuine Roman, firmly 
rooted in his hereditary fatherland, so that his individual arbitrariness (as in the case of 
Lycurgus) would certainly not have erred far from the plumb-line of what suited his 
nation. And yet it is this very man and no other who bent the tough tree of life of the 
Roman con- 

Pelasgians (Helots) tilled the land, the Achaeans (TispioiKoi) engaged in trade and 
industry, and the Dorians (Spartiatae) waged war and in consequence ruled, that was no 
artificial division of labour but the confirmation of a relationship actually existing. I am 
also convinced that life was in Lacedaemonia for a long time happier than in any other 
part of Greece; slave-trade was forbidden, the Helots were hereditary tenants, and though 
not bedded on roses they yet enjoyed considerable independence; the TispioiKoi had 
freedom to move about, even their limited military service being frequently relaxed in the 
interests of their industries, which were hereditary in the various families; for the 
Spartiatae, finally, social intercourse was the principle of their whole life, and in the 
rooms where they met at their simple meals, there stood resplendent one single statue as 
protecting deity, that of the god of laughter (Plutarch, Lycurgus, xxxvii.) Lycurgus, 
however, lays himself open to the reproach that he tried to fix these existing and so far 
sound conditions, and thus robbed the living organism of its necessary elasticity; 
secondly, that on the substantial and strong foundation he erected a very fantastic 
structure. Here again we see the theorising politician, the man who tries to decide by way 
of reasoning how things must be, while as a matter of fact the function of logical reason 
is to record and not to create. But to the fact that Lycurgus, in spite of everything, took 
historical data as his starting-point, are due that strength and endurance which his 
constitution enjoyed above those of the rest of Greece. 


stitution and gave it over to inevitable decay and ruin. For the remarkable thing in pre- 
Caesarean Rome is not that the city had to experience so many violent internal storms — in 
the case of a structure so incomparably elastic that is natural, the clash of interests and the 
never-resting ambition of professional politicians saw to that in Rome as elsewhere — no, 
what fills us with wonder and admiration is rather the vitality of this constitution. 
Patricians and Plebeians might periodically be at each other's throats: yet an invisible 
power held them firmly together; as soon as new conditions were provided for by a new 
compromise, the Roman State stood once more stronger than ever. * Caesar was born in 
the midst of one of these severe crises; but perhaps it appears to us in history worse than 
all previous ones — both because it is nearer to us in time, and we are therefore more fully 

* The expression "Aristocracy and Plebs," which Ranke likes to use for Patricians and 
Plebeians, is to the layman most misleading. Niebuhr already objected to the confusion of 
Plebs and Pobel (rabble). Patricians and Plebeians are rather like two powers in the one 
State, the one certainly privileged politically, the other the reverse in many ways (at least 
in former times), both, however, composed of free, independent, altogether autonomous 

yeomen. And for that reason Sallust can write, even of the oldest times: "The highest 
authority certainly lay with the Patricians, but the power most assuredly with the 
Plebeians" (Letter to Caesar, i. 5); we also see the Plebeians from earlier times play a great 
part in the State, and their families intermarry to a large extent with the Patricians. The 
uneducated man among us is therefore quite misled if he receives the idea that in Rome it 
was a question of an aristocracy and a proletariat. The peculiarity and the remarkable 
vitality of the Roman State had its foundation in this, that it contained from the first two 
differentiable parts (which present in their political efficacy in many points an analogy to 
Whigs and Tories, only that here it is a question of "born parties"), which, however, had 
grown up together with the State through exactly the same interests of property, law and 
freedom; from this the Romans derived, internally, continuous freshness of life, and in 
foreign affairs, perpetual unswerving unanimity. Of the Plebeian portions of the army 
Cato says, "viri fortissimi et milites strenuissimi"; they were indeed free-men, who fought 
for their own homes and hearths. In ancient Rome, as a matter of fact, only freeholders 
could serve in the army, and Plebeians held the rank of officer equally with Patricians 
(see Mommsen: Abriss des romischen Staatsrechtes,1893, p. 258; and Esmarch: 
Romische Rechtsgeschichte, 3rd ed., p. 28 ff.). 


informed of it, and because we know the issue which Caesar brought about. I for my part 
consider the interpretation which the philosophy of history gives to these events a pure 
abstraction. Neither the rough hand of the impetuous, passionate Plebeian Marius nor the 
tiger-like cruelty of the coolly calculating Patrician Sulla would have inflicted fatal 
wounds upon the Roman constitution. Even the most critical danger — the freeing of many 
thousands of slaves and the bestowing of citizenship on many thousands of those freed- 
men (and that for political, immoral reasons) — Rome would soon have surmounted. Rome 
possessed the vitality to ennoble slavery, that is, to give it the definite Roman character. 
Only a mighty personality, one of those abnormal heroes of will, such as the world 
scarcely produces once in a thousand years, could ruin such a State. It is said that Caesar 
was a saviour of Rome, snatched away too soon, before he could finish his work: this is 
false. When the great man arrived with his army on the banks of the Rubicon, he is said 
to have hesitatingly commanded a halt and reflected once more on the far-reaching 
consequences of his action; if he did not cross, he himself would be in danger, if he did 
cross the boundary marked by sacred law, he would involve the whole world (i.e., the 
Roman State) in danger: he decided for ambition and against Rome. The anecdote may be 
invented, Caesar at least lets us see no such inner struggle of conscience in his Civil War; 
but the situation is exactly described thereby. No matter how great a man may be, he is 
never free, his past imperatively prescribes the direction of his present; if once he has 
chosen the worse part, he must henceforth do harm, whether he wills it or not, and though 
he raise himself to an autocracy, in the fond hope that he henceforth has it in his power to 
devote himself wholly to doing what is good, he will experience in himself that "the might 
of Kings is most effective in destruction." Caesar had written 


to Pompey even from Ariminum to the effect that the interests of the republic were nearer 
his heart than his own life; * and yet Caesar had not long been all-powerful to do good, 
when his faithful friend Sallust had to ask him whether he had really saved or despoiled 
the republic? t At the best he had saved it as Virginius did his daughter. Pompey, as 
several contemporary writers tell us, would allow no one beside him, Caesar no one over 
him. Imagine what might have been the result for Rome if two such men, instead of being 
politicians, had acted as the servants of the Fatherland, as had been Roman custom 
hitherto ! 

It is not my business to enter more fully into the subject briefly sketched here; my only 
object has been to show what a superficial knowledge we have of a people, if we study 
only the history of its politicians and generals. This is particularly the case with Rome. 
Whoever studies Rome merely from this point of view, no matter how industriously he 
may examine its history, can certainly arrive at no other result than did Herder, whose 
interpretation therefore will remain classic. To this man of genius Roman history is "the 
history of demons," Rome a "robbers' cave," what the Romans give to the world "devastating 
night," their "great noble souls, Caesars and Scipios," spend their life in murdering, the more 
men they have slaughtered in their campaigns, the warmer the praise that is paid them. :j: 
This is from a certain point of view correct; but the investigations of Niebuhr, Duruy and 
Mommsen (especially the last), as well as those of the brilliant historians of law in our 
century — Savigny, Jhering and many others — have brought to light another Rome, to the 
existence of which Montesquieu had been the first 

* Civil War, i. 9. Thoroughly Roman, by the way, to use such a commonplace 
expression at such a time! 
t Second Letter to Caesar. 
t Ideen zur Geschichte der Menschheit, Bk XIV. 


to call attention. Here the important thing was to discover and put in its right light what 
the old Roman historians, intent on celebrating battles, describing conspiracies, 
slandering enemies and flattering politicians who paid well, had passed by unnoticed or at 
any rate had never duly appreciated. A people does not become what the Romans have 
become in the history of mankind by means of murder and robbery, but in spite of it; no 
people produces statesmen and warriors of such admirably strong character as Rome did, 
if it does not itself supply a broad, firm and sound basis for strength of character. What 
Herder and so many after him call Rome can therefore be only a part of Rome, and 
indeed not the most important part. The exposition of Augustine in the fifth book of his 
De civitate Dei is, in my judgment, far happier; he calls attention particularly to the 
absence of greed and selfishness among the Romans and says that their whole will 
proclaimed itself in the one resolution, "either to live free or die bravely" (aut fortiter emori 
aut liberos vivere); and the greatness of the Roman power, as well as its durability, he 
ascribes to this moral greatness. 

In the general introduction to this book I spoke of "anonymous" powers, which shape the 
life of peoples; we have a brilliant example of this in Rome. I believe we might say 
without exaggeration that all Rome's true greatness was such an anonymous "national 

greatness." If in the case of the Athenians genius unfolded itself in the blossom, here it did 
so in the trunk and the roots; Rome was of all nations that with the strongest roots. Hence 
it was that it defied so many storms, and the history of the world required almost five 
hundred years to uproot the rotten trunk. Hence too, however, the peculiar grisaille of its 
history. In the case of the Roman tree everything went to wood, as the gardeners say; it 
bore few leaves, still fewer blossoms, but 


the trunk was incomparably strong; by its support later nations raised themselves aloft. 
The poet and the philosopher could not prosper in this atmosphere, this people loved only 
those personalities in whom it recognised itself, everything unusual aroused its distrust; 
"whoever wished to be other than his comrades passed in Rome for a bad citizen." * The 
people were right; the best statesman for Rome was he who did not move one hair's- 
breadth from what the people as a whole wished, a man who understood how to open the 
safety-valve now here, now there, to meet the growing forces by the lengthening of 
pistons and by suitably arranged centrifugal balls and throttles, till the machine of State 
had quasi-automatically increased its size and perfected its administrative power; he must 
be, in short, a reliable mechanician: that was the ideal politician for this strong, conscious 
people whose interests lay entirely in the practical things of life. As soon as any one 
overstepped this limit, he necessarily committed a crime against the common weal. 

Rome, I repeat — for this is the chief point to grasp, and everything else follows from it — 
Rome is not the creation of individual men, but of a whole people; in contrast to Hellas 
everything really great is here "anonymous"; none of its great men approaches the greatness 
of the Roman people as a whole. And so what Cicero says in his Republic (ii. I) is very 
correct and worth taking to heart: "The constitution of our State is superior to that of 
others for the following reason: in other places it was individual men who by laws and 
institutions founded the constitution, as, for example, Minos in Crete, Lycurgus in 
Lacedaemonia, in Athens (where change was frequent) at one time Theseus, at another 
Draco, then Solon, Clisthenes and many others; on the other hand, our Roman 
Commonwealth is founded 

* Mommsen: Romische Geschichte, 8th ed., i. 24. 


not on the genius of a single man but of many men, nor did the span of a fleeting human 
life suffice to establish it, it is the work of centuries and successive generations." Even the 
General in Rome needed only to give free play to the virtues which his whole army 
possessed — patience, endurance, unselfishness, contempt of death, practical common 
sense, above all the high consciousness of civic responsibility — and he was sure of victory, 
if not to-day, then to-morrow. Just as the troops consisted of citizens, their commanders 
were magistrates who only temporarily changed the office of an administrator or 
councillor and judge for that of commander-in-chief; in general too it made little 
difference when in the regular routine of office the one official relieved the other in 
command; the idea "soldier" came into prominence only in the time of decline. It was not 

as adventurers but as the most domiciled of citizens and peasants that the Romans 
conquered the world. 


The question here forces itself upon us: is it at all admissible to apply the term 
conquerors to the Romans? I scarcely think so. The Teutonic peoples, the Arabians and 
the Turks were conquerors; the Romans, on the other hand, from the day they enter 
history as an individual, separate nation are distinguished by their fanatical, warm- 
hearted, and, perhaps, narrow-minded love for their Fatherland; they are bound to this 
spot of earth — not particularly healthy nor uncommonly rich — by inseverable ties of heart, 
and what drives them to battle and gives them their invincible power is first and foremost 
the love of home, the desperate resolve to yield up the independent possession of this soil 
only with their lives. That this principle entailed gradual extension of the State does not 
prove lust for conquest, it was the natural 


outcome of a compulsion. Even to-day might is the most important factor in international 
law, and we have seen how in our century the most peaceful of nations, like Germany, 
have had unceasingly to increase their military power, but only in the interests of their 
independence. How much more difficult was the position of Rome, surrounded by a 
confused chaos of peoples great and small — close at hand masses of related races 
constantly warring against each other, farther afield an ever-threatening unexplored chaos 
of barbarians, Asiatics and Africans! Defence did not suffice; if Rome wished to enjoy 
peace, she had to spread the work of organisation and administration from one land to the 
other. Observe the contemporaries of Rome and see what a failure those small Hellenic 
States were owing to the lack of political foresight; Rome, however, had this quality as 
no people before or after. Its leaders did not act according to theoretical conceptions, as 
we might almost be inclined to believe to-day when we see so strictly logical a 
development; they rather followed an almost unerring instinct; this, however, is the surest 
of all compasses — happy he who possesses it! We hear much of Roman hardness, Roman 
selfishness, Roman greed; yes! but was it possible to struggle for independence and 
freedom amid such a world without being hard? Can we maintain our place in the 
struggle for existence without first and foremost thinking of self? Is possession not 
power? But one fact has been practically disregarded, viz., that the unexampled success 
of the Romans is not to be looked upon as a result of hardness, selfishness, greed — these 
raged all around in at least as high a degree as among the Romans, and even to-day no 
great change has taken place — no, the successes of the Romans are based on intellectual 
and moral superiority. In truth a one-sided superiority; but what is not one-sided in this 
world? And it cannot be denied that in certain respects the Romans felt more 


intensely and thought more acutely than any other men at any time, and they were in 
addition peculiar in this, that in their case feeling and thinking worked together and 
supplemented each other. 

I have already mentioned their love of home. That was a fundamental trait of the old 
Roman character. It was not the purely intellectual love of the Hellenes, bubbling over 
and rejoicing in song, yet ever prone to yield to the treacherous suggestions of 
selfishness; nor was it the verbose love of the Jews: we know how very pathetically the 
Jews sing of the "Babylonian captivity," but, when sent home full-handed by the 
magnanimous Cyrus, prefer to submit to fines and force only the poorest to return, rather 
than leave the foreign land where they are so prosperous; no, in the case of the Romans it 
was a true, thoroughly unsentimental love that knew few words, but was ready for any 
sacrifice; no man and no woman among them ever hesitated to sacrifice their lives for the 
Fatherland. How can we explain so unmeasured an affection? Rome was (in olden times) 
not a wealthy city; without crossing the boundaries of Italy one could see much more 
fruitful regions. But what Rome gave and securely established was a life morally worthy 
of man. The Romans did not invent marriage, they did not invent law, they did not invent 
the constitutional freedom-giving State; all that grows out of human nature and is found 
everywhere in some form and to some degree; but what the Aryan races had conceived 
under these notions as the bases of all morality and culture had nowhere been firmly 
established till the Romans established it. * Had the Hellenes got too 

* For the Aryan peoples in particular, see Leist's excellent Graco-italienische 
Rechtsgeschichte (1884) and his Altarisches Jus civile (1896), also Jhering's 
Vorgeschichte der Indoeuropaer. The ethnical investigations of the last years have, 
however, shown more and more that marriage, law and State exist in some form 
everywhere, even among the savages of least mental development. And this must be 
strongly emphasised, for the evolution mania and the pseudo-scientific dogma- 


near Asia? Were they too suddenly civilised? Had the Celts, who were by nature 
endowed with almost as much 

tism of our century have brought into most of our popular books absolutely invented 
descriptions, which are very difficult to remove from them, in spite of the sure results of 
exact research; and from here these descriptions also force their way into valuable and 
serious books. In Lamprecht's famous Deutsche Geschichte, vol. i., for instance, we find 
what is supposed to be a description of the social conditions of the old Teutonic peoples, 
sketched "under the auspices of comparative ethnology"; here we are told of a time when 
among these peoples a "community of sex limited by no differences of any kind prevailed, 
all brothers and sisters were husbands and wives to each other and all their children 
brothers and sisters, &c."; the first progress from this state, as we are to suppose, was the 
establishment of the mother's right, the so-called Matriarchate — and so the tale continues 
for pages; one fancies one is listening to the first stuttering of a new mythology. As far as 
the mother- right is concerned (i.e., family name and right of inheritance after the mother, 
as the fatherhood was always a common one), Jhering has convincingly shown that even 

the oldest Aryans, before the breaking off of a Teutonic branch, knew nothing of it 
(Vorgeschichte, p. 61 ff.), and the very oldest parts of the Aryan language point already 
to the "supreme position of the husband and father of the household" (Leist, Graco-ital. 
Rechtsgeschichte, p. 58); that supposition therefore lacks every scientific basis. (This was 
meantime confirmed by Otto Schrader, Reallexicon der indogermanischen 
Altertumskunde, 1901, p. xxxiii.) It is still more important to establish the fact that the 
"comparative ethnography" appealed to by Lamprecht has found community of sex 
nowhere in the world among human beings. In the year 1896 a small book appeared 
which summarises in strictly objective fashion all the researches that refer to this, Ernst 
Grosse's Die Formen der Familie und die Formen der Wirtschaft, and there we see how 
the so-called empirical philosophers, with Herbert Spencer at their head, and the so-called 
strictly empirical anthropologists and ethnologists, honoured as "authorities" (with 
praiseworthy exceptions like Lubbock), simply started from the a priori supposition that 
there must be community of sex among simpler peoples, since the law of evolution 
demands it, and then everywhere discovered facts to confirm this. But more exact and 
unprejudiced investigations now prove for one race after the other that community of sex 
does not exist there, and Grosse may put down the apodictic assertion: "There is, in fact, 
no single primitive people whose sexual relations approached a condition of promiscuity 
or even hinted at such a thing. The firmly knit individual family is by no means a late 
achievement of civilisation, it exists in the lowest stages of culture as a rule without 
exception" (p. 42). Exact proofs are to be found in Grosse; besides, all anthropological and 
ethnological accounts of recent years testify how very much we have undervalued the so- 
called savages, how superficially we have observed and how thoughtlessly we have 
drawn conclusions about primitive conditions, of which we know absolutely nothing with 


fire, become so savage in the wild North that they were no longer able to construct 
anything, to organise anything, 

[Lately Heinrich Schurtz, in his Altersklassen und Mannerbunde, eine Darstellung der 
Grundformen der Gesellschaft, 1902, has fully shown that the arguments for promiscuity 
in early times, which are wont to be drawn from phenomena of "free love" to-day, are to be 
interpreted quite differently, and that, on the contrary, "with the most primitive races 
marriage, and in connection with it the formation of society on a purely sexual basis, is 
more strongly developed" (p. 200).] As this subject is essentially of the greatest 
importance and throws a peculiar and very noteworthy sidelight upon scientific modes of 
thought and power of thought in our century, I should like to add one more instructive 
example. The original inhabitants of central Australia are, as is well known, supposed to 
belong to the most backward, intellectually, of all peoples; Lubbock calls them "wretched 
savages, who cannot count their own fingers, not even the fingers of one hand" (The 
Prehistoric Age, Germ, trans., ii. 151). One can imagine with what contempt the traveller 
Eyre wrote of the "remarkably peculiar cases where marriage is forbidden" in this wretched 
race, "where a man may not marry a woman who has the same name as he, even though 
she be by no means related to him." Strange! And how could these people come to have 

such inexplicable caprices when it would have been their duty, according to the theory of 
evolution, to have lived in absolute promiscuity? Since that time two English officials, 
who lived for years among these savages and gained their confidence, have given us a 
detailed account of them (Royal Society of Victoria, April 1897, summary in Nature, 
June 10, 1897), and it appears that their whole intellectual life, their "conceptive life" (if I 
may say so) is so incredibly complicated that it is almost impossible for one of us to 
comprehend it. These people, for example, who are supposed not to be able to count up to 
five, have a more complicated belief than Plato with regard to the transmigration of souls, 
and this faith forms the basis of their religion. Now as to their marriage laws. In the 
particular district spoken of here there lives an ethnically uniform race, the Aruntas. 
Every marriage union with strange races is forbidden; thereby the race is kept pure. But 
the extremely baneful effects of long-continued inbreeding (Lamprecht's Teutons would 
long have become Cretins before ever they entered into history!) are prevented by the 
Australian blacks by the following ingenious system: they divide (mentally) the whole 
race into four groups; for simplicity I designate them a b c d. A youth from the group a 
may only marry a girl from group d, the male b only the female c, the male c only the 
female b, the male d only the female a. The children of a and d form once more the group 
b, those of b and c the group a, those of c and b the group d, those of d and a the group c. 
I simplify very much and give only the skeleton, for I fear my European reader would 
otherwise soon reach the stage of likewise not being able to count up to five. That such a 
system imposes important restrictions on the rights of the heart cannot be denied, but I 
ask, how could a scientifically trained selector have hit upon a more ingenious expedient 
to satisfy the two laws of breeding 


or to found a State? * Or was it not rather that blood-mixtures within the common mother 
race, and at the same time the artificial selection necessitated by geographical and 
historical conditions tended to produce abnormal gifts (naturally with accompanying 
phenomena of reversion)? 1 1 do not know. Certain it is, however, that previous to the 
Romans there was no sacred, worthy and at the same time practical regulation of matters 

which are established by strict observation, namely, (1) the race must be kept pure, (2) 
continuous inbreeding is to be avoided? (see chap. iv.). Such a phenomenon calls for 
reverence and silence. When contemplating it one gladly keeps silent regarding such 
systems as those already mentioned as belonging to the end of the nineteenth century. But 
what must we feel when we turn our glance from the extremely laboured efforts of these 
worthy Australian Aruntas to Rome and behold here, in the middle of a frightful world, 
the sacredness of marriage, the legal status of the family, the freedom of the head of the 
household rising up out of the heart of the people, for it was at a much later period that it 
was engraved on bronze tables? 

* Thierry, Mommsen, &c. 

t Till a short time ago it was a favourite practice to represent the population of Rome as 
a kind of medley of peoples living side by side: it was supposed to have borrowed its 
traditions from Hellenic units, its administration from Etruscan ones, its law from 
Sabines, and its intellect from Samnites, &c. Thus Rome would have in a way been a 

mere word, a name, the common designation of an international trysting-place. This 
soap-bubble, too, which rose from the brain foam of pale professors, has burst, like so 
many others, in Mommsen's hands. Facts and reason both prove the absurdity of such a 
hypothesis, "which attempts to change the people, which, as few others, has developed its 
language, state, and religion purely and popularly, into a confused rubble of Etruscan, 
Sabine, Hellenic, and unfortunately even Pelasgic ruins" (Rom. Gesch., i. 43). The fact, 
however, that this thoroughly uniform and peculiar people originated from a crossing of 
various related races is undeniable, and Mommsen himself clearly shows this; he admits 
two Latin and one Sabellian race; at a later time all kinds of elements were added, but 
only after the Roman national character was firmly developed so that it assimilated the 
foreign portion. It would, however, be ridiculous to "assign Rome to the number of mixed 
peoples" (see p. 44). It is quite a different thing to establish the fact that the most 
extraordinary and most individual talents and the sturdiest power are produced by 
crossing. Athens was a brilliant example, Rome another, Italy and Spain in the Middle 
Ages equally so, just as Prussia and England prove it at the present day (more details in 
chap. 4). In this respect the Hellenic myth that the Latins were descended from Hercules 
and a Hyperborean maiden is very noteworthy as one of those incomprehensible traits of 
innate wisdom; whereas the desperate efforts of Dionysius of Halicamassus (who lived at 
the time of the 


relating to marriage and family; no more was there a rational law resting on a sure 
foundation capable of being widened, or a political organisation able to resist the storms 
of a chaotic time. Though the simply constructed mechanism of the old Roman State 
might frequently be awkward in its working and require thorough repairs, it was yet a 
splendid structure well adapted to the time and to its purpose. In Rome, from the first, the 
idea of Law had been finely conceived and finely carried into effect; moreover its 
limitations were in keeping with the conditions. Still more was this the cas with the 
family. This institution was to be found in Rome alone — and in a form more beautiful than 
the world has ever since seen! Every Roman citizen, whether Patrician or Plebeian, was 
lord, yea, king in his house: his will extended even beyond death by the unconditional 
freedom of bequest, and the sanctity of the last testament; his home was assured against 
official interference by more solid rights than ours; in contrast to the Semitic patriarchate 
he had introduced the principle of agnation * and thereby swept entirely aside the 
interference of mothers-in-law and women as a whole; on the other hand, the 
materfamilias was honoured, treasured, loved like a queen. Where was there anything to 
compare with this in the world at that time? Outside of civilisation perhaps; inside it 
nowhere. And so it was that the Roman loved his home with such enduring love and gave 
his heart's blood for it. Rome was for him the family and the law, a rocky eminence of 
human dignity in the midst of a surging sea. 

birth of Christ) to prove the descent of the Romans from Hellenes, "as they could not 
possibly be of barbarian origin," shows with touching simplicity how dangerous a 
conjunction of great learning with preconceived opinions and conclusions of reason can 

* The family resting upon relationship to the father alone, so that only descent from the 
father's side by males, and not that from the mother's side, establishes relationship at law. 
Only a marriage contracted in the right forms produces children who belong to the agnate 

1 1 1 ROMAN LAW 

Let no one fancy that anything great can be achieved in this world unless a purely ideal 
power is at work. The idea alone will of course not suffice; there must also be a tangible 
interest, even should it be, as in the case of the martyrs, an interest pertaining to the other 
world; without an additional ideal element the struggle for gain alone possesses little 
power of resistance; higher power of achievement is supplied only by a "faith," and that is 
what I call an "ideal impulse" in contrast to the direct interest of the moment — be that last 
possession or anything else whatever. As Dionysius says of the ancient Romans, "they 
thought highly of themselves and could not therefore venture to do anything unworthy of 
their ancestors" (i. 6); in other words, they kept before their eyes an ideal of themselves. I 
do not mean the word "ideal" in the degenerate, vague sense of the "blue flower" of 
Romance, but in the sense of that power which impelled the Hellenic sculptor to form the 
god from out the stone, and which taught the Roman to look upon his freedom, his rights, 
his union with a woman in marriage, his union with other men for the common weal, as 
something sacred, as the most valuable gift that life can give. A rock, as I said, not an 
Aristophanic Cloud-cuckoo-land. As a dream, the same feeling existed more or less 
among all Indo-Europeans: we meet with a certain holy awe and earnestness in various 
forms among all the members of this family; the persevering power to results things 
practically was, however, given to no one so much as to the Roman. Do not believe that 
"robbers" can achieve results such as the Roman State, to the salvation of the world, 
achieved. And when once you have recognised the absurdity of such a view, search 
deeper and you will see that these Romans were unsurpassed as a civilising power, and 
that they could only be that because, though they had great faults and glaring intellectual 
deficiencies, they yet possessed high mental and moral qualities. 



Mommsen tells (i. 321) of the alliance between the Babylonians and the Phoenicians to 
subdue Greece and Italy, and is of opinion that "at one stroke freedom and civilisation 
would have been swept off the face of the earth." We should weigh carefully what these 
words mean when uttered by a man who commands the whole field as no one else does; 
freedom and civilisation (I should rather have said culture, for how can one deny 
civilisation to the Babylonians and Phoenicians, or even to the Chinese?) would have 
been destroyed, blotted out for ever! And then take up the books which give a detailed 
and scientific account of the Phoenician and Babylonian civilisation, in order to see 
clearly what foundation there is for such a far-reaching statement. It will not be difficult 
to see what distinguishes a Hellenic "Colony" from a Phoenician Factory: and from the 
difference between Rome and Carthage we shall readily understand what an ideal power 

is, even in the sphere of the driest, most selfish politics of interest. How suggestive is that 
distinction which Jhering (Vorgeschichte, p. 176) teaches us to draw between the 
"commercial highways" of the Semites and the "military roads" of the Romans: the former 
the outcome of the tendency to expansion and possession; the latter the result of the need 
of concentrating their power and defending the homeland. We shall also learn to 
distinguish between authentic "robbers," who only civilise in as far as they understand how 
to take up and utilise with enviable intelligence all discoveries that have a practical worth 
and to encourage in the interests of their commerce artificial needs in foreign peoples, but 
who otherwise rob even their nearest relations of every human right — who nowhere 
organise anything but taxes and absolute 


slavery, who in general, no matter where they plant their foot, never seek to rule a 
country as a whole under systematic government, and, being alive only to their 
commercial interests, leave everything as barbarous as they find it: we shall, as I say, 
learn to distinguish between such genuine robbers and the Romans, who, in order to 
retain the blessings that attend the order reigning in their midst, are compelled — beginning 
from that unchanging centre, the home — slowly and surely to extend their ordering and 
clearing influence all round; they never really conquer (when they can help it); they spare 
and respect every individuality; but withal they organise so excellently that people 
approach them with the prayer to be allowed to share in the blessings of their system; * 
their own splendid "Roman law" they generously make accessible to ever-increasing 
numbers, and they at the same time unite the various foreign legal systems, taking the 
Roman as a basis, in order gradually to evolve therefrom a "universal international law." t 
This is surely not how robbers act. Here we have rather to recognise the first steps 
towards the permanent establishment of Indo-European ideals of freedom and 

* One of the last instances are the Jews who (about the year 1) came to Rome with the 
urgent request that it should deliver them from their Semitic sovereigns and make them 
into a Roman province. It is well known what gratitude they afterwards showed to Rome, 
which ruled them so mildly and generously. 

t Esmarch, in his Romische Rechtsgeschichte, 3rd ed., p. 185, writes as follows on the 
frequently very vaguely developed and defined jus gentium: "This law in the Roman sense 
is to be regarded neither as an aggregate of accidentally common clauses, formed from a 
comparison of the laws that were valid among all the nations known to the Romans, nor 
as an objectively existing commercial law recognised and adopted by the Roman State; it 
should be regarded, according to its essential substance, as a system of order for the 
application of private law to international relations, evolved out of the heart of Roman 
popular consciousness." Within the several countries the conditions of law were as little 
changed as possible by the Romans, one of the surprising proofs of the great respect 
which in the period of their true greatness they paid to all individuality. 


Livy says with justice: "It was not only by our weapons but also by our Roman legislation 
that we won our far-reaching influence." 

It is clear that the commonly accepted view of Rome as the conquering nation above 
all others is very one-sided. Indeed even after Rome had broken with its own traditions, 
or rather when the Roman people had in fact disappeared from the earth, and only the 
idea of it still hovered over its grave, even then it could not depart far from this great 
principle of its life: even the rough soldier-emperors were unable to break this tradition. 
And thus it is that the real military hero — as individual phenomenon — does not occur at all 
among the Romans. I will not make any comparisons with Alexander, Charles Xn. or 
Napoleon; I ask, however, whether the one man Hannibal, as an inventive, audacious, 
arbitrary prince of war, has not displayed more real genius than all the Roman imperators 
taken together. 

It need scarcely be stated that Rome fought neither for a Europe of the future nor in the 
interests of a far-reaching mission of culture, but simply for itself; but thanks to this very 
fact, that it fought for its own interests with the reckless energy of a morally strong 
people, it has preserved from sure destruction that "intellectual development of mankind 
which depends upon the Indo-Teutonic race." This is best seen clearly in the most decisive 
of all its struggles, that with Carthage. If Rome's political development had not been so 
strictly logical up till then, if it had not betimes subdued and disciplined the rest of Italy, 
the deadly blow to freedom and civilisation mentioned above would assuredly have been 
dealt by the allied Asiatics and Carthaginians. And how little a single hero can do in the 
face of such situations of world-wide historical moment, although he alone, it may be, 
has taken a comprehensive view of them, is shown by the fate of Alexander, who having 


Tyre meditated embarking on a campaign against Carthage, but at his early death left 
nothing behind but the memory of his genius. The long-lived Roman people, on the other 
band, was equal to that great task, which it finally summed up in the monumental 
sentence, delenda est Carthago. 

What laments and moralisings we have had on the destruction of Carthage by the 
Romans, from Polybius to Mommsen! It is refreshing to meet a writer who, like Bossuet, 
simply says: "Carthage was taken and destroyed by Scipio, who in this showed himself 
worthy of his great ancestor," without any moral indignation, without the well-worn 
phrase that all the suffering which later befell Rome was a retribution for this misdeed. I 
am not writing a history of Rome and do not therefore require to sit in judgment on the 
Romans; but one thing is as clear as the noonday sun; if the Phoenician people had not 
been destroyed, if its survivors had not been deprived of a rallying-point by the complete 
destruction of their last city, and compelled to merge in other nations, mankind would 
never have seen this nineteenth century, upon which, with all due recognition of our 
weaknesses and follies, we yet look back with pride, justified in our hopes for the future. 
The least mercy shown to a race of such unparalleled tenacity as the Semites would have 
sufficed to enable the Phoenician nation to rise once more; in a Carthage only half-burned 
the torch of life would have glimmered beneath the ashes, to burst again into flame as 

soon as the Roman Empire began to approach its dissolution. We are not yet free of peril 
from the Arabs, * who long seriously threatened our existence, and their 

* The struggle which in late years raged in Central Africa between the Congo Free 
State and the Arabs (without being much heeded in Europe) is a new chapter in the old 
war between Semites and Indo-Europeans for the supremacy of the world. It is only in the 
last fifty years that the Arabs have been advancing from the East Coast of Africa into the 
interior and almost up to the Atlantic Ocean; the famous Hamed ben Mohammed ben 
Juna, called Tippu-Tib, was for a long time absolute ruler of an immense realm which 
reached almost 


creation, Mohammedanism, is the greatest of all hindrances to every progress of 
civilisation, hanging like a sword of Damocles over our slowly and laboriously rising 
culture in Europe, Asia and Africa; the Jews stand morally so high above all other 
Semites that one may hardly name them in conjunction with these (their ancestral 
enemies in any case from time immemorial), and yet we should need to be blind or 
dishonest, not to confess that the problem of Judaism in our midst is one of the most 
difficult and dangerous questions of the day; now imagine in addition a Phoenician 
nation, holding from the earliest times all harbours in their possession, monopolising all 
trade, in possession of the richest capitals in the world and of an ancestral national 
religion (Jews so to speak who had never known Prophets)...! It is no fantastic 
philosophising on history but an objectively demonstrable fact that, under such 
conditions, that which we to-day call Europe could never have arisen. Once more I refer 
to the learned works on the Phoenicians, but above all, because available to every one, to 
the splendid summary in Mommsen's Romische Geschichte, Book HI. chap, i., "Carthage." 

straight across all Africa with a breadth of about 20 degrees. Countless tribes which 
Livingstone in his time found happy and peace-loving have since then in some cases been 
destroyed entirely — since the slave-trade to foreign parts is the chief occupation of the 
Arabs and never, in the history of mankind, was carried on to such an extent as in the 
second half of the nineteenth century — in other cases the natives have undergone a 
remarkable moral change by contact with Semitic masters; they have become cannibals, 
great stupid children changed to wild beasts. It is, however, noteworthy that the Arabs, 
where they found it paid them, have revealed their culture, knowledge and shrewdness in 
laying out magnificent stretches of cultivated land, so that parts of the Congo river 
district are almost as beautifully farmed as an Alsatian estate. In Kassongo, the capital of 
this rich country, the Belgian troops found magnificent Arabian houses with silk curtains, 
bed-covers of satin, splendidly carved furniture, silver ware, &c.; but the aboriginal 
inhabitants of this district had in the meantime degenerated into slaves and cannibals. A 
real tangible instance of the difference between civilising and spreading culture. (See 
especially Dr. Hinde: The Fall of the Congo Arabs, 1897, p. 66 ff., 184 ff., &c.) 


The intellectual barrenness of this people was really horrifying. Although destiny made 
the Phoenicians brokers of civilisation, yet this never inspired them to invent anything 
whatever; civilisation remained for them altogether something absolutely external; of 
what we call "culture" they had not the least notion, even to the last: clad in magnificent 
garments, surrounded by works of art, in possession of all the knowledge of their time, 
they continued as before to practise sorcery, offered human sacrifices and lived in such a 
pit of unspeakable vice that the most degraded Orientals turned in disgust from them. 
With regard to their share in the spread of civilisation Mommsen says: "This they have 
done more as the bird scatters the seed * than as the sower sows the corn. The 
Phoenicians absolutely lacked the power, possessed by the Hellenes and even the Italic 
peoples, of civilising and assimilating the nations capable of being educated, with whom 
they came in contact. In the sphere of Roman conquest the Iberian and Celtic languages 
have disappeared before the Romance tongue; the Berbers of Africa speak the same 
language to-day as they did at the time of Hanno and the Barcidae. But the Phoenicians 
like all Aramaic peoples, in contrast to the Indo-Teutonic, lack above all the impulse to 
form States — the brilliant idea of freedom that is self-governing." Where the Phoenicians 
settled, their constitution was, fundamentally, merely a "government of capitalists, 
consisting on the one hand of a city mob, without property, living from hand to mouth, 
treating the conquered people in the country districts as mere slave-cattle without rights, 
and on the other hand of merchant princes, plantation-owners and aristocratic governors." 
These are the men, this the fatal branch of the Semitic family, from which we have been 
saved by the brutal 

* Every reader knows by what automatic process the bird unwittingly contributes to 
the spread of plant life. 


delenda est Carthago. And even if it should be true that the Romans in this case listened 
more than was their wont to the mean promptings of revenge, perhaps even of jealousy, 
all the more am I bound to admire the unerring certainty of instinct which induced them, 
even where they were blinded by evil passions, to strike down that which any cool, 
calculating politician gifted with the eye of the prophet would have been bound to urge 
them to destroy for the salvation of mankind. * 

A second Roman delenda has for the history of the world an almost equally 
inestimable importance: the delenda est Hierosolyma. Had it not been for this 
achievement (which we certainly owe as much to the Jews who have at all times rebelled 
against every system of government as to the long-suffering Romans) Christianity would 
hardly ever have freed itself from Judaism, but 

* Mommsen, who feels bound strongly to condemn the action of the Romans against 
Carthage, admits at a later point (v. 623) that it was in his opinion neither lust of empire 
nor of possession but fear and jealousy that prompted it. This very distinction is of 
importance for our reasoned view of the part played by Rome in the history of the world. 
If in a world which recognises might alone as the norm of international law, we can say 
with certainty of a people that it was not greedy of possessions or power, it seems to me 

that we have given it a testimonial to its moral character which makes it tower high above 
all contemporary peoples. As regards "fear," it was thoroughly justified, and it is surely 
permitted to think that the Roman senate formed a more correct judgment of the situation 
than Mommsen. — The arbitrary Caesar, of whom even his zealous friend Celius must say 
that he sacrifices the interests of the State to his personal ends, built Carthage again at a 
later time. And what did it become? The most notorious pit of vice in the world, where all 
whose destiny cast them thither — Romans, Greeks, Vandals — degenerated to the very 
marrow of their bones. Such devastating magic was still possessed by the curse which 
rested on the spot where Phoenician horrors had reigned supreme for five hundred years ! 
From its houses of evil repute there arose a mighty cry of indignation against everything 
called civilisation: That it bore TertuUian and Augustine is the only merit that we can 
attribute to this shortsighted and shortlived creation of Caesar. — To characterise the 
nineteenth century, let me quote the opinion of one who is among its so-called greatest 
historians. Professor Leopold von Ranke says: "The Phoenician element has by means of 
commerce, colonisation and, finally, also by war, in the main exercised a quickening 
influence upon the Occident" (Weltgeschichte, i. 542). 


would have remained, in the first instance, a sect among sects. The might of the religious 
idea, however, would have prevailed in the end; as to that there can be no question: the 
enormous and increasing spread of the Jewish Diaspora * before the time of Christ proves 

* Diaspora is the name given to the widened Jewish community. Originally the term 
was applied to those Jews who had preferred not to return from the Babylonian captivity, 
because they were better off there than in their home. Soon there was no prosperous city 
in the world without a Jewish community; nothing is more erroneous than the widespread 
belief that it was the destruction of Jerusalem that first scattered the Jews over the world. 
In Alexandria and its neighbourhood alone there were reckoned to be under the first 
Roman emperors a million Jews, and Tiberius already recognised the great danger of this 
theocratic State in the midst of the legal State. The men of the Diaspora were keen and 
successful propagandists, and their considerate adoption of men as "half Jews" under 
remission of the painful initiatory ceremony, helped them greatly; in addition, material 
advantages contributed to their success, since the Jews pleaded their religion as an excuse 
for exemption from military service and a series of other burdensome civic duties; but the 
Hebrew missionaries had the greatest success with women. Now it is a noteworthy fact 
that this international community, which contained Hebrews and non-Hebrews, and in 
which all shades of faith were represented, from the most bigoted Pharisaism to open 
scoffing irreligion, held together like one man as soon as it was a question of the 
privileges and interests of the common Jewry; the Jewish freethinker would not for the 
world have omitted to send in his yearly contribution to Jerusalem for the temple 
offerings; Philo, the famous Neoplatonist, who believed in Jahve as little as in Jupiter, 
nevertheless represented the Jewish community of Alexandria in Rome in favour of the 
synagogues threatened by Caligula; Poppaea Sabina, the mistress and later the wife of 
Nero, though no Hebrew but a keen member of the Jewish Diaspora, supported the 

prayers of the Jewish actor Alityrus, the favourite of Nero, to root out the sect of the 
Christians, and thereby became very probably morally responsible for that frightful 
persecution of the year 64, in which it is said that the apostles Peter and Paul met their 
death. The fact that the Romans, who otherwise at that time could not distinguish 
Christians from orthodox Jews, were on this occasion able to do so accurately, is 
regarded by Renan as conclusive proof of this charge, which was made against the 
Diaspora even in the first century (in TertuUian's Apologeticus, chap, xxi., for example, 
somewhat reserved but yet clear; see also Renan, L'Antechrist, chap. vii.). Newer 
convincing proofs that up to Domitian's time, and so till long after Nero's death the 
Romans regarded the Christians as a Jewish sect, are to be found in Neumand: Der 
romische Staat und die allgemeine Kirche (1890), pp. 5 ff. and 14 ff. That Tacitus 
distinguished clearly between Jews and Christians manifestly proves nothing in this 
matter, as he wrote fifty years after Nero's persecu- 


we should therefore have received a Judaism reformed by Christian influence and ruling 
the world. Perhaps the objection may be urged that that has come to pass, and that it 
correctly describes our Christian Church. Certainly, the objection is in part justifiable; no 
rightly thinking man will deny the share that Judaism has in it. But when we see how in 
earliest times the followers of Christ demanded the strict observance of the Jewish law," 
how they, less liberal than the Jews of the Diaspora, took into their community no 
"heathens" who had not submitted to the mark of circumcision common to all Semites; 
when we think of the struggles which the Apostle Paul (the Apostle of the heathen) had to 
wage till his death with the Jew-Christians, and that even much later, in the Revelation of 
St. John (iii. 9) he and his followers are scorned as being "of the synagogue of Satan 
which say they are Jews and are not, but do lie"; when we see the authority of Jerusalem 
and its temple continue to be simply invincible, even inside the Pauline Christendom, so 
long as both actually did stand intact, * then we cannot doubt that the religion of the 
civilised world would have pined under the purely Jewish primacy of the city of 
Jerusalem, if Jerusalem had not been destroyed by the Romans. Ernst Renan, certainly no 
enemy of the Jews, has in his Origines du Christianisme (iv. chap, xx.) eloquently shown 
what an "immense danger" would have lain therein, t Still worse than the commercial 
monopoly of the Phoenicians would have been the religious monopoly of the Jews; under 
the leaden weight of these born dogmatists and fanatics all freedom of thought and faith 
would have 

tion and in his narrative transferred the knowledge of a later time to an earlier. (See, too, 
in connection with the "Jewish jealousy," Paul AUard: Le Christianisme et I'Empire romain 
de Neron a Theodose (1897), chap, i.) 

* Cf. on this, Graetz, Volksth. Geschichte der Juden, i. 653. 

t In his Discours et Conferences, 3rd ed., p. 350, he calls the destruction of Jerusalem "un 
immense bonheur." 


disappeared from the world; the flatly materialistic view of God would have been our 
religion, pettifoggery our philosophy. This too is no imaginary picture, only too many 
facts speak for it; for what is that rigid, illiberal, intellectually narrow dogmatising of the 
Christian Church — a thing undreamt of by the Aryan — what is that disgraceful, bloodthirsty 
fanaticism which runs through all the ages down to our own nineteenth century, that 
curse of hatred that has clung to the religion of love from the beginning and from which 
Greeks and Romans, Indians and Chinese, Persians and Teutonic peoples turn with 
horror? What is it, if not the shadow of that temple, in which sacrifices were offered to 
the god of anger and vengeance, a dark shadow cast over the youth of the heroic race "that 
from out the darkness strives to reach the light"? 

Without Rome it is certain that Europe would have remained a mere continuation of 
the Asiatic chaos. Greece always gravitated towards Asia, till Rome tore it away. It is the 
work of Rome that the centre of gravity of culture has been once and for all removed to 
the west, that the Semitic-Asiatic spell has been broken and at least partly cast aside, that 
the predominantly Indo-Teutonic Europe became henceforth the beating heart and 
thinking brain of all mankind. While this State fought for its own practical (but, as we 
saw, not unideal) interests without the least regard for others — often cruelly, always 
sternly, but seldom ignobly — it has put the house in readiness, the strong citadel in which 
our race, after long aimless wanderings, was to settle down and organise itself for the 
salvation of mankind. 

For the accomplishment of Rome's work so many centuries were necessary, and in 
addition so high a degree of that unerring, self-willed instinct, which hits the mark, even 
where it seems to be going senselessly astray, doing good even where its will is baneful, 
that it was not the fleeting existence of pre-eminent individuals but 


the dogged unity of a steel-hardened people, working almost like a force of nature, that 
was the right and only efficacious thing. Hence it is that so-called "political history," that 
history which tries to build up the life of a people from the biographies of famous men, 
the annals of war and diplomatic archives, is so inappropriate here; it not only distorts, 
but fails to reveal in any way those things that are the most essential. For what we, 
looking back and philosophising, regard as the office or vocation of Rome in the history 
of the world, is surely nothing else than an expression for the bird's-eye view of the 
character of this people as a whole. And here we must admit that the politics of Rome 
moved in a straight and — as later times have shown — perfectly correct line, so long as they 
were not in the hands of professional politicians. Caesar's period was the most confused 
and most productive of evil; both people and instinct were then dead, but the work 
continued to exist, and, embodied with it, the idea of the work, but it was nowhere 
capable of being set apart as a formula and as a law for future actions, for the simple 
reason that the work had not been reasoned, considered and conscious, but unconscious 
and accomplished of necessity. 


After the fall of the true Roman people this idea — the idea of the Roman State — came 
again to life in very different ways in the brains of individuals who were called to power. 
Augustus, for example, seems really to have been of the opinion that he had restored the 
Roman republic, otherwise Horace would certainly not have gone the length of praising 
him for it. Tiberius, who transformed "the insult to the majesty of the Roman people," the 
crimen majestatis, which was punished 


even in former times, into quite a new crime, viz., "the insult to his own Caesarean person," 
took thereby a very great step towards dissipating into a mere idea the actual free State 
created by the people of Rome — a step from which in the nineteenth century we have not 
yet gone back. But so firmly was the Roman idea planted in every heart that a Nero took 
his own life, because the Senate had branded him an "enemy of the republic." Soon, 
however, the proud assembly of Patricians found itself face to face with men who did not 
tremble before the magic words senatus populusque Romanus: the soldiers chose the 
bearer of the Roman Imperium; it was not long before Romans, and Italians as well, were 
excluded for ever from this dignity: Spaniards, Gauls, Africans, Syrians, Goths, Arabs, 
lUyrians followed one another; not one of them probably was even distantly related to 
those men who with sure instinct had created the Roman State. Amid yet the idea lived 
on; in the Spaniard Trajan it even reached a climax of brilliancy. Under him and his 
immediate followers it worked so expressly as an ordering civilising power, resorting to 
conquest only where the consolidation of peace unconditionally demanded it, that we are 
justified in saying that during the Antonine century Roman imperialism — which had lived 
in the people previously only as an impulse, not as an end in view — came to be conscious 
of itself, and that in a manner which was only possible in the minds of nobly thinking 
foreigners, who found themselves face to face with a strange idea, which they henceforth 
embraced with full objectivity, in order to set it in operation with loyalty and 
understanding. This period had a great influence on all future time; wherever with noble 
purpose the idea of a Roman Empire was again taken as a starting-point, it was done 
under the influence and in imitation of Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus 
Aurelius. And yet there is a peculiar 


souUessness in this whole period. Here the sway of understanding is supreme, the heart is 
dumb; the passionless mechanism affects even the soul, which does right not from love 
but from reason: Marcus Aurelius' "Monologues" are the mirror of this attitude of mind, and 
the inevitable reaction appears in the sexual aberrations of his wife Faustina. The root of 
Rome, the passionate love of the family, of the home, was torn out; not even the famous 
law against bachelors, with premiums for children (Lex Julia et Papia Poppaea) could 
again make marriage popular. Where the heart does not command, nothing is enduring. 
And now other foreigners usurped supreme power, this time men full of passion but 
devoid of understanding, African half-breeds, soldier Emperors, who saw in the Roman 
State nothing more than a gigantic barracks, and had no idea why Rome in particular 
should be the permanent headquarters. The second of them, Caracalla, even extended the 

Roman franchise to all the inhabitants of the Empire: thereby Rome ceased to be Rome. 
For exactly a thousand years the citizens of Rome (with whom those of the other cities of 
Italy and of other specially deserving States had gradually been put on an equal footing) 
had enjoyed certain privileges, but they had gained them by burdensome responsibility as 
well as by restless, incomparably successful, hard work; from now onward Rome was 
everywhere, that is, nowhere. Wherever the Emperor happened to be was the centre of 
the Roman Empire. Diocletian transferred his residence to Sirmium, Constantine to 
Byzantium, and even when a separate Western Roman Empire arose, the imperial capital 
was Ravenna or Milan, Paris, Aachen, Vienna, never again Rome. The extension of the 
franchise to all had another result: there were no longer any citizens. Caracalla, * the 
murderous, pseudo-Punic savage, used 

* For an understanding of the character of Caracalla and his motives 


to be commended for his action and even to-day he has his admirers (see Leopold von 
Ranke, Weltgeschichte, ii. 195). In reality, however, he had, by cutting the last thread of 
historical tradition, i.e., of historical truth, destroyed also the last trace of that freedom, 
the indomitable, self-sacrificing and thoroughly ideal power of which had created the city 
of Rome and with it Europe. Political law was, of course, henceforth the same for all; it 
was the equality of absolute lawlessness. The word citizen (civis) gave way now to the 
term subject (subjectus): all the more remarkable, as the idea of being subject was as 
strange to all branches of the Indo-Europeans as that of supreme kingship, so that we see 
in this one transformation of the legal idea the incontestable proof of Semitic influence 
(according to Leist, Graco-italische Rechtsgeschichte, pp. 106, 108). The Roman idea 
certainly still lived on, but it had concentrated itself or, so to speak, become merged in 
one person — the Emperor; the privileges of the Romans and their summary 

I recommend the little book of Prof. Dr. Rudolf Leonhard, Roms Vergangenheit und 
Deutschlands Recht, 1889, pp. 93-99. He shows in the course of a few pages how this 
Syrian, "a descendant of the Carthaginian human butchers and the countrymen of those 
priests of Baal who were wont to throw their enemies into hot ovens" (the Jews did the 
same; see 2 Samuel, xii. 31), had adopted as his aim in life the annihilation of Rome and 
the destruction of the still living remains of Hellenic culture, and at the same time the 
flooding of the cultured European world with the pseudo-Semitic refuse of his home. 
This was all done systematically, maliciously and under cover of such phrases as 
universal franchise and religion of mankind. Thus in one single day he succeeded in 
destroying Rome for ever; thus unsuspecting Alexandria, the centre of art and science, 
became a victim of the raceless, homeless bestiality that tore down all barriers. Let us 
never — never for a moment — forget that the spirit of Caracalla is among us and waiting for 
its chance! Instead of repeating by rote the deceptive phrases about humanity which were 
the fashion even 1 800 years ago in the Semitic salons in Rome, we should do better to 
say with Goethe: 

Du musst steigen oder sinken. 

Du musst herrschen und gewinnen, 
Oder dienen und verlieren, 
Leiden oder triumphieren, 
Amboss oder Hammer sein. 


powers had not disappeared from the world, they had all been delegated to a single man: 
that is the course of events from Augustus to Diocletian and Constantine. The first Caesar 
had been satisfied with uniting in his own hands all the most important offices of State, * 
and that had been granted to him only for one definite object limited in respect of time, 
namely, to restore legal order in the civilised world (restauratio orbis); within three 
centuries things had come to this, that a single individual was invested not only with all 
offices but with all the rights of all the citizens. Just as in early times (at the time of the 
first successor to Augustus) the "majesty of the people" had become the "majesty" of one 
man, so gradually each and every power, each and every right passed over to him. 
Augustus had, like every other citizen, still given his vote in the Comitia; now there sits a 
monarch on the throne, whom one may only approach "reverentially" on one's knees, amid 
before him all men are alike, for all, from the foremost statesman to the lowest peasant, 
are his subjects. And while thus the "great king" and with him all that belonged to his Court 
continually increased in riches and dignity, the rest sank ever lower: the citizen could no 
longer even choose his profession; the peasant, formerly the free proprietor of his 
ancestral estate, was the bond-man of a master and bound to the soil; but death looses all 
bonds, and the day came when the tax-collector had to mark what were formerly the most 
fertile parts of the Empire in their papers as agri deserti. 

* Augustus was at once: (1) Princeps, that is, first citizen, at that time really only a title 
of honour; (2) Imperator, commander-in-chief; (3) tribune of the people for life; (4) 
Pontifex maximus — the highest religious office, an office for life from earliest times; (5) 
Consul — not, it is true, for life, but still in continuous possession of consular power; (6) 
likewise of proconsular power which embraced the government of all the provinces; and 
(7) likewise of censorial power, which embraced the control of morals, the right to 
appoint and remove from the list senators, knights, &c. 


It is not my intention to trace further through history the idea of the Roman State; 
something will still have to be said on this matter in a later chapter; I shall restrict myself 
to reminding the reader that a Roman Empire — in idea a direct continuation of the old 
Imperium — legally existed till August 6, 1806, and that the oldest Roman office, that of 
Pontifex maximus, which was held by Numa Pompilius himself, is still in existence; the 
Papal stool is the last remnant of the old heathen world which has continued to live to the 
present day. * If what I have briefly pointed out is known to all, it has been brought 
forward in the hope that I might be able to demonstrate more vividly amid suggestively 
than could be done by theoretical analysis the peculiarly complicated form of the political 
legacy which our century received from Rome. Here as elsewhere in this book learned 

considerations have no place; these are to be found in histories of constitutional law; here 
I bring forward only general observations, which are accessible and stimulating to all. In 
purely political matters we have inherited from Rome not a simple idea, not even 
anything so simple as what is embraced by the phrase "Hellenic art," however full of 
meaning that may be, but on the other hand there has come down to us a remarkable 
mixture of possessions of the greatest reality — civilisation, law, organisation, 
administration, &c.; and at the same time of ideas which, though we may not comprehend 
them, are yet all-powerful; of notions which no one can fully grasp and which, 
nevertheless, for good and for evil, still influence our public life. We certainly cannot 
understand our own century thoroughly and critically, if we have not clear conceptions 
regarding this double political legacy. 

* Details in vol. ii. chap. vii. 



Now that we have discussed political matters in the narrower sense, let us, before 
passing on to the consideration of Private Law, cast a glance at the constitutional and 
ideal legacy in general. 

So long as Rome was effectively engaged in positively creative work — more than five 
hundred years before Caesar and then for more than a century in its agony * — it might 
seem to us totally destitute of ideas; it only creates, it does not think. It creates Europe 
and destroys, as far as possible, Europe's nearest and most dangerous enemies. That is the 
positive legacy of this time. The countries, too, which Rome never subdued, as for 
example the greatest part of Germany, have received from Rome all the germs of 
constitutional order, as the fundamental condition of every civilisation. Our languages 
still show us that all administration goes back to Roman teaching or suggestion. We live 
to-day in conditions so securely established by order that we can scarcely conceive that it 
was ever otherwise; not one among ten thousand of us has the faintest idea of the 
organisation of the machine of State; everything seems to us necessary and natural, law, 
morals, religion, even State itself. And yet the establishment of this, the ordered, secure 
State, worthy of free citizens, was — as all history proves — a task extremely difficult to 
accomplish; India had a most noble religion, Athens perfect art. Babylonia a wondrous 
civilisation — everything had been achieved by the founding of a free and at the same time 
stable State that guaranteed conditions of law; for this Herculean task an individual hero 
did not suffice, a whole nation of heroes was necessary — each one strong enough to 
command, each one 

* The issue of the Edictum perpetuum by Hadrian is perhaps the last great creative 


proud enough to obey, all unanimous, each one standing up for his own personal right. 
When I read Roman history I feel compelled to turn away with horror; but when I 
contemplate the two incomparable creations of this people, the ordered State and private 
law, I can only bow in silent reverence before such intellectual greatness. 

But this heroic people died out, and after its complete extinction there came, as we 
saw, a second period of Roman politics. Foreigners occupied the supreme power and 
foreign lawyers became the masters of public law and constitutional law as well as of the 
incomparable private law which had grown like a living thing, and which they preserved, 
so to speak, in alcohol, in the wise conviction that it could not be made more perfect but 
at most might degenerate. These advisers of the crown were mostly natives of Asia 
Minor, Greeks and Semites, that is to say, the recognised masters in the handling of 
abstractions and in juristic subtleties. And now there came an episode of the Roman 
constitution in which, if nothing absolutely new was invented, there were many new 
interpretations, which were sublimated to principles, and then crystallised into rigid 
dogmas. The process is very analogous to that described in the passage dealing with 
Hellenic art and philosophy. The Roman republic had been a living organism, in which 
the people was constantly and industriously introducing improvements; the formal 
question of leading "principles" had never arisen, the present had never wished to hold the 
future in bondage. That went so far that the highest officials of the law-court, the 
praetors, nominated for a year, each issued on his entry into office a so-called "praetorian 
edict," in which he published the principles which he intended to follow in his 
administration of the law; and thus it became possible to adapt the existing code to 


times and conditions. Similarly everything in this State was elastic, everything remained 
in touch with the needs of life. But exactly as the poetical inspirations of the Greek 
philosophers and their mystical interpretations of the Inscrutable had been transformed in 
Helleno-Semitic Alexandria to dogmas of faith, so here State and law were changed to 
dogmas, and pretty much by the same people. We have inherited these dogmas, and it is 
important that we should know whence they come and how they arose. 

For example, our idea of the monarch is derived neither from the Teutonic nations, nor 
from the Oriental despots, but from the learned Jurists who were in the service of the 
lUyrian shepherd Diocletian, of the lUyrian cowboy Galerius and of the Ulyrian 
swineherd Maximinus, and is a direct parody — if the truth must be told — of the greatest 
State-ideas of Rome. "The State-idea among the Romans," writes Mommsen, "rests upon the 
ideal transmission of the individual's capacity for action to the whole body of citizens, the 
populus, and upon the submission on the part of each physical member of the community 
of his individual will to this universal will. The repression of individual independence in 
favour of the collective will is the criterion of a constitutional community." * To picture to 
oneself what is implied by this "transmission," this "repression of individual independence," 
one must recall to memory the uncontrollable, individual love of freedom characteristic 
of each Roman. Of the oldest legal monument of the Romans, the famous twelve bronze 
tables (450 B.C.), Esmarch says, "The most pregnant expressions in these tables are the 

guarantees of the autocracy of the private rights of Roman citizens," t and when three 
hundred and fifty years later the first detailed system of law was 

* I quote from the abridged edition of his Roman Constitutional Law in Binding's 
Systematisches Handbuch der deutschen Rechtswissenschaft, p. 81 ff. 
t Romische Rechtsgeschichte, 3rd ed., p. 218. 


compiled and written down, all the storms of the intervening period had caused no 
difference in this one point. * As a free self-governing man the Roman accordingly 
transmits to the collective will, whose spontaneous member he is, as much of his freedom 
as is necessary for the defence of that freedom. "The collective will is now in itself, if one 
is permitted to apply to it an expression of Roman private law, a fiction of constitutional 
law. Representation is in fact required for it. The action of will of the one man who 
represents it in the special case is equivalent constitutionally to the action of the 
collective will. The constitutional act of will in Rome is always the act of one man, since 
will and action in themselves are inseparable; collective action by majority of votes is 
from the Roman point of view a contradictio in adjecto." In every clause of this Roman 
constitutional law one sees a nation of strong, free men: the representation of the 
common cause, that is, of the State, is entrusted for a definite time to individual men 
(consuls, praetors, censors); they have absolutely plenary power and bear full 
responsibility. In case of need this conferring of absolute power goes so far that the 
citizens nominate a dictator, all in the interest of the common weal and in order that the 
freedom of each individual may remain unimpaired. — Now the later emperors, or rather 
their advisers, did not, as one might have expected, overthrow this constitutional idea; no, 
they made it the legal foundation for monarchical autocracy, a thing unprecedented in 
history. Elsewhere despots had ruled as the sons of gods, as for instance in Egypt and 
even at the present day in Japan — others, in former times and to-day, as representatives of 
God (I need only mention the Jewish kings and the Khalifs) — others again by the so-called 
jus gladii, the right of the sword. But the soldiers who 

* Certain limitations of the freedom of leaving property by will formed certainly a first 
indication of future times. 


had usurped what had once been the Roman Empire founded their claims to rule as 
absolute autocrats upon Roman constitutional law! They had not in their opinion usurped 
the power like a Greek tyrant and overthrown the constitutional order; on the contrary, 
the all-powerful monarch was the flower, the perfection of the whole legal development 
of Rome: this the Oriental jurists had by their subtlety contrived to establish. With the 
help of the transmission theory just explained, the trick had been accomplished — in the 
main as follows. One of the main pillars of Roman constitutional law is that no enactment 
has the force of law, if it is not approved by the people. Under the first emperors 
appearances were still maintained in this respect. But after Caracalla "Rome" had come to 

mean the whole civilised world. And now all rights of the people were "transmitted" to the 
Senate to simplify the issuing of new laws, &c. In the Corpus juris it stands thus: "As the 
Roman people has grown to such an extent that it would be difficult to call it together to 
one spot for the purpose of approving laws, it was held to be right to consult the Senate 
instead of the people." As we now speak of a Viceroy, so the Senate was called henceforth 
vice populi. The approval of the Senate too had become purely a matter of form — once in 
possession of so beautiful an abstract principle, there was no stopping half-way; and so 
the text continues: "but that also which it pleases the Prince to decree has the power of 
law, for the people has transmitted to him its whole plenitude of power and all its rights." 
* We 

* Sees. 5 and 6, J. de jure naturali, i. 2. The last words of the second excerpt I have had 
to translate somewhat freely. The original is: "omne suum imperium et potestatem"; how 
difficult it is to give these words the exact legal sense of ancient Rome can be seen in 
Mommsen, p. 85. Imperium means originally "utterance of the will of the community"; 
hence the bearer of this absolute will was called imperator; more limited and defining 
rather the sphere of private law is potestas. Therefore I have translated them by plenitude 
of power and rights (German MachtfuUe and Rechte), and think I have thereby expressed 
the sense. 


have here accordingly the strictly legal derivation of an absolute monarchy and that too in 
the way in which it certainly could be developed from the Roman constitution alone — with 
its rejection of the principle of majority and with its system of transmitting supreme 
power to individual men. * And this Roman "principate," as it is called, for the title of King 
was borne by no Caesar, forms to the present day the basis of all European kingships. By 
the introduction of constitutionalism, but still more by the manipulation of the law there 
is at present in many countries a movement back to the free standpoint of the ancient 
Romans; but everywhere "monarchical rule" is still in principle what the legal authorities of 
the fallen Roman State had made it, an institution which stands in direct contradiction to 
the true spirit of genuine Rome. The army is not even at the present day the army of the 
people, defending the home of that people, it is everywhere (even in England) called the 
army of the king; the officials are not appointed and invested with authority by the 
collective will, they are servants of the king. That is all Roman, but, as has been said, 
Roman of the cowboy, shepherd and swineherd age. I unfortunately cannot go into 
greater detail here, but must refer my readers to the classical works of Savigny, 
Geschichte des romischen Rechtes im Mittelalter, and Sybel, Entstehung des deutschen 
Konigtums, as also to Schulte, Deutsche Reichs- und Rechtsgeschichte. Among us the 
absolute monarchy has everywhere arisen through contact with the Roman Empire. 
Formerly the Teutonic Kings had everywhere limited rights; the touchstone of high 
treason was either not recognised as a crime or punished simply by a "wergild" (Sybel, 2nd 
ed., p. 352); the nomination of counts as officials of the king does not 

* As a not unimportant fact, I may be allowed to mention that rule by majority is just 
as little Teutonic or Greek as it was Roman. (See Leist, Graco-italische Rechtsgeschichte, 
pp. 129, 133 ff., 727.) 


occur till the conquest of Roman lands, in fact there is a long period in which the 
Teutonic kings have greater authority over their Roman subjects than over their free 
Franks (Savigny, I., chap. iv. div. 3). — Above all the idea of a subject, the Roman 
subjectus, is a legacy which still clings fast to us, and which should let us see very clearly 
what to this day connects us with the Roman Empire at the time of its fall, and how much 
still separates us from the genuine heroic people of Rome. 

In all this I have no wish to moralise in the interests of any tendency. The old Roman 
forms of government would not have been applicable to new conditions and new men; 
indeed they no longer sufficed even for Rome itself when once it had extended its 
boundaries. Add to this that Christianity had arisen, making the suppression of slavery an 
obvious command. All that made a strong kingdom a necessity. But for the kings, slavery 
would never have been abolished in Europe, the nobles would never have set their slaves 
free, they would rather have made free-born men their bondmen. The strengthening of the 
kingly office has everywhere for a thousand years been the first condition of the 
strengthening of an ordered state of society and civic freedom, and even to-day there is 
probably no country in Europe where an absolutely free plebiscite would proclaim as the 
will of the people any other form of government than the monarchical. Public 
consciousness, too, is penetrating through the deceptive veils which sophists and 
pettifoggers have hung round it, and is recognising the genuine legal meaning of the 
King, namely, the old Roman view of the first official of State, glorified by that sacred 
element which finds a not unsuitable mystical expression in the words, "by the Grace of 
God." Many things which we have noticed around us in the nineteenth century justify us in 
believing that without a kingship and without a special grace of God we could not, even 
to-day, rule ourselves. 


For that possibly not only the virtues but also the faults of the Romans, and above all 
their excessive intellectual sobriety, were necessary. 

However that may be, we see that the legacy of political and constitutional law which 
Rome has given us forms a complicated and confused mass, and that principally for two 
reasons: first of all, because Rome, instead of flourishing like Athens for a short time and 
then disappearing altogether, lived on for 2500 years, first as a world-ruling State, later as 
a mighty State-idea, whereby what had been a single impulse broke up into a whole 
series, which frequently neutralised each other; in the second place, because the work of 
an incomparably energetic, Indo-European race was revised and manipulated by the 
subtlest minds of the West- Asiatic mixed races, this again leading to the obliteration of 
unity of character. 

I hope that these brief allusions with regard to the extraordinarily complicated 
conditions of universal history have sufficed to guide the reader. For clear thinking and 

lucid conception it is above all indispensable to separate rightly and to connect rightly. 
This has been my endeavour, and to this I must needs confine myself. 


Besides this legacy which we have more or less unconsciously carried along with us, 
we Europeans possess an inheritance from Rome that has become more than any other 
inheritance from antiquity an essential element in our life and science, viz., Roman law. 
By that we have to understand public law (jus publicum) and private law (jus pvivatum). 
* To write about this is an 

* That the public law of the Romans has not exercised upon us moderns the same 
influence as the private does not justify us in leaving it unmentioned, since a model of 
private law could not come into existence without an excellent public law. 


easy task, inasmuch as this law is available to us in a very late codification, that of the 
Emperor Justinian, dating from the middle of the sixth century A.D. Besides, the efforts 
of jurists and historians have succeeded in tracing far back the growth of this law, and in 
recent years they have even been able on the one hand to demonstrate the connection of 
its origins with old Aryan law, and on the other to follow its fate in the various countries 
of Europe through centuries of vague ferment up to the present day. Here we have 
accordingly definite and clearly sifted material, and a legal expert can easily prove how 
much Roman law is contained in the law-books of our States to-day; it must also be easy 
for him to prove that the thorough knowledge of Roman law will for indefinite ages 
remain the canon of all strictly juridical thought. Here too in the Roman legacy we have 
to distinguish between two things: actual legal tenets, which have stood for centuries and 
to some extent are still valid, and besides this a treasure of ideas and methods. The legal 
expert can explain all this easily, but only when he is speaking to those who know law. 
Now I am no authority on law (though I have industriously and lovingly studied its 
fundamental principles and the general course of its history), nor am I entitled to suppose 
that my readers are informed on the subject; my task is therefore different and quite 
clearly defined by the purpose of this book. It is only from a summary and universally 
human standpoint that I can venture briefly to indicate in what sense Roman law was in 
the history of the Indo-European nations a factor of such unparalleled significance that it 
has remained a part of our culture to the present day. 

Why is it utterly impossible to speak of jurisprudence except to an audience equipped 
with a large store of technical juristical knowledge? This preliminary question will lead 
us at once to the heart of our subject, and 


will point the way to a perhaps not detailed, but at any rate accurate, analysis of what the 
Romans have accomplished in this department. 

Law is a technical subject: that is the whole answer. Like medicine, it is neither pure 
science nor pure art; and while every science in its results and every art by the impression 
which it makes can be communicated to all and so is in its essentialities common 
property, a technical subject remains accessible only to the expert. Cicero indeed 
compares jurisprudence with astronomy and geometry and expresses the opinion that "all 
these studies are in pursuit of the truth," * but this is a perfect example of a logically false 
comparison. For astronomy and geometry investigate actual, fixed, unchangeable 
conditions, some outside of, others inside the mind, t whereas legal decisions are derived 
first of all from the observation of variable, contradictory and ever undefinable 
tendencies, habits, customs and opinions, and jurisprudence as a discipline must 
according to the nature of things confine itself to the subject before it, formulating it more 
definitely, expressing it more exactly, making it more intelligible by comparison, and — 
above all — classifying it accurately by the finest analysis and adapting it to practical needs. 
Law is, like the State, a human, artificial creation, a new systematic arrangement of the 
conditions arising out of the nature of man and his social instincts. The progress of 
jurisprudence does not imply by any means an increase of knowledge (which must surely 
be the object of science), but merely a perfecting of the technical art; that is, however, a 
great deal and may presuppose high gifts. An abundant material is thus consistently and 

* De Officiis, i. 6. 

1 1 say this without any metaphysical arriere-pensee: whether mathematical conceptions 
are judgments a priori (as Kant asserts) or not, every one will admit that geometry is the 
purely formal activity of the mind, in contrast to the investigation of the heavens. 


increasing skill employed by the human will in working out the life-purpose of man. 

I shall introduce a comparison to make this clearer. 

How conditional and, consequently, how little to the purpose would be the statement 
that the God who formed iron also caused the smithy to be built! In a certain sense the 
remark would be undeniably correct: without definite tendencies which impelled him to 
search further and further, without definite capacities for invention and manipulation, 
man would never have attained to the working of iron; he did live long on the earth 
before he reached that stage. By acuteness and patience he at last succeeded: he learnt 
how to make the hard metal pliant and serviceable to himself. But here we have clearly 
not to deal with the discovery of any eternal truth, as in the case of astronomy and every 
genuine science, but on the one hand with patience and skill, on the other hind with 
suitability to practical purposes; in short, working iron is no science but, in the true sense 
of the Greek word, a technique, i.e., a matter of skill. And the conditions of this 
technique, since they depend on the human will (showing their relationship with art), 
vary with the times, with the tendencies and the habits of races, just as on the other hand 
they are influenced by the progress of knowledge (showing their relationship with 
science). In the nineteenth century, for example, the working of iron has passed through 
great changes which would have been inconceivable but for the progress of chemistry, 
physics, mechanics and mathematics; a practical art may thus demand manifold scientific 

knowledge from those who pursue it — but it does not for all that cease to be a practical art. 
And because it is a practical art, it can be learned by any one, however poor his mental 
endowments, provided only he has some skill, whereas on the other hand it is a dead 
letter even for the more gifted of men if he has not made himself familiar with its 


For while science and art contain something which is of interest to every intelligent 
person, an applied art is merely a method, a procedure, a manipulation, something 
artificial and not artistic, an application of knowledge, not really knowledge itself, a 
power, yet not a creative power, and so only that which is produced by it, i.e., the 
finished object, in which there is nothing technical left, can claim universal interest. 

It is exactly the same with jurisprudence, with this one difference, that the material 
here to be worked up is purely intellectual. In principle jurisprudence is and remains an 
applied art, and many an almost ineradicable misunderstanding would have been avoided 
if the legal authorities had not lost sight of this simple fundamental truth. From Cicero to 
the present day * excellent jurists have only too often looked upon it as their duty to 
claim for their branch of study the designation "science," cost what it might; they seem to 
fear that they will be degraded if their claims are held to be absurd. Naturally people will 
continue to speak of a "science of law"; but only in the derived sense; the mass of the 
material on law, history of law, &c., is so gigantic that it, so to speak, forms a little world 
for itself, in which research is made and this research is called science (Wissenschaft). 
But this is obviously an improper use of the word. The root "vid" denotes in Sanscrit to 
find; if language is not to pale into colourless ambiguity, we must see to it that a knowing 
(Wissen) always denotes a finding. Now a finding presupposes two things: in the first 
place, an object which is and exists before we find it; and secondly, the fact that this 
object has not yet been found and discovered; neither of the two things can be said of 
jurisprudence; for "law" does not exist till men make it, nor does it exist as a subject outside 
of our consciousness; besides, the science 

* See, for example, Holland; Jurisprudence, 6th ed., p. 5. 


of law does not reveal or find anything but itself. And so those ancient authorities were 
perfectly right who, instead of speaking of juris scientia, preferred to say juris notitia, 
juris peritia, juris prudentia, that is, practically, knowledge, skill, experience in the 
manipulation of law. 


This difference is of far-reaching importance. For it is only when we have recognised 
what law essentially is, that we can follow its history intelligently and comprehend the 
decisive importance of Rome in the development of this applied art. Now and now only 

can we not merely cut but untie that Gordian knot, the question of natural law. This great 
question, which has been the subject of dispute for centuries, arises solely and simply 
from a misunderstanding of the nature of law; whether we answer it by yes or no does not 
help us out of the maze. Cicero, in the confused manner peculiar to him, has used all sorts 
of oratorical flourishes on this subject; at one time he writes: in order to explain law, one 
must investigate the nature of man — there he seemed to be on the right track; immediately 
after he says that law is a "sublime reason" which exists outside of us and is "implanted in 
us"; then again we hear that law "arises out of the nature of things"; finally, that it was "born 
simultaneously with God, older than mankind." * I do not know why these quibbling 
platitudes are quoted everywhere; I do so merely lest I should be reproached with having 
heedlessly passed by so famous a fount of wisdom; however, I would draw the reader's 
attention to Mommsen's verdict: "Cicero was a journalist in the worst sense of the term, 
over-rich in words, as he himself confesses, and beyond all imagination poor in thoughts." t 
It was worse when 

* De legibus, i. 5 and 6, ii. 4, &c. 
t Romische Geschichte, iii. 620. 


their Asiatic love of dogmatism and stickling for principle induced the really important 
legal teachers of the so-called "classical jurisprudence" to formulate clearly the quite un- 
Roman idea of a natural law and to introduce it systematically. Ulpian calls natural law 
that "which is common to animals and men." A monstrous thought! Not merely in art is 
man a free creator, in law too he proves himself a magnificent inventor, an incomparably 
skilled, thoughtful workman, the forger of his own fate. Roman law is as characteristic a 
creation of the one individual human spirit as Hellenic art. What would be said of me if I 
were to speak of a "natural art" and then tried to draw an analogy, however far-fetched, 
between the spontaneous chirping of a bird and a tragedy of Sophocles? Because the 
jurists form a technical guild, many of them have for centuries talked nonsense like this 
without the world noticing it. Gaius, another classical authority whom the Jews claim as 
their countryman and who, history tells us, was "not deep but very popular," gives a less 
extravagant but equally invalid definition of natural law: he identifies it with the so-called 
jus gentium, that is, with the "common law" which grew out of the legal codes of the 
various races of the Roman provinces; in ambiguous words he explains that this law was 
common to "all nations of the earth": a fearful assertion, since the jus gentium is just as 
much the work of Rome as its own jus civile and represents only the result of the 
systematising activity of Roman jurisprudence amidst the confusion of contradictory and 
antagonistic codes. * The very existence of the jus gentium beside and in contrast to the 
Roman jus civile, as well as the confused history of the origin of this "Law of nations," 
should have made clear to the dullest eye that there is not one law but many; also that law 
is not an entity, which can be 

*Seep. 113. 


scientifically investigated, but a product of human skill, which can be viewed and carried 
out in very different ways. But the ghost of natural law still merrily haunts certain brains; 
for example, legal theorists, as far apart as Hobbes and Rousseau, agree in this one idea; 
but the greatest achievement was the famous Hugo Grotius ' division in natural, historical, 
and divine law, which makes one ask whether then the divine law was unnatural? or the 
natural a work of the devil? It needed the brilliant intellect and the outspoken 
impertinence of a Voltaire to venture to write: "Rien ne contribue peut-etre plus a rendre 
un esprit faux, obscur, confus, incertain, que la lecture de Grotius et de Pufendorf." * In 
the nineteenth century, however, this pale abstraction has been sharply attacked; the 
historians of law, and with them the brilliant theorist Jhering, have dealt the finishing 
blow. For this all that was really necessary was to understand that law is an applied art. 

Considered from this point of view it is easy to comprehend that in reality the idea 
"natural law" (jus naturae) contains a flagrant contradictio in adjecto. As soon as a legal 
agreement is come to among men — it does not at all need to be written, a convention silent 
or by word of mouth is in principle the same thing as a bulky civil code of law — for the 
state of nature has ceased; but if the pure natural impulse still prevails, eo ipso there is no 
law. For even if men in a natural state were to live together in association, no matter how 
mild and humane they might be towards one another, there would be no law, no jus; there 
would be just as little law as if the brutal power of the fist were the decisive factor with 
them. Law is a regulation of the relations of an individual to others, artificially arranged 
and enforced upon him by the community. It is an em- 

* Dictionnaire philosophique. J. J. Rousseau, too, calls Grotius "un enfant, et qui pis 
est, un enfant de mauvaise foi" (Emile, v.). 


ployment or these instincts which impel man to live together in societies, and, at the same 
time, of that necessity which forces him nolens volens to unite with his like: love and 
fear, friendship and enmity. If we read in the dogmatic metaphysicians, "Law is the 
abstract expression of the general will, existing of its own accord and for its own benefit," 
* we feel that we are getting air instead of bread to eat; when the great Kant says, "Law is 
the essence of the conditions under which the arbitrary will of the one can be harmonised 
with that of the other according to a universal law of freedom," t we must at once see that 
this is the definition of an ideal, the definition of a possible or at least thinkable state of 
law, but not an all-embracing definition of law in general, as it presents itself to us; 
besides, it contains a dangerous error. It is indeed a fallacy to suppose arbitrary will in the 
soul of the individual and then to construe law into a reaction against it; rather every 
individual manifestly acts according to the necessity of his nature, and the element of 
arbitrariness only comes in with the measures whereby this natural action is restricted; it 
is not the natural man that is arbitrary, it is the man of law. If we wished to attempt a 
definition with Kant's ideas as basis, we should have to say: Law is the essence of the 
arbitrary conditions, which are introduced into a human society, in order that the 
necessary action of one man may be counterbalanced by the necessary action of another 
and so harmonised as to give as large an amount of freedom as possible. The simplest 

formulation of the idea would be as follows: Arbitrariness in place of instinct in the 
relations of men to men is law. And by way of explanation it would have to be added that 
the non plus ultra of arbitrariness consists in declaring an arbitrarily established form (for 
punishment, buying, 

* Hegel, Propadeutik, Kursus i. § 26. 

t Metaphysische Anfangsgrunde der Rechtslehre, Einleitung, § B. 


marriage, testaments, &c.,) to be henceforth and for ever unchangeable, so that all actions 
thereby covered are invalid and have no legal support, whenever the prescribed form is 
not observed. Law is accordingly the lasting rule of definite arbitrary relations between 
men. Moreover, it is unnecessary to enter into speculations with regard to quite unknown 
prehistoric times, in order to see jus in simple forms, where this central element of 
arbitrariness clearly appears; we need only to look at the inhabitants of the Congo State 
to-day. Every little tribe has its chief; he alone decides matters of law and his decision is 
irrevocable. The legal disputes which occupy him are under such simple conditions of a 
very simple nature; they have to deal mostly with crimes against life and property; the 
penalty is death, seldom slavery; if the chief by motion of hand has given his decision 
against the accused, the latter is hacked into a hundred pieces by the bystanders and then 
eaten. The ideas of law therefore are very elementary on the Congo; and yet the idea of 
law is there; the natural man, that is, the man acting instinctively, would himself kill the 
supposed murderer or thief; here he does not do that, the criminal is dragged to the place 
of assembly and judged. Similarly the chief decides disputes of inheritance and the 
regulation of boundaries. The unlimited arbitrary power of the chief is accordingly the 
"law" of the land, it is the cement by which society is held together, instead of falling to 
pieces in a lawless condition of nature. * The progress of law lies in the practical 
development and the ethical clarification of this arbitrary element, t 

* I have no doubt that there, too, certain rules are rendered sacred by custom and 
binding also on the chief, but legally he is quite free; only the fear of being roasted and 
eaten himself can restrain him from any arbitrary procedure. 

t In reference to law as a "living power," as the product of "the creative thoughts of great 
individualities," in contrast to all the dogmatics of the supposed law of nature, read the 
interesting lecture of 



I think we have now sufficient material to enable us without technical discussions, and 
at the same time without phrase-making, to understand the special merits of the Roman 
people in regard to law, or at least the special character of those merits. The nature of our 
legacy will at the same time be exactly characterised. 

If law is not an inborn principle nor an exact science capable of investigation, but a 
useful adaptation of human capabilities to the building up of a society fitted for 
civilisation, then it is clear from the first that there will be and must be codes of law 
varying very much in value. Fundamentally a law will be influenced principally by two 
forces from which it will receive its characteristic colouring: first, by the moral character 
of the people in whose midst it comes into force, and, secondly, by the analytical 
acuteness of that people. By the happy union of both — a union occurring only once in the 
history of the world — the Roman people found themselves in a position to build up a legal 
code of great perfection. * Mere egoism, the greed of possession, will never suffice to 

Prof. Eugen Ehrlich, Freie Rechtsfindung und freie Rechtswissenschaft, Leipzig, 1903. 
* The assertion that history constantly repeats itself belongs to the countless untruths 
which are in circulation as wisdom among the "nonocentists." Never in history — as far as 
our knowledge goes — has anything repeated itself, never! Where is the repetition of 
Athens and Sparta? of Rome? of Egypt? Where has the second Alexander flourished? 
where a second Homer? Neither nations nor their great men return again. And so 
mankind does not become wiser by "experience"; the past offers it no paradigm for the 
present to form its judgment; it is made worse or better, wiser or more foolish, simply by 
the influences that are brought to bear on its intellect and character. Gutzkow's Ben Akiba 
was fundamentally wrong in his famous remark, "All has occurred before"! Such an ass as 
he himself never lived before, and, it is to be hoped, will never appear again. And even if 
this were so, it would only be the repetition of the individual who under new 
circumstances would commit new follies for our amusement. 


a lasting code of law; we have rather learned from the Romans that the inviolable respect 
for the claims of others to freedom and possession is the moral foundation upon which 
alone we can build for all time. One of the most important authorities on the Roman law 
and people, Karl Esmarch, writes: "The conscience of the Italian Aryans in regard to right 
and wrong is strong and unadulterated; in self-control and, when necessary, self-sacrifice, 
that virtue of theirs which springs from inner impulse and is supported by a most 
profound inner nature reaches its culmination." Because he knew how to rule himself the 
Roman was qualified to rule the world and to develop a strong idea of the State; by the 
fact that he could sacrifice his own interests to the universal weal, he proved his capacity 
to establish valid principles in regard to the rights of private property and of individual 
freedom. But these high moral qualities had to be supported by exceptional intellectual 
qualities. The Romans, quite insignificant in philosophy, were the greatest masters in the 
abstraction of firm principles from the experiences of life — a mastery which becomes 
specially remarkable when we compare other nations with them, as, for example, the 
Athenians, who, though marvellously gifted, and delighting in legal quarrels and 
sophistical law riddles, never were anything but blunderers in this branch of thought. * 
This peculiar capacity, to elevate definite practical relations to clearly defined principles 
implies a great intellectual achievement; for the first time order and lucidity of 
arrangement were brought into social conditions, just as language, by the formation of 

abstract collective words, had made higher systematic thinking possible. It is no longer a 
question of vague instincts nor of obscure and changing conceptions of justice and 
injustice; all relations stand definitely grouped before our 

* Cf. Leist, Graco-italische Rechtsgeschichte, p. 694, and for the following quotation, 
p. 682. 


eyes, and these relations are to be regulated by the invention of new legal rules or the 
further development of those already existing. And since life gradually widens 
experience, or itself assumes more complicated forms, the Roman acuteness little by little 
inside the individual "groups" discovers the "species." "In point of fine, carefully pondered 
ideas of right, Roman law is and will remain the permanent teacher of the civilised world," 
says Professor Leist, the very man who has done more than any other to prove that the 
Universities should give up the present one-sided Roman standpoint of history of law and 
should teach students to recognise Roman law as a link in the chain, as one of the steps 
"which the Aryan mind has mounted in the clearing up of legal conceptions." The more 
carefully we study the numerous attempts at legislation previous to and contemporary 
with the Roman, the more we recognise what incomparable services were rendered by 
Roman law and realise that it did not fall from heaven but was the creation of the 
intellects of grand and sturdy men. One thing must not be overlooked: in addition to the 
qualities of self-control, of abstraction, and the finest analysis, the Roman possessed a 
special gift of plastic shaping. Here appears their relationship to Hellenism, which we 
seek in vain elsewhere. The Roman too is an artist of mighty creative power — an artist in 
the clear, plastic shaping of the complicated machine of State. No theorist in the world 
could have thought out such an organism of State, which perhaps should rather be 
pointed to as a work of art than as a work of reason. He is still more an artist in the plastic 
working out of his conceptions of law. Highly characteristic too is the manner in which 
the Roman strives to give visible expression to his artistically moulded conceptions even 
in legal actions, everywhere "to give an outward expression to the inner diversity, to bring 
what is inward, so to speak, to the sur- 


face." * Here we have a decidedly artistic instinct, the outcome of specifically Indo- 
European tendencies. In this artistic element too lies the magic power of the Roman 
legacy; that is the indestructible and ever incomparable part of it. 

On one point indeed we must be quite clear; — Roman law is just as incomparable and 
inimitable as Hellenic art. Our ridiculous Germanomania will make no change in that. 
People tell marvels about a "German law," supposed to have been stolen from us by the 
introduction of the Roman; but there never was a German law, but merely a chaos of rude 
contradictory laws, a special one for each tribe. It is also absolutely inaccurate to speak of 
"adopting" Roman law between the thirteenth and the sixteenth centuries; for the Teutonic 
peoples have "adopted" continuously from the time when they first came into contact with 
the Roman Empire. Burgundians and East Goths as early as the fifth century of the 

Christian era (or at the very beginning of the sixth) introduced modified (corrupted) 
forms of Roman law, t and the oldest sources of Saxon, Prankish, Bavarian and 
Alemannic law, &c., are so interlarded with Latin words and half-understood principles, 
that the need of a reasoned codification of law is only too apparent. One might well 
relegate German law as an ideal to the future, but to seek it in the past is hypocritical 
twaddle, rj: Another hindrance 

* For examples, read the splendid chapter Plastik des Rechtes in Jhering's Geist des 
romischen Rechtes, § 23. Of the modern undramatic life of law, Jhering says: "One would 
have liked to give law, instead of a sword, a quill as its attribute, for the feathers were 
scarcely more necessary to the bird than to it, except that in the case of law the attribute 
produced the opposite effects and speed stood in converse relation to the amount of 
feathers employed." 

t Savigny, Geschichte des romischen Rechtes im Mittelalter, chap. i. 

1 1 know no more conclusive proof of the original incapacity of the Teutonic peoples to 
judge acutely in questions of law than that such a man as Otto the Great could not decide, 
otherwise than by a duel, the fundamental question whether descendants should inherit or 


to the proper estimation of Roman law is due to the frenzy produced by the dogma of 
evolution, which has led to such confusion of thought in the nineteenth century. The 
feeling for the Individual, the established view that the Individual alone has everlasting 
importance, has been seriously injured by it. Although the only effective powers that 
history reveals are absolutely individualised nations and great personalities that never 
recur, the theory of evolution leads to the idea that capacities and beginnings were 
everywhere identical and that essentially analogous structures must "develop" from these 
same germs. The fact that this never happens and that Roman law, for example, came into 
being once for all, does not disturb our dogmatists in the least. With this is connected the 
further conception of unceasing progress towards "perfection," in consequence of which 
our law must as a matter of course surpass the Roman, because it is later, and yet nature 
never offers an example of development taking place in anything living without entailing 
a corresponding loss. * Our civilisation stands high above the Roman; in respect of the 
vividness of our legal sense, on the other hand, an educated man of the nineteenth century 
can certainly not come up to a Roman peasant of the year 500 B.C. No one who has any 
thinking power and knowledge will dispute that. I said in relation to law, not to justice. 
When Leist writes, "The unprejudiced inquirer will not find that the present age as 
compared with the Roman has made such glorious advance in the practice or even in the 
knowledge of real justice," t he makes a remark well worth taking to heart; but I quote 
these words 

this judgment of Heaven was then adopted as a piece of law for good by a pactum 
sempiternum! (See Grimm, Rechtsaltertiimer, 3rd ed. p. 471.) 

* The detailed proof that the ideas of a progress and decline of humanity have no 
concrete significance will be found in the ninth chapter. 

t Graco-italische Rechtsgeschichte, p. 441. 


to make it clear that I do not here speak of justice, but of law, and to ensure that the 
difference between the two may be obvious. Our noble conception of the duties of 
humanity points, I am sure, to more enlightened ideas with regard to justice; the legal 
sense is, however, quite a different thing and is neither proved nor promoted even by the 
possession of the most perfect and yet imported systems of law. 

To understand how incomparable was the achievement of the Romans, one 
circumstance must certainly not be overlooked: the Justinian corpus juris with which we 
are familiar is only the embalmed corpse of Roman law. * For centuries skilled legal 
authorities kept in it a semblance of life by galvanic means; now all civilised nations have 
worked out a law of their own; but this would not have been possible without the Roman, 
we all lack the necessary talent. A single observation will suffice to show the cleft 
between the Romans and ourselves: Roman law of the real heroic period was firm as a 
rock but nevertheless incredibly elastic — "incredibly," I mean, to our modern, timid 
conceptions, for we have taken everything from that law, except its living character. The 
Roman law was always "in a state of growth," and capable, thanks to certain brilliant 
contrivances, of adapting itself to the changing needs of the times. The law, which in the 
fifth century B.C. was in its general outlines engraved in bronze tables by the decemvirs 
nominated for that purpose, was not a new and improvised code, nor one which from that 
time forth was immutable, but was more or less a codification of already existing laws 
which had grown up historically; the Romans knew how to invent ways and means to 
keep it even then from crys- 

* Francis Bacon points out how inferior the corpus juris of Justinian is to the genuine 
Roman law, and blames so "dark an age" for taking the liberty of laying hands upon the 
work of so "brilliant an age" in order to improve it. (See the dedication of the Law Tracts.) 


tallising. In dealing with the Twelve Tables, for example, the officials did good service 
by their acumen in "interpreting" — not with the object of twisting the statutes to suit some 
special purpose, but of adapting them half-automatically to wider conditions; brilliant 
inventions — as, for example, that of the legal "fiction," by which means were found (if I may 
express myself as a layman) of putting to use existing legal norms to forestall others that 
were not yet existent — and constitutional arrangements, like those of the Praetors, by 
which a place was assured to that law of custom which is so necessary in a living 
organism, till the best law has been provided by practice, arrangements by means of 
which the jus gentium also gradually developed in close touch with the narrower Roman 
jus civile — all these things brought about a fresh pulsating life in law — a life which no one 
can appreciate unless he has studied law, inasmuch as we have nothing of the kind, 
absolutely nothing. * Moreover, in order to estimate the gulf between us and the Romans, 
we must remember that real scholarly and trained jurists did not come into existence till 
the end of the republic, and that this splendid, and in most parts most delicately chiselled 

product of legal applied art is the work of peasants and rude warriors. The reader should 
try to make clear to an average philistine of the present day the juristical difference 
between property and possession, to bring home to him that a thief is the legal possessor 
of the stolen object, and as such enjoys legal protection for his possession, as does also 
the pawnbroker and the hereditary landlord; he will not succeed, I know it from 
experience; I purposely choose this as a simple example. The Roman peasant, on the 
other hand, who could neither read 

* Especially of the year's edicts of the Praetors. Leist says that they had become "the 
principal moment in the finer development of Roman law" (as quoted above, p. 622). 


nor write, knew all this quite accurately five hundred years before Christ. * He certainly 
did not know much more, but his law he knew and employed with as exact knowledge as 
he did his plough or his oxen; and by knowing it and thinking about it, t by striving to 
obtain for himself, his possessions, and his relatives an ever firmer and more definite 
legal protection, he built up that legal structure, under which at a later time other races 
found shelter in stormy days, and which we at the present day with more or less success, 
with more or less changes, seek to extend, finish and perfect. No people but the Romans 
could of themselves have created and built it up, for nowhere else was there present the 
necessary conjunction of qualities of character and of intellect, and this law had to be 
lived before it was thought, before the arrival of those worthies who could tell us so much 
that was edifying in regard to a "natural law," and thought it comparable to the geometry 
which the scholar puzzles out in his lonely room. 

In later times Hellenes and Semites have rendered great services as dogmatists and 
advocates, Italians as teachers of law. Frenchmen as systematisers, Germans as 
historians; in none of the races mentioned, however, could one have found the soil that 
could bring that tree to maturity. In the case of the Semites, for instance, the moral 
subsoil was wanting, in the case of the Germans acumen. The Semites have great moral 
qualities, but not those from which a law for civilised nations could have been developed. 
For the disregard of the legal claims and the freedom of others is a feature that ever 
reappears in all races strongly imbued with Semitic blood. Already in ancient Babylon 
they had a finely worked out law of commerce and obligations; but even in this limited 

* See the clear distinction between property and possession in Table Vn., clause 11. 
t In Cicero's time every boy still learned the Twelve Tables by heart. 


branch nothing was done to suppress the frightful exaction of usury, and as for 
safeguarding personal rights, that of freedom, for instance, no one ever even thought of it. 
* But even under more favourable circumstances, for instance, among the Jews, there is 
not even the beginning of a genuine formation of law; strange as that may appear, a 
single glance at the legal clauses of the greatest Jewish thinker, Spinoza, solves the 
riddle. In his Political Tractate (ii. 4 and 8) we read, "The right of each one is in proportion 

to his power." Here we might of course imagine that it was merely a question of 
establishing actual relations, for this second chapter bears the title "On Natural Law." t 
However, in his Ethics (Part IV., Supplement, 8) we find in black and white: "According 
to the highest law of nature every man has unlimited power to do that which in his 
opinion will be in his interest"; and in the treatise On True Freedom we find the words: "To 
obtain that which we demand for our salvation and our peace, we need no other principle 
than this, to lay to heart what is for our own interests." t That it does not disconcert so 
honest a man to build up a pure theory of morals upon such foundations is the finest 
testimony to his inborn casuistical gifts; but it proves that Roman law could never have 
grown on Jewish soil. No, there 

* Compare the very minute information in Jhering's Vorgeschichte der Indoeuropaer, p. 
233 ff. The usual rate of interest in Babylon was 20 to 25 per cent. Jhering asserts that 
interest was a Babylonian, a Semitic (not a Sumarian) invention; he says, "all other 
peoples owe their acquaintance with it to the Babylonians." Honour to whom honour is 
due! Also the subtlest form of interest, for instance, the favourite plan of lending money 
without interest, by immediately taking it from the capital, was well known in ancient 
Babylon, even before Homer had begun to write verses. When, then, shall we be spared 
the old fiction that it was only in recent centuries that the Semites were forced by the 
persecution of Christians to become usurers? 

t How astonished Cicero and Seneca, Scaevola and Papinian would have been at such a 
conception of natural law ! 

t The resemblance between the principles (not the conclusions) of Spinoza and of 
Nietzsche is striking enough to claim our attention. 


would have been at the most a simplified code, such as King Tippu Tib, for instance, may 
use on the Congo. * It was only on the foundation of a law invented and worked out in 
detail by Indo-Europeans that the Jew could display his astonishing juristical abilities. — 
The drawbacks in the case of the German lie in quite a different direction. Self-sacrifice, 
the impulse "to build from within outwards," the emphasising of the ethical moment, the 
unswerving love of freedom, in short, all the requisite moral qualities they would have 
possessed in abundance; — not the intellectual ones. Acumen was never a national 
possession of the Teutons; that is so manifest that it requires no proof. Schopenhauer 
asserts that "the real national characteristic of the German is duUwittedness 
(Schwerfalligkeit)." Moreover, the peculiar gifts of the Germans are a hindrance in the 
formation of law — his incomparable fancy (in contrast to the flat empiricism of the Roman 
imagination), the creative passion of his mind (in contrast to the cool sobriety of the 
Roman), his scientific depth (in contrast to the practical political tendencies of the born 
legal race), his lively sense of fairness (in social relations always a weak reed in 
comparison with the strictly legal attitude of the Roman). No, this people could never 
have brought the applied art 

* A few years ago I met in society an educated Jew, an owner of petroleum wells and a 
member of the notorious petroleum-ring. No argument could convince the honest man. 

who would not have harmed a fly, how morally condemnable such a ring was; his 
constant answer was, "I can, and therefore I may!" Spinoza word for word, as one can see. — 
This brings up the grave question as to whether in Teutonic countries men of Jewish race 
should be appointed judges. Without any passion or prejudice, without doubting the 
knowledge and the spotless honour of those in question, one ought to ask oneself, on the 
ground of historical and ethical data, whether it should be taken for granted that these 
men are capable of completely assimilating a conception of law which is so thoroughly in 
opposition to their natural tendencies; whether they really understand and feel this law 
which they use so masterfully. Whoever has come to recognise the clearly marked 
individuality of the various races of mankind can bring up such a question in all 
seriousness and without any ill-will. 


of law to high perfection; it resembles too closely the Indo-Aryans, whose "complete lack 
of the juristical power of distinguishing" is demonstrated by Jhering in his Vorgeschichte 
der Indoeuropaer, § 15. 


I should like to introduce another national comparison with regard to the formation of 
law, that between the Hellenes and the Romans. It reveals the essence of Roman law, the 
one point to which I may call special attention in this book. At the same time it will make 
us feel how deeply our civilisation is indebted to the Roman legacy. My discussion will 
be brief, and though it deals with the simple beginnings of the remote past, it will also 
introduce us to the burning questions of the immediate present. 

Every educated person knows that the Greeks were not only great politicians but at the 
same time great theorists in law. The "lawsuit about the shadow of the ass" * is an ancient 
Attic witticism, which satirises excellently the love of this thoughtless, litigious people 
for actions at law. I recall too the Wasps of Aristophanes with the heartrending prayers of 
Philocleon when shut in by his son: "Let me out, let me out — to judge!" But we should look 
further around. Homer has a court scene represented on the shield of Achilles (Hiad, xviii. 
497 ff.), Plato's largest works are on politics and the theory of law (the Republic and the 
Laws), Aristotle's Rhetoric is in parts simply a handbook for advocates beginning their 
profession; notice, for example, how in chap. xv. of the first book he expounds a detailed 
theory of deceptive sophistry for hedge-lawyers, gives them 

* An Athenian hires an ass to carry his baggage to Megara. At a resting-place he sits 
down in the shadow of it; the driver will not permit this without extra payment, as he had 
hired the ass but not its shadow. 


hints how to twist the law to the advantage of their clients, and advises them to let their 
clients swear false oaths in court, whenever it is to their advantage... * 

We see that, except in Sparta (where according to Plutarch's assurance there were 
absolutely no cases), the Hellenic atmosphere was charged with questions of law. The 
Romans, always ready to recognise the merits of others, had, from time immemorial, 
recourse to the Greeks, particularly to the Athenians, for advice in the development of 
their law. Even when they were about to fix their fundamental legal principles (in the 
Twelve Tables) for the first time, they sent a commission to Greece, and in the final 
editing of this earliest monument, an Ephesian, Hermodorus, who was banished from his 
native city, is said to have been of considerable service. Time made no change in this. 
The great authorities on law, a Mucius Scaevola, a Servius Sulpicius, have a thorough 
knowledge of Hellenic legal enactments; Cicero, and all that this name stands for, derives 
his obscure remarks on divine justice, natural law, &c., from Greek philosophers: in the 
pseudo-Platonic Minos he might have read that law is the discovery of an objective thing, 
not a human invention, and from Aristotle he quotes the words, "The universal law, 
because it is the natural law, never changes, but the written law, on the other hand, often 
does." t In the later period of the imperial decay, when the 

* This belongs, according to the great philosopher, to "the means of persuasion that lie 
outside of art." 

t Up to the present day one finds this passage quoted in juristical works, but with little 
justification, as Aristotle is here giving merely a rhetorical trick for use in court and on 
the next page teaches the use of the opposite assertion. Still less to the point is the 
passage from the Nicomachean Ethics, v. 7, which culminates in the sentence, "Law is the 
mean between a certain advantage and a certain disadvantage." How great does 
Democritus show himself here as always when he says, with that clear insight 
characteristic of him, that "laws are the fruits of human thinking in contrast to the things of 
nature" (Diogenes Laertius, ix. 45). 


Roman people had disappeared from the face of the earth, the so-called "classical 
jurisprudence" was founded and put into shape almost entirely by Greeks more or less of 
Semitic descent. There is a remarkable want of information with regard to the antecedents 
and history of the most famous teachers of law in the later Roman ages; all of a sudden 
they appear in office and dignity, no one knowing whence they have come. * But at the 
beginning of the Imperial rule with its inevitable influence upon the life of law the 
passionate struggle between Labeo, the irrepressible, free old plebeian, and Capito the 
upstart, who is striving for wealth and honour, is truly pathetic; it is the struggle for 
organic free development in opposition to the faith in authority and dogma. And dogma 
conquered in the legal sphere as in that of religion. — But in the meantime, as we have said, 
the practical Romans had learned a great deal in Greece, especially from Solon, who had, 
as a builder of States, achieved little that lasted, but accomplished all the more in the 
sphere of law. Whether Solon was the originator of written legislation and the 
momentous principle of actiones (the division of suits according to definite principles), or 
whether he merely systematised and fixed them — I know not: at any rate both are derived 
from Athens, t This I mention only as an instance of the great importance of Greece in the 
development of Roman law. Later, when all Hellenic countries were under Roman 

administration, the Greek cities contributed most to the formation of the jus gentium and 
in that way to the perfecting of Roman law. Here we may ask, how is it that the Hellenes, 
so superior intellectually to the Romans, created nothing 

* With regard to the predominantly Semitic and Syrian race-connection of the later 
codifiers and embalmers of the Roman law, for whom we have shown too much 
admiration, see p. 91 ff. of the address of Leonhard quoted on p. 125. 

t Leist, Graco-italische Rechtsgeschichte, p. 585. 


in the branch of knowledge that was lasting or perfect, but shared in the great civilising 
work of the formation of law solely through the medium of the Romans? 

A single but fatal mistake was at the bottom of it: the Roman started from the family, 
on which basis he erected State and law; the Greek, on the other hand, took as his 
starting-point the State, his ideal being always the organisation of the "polls," while family 
and law remained subordinate. All Greek history and literature prove the correctness of 
this assertion, and the fact that the greatest Hellene of post-Homeric times, Plato, 
considered the complete abolition of the family in the upper classes a desirable aim, 
shows to what fatal confusions such a fundamental error must in time lead. With perfect 
right Giordano Bruno says (I forget where), "The very smallest mistake in the way in 
which a thing is attacked leads finally to the very greatest erroneous discrepancies; thus 
the most trifling mistake in the ramification of thought can grow as an acorn does into an 
oak." * And this was not "the very smallest mistake" but a very great one. Herein lies all the 
misery of the Hellenic peoples; here we have to seek the reason of their inability to 
develop either State or Law in a lasting and ideal manner. If we take up a careful 
individual account, for example Aristotle's book The Athenian Constitution, discovered a 
few years ago, this succession of constitutions, all different and all breathing an 
essentially different spirit, makes us giddy: the pre-Draconian, those of Draco, Solon, 
Cleisthenes, Aristeides, Pericles, the Four Hundred, &c. &c., all within two hundred and 
fifty years ! Such a state of things would have been impossible where there existed a 
firmly knit family life. Without that it was easy for the Greeks to arrive at that 

* The above words are perhaps from one of the very free translations by Kuhlenbeck. 
In Bruno's De Immenso et Innumerabilibus I found the following remark (Bk. n. chap, i): 
"Parvus error in principio, magnus in fine est." 


unhistorical view of theirs, that law was a subject for free speculation; and so they lost all 
feeling for the fact that in order to live, law must grow out of actual conditions. * And 
how striking it is that even the most important questions of family law are regarded as 
subordinate, that Solon, for example, the most prominent Athenian as a lawyer, leaves the 
law of inheritance so obscure, that it is left to the caprice of the law-courts to interpret it 
(Aristotle, as above, division IX). — With Rome it was different. The strong tendency to 

discipline here finds its first expression in the firm organisation of the family. The sons 
remain under the control of the father, not merely till their fourteenth year, as in Greece, 
but till the death of the father; by the exclusion of relationship on the mother's side, by the 
legal recognition of the unlimited power of the pater-familias, even in regard to the life 
and death of his children, (although his son might have risen in the meantime to the 
highest offices in the State), by the greatest freedom and the most accurate individual 
enactments in reference to the law of wills and legacies, by the strictest protection of all 
the father's rights of property and legal claims (for he alone possessed a right to property 
and was a persona sui juris, i.e., a person with full rights at law) — by these things and 
many more the family became in Rome an impregnably firm, indissoluble unity, and it is 
essentially to this that we are indebted for the particular form of the Roman State and 
Roman law. One can easily imagine how such a strict conception of the family must 
affect the whole life, the morals of the men, the character of the children, the anxiety to 
retain and to bequeath what had been acquired, the love of country, which did not need to 
be artificially nourished, as in 

* J. Jacques Rousseau makes an excellent remark in this connection: "Si quelquefois les 
lois influent sur les moeurs, c'est quand elles en tirent leur force" (Lettre a d'Alembert). 


Greece: for the citizen fought for what was assured to him for ever, he fought for his 
sacred home, for the future of his children, for peace and order. 


The intimate conception of marriage and the position of women in society are naturally 
connected with all this. Here we have evidently the positive element in the formation of 
the Roman family, that which could not be fixed by law but which on the contrary 
determined the forms of law. Among old Aryans marriage was already regarded as a 
"divine institution," and when the young wife crossed the threshold of her new home she 
was received with the cry, "Come into the house of thy husband, that thou mayest be 
called mistress; be therein as one who commands!" * In this very point, Greeks and 
Romans, otherwise so manifoldly related, differed from one another. In Homer's time we 
certainly see the woman highly respected by the Greeks, and the comrade of the man; but 
the lonians who emigrated to Asia Minor took strange wives, "who did not venture to call 
the Greek husband by his name, but addressed him as master — this degeneration of the 
Asiatic lonians has reacted on Athens." t The Roman, on the other hand, regarded his wife 
as his companion and equal, his life's mate, one who shared everything, divine as well as 
human, with him. The wife has, however, this position in Rome not because she is wife, 
but because she is a woman, i.e., because of the respect which the Roman pays to the 
female sex as such. In all relations where the natural difference of sex does not make a 
distinction necessary, the Roman puts woman on an equality with himself. There is no 
more convincing proof of this than the old Roman law of inheritance. 

* Zimmer, Indisches Leben, p. 313 ff. 

t Etfried Miiller, Dorier, 2nd ed, i. 78, ii. 282 (quoted from Leist). 


which makes absolutely no difference between the two sexes: the daughter receives 
exactly the same as the son, the kinswoman the same as the kinsman; if there are no 
children, the widow receives the whole inheritance and excludes the male line; the sister 
does the same when there is no widow. We must be acquainted with the slighting 
treatment to which the female sex is subjected in the laws of so many other nations to 
understand the significance of this point; in Greece, for instance, the nearer male relation 
excluded the wife altogether, and the lot of a daughter was indeed lamentable, the nearest 
male relation having the power to take her from her husband. * The Roman wife was 
honoured in her house as princess, princeps familiae, and the Roman law speaks of the 
matronarum sanctitas, the sacredness of wives who are blessed with children. Children 
who in any way sinned against their parents fell under the ban of gods and men; no 
penalty was enacted for the murder of a father, because, as Plutarch tells us, this crime 
was considered unthinkable — in fact it was more than five hundred years before a case of 
parricide occurred, t To form a right conception of this old Roman family, we must keep 
one other fact in view: that in Roman 

* Jhering: Entwickelungsgeschichte des romischen Rechtes, p. 55. Among the Teutons 
it was no better. "The right of inheritance is in the oldest German laws either restricted or 
denied to women altogether," says Grimm, Deutsche Rechtsaltertumer, 3rd ed. p. 407. The 
concessions gradually granted are to be traced to Roman influence. Where this was little 
or not at all felt, the German legal books, even in the Middle Ages, still show the 
"complete inequality of women." In the extreme North, in Scandinavia and in oldest Frisia, 
a woman could inherit nothing at all, neither movable nor fixed property: "the man enters 
into inheritance, the woman leaves it." Not till the thirteenth century did women receive a 
limited right of inheritance (Grimm, p. 473). These are the conditions of law to which the 
Germanomaniacs longingly desire to return! 

t (Romulus, xxix.) It may be mentioned by way of contrast that it was the custom 
among the Germans till the introduction of Christianity (among the Wends even till the 
seventeenth century) to kill old weak parents! (See Grimm: Rechtsaltertumer, pp. 486- 


life the sacred element, that is, the reverence for divine commands, played a great part. 
While the paterfamilias was, according to human law, an absolute despot in his house, the 
divine command forbade him to abuse this power. * The home was indeed a sanctuary, 
the hearth comparable to an altar; and while it is somewhat revolting to our feelings to- 
day to hear that parents in very great poverty sometimes sold their children as slaves, yet 
all histories of law give one the firm impression that any cruelty, according to ideas of 
that age, towards wife or children was almost or quite unknown. Indeed at law the wife is 
in relation to her husband filiae loco (equal to a daughter) in relation to her own children 

sororis loco (equal to a sister): but this is done in the interests of the unity of the family, 
and in order that, in constitutional as well as in private law relations, the family may 
appear as a sharply defined, autonomous, organic entity, represented at law by a single 
person, not as a more or less firm conglomerate of merely individual fragments. We have 
already seen in the political part of this chapter that the Roman loved to transmit power to 
single individuals, confident that from freedom united to responsibility, both focussed, so 
to speak, in a personality conscious of its individuality, moderate, and at the same time 
energetic and wise action would result. It is the same principle that prevails here. Later 
this family life degenerated; cunning means were invented to bring into usage substitutes 
for genuine marriage, in order that the wife should no longer come into the legal power of 
the husband; "marriage became a money matter like everything else; not in order to found 
families, but to improve shattered fortunes by means of dowries, were marriages 
contracted, and existing ones 

* Besides he was subject to the censorial power, as much for too great strictness in the 
exercise of his paternal rights as for carelessness therein; see Jhering: Geist des 
romischen Rechtes, § 32. 


dissolved, in order to form new unions"; * but in spite of this Publius Syrus could in 
Caesar's time still express the Roman conception of marriage by the line: 

Perenne animus conjugium, non corpus facit. 

The soul, not the body, makes marriage eternal. 


This is the central point of Roman law; the contrast with Greece (and with Germany) 
gives us an idea of the importance of such an organic central point. Here too the Roman 
proves himself far from unideal, though he is absolutely without sentiment and almost 
painfully devoid of phantasy. Indeed, his "idea" is so strong, that what he really in his heart 
desired never again altogether disappeared. We have already seen in the preceding 
section that ideas are immortal, and though the Roman State was destroyed, yet the idea 
of it lived on through the centuries, a still powerful influence; at the end of the nineteenth 
century four mighty monarchs of Europe still bear the title of Caesar, and the idea of res 
publica is still moulding the greatest State of the new world. But Roman law does not live 
on merely as a Justinian mummy or a technical secret, revealed only to members of the 
craft; no, I believe that the life-giving germ from which that law had fundamentally 
grown was never totally destroyed, but continues to live on among us as a most valuable 
possession, in spite of the darkness of disgracefully wicked centuries and the 
disintegrating ferment that followed them. We still talk of the sacredness of the family; 
any one who, like certain Socialists, denies it is struck from the list of politicians capable 

of forming a judgment, and even those who are not pious Catholics will a hundred times 
rather become reconciled to the concep- 

* Esmarch: Romische Rechtsgeschichte, p. 317. 


tion that marriage is a religious sacrament (as it indeed was in ancient Rome; the 
Pontificate in this as in so much else being directly based on old Roman Pontifical law 
and proving itself the last official representative of Heathendom), than admit that 
marriage is, as the learned Anarchist leader Elisee Reclus elegantly says, "merely legal 
prostitution." That we feel thus is a Roman legacy. The high position of woman too, which 
makes our civilisation rank far above the Hellenic and the various degenerate Semitic and 
Asiatic types, is not, as Schopenhauer and so many others have taught, a "Christian- 
Teutonic," but a Roman creation. As far as one can judge, the old Teutons cannot have 
treated their women particularly well; here Roman influence appears to have first brought 
about a change; the oldest German lawbooks are, in reference to the legal position of the 
wife, full of phrases taken literally from Roman law (see Grimm: Deutsche 
Rechtsaltertumer, II. chap, i., B. 7 and ff.). It was the work of the Romans to give woman 
a firm, secure, legal position in Europe. The "fair sex" was indeed first glorified in song by 
Germans, Italians, French, English and Spaniards; the Roman people had not thought of 
that. * But I ask, whether without the keen penetration and sense of justice, above all 
without the incomparable State-building instinct of the Romans, we should ever have 
advanced so far as to take woman into our political system as our life's comrade and the 
cornerstone of the family? I think I may answer a decided no. Christianity in no wise 
signifies a strengthening of the idea of the family. On the contrary, its real essence is to 
destroy all political and legal bonds and make every single individual rely upon himself. 
And it was from 

* I speak of the true, chaste woman; for the adulteress and the courtesan were loudly 
celebrated by the most popular of degenerate Rome's poets, Catullus and Virgil 


the Christian Emperor Constantine, who annulled the sovereignty of the paterfamilias, 
that the Roman family in fact received its death-blow. Christianity, moreover, being 
derived from Judaism, is from the first an anarchic, anti-political power. That the 
Catholic Church followed a different road and became a political power of the greatest 
magnitude, is to be attributed simply to the fact that it denied the clear teaching of Christ 
and adopted instead the Roman State-idea — though it was only the idea of the degenerate 
Roman State. The Church did more than any other power for the maintenance of Roman 
law; * Pope Gregory IX., for instance, aspired solely to the title of a "Justinian of the 
Church"; this recognition of his juristical services lay nearer his heart than sanctification. t 
Though the motives that impelled the Church and the Kings to retain and forcibly 
introduce Roman law in its degenerate Byzantine form were not particularly noble ones. 

yet that could not prevent many very noble Roman thoughts from being saved at the same 
time. And just as the tradition of Roman law never died, so, too, the Roman conception of 
the dignity of woman and of the political importance of the family never quite 
disappeared from the consciousness of men. For several centuries (here as in so many 
things the thirteenth century is with Petrus Lombardus the almost exact border-line) we 
have come nearer and nearer to the old Roman conception, particularly since the Council 
of Trent and Martin Luther simultaneously emphasised the sacredness of marriage. That 
this approach is in many respects a purely ideal one does not matter; a perfectly new 
civilisation cannot too thoroughly free itself from old forms; as it is, we pour far too 
much new wine into old bottles; but I do not think 

* See particularly Savigny: Geschichte des romischen Rechtes im Mittelalter, chaps, 
iii. XV. xxii., &c. 

t Bryce: The Holy Roman Empire, p. 131 of the French edition. 


that any unprejudiced man will deny that the Roman family is one of the most glorious 
achievements of the human mind, one of those heights which cannot be scaled twice, and 
to which the most distant generations will look up in admiration, making sure at the same 
time that they themselves are not straying too far from the right path. In every study of 
the nineteenth century, e.g., when discussing the burning question of the emancipation of 
women or when forming an opinion with regard to those socialistic theories which, in 
contrast to Rome, culminate in the formula, "No family, all State," the contemplation of this 
lofty height will be of invaluable service. 


I have attempted a somewhat difficult task — that of speaking untechnically on a 
technical subject. I have had to confine myself to proving the peculiar fitness of the 
Romans for bringing to perfection this practical art; what I have tried to emphasise as 
their most far-reaching achievement for human society — the strong legal establishment of 
the family — is, as will have been noticed, similar in essence to the original impelling force 
from which the technical mastery had gradually grown up. All that lies between, that is, 
the whole real practical art, had to be neglected, and equally all discussion of the 
advantages and disadvantages of the preponderating influence of Roman law in the 
nineteenth century in its purely technical connection. And without needing to tread upon 
such dangerous quicksands, there are plenty of suggestive considerations for us laymen. 

I have intentionally confined myself to politics and law. What did not come down to us 
as a legacy does not fall within the scope of this book, and many things that have been 
preserved to us, as, for example, the works of 


Latin poets, claim the attention of the scholar and the dilettante, but do not form a living 
part of our life. To put Greek and Latin poetry together and call them "classical literature" 
is a proof of incredible barbarism in taste and of a regrettable ignorance of the essence 
and value of the art of genius. Whenever Roman poetry attempts the sublime, as in Virgil 
and Ovid, it clings with a correct sense of its own hopeless unoriginality as slavishly as 
possible to Hellenic models. As Treitschke says, "Roman literature is Greek literature 
written in Latin." * What are our unhappy boys to think when in the forenoon the Hiad of 
the greatest poetical genius of all times is expounded to them and in the afternoon that 
servile epic the Aeneid, written by imperial command — both as classical models? The 
genuine and the false, the glorious, free creation arising out of the greatest creative 
necessity and the finely formed technique in the service of gold and dilettantism, genius 
and talent, presented as two flowers from the same stem, differing but little! As long as 
that pale abstraction, the idea of "classical literature," lives on among us as dogma, so long 
will the night of the chaos of races overshadow us, so long will our schools be sterilising 
institutions destroying every creative impulse. Hellenic poetry was a beginning — a dawn — 
it created a people, it lavished upon them all that the highest beauty can impart to make 
life sacred, all that poetry can do to elevate hapless, tortured human souls and to fill them 
with a feeling of invisible friendly powers — and this fount of life wells on and never again 
dries up: one century after the other is refreshed by it, one people after another draws 
from its waters the power of inspiration to create beauty themselves; for genius is like 
God: it indeed reveals itself at a definite time and under 

* With regard to the great Lucretius as an exception, see the note on p. 35. 


distinct conditions, but in its essence it is free from conditions; what becomes a fetter to 
others is the material out of which it makes for itself pinions, it rises out of time and 
time's death-shadow, and passes in all the glow of life into eternity. In Rome, on the other 
hand, one may boldly assert, genius was altogether forbidden. Rome has no poetry till it 
begins to decline. It is not till the night sets in, when the Roman people is no longer there 
to hear, that the singers of Rome raise their voices; they are night flutterers; they write for 
the boudoirs of lascivious ladies, for the amusement of men of the world and for the 
court. Although Hellenes were close neighbours and from the earliest times scattered the 
seeds of Hellenic art, philosophy and science (for all culture in Rome was from the first 
of Greek origin), not a single grain took root. Five hundred years before the birth of 
Christ the Romans sent to Athens, to glean accurate information regarding Greek law; 
their ambassadors met Aeschylus in the fulness of his powers and Sophocles already 
active as a creative artist; what an artistic splendour must have sprung up in the all- 
vigorous Rome after such contact, if even the slightest talent had been there! But it did 
not. As Mommsen says, "The development of the arts of the Muse in Latium was rather a 
drying up than a growing up." The Latins until their decline had no word for poet, the idea 
was strange to them! — If now their poets were without exception devoid of genius, 
wherein lay the importance of those among them who, like Horace and Juvenal, have 
always excited the admiration of the linguistic artists? Manifestly, as with everything that 

comes from Rome, their importance lay in their art. The Romans were great builders — of 
sewers and aqueducts; * magnificent painters — of room-decorations; great 

* And yet not inventors even here; see Hueppe's investigations into the waterworks of 
the ancient Greek, Rassenhygiene der Griechen, p 37. 


manufacturers — of objects belonging to the industrial arts; in their circuses, masters of the 
art of fighting fought for money and professional charioteers drove on the racecourse. 
The Roman could be a virtuoso, not an artist; all virtuosity interested him, but no art. The 
poems of Horace are technical masterpieces. Apart from their historically picturesque 
interest as descriptions of a life that has vanished, the virtuosity alone in these poems 
attracts us. The "wisdom of life," some one suggests by way of reproach? Yes, if such a 
matter-of-fact and prosaic wisdom were not better anywhere else than in the fairy realm 
of art, the wide-open, childlike eyes of which proclaim from every Hellenic work of 
poetry quite a different wisdom from that which occurs to Horace and his friends between 
cheese and dessert. One of the most truly poetical natures that ever lived, Byron, says of 

It is a curse 

To understand, not feel thy lyric flow. 

To comprehend, but never love thy verse. 

What kind of art is that which speaks to the intelligence, never to the heart? It can only be 
an artificial work, an applied art; if it came from the heart it would go to the heart. In 
truth we still stand in this matter under French tutelage as the French stand under Syrian- 
Jewish (Boileau — pseudo-Longinus); and though little of this inheritance has come into 
modern life, we should cast it off once for all in favour of our own poets in words and 
music, divinely inspired men, whose works tower high as the heavens above all that shot 
up in unhealthy haste like etiolated plants without root and without sap on the ruins of 
fallen Rome. * 

* Of the very considerable literature which in the last years has been written on this 
question, and with which I have but little acquaintance, I recommend especially the small 
work of Prof. Albert Heintze, Latein und Deutsch, 1902, which is written with as much 
knowledge as it is to the point and devoid of passion. 


In the hands of the specialist, i.e., of the philologist, Latin poetry will be as surely and 
suitably preserved as the corpus juris in those of the investigators of law. If, however, the 
Latin tongue is to be retained at all costs as the universal trainer of the mind (instead of 
teaching Greek alone but more thoroughly), then let it be seen at work where it 
accomplishes wonders, where it, in accordance with the particular tendency of the Roman 
people and with its historical development, does what no other language ever did or will 

be able to do — in the plastic moulding of legal notions. People say that the Latin language 
educates the logical sense; I will believe it, although I cannot help remarking that it was 
this very language in which during the scholastic centuries, in spite of all logic, more 
nonsense was written than in any other at any time; but whereby has the Latin language 
acquired a character of such conciseness and definiteness? By the fact that it was built up 
solely as the language of business, administration and law. This the most unpoetical of all 
languages is a magnificent monument of the momentous struggle of free men to obtain a 
sure code of law. Let our boys see it at work here. The great law-teachers of Rome have 
eo ipso written the finest Latin; that, and not verse-writing, was the business of the 
language; the faultlessly transparent formation of sentences, which shut out every 
possibility of misconstruction, was an important instrument of juristical applied art. From 
the study of law alone Cicero has taken his qualities of style. Mommsen says even of the 
oldest documents of the language of business and law that they were distinguished by 
"acumen and definiteness," * and philologists are of opinion that in the language of 
Papinian, one of the last great teachers of law (in the time of Marcus Aurelius), we have 
"the culmination of the capacity always to find the 

* Romische Geschichte, i. 471. 


expression which fully answers to the depth and clearness of the thought"; his sentences, 
they say, stand as though chiselled out of marble: "not a word too much, not one too few, 
every word in the absolutely right place, thus rendering, as far as this is feasible with 
language, every ambiguity impossible." * Intercourse with such men would indeed be a 
valuable addition to our education. And it seems to me that when every Roman boy knew 
the Twelve Tables by heart, it would be appropriate and intellectually beneficial to our 
youths to leave school not merely as stupid, learned subjecti, but with some accurate 
conceptions of private and constitutional law, thinking not merely according to formal 
logic, but also reasonably and practically, and steeled against all empty raving about 
"German law" and such-like. In the meantime, because of the position we take up in 
reference to the Latin language, this legacy is badly administered and consequently of but 
little profit. 


We men of the nineteenth century should not be what we are if a rich legacy from 
these two cultures, the Hellenic and the Roman, had not come down to us. And so we 
cannot in the least judge what we truly are, and confess with modesty how little that is, if 
we do not form a quite clear conception of the nature of these inheritances. I hope that my 
endeavours in this direction will not have been quite fruitless and I hope also that the 
reader will especially have noticed that the legacy of Rome is utterly and fundamentally 
different from that of Greece. 

In Hellas the personality of genius had been the decisive factor: whether on this side or 
on that of the Adriatic and the Aegean Seas, the Greeks were great so long as they 

* Esmarch: Romische Rechtsgeschichte, p. 400. 


possessed great men. In Rome, on the other hand, there were only great individualities in 
so far and so long as the people was great, and it was great as long as it physically and 
morally remained genuinely Roman. Rome is the extreme example of a great corporate 
national power, which works unconsciously but all the more surely. For that reason, 
however, it is less attractive than Hellas, and hence what Rome did for our civilisation is 
seldom justly estimated. And yet Rome commands our admiration and gratitude; its gifts 
were moral, not intellectual; but by this very fact it was capable of achieving great things. 
Not the death of a Leonidas could save Europe from the Asiatic peril, upholding man's 
dignity with man's freedom, and handing it over to future ages to cultivate in peace and 
consolidate; this could only be accomplished by a long-lived State, unbending and 
inexorably consistent in its politics. But neither theory nor fanaticism nor speculation 
could create this long-lived State; it had to be rooted in the character of the citizen. This 
character was hard and self-seeking, but great by reason of its high sense of duty, by its 
capacity for making sacrifices and by its devotion to the family. The Roman, by erecting 
amidst the chaos of contemporary attempts at State-building a strong and solid State of 
his own, provided a model for all ages to come. By bringing his law to a technical 
perfection previously unknown, he laid the foundations of jurisprudence for all mankind. 
By following his natural inclination and making the family the centre of State and law, 
by, in fact, almost assigning extravagant importance to this conception, he raised woman 
to equality with man and transformed the union of the sexes into the sacredness of 
marriage. While our artistic and scientific culture is in many essential points derived from 
Greece, our social culture leads us back to Rome. I am not speaking 


here of material civilisation, which is derived from many countries and epochs and 
especially from the inventive industry of recent centuries, but of the secure moral 
foundations of a dignified social life; the laying of these was a great work of culture. 




By the virtue of One all have been truly saved. 


BEFORE our eyes there stands a vision, distinct, incomparable. This picture which we 
behold is the inheritance which we have received from our Fathers. Without an accurate 
appreciation of this vision, we cannot measure and rightly judge the historical 
significance of Christianity. The converse, on the other hand, does not hold good, for the 
figure of Jesus Christ has, by the historical development of the Churches, been dimmed 
and relegated to the background, rather than unveiled to the clear sight of our eyes. To 
look upon this Figure solely by the light of a church doctrine, narrowed both in respect of 
place and of time, is voluntarily to put on blinkers and to narrow our view of the eternally 
Divine. The vision of Christ, moreover, is hardly touched upon by the dogmas of the 
Church. They are all so abstract that they afford nothing upon which either our 
understanding or our feelings can lay hold. We may apply to them in general what an 
artless witness, St. Augustine, said of the Dogma of the Trinity: "But we speak of three 
Persons, not because we fancy that in so doing we have uttered something, but simply 


because we cannot be silent." * Surely we are guilty of no outrage upon due reverence if 
we say, it is not the Churches that constitute the might of Christianity, for that might is 
drawn solely from the fountain head from which the churches themselves derive all their 
power — the contemplation of the Son of Man upon the Cross. 

Let us therefore separate the vision of Christ upon earth from the whole history of 

What after all are our nineteen centuries for the conscious acceptance of such an 
experience — for the transformation which forces itself through all the strata of humanity 
by the power of a fundamentally new aspect of life's problems? We should remember that 
more than two thousand years were needed before the structure of the Kosmos, capable 
as it is of mathematical proof and of demonstration to the senses, became the fixed, 
common possession of human knowledge. Is not the understanding with its gift of sight 
and its infallible formula of 2x2=4 easier to mould than the heart, blind and ever befooled 
by self-seeking? Here is a man born into the world and living a life through which the 
conception of the moral significance of man, the whole philosophy of life, undergoes a 
complete transformation — through which the relation of the individual to himself, to the 
rest of mankind, and to the nature by which he is surrounded, is of necessity illuminated 
by a new and hitherto unsuspected light, so that all motives of action, all ideals, all 
heart's-desires and hopes must be remoulded and built up anew from their very 
foundations. Is it to be believed that this can be the work of a few centuries? Is it to be 
believed that this can be brought about by misunderstandings and lies, by politic intrigues 
and oecumenical councils, at the word of command of kings maddened by ambition, or of 
greedy priests, 

* "Dictum est tamen tres personae, non ut aliquid diceretur, sed ne taceretur." — De 
Trinitate, V. chap. ix. 


by three thousand volumes of scholastic disputations, by the fanatical faith of narrow- 
minded peasants and the noble zeal of a small number of superior persons, by war, 
murder and the stake, by civic codes of law and social intolerance? For my part I disclaim 
any such belief. I believe that we are still far, very far, from the moment when the 
transforming might of the vision of Christ will make itself felt to its utmost extent by 
civilised mankind. Even if our churches in their present form should come to an end, the 
idea of Christianity would only stand out with all the more force. In the ninth chapter I 
shall show how our new Teuton philosophy is pushing in that direction. Even now, 
Christianity is not yet firm upon its childish feet: its maturity is hardly dawning upon our 
dim vision. Who knows but a day may come when the bloody church-history of the first 
eighteen centuries of our era may be looked upon as the history of the infantile diseases 
of Christianity? 

In considering the vision of Christ, then, let us not allow our judgment to be darkened 
by any historical delusions, or by the ephemeral views of our century. We may be sure 
that up to the present we have only entered upon the smallest portion of this same 
inheritance, and if we wish to know what is its significance for all of us, be we Christians 
or Jews, believers or unbelievers, whether we are conscious of our privilege or not — then 
must we in the first place stop our ears against the chaos of creeds and of blasphemies 
which beshame humanity, and in the next place raise our eyes up to the most 
incomparable vision of all times. 

In this section I shall be forced critically to glance at much that forms the intellectual 
foundation of various religions. But just as I leave untouched that which is hidden in the 
Holy of Holies of my own heart, so I hope to steer clear of giving offence to any other 
sensible man. It is as easy to separate the historic vision of 


Christ from all the supernatural significance which dwells in it as it must be to treat 
Physics upon a purely material basis without imagining that in so doing we have 
dethroned Metaphysics. 

Christ indeed can hardly be spoken of without now and again crossing the boundary; 
still belief, as such, need not be touched, and if I as historian proceed logically and 
convincingly, I can bear with any refutation which the reader may bring forward as a 
question of feeling, as apart from understanding. With this consciousness I shall speak as 
frankly in the following chapters as I have done in those which have gone before. 


The religious faith of more than two-thirds of all the inhabitants of the earth to-day 
starts from the life on earth of two men, Christ and Buddha, men who lived only a few 
centuries ago. We have historical proofs of their having actually existed, and that the 
traditions regarding them, though containing much that is fabulous and uncertain, obscure 
and contradictory, nevertheless give us a faithful picture of the main features of their real 
lives. Even apart from this sure result of the scientific investigations of the nineteenth 
century, * men of acute and sound judgment will never have doubted the actual existence 

of these great moral heroes: for although the historical and chronological material 
regarding them is extremely scanty and imperfect, yet their moral and intellectual 
individuality stands out so clearly and brilliantly before our eyes, and this individuality is 
so incomparable, that it could not be 

* The existence of Christ was denied even in the second century of our era, and 
Buddha till twenty-five years ago was regarded by many theologians as a mythical figure. 
See, for example, the books of Senart and Kern. 


an invention of the imagination. The imagination of man is very narrowly circumscribed; 
the creative mind can work only with given facts: it was men that Homer had to enthrone 
on Olympus, for even his imagination could not transcend the impassable boundary of 
what he saw and experienced; the very fact that he makes his gods so very human, that he 
does not permit his imagination to soar to the realm of the Extraordinary and 
Inconceivable (because never seen), that he rather keeps it in subjection, in order to 
employ its undivided force to create what will be poetical and visible, is one of a 
thousand proofs, and not the least important one, that intellectually he was a great man. 
We are not capable of inventing even a plant or animal form; when we try it, the most we 
do is to put together a monstrosity composed of fragments of all kinds of creatures known 
to us. Nature, however, the inexhaustibly inventive, shows us a new thing whenever it so 
pleases her; and this new thing is for our consciousness henceforth just as indestructible 
as it formerly was undiscoverable. The figure of Buddha, much less that of Jesus Christ, 
could not be invented by any human poetical power, neither that of an individual nor that 
of a whole people; nowhere can we discover even the slightest approach to such a thing. 
Neither poets, nor philosophers, nor prophets have been able even in their dreams to 
conceive such a phenomenon. Plato is certainly often mentioned in connection with Jesus 
Christ; there are whole books on the supposed relation between the two; it is said that the 
Greek philosopher was a forerunner who proclaimed the new gospel. In reality, however, 
the great Plato is a quite irreligious genius, a metaphysician and politician, an investigator 
and an aristocrat. And Socrates! The clever author of grammar and logic, the honest 
preacher of a morality for philistines, the noble gossip of the Athenian gymnasia, — is he 
not in every respect 


the direct contrast to the divine proclaimer of a Heaven of them "that are poor in spirit"? In 
India it was the same: the figure of a Buddha was not anticipated nor conjured up by the 
magic of men's longing. All such assertions belong to the wide province of that delusive 
historic philosophy which constructs after the event. If Christ and Christianity had been 
an historical necessity, as the neoscholastic Hegel asserts, and Pfleiderer and others 
would have us believe to-day, we should inevitably have seen not one Christ but a 
thousand Christs arise; I should really like to know in what century a Jesus would not 
have been just as "necessary" as our daily bread? * Let us therefore discard these views that 
are tinged with the paleness of abstraction. The only effect they have is to obscure the 

one decisive and pregnant thing, namely, the importance of the living, individual, 
incomparable personality. One is ever and anon forced to quote Goethe's great saying: 

Hochtes Gliick der Erdenkinder 
1st nur die Personlichkeit! 

The circumstances in which the personality is placed — a knowledge of its general 
conditions in respect of time and space — will certainly contribute very much towards 
making it clearly understood. Such a knowledge will enable us to distinguish between the 
important and 

* Hegel in his Philosophic der Geschichte, Th. in., A. 3, chap, ii., says about Christ: 
"He was born as this one man, in abstract subjectivity, but so that conversely finiteness is 
only the form of his appearance, the essence and content of which is rather infiniteness 
and absolute being-for-self.... The nature of God, to be pure spirit, becomes in the 
Christian religion manifest to man. But what is the spirit? It is the One, the unchanging 
infinity, the pure identity, which in the second place separates itself from itself, as its 
second self, as the being-for-itself and being-in-itself in opposition to the Universal. But 
this separation is annulled by this, that the atomistic subjectivity, as the simple relativity 
to itself, is itself the Universal, Identical with itself." What will future centuries say to this 
clatter of words? For two-thirds of the nineteenth it was considered the highest wisdom. 


the unimportant, between the characteristically individual and the locally conventional. It 
will, in short, give us an increasingly clearer view of the personality. But to explain it, to 
try to show it as a logical necessity, is an idle, foolish task; every figure — even that of a 
beetle — is to the human understanding a "wonder"; the human personality is, however, the 
mysterium magnum of life, and the more a great personality is stripped by criticism of all 
legendary rags and tatters, and the more successful that criticism is in representing each 
step in its career as something fore-ordained in the nature of things, the more 
incomprehensible the mystery becomes. This indeed is the final result of the criticism to 
which the life of Jesus has been submitted in the nineteenth century. This century has 
been called an irreligious one; but never yet, since the first Christian centuries, has the 
interest of mankind concentrated so passionately around the person of Jesus Christ as in 
the last seventy years; the works of Darwin, however widespread they were, were not 
bought to one-tenth the extent of those of Strauss and Renan. And the result of it all is, 
that the actual earthly life of Jesus Christ has become more and more concrete, and we 
have been compelled to recognise more and more distinctly that the origin of the 
Christian religion is fundamentally to be traced to the absolutely unexampled impression 
which this one personality had made and left upon those who knew Him. So it is that to- 
day this revelation stands before our eyes more definite and for that very reason more 
unfathomable than ever. 

This is the first point to be established. It is in accordance with the whole tendency of 
our times, that we can grow enthusiastic only in regard to what is concrete and living. At 

the beginning of the nineteenth century it was different; the Romantic movement threw 
its shadows on all sides, and so it had become fashionable 


to explain everything "mythically." In the year 1835 David Strauss, following the example 
proffered on all sides, presented as a key to the gospels "the idea of the myth"! * Every one 
now recognises that this so-called key was nothing more than a new, mistily vague 
paraphrase of a still-unsolved problem, and that not an "idea," but only an actually lived 
existence, only the unique impression of a personality, whose like the world had never 
before known, supplies the "key" to the origin of Christianity. The greater the amount of 
such useless ballast that was manifest on the one hand in the shape of pseudo-mythical 
(or rather pseudo-historical) legend-making, on the other in the form of philosophically 
dogmatic speculation, the greater is the power of life and resistance that must be 
attributed to the original impelling and creating force. The most modern, strictly 
philological criticism has proved the unexpected antiquity of the gospels and the 
extensive authenticity of the manuscripts which we possess; we have now succeeded in 
tracing, almost step for step, the very earliest records 

* Seefirst edition, i. 72 ff., and the popular edition (ninth) p. 191 ff. Strauss never had 
the least notion what a myth is, what mythology means, how it is produced by the 
confusion and mingling of popular myths, poetry and legends. That, however, is another 
story. Posterity will really not be able to understand the reception given to such dreary 
productions as those of Strauss: they are learned, but destitute of all deeper insight and of 
any trace of genius. Just as bees and ants require in their communities whole cohorts of 
sexless workers, so it seems as if we human beings could not get along without the 
industry and the widespread but ephemeral influence of such minds, marked with the 
stamp of sterility, as flourished in such profusion about the middle of the nineteenth 
century. The progress of historico-critical research on the one hand, and on the other the 
increasing tendency to direct attention not to the theological and subordinate, but to that 
which is living and decisive, causes one to look upon the mythological standpoint of 
Strauss as so unintelligent that one cannot turn over the leaves of this honest man's 
writings without yawning. And yet one must admit that such men as he and Renan (two 
concave mirrors which distort all lines, the one by lengthening, the other by broadening) 
have accomplished an important work — by drawing the attention of thousands to the great 
miracle of the fact of Christ and thus creating a public for profounder thinkers and wiser 


of Christianity in a strictly historical manner. * But all this when considered from the 
universal human standpoint is of much less importance than the one fact, that in 
consequence of these researches the figure of the one Divine Man has been brought into 
relief, so that the unbeliever as well as the believer is bound to recognise it as the centre 
and source of Christianity, taking the word in the most comprehensive sense possible. 


A few pages back I placed Buddha and Christ in juxtaposition. The kernel of the 
religious conceptions of all the more gifted races of mankind (with the two exceptions of 
the small family of the Jews on the one hand and their antipodes the Brahman Indians on 
the other) has been for the past few thousand years not the need for an explanation of the 
world, nor mythological Nature-symbolism, nor meditative transcendentalism, but the 
experience of great characters. The delusion of a "rational religion" still haunts us; 
occasionally too in recent years there has been talk of a "replacing of religion by 
something higher," and on the hilltops of certain German districts new "worshippers of 
Wotan" have offered up sacrifice at the time of the solstice; but none of these movements 
have exercised the slightest influence upon the world. For ideas are immortal — I have said 
so already and shall have to repeat it constantly — and in such figures as Buddha and Christ 
an idea — that is, a definite conception of human existence — acquires such a living bodily 
form, becomes so thoroughly an experience of life, is placed so clearly before the eyes of 
all men, that it can never more disappear from their conscious- 

* Later there came a dark period upon which light has still to be thrown. 


ness. Many a man may never have seen the Crucified One with his eyes; many a man 
may constantly have passed this revelation carelessly by; thousands of men, even among 
ourselves, lack what one might call the inner sense to perceive Christ at all; on the other 
hand, having once seen Jesus Christ — even if it be with half-veiled eyes — we cannot forget 
Him; it does not lie within our power to remove the object of experience from our minds. 
We are not Christians because we were brought up in this or in that Church, because we 
want to be Christians; if we are Christians, it is because we cannot help it, because neither 
the chaotic bustle of life nor the delirium of selfishness, nor artificial training of thought 
can dispel the vision of the Man of Sorrow when once it has been seen. On the evening 
before His death, when His Apostles were questioning Him as to the significance of one 
of His actions. He replied, "I have given you an example." That is the meaning not only of 
the one action but of His whole life and death. Even so strict an ecclesiastic as Martin 
Luther writes: "The example of our Lord Jesus Christ is at the same time a sacrament, it is 
strong in us, it does not, like the examples of the fathers, merely teach, no, it also effects 
what it teaches, it gives life, resurrection and redemption from death." The power of 
Buddha over the world rests on similar foundations. The true source of all religion is, I 
repeat, in the case of the great majority of living people not a doctrine but a life. It is a 
different question, of course, how far we, with our weak capability, can or cannot follow 
the example; the ideal is there, clear, unmistakable, and for centuries it has been 
moulding with incomparable power the thoughts and actions of men, even of unbelievers. 

I shall return to this point later in another connection. If I have introduced Buddha 
here, where only the figure of Christ concerns me, I have done so for this reason, that 
nothing shows up a figure so well as comparison. 


The comparison, however, must be an appropriate one, and I do not know any other than 
Buddha in the history of the world whom we could compare with Christ. Both are 
characterised by their divine earnestness; they have in common the longing to point out to 
all mankind the way of redemption; they have both incomparably magnetic personalities. 
And yet if one places these two figures side by side, it can only be to emphasise the 
contrast and not to draw a parallel between them. Christ and Buddha are opposites. What 
unites them is their sublimity of character. From that source have sprung lives of 
unsurpassed loveliness, lives which wielded an influence such as the world had never 
before experienced. Otherwise they differ almost in every point, and the neo-Buddhism 
which has been paraded during recent years in certain social circles in Europe — in the 
closest relation, it is said, to Christianity and even going beyond it — is but a new proof of 
the widespread superficiality of thought among us. For Buddha's life and thought present 
a direct contrast to the thought and life of Christ: they form what the logician calls the 
"antithesis," what to the natural scientist is the "opposite pole." 


Buddha represents the senile decay of a culture which has reached the limit of its 
possibilities. A Prince, highly educated, gifted with a rich fulness of power, recognises 
the vanity of that education and that power. He professes what to the rest of the world 
seems to be the Highest, but with the vision of truth before him, this possession melts 
away to nothing. Indian culture, the outcome of the meditative contemplation incident to 
a pastoral life, had thrown itself with all the weight of its lofty gifts into the development 
of the one attribute 


peculiar to mankind — Reason with the power of combination: so it came to pass that 
connection with the surrounding world — childlike observation with its practical adaptation 
to business — languished, at any rate among the men of higher culture. Everything was 
systematically directed to the development of the power of thought: every educated youth 
knew by heart, word for word, a whole literature charged with matter so subtle that even 
to this day few Europeans are capable of following it: even geometry, the most abstract of 
all methods of representing the concrete world, was too obvious for the Indians, and so 
they came instead to revel in an arithmetic which goes beyond all possibility of 
presentation: the man who questioned himself as to his aim in life, the man who had been 
gifted by nature with the desire to strive for some highest goal, found on the one side a 
religious system in which symbolism had grown to such mad dimensions that it needed 
some thirty years to find oneself at home in it, and on the other side a philosophy leading 
up to heights so giddy that whoso wished to climb the last rungs of this heavenly ladder 
must take refuge from the world for ever in the deep silence of the primeval forest. 
Clearly here the eye and the heart had lost their rights. Like the scorching simoom of the 
desert, the spirit of abstraction had swept with withering force over all other gifts of this 

rich human nature. The senses indeed still lived — desires of tropical heat: but on the other 
side was the negation of the whole world of sense: between these nothing, no 
compromise, only war, war between human perception and human nature, between 
thought and being. And so Buddha must hate what he loved; children, parents, wife, all 
that is beautiful and joyous — for what were these but veils darkening perception, bonds 
chaining him to a dream-life of lies and desire? and what had he to do with all the 
wisdom of the Brahmans? Sacrificial ceremonies which no 


human being understood, and which the priests themselves explained as being purely 
symbolical and to the initiated futile: — beyond this a redemption by perception accessible 
to scarcely one man in a hundred thousand. Thus it was that Buddha not only cast away 
from him his kingdom and his knowledge, but tore from his heart all that bound him as 
man to man, all love, all hope: at one blow he destroyed the religion of his fathers, drove 
their gods from the temple of the world, and rejected as a vain phantom even that most 
sublime conception of Indian metaphysics, that of a one and only God, indescribable, 
unthinkable, having no part in space or time, and therefore inaccessible to thought, and 
yet by thought dimly imagined. There is nothing in life but suffering, this was Buddha's 
experience and consequently his teaching. The one object worth striving for is 
"redemption from suffering." This redemption is death, the entering into annihilation. But 
to every Indian the transmigration of souls, that is the eternal reincarnation of the same 
individual, was believed in as a manifest fact, not even to be called in question. Death 
then, in its ordinary shape, cannot give redemption: it is the gift of that death only upon 
which no reincarnation follows: and this redeeming death can only be attained in one 
way, namely, that man shall have died during his life and therefore of his own free will: 
that is to say, that he shall have cut off and annihilated all that ties him to life, all love, all 
hope, all desire, all possession: in short, as we should say with Schopenhauer, that he 
shall have denied the will to live. If man lives in this wise, if while yet alive he makes 
himself into a moving corpse, then can the reaper Death harvest no seed for a 
reincarnation. A living Death! that is the essence of Buddhism! We may describe 
Buddhism as the lived suicide. It is suicide in its highest potentiality: for Buddha lives 
solely and only to die, to be 


dead definitely and beyond recall, to enter into Nirvana — extinction. * 


What greater contrast could there be to this figure than that of Christ, whose death 
signifies entrance into eternal life? Christ perceives divine Providence in the whole 
world; not a sparrow falls to the ground, not a hair on the head of a man can be injured, 
without the permission of the Heavenly Father. And far from hating this earthly 
existence, which is lived by the will and under the eye of God, Christ praises it as the 

entry into eternity, as the narrow gate through which we pass into the Kingdom of God. 
And this Kingdom of God, what is it? A Nirvana? a Dream-Paradise? a future reward for 
deeds done here below? Christ gives the answer in one word, which has undoubtedly 
been authentically handed down to us, for it had never been uttered before, and no one of 
His disciples evidently understood it, much less invented it; indeed, this eagle thought 
flashed so far in front of the slow unfolding of human knowledge that even to the present 
day few have seen the meaning of it — as I said before, Christianity is still in its infancy — 
Christ's answer was, "The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they 
say, Lo here or lo there. For behold, the Kingdom of God is within you." This is what 
Christ himself calls the "mystery"; it cannot be expressed in words, it cannot be defined; 
and ever and ever again the Saviour endeavours to bring home 

* I have translated das nichts by extinction, which is the rendering of Nirvana by Rhys 
Davids. He says: "What then is Nirvana, which means simply going out, extinction"; and 
then he goes on to say that it ought to be translated "Holiness." But that will not do here, 
nor is it altogether incapable of being argued. Extinction gives Chamberlain's meaning 
better than "nothingness," which is not quite satisfactory. Perhaps "Holy Extinction" comes 
near to the Buddhist conception. The idea of Rhys Davids would thus not be lost. 
(Translator's Note.) 


His great message of salvation by means of parables: the Kingdom of God is like a grain 
of mustard seed in the field, "the least of all seeds," but if it is tended by the husbandman, it 
grows to a tree, "so that the birds of the air come and lodge under its branches"; the 
Kingdom of God is like the leaven among the flour, if the housewife take but a little, it 
leavens the whole lump; but the following figure speaks most plainly: "the Kingdom of 
God is like unto a treasure hid in a field." * That the field means the world, Christ 
expressly says (see Matthew xiii. 38); in this world, that is, in this life, the treasure lies 
concealed; the Kingdom of God is buried within us! That is the "mystery of the Kingdom 
of God," as Christ says; at the same time it is the secret of His own life, the secret of His 
personality. An estrangement from life, as in the case of Buddha, is not to be found in 
Christ, there is, however, a "conversion" of the direction of life, if I may so call it, as, for 
example, when Christ says to His disciples, "Verily I say unto you. Except ye be 
converted, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of God." t At a later period this so easily 
grasped "conversion" received — perhaps from a strange hand — the more mystical expression, 
"Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." The words do not 
matter, what is important is the conception underlying them, and this conception stands 
out luminously clear, because it gives form to the whole life of 

* The expression Uranos or "Kingdom of Heaven" occurs only in Matthew and is 
certainly not the right translation into Greek of any expression used by Christ. The other 
evangelists always say "Kingdom of God." (Cf. my collection of the Worte Christi, large 
edition, p. 260, small edition, p. 279, and for more learned and definite explanation see H. 
H. Wendt's Lehre Jesu, 1886, pp. 48 and 58.) 

t The emphasis clearly does not lie on the additional clause "and become as little 
children"; this is rather an explanation of the conversion. What is it that distinguishes 
children? Unalloyed joy in life and the unspoilt power of throwing a glamour over it by 
their temperaments. 


Christ. Here we do not find a doctrine like that of Buddha with a logical arithmetical 
development; nor is there, as has so frequently been asserted by the superficial, any 
organic connection with Jewish wisdom: read the words of Jesus Sirach, who is most 
frequently compared with Christ, and ask yourselves whether that is "Spirit of the same 
Spirit"? Sirach speaks like a Jewish Marcus Aurelius and even his finest sayings, such as 
"Seek wisdom until death, and God will fight for you," or, "The heart of the fool lies upon 
his tongue, but the tongue of the wise man dwells within his heart," are as a sound from 
another world when put beside the sayings of Christ: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall 
inherit the earth; blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God; take my yoke upon 
you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you will find rest unto your 
souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." No one had ever spoken like that 
before, and no one has spoken so since. These words of Christ have, however, as we can 
see, never the character of a doctrine, but just as the tone of a voice supplements by a 
mysterious inexpressible something — which is the most personal element in the 
personality — what we already know about a man from his features and his actions, so do 
we seem to hear in them his voice: what he exactly said we do not know, but an 
unmistakable, unforgettable tone strikes our ear and from our ear enters our heart. And 
then we open our eyes and see this figure, this life. Down through the ages we hear the 
words, "Learn of me," and we understand what they mean: to be as Christ was, to live as 
Christ lived, to die as Christ died, that is the Kingdom of God, that is eternal life. 

In the nineteenth century, the ideas of pessimism and negation of the will, which have 
become so common, have been frequently applied to Christ; but though they fit Buddha 
and certain features of the Christian churches 


and their dogmas, Christ's life is their denial. If the Kingdom of God dwells in us, if it is 
embraced in this life like a hidden treasure, what becomes of the sense of pessimism? * 
How can man be a wretch born only for grief, if the divinity lies in his breast? How can 
this world be the worst of all possible worlds (see Schopenhauer: Die Welt als Wille und 
Vorstellung, vol. ii. chap, xlvi.) if it contains Heaven? For Christ these were all delusive 
fallacies; woe to you. He said of the learned, "who shut up the Kingdom of God against 
men; for ye neither go in yourselves neither suffer ye them that would enter to go in," and 
He praised God that He had "revealed to babes and sucklings what He had hidden from the 
wise and prudent"; Christ, as one of the greatest men of the nineteenth century has said, 
was "not wise, but divine"; t that is a mighty difference; and because He was divine, Christ 
did not turn away from life, but to life. This is eloquently vouched for by the impression 
which Christ made and left upon those who knew Him; they call Him the tree of life, the 
bread of life, the water of life, the light of life, the light of the world, a light from above 

sent to lighten those that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death; Christ is for them the 
rock, the foundation upon which we are to build our lives, &c, &c. Everything is positive, 
constructive, affirmative. Whether Christ really brought the dead to life may be doubted 
by any one who will; but such a one must estimate all the more highly the life-giving 
impression which radiated from this figure, for wherever Christ went people believed that 
they saw the dead come to life and the sick rise healed from their beds. Everywhere He 
sought out the suffering, the poor, those laden with sorrow, 

* I need scarcely say that I take the word pessimism, which is capable of such a variety 
of interpretations, in the popular, superficial sense of a moral frame of mind, not a 
philosophical cognition. 

t Diderot also, to whom one cannot attribute orthodox faith, says in the Encyclopedic: 
"Christ ne fut point un philosophe, ce fut un Dieu." 


and bidding them "weep not," consoled them with words of life. From inner Asia came the 
idea of flight from the world to the cloister. Buddhism had not in truth invented it, but 
gave it its greatest impulse. Christianity, too, imitated it later, closely following the 
Egyptian example. This idea had already advanced to the very neighbourhood of the 
Galilean; yet where does one find Christ preaching monastic doctrines of seclusion from 
the world? Many founders of religion have imposed penance in respect of food upon 
themselves and their disciples; not so Christ; He emphasises particularly that He had not 
fasted like John, but had so lived that men called Him a "glutton and a winebibber." All the 
following expressions which we know so well from the Bible — that the thoughts of men 
are vain, that the life of man is vanity, he passes away like a shadow, the work of man is 
vain, all is vanity — come from the Old, not from the New Testament. Indeed such words 
as those, for example, of the preacher Solomon, "One generation passeth away and another 
generation cometh, but the earth abideth for ever," are derived from a view of life which is 
directly contrary to that of Christ; because according to the latter Heaven and earth pass 
away, while the human breast conceals in its depths the only thing that is everlasting. It is 
true that Jesus Christ offers the example of an absolute renunciation of much that makes 
up the life of the greater proportion of mankind; but it is done for the sake of life; this 
renunciation is the "conversion" which, we are told, leads to the Kingdom of Heaven, and it 
is not outward but purely inward. What Buddha teaches is, so to speak, a physical 
process, it is the actual extinction of the physical and intellectual being; whoever wishes 
to be redeemed must take the three vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. In the case 
of Christ we find nothing similar: He attends marriages. He declares wedlock to be a holy 


ordinance of God, and even the errors of the flesh he judges so leniently that He Himself 
has not a word of condemnation for the adulteress; He indeed speaks of wealth as 
rendering the "conversion" of the will more difficult — as, for example, when He says that it 
is more difficult for a rich man to enter into that kingdom of God which lies within us 
than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, but He immediately adds — and this is 

the characteristic and decisive part — "the things which are impossible with men are possible 
with God." This is again one of those passages which cannot be invention, for nowhere in 
the whole world do we find anything like it. There had been enough and to spare of 
diatribes against wealth before (one need only read the Jewish Prophets), they were 
repeated later (read, for instance, the Epistle of James, chap, ii.); according to Christ, 
however, wealth is a mere accessory, the possession of which may or may not be a 
hindrance, for the one thing which concerns Him is the inner and spiritual conversion. 
And this it was that, in dealing with this very case, by far the greatest of the Apostles 
amplified so beautifully; for while Christ had advised the rich young man, "Sell all that 
thou hast and give it to the poor," Paul completes the saying by the remark, "and though I 
bestow all my goods to feed the poor and have not charity it profiteth me nothing." The 
Buddhist who is steering for death may be satisfied with poverty, chastity, and obedience; 
he who chooses life has other things to think of. 

And here it is necessary to call attention to one more point, in which the living essence 
of Christ's personality and example manifests itself freshly and convincingly; I refer to 
His combativeness. The sayings of Christ on humility and patience. His exhortation that 
we should love our enemies and bless those that curse us, find almost 


exact parallels in the sayings of Buddha; but they spring from quite a different motive. 
For Buddha every injustice endured is an extinction, for Christ it is a means of advancing 
the new view of life: "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for 
theirs is the Kingdom of God" (that kingdom which lies hidden like a treasure in the field 
of life). But if we pass to the inner being, if that one fundamental question of the 
direction of will is brought up, then we hear words of quite a different kind: "Suppose ye 
that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you. Nay, but rather division! For from 
henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, two against three, and three against 
two.... For I am come to stir up the son against his father, and the daughter against her 
mother, and the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law; and the man's enemies shall 
be they of his own household." Not peace but the sword: that is a voice to which we 
cannot shut our ears, if we wish to understand the revelation of Christ. The life of Jesus 
Christ is an open declaration of war, not against the forms of civilisation, culture and 
religion, which He found around Him — He observes the Jewish law of religion and teaches 
us to give to Caesar what is Caesar's — but certainly against the inner spirit of mankind, 
against the motives which underlie their actions, against the goal which they set for 
themselves in the future life and in the present. The coming of Christ signifies, from the 
point of view of the world's history, the coming of a new human species. Linnaeus 
distinguished as many human species as there are colours of skin; but a new colouring of 
the will goes really deeper into the organism than a difference in the pigment of the 
epidermis! And the Lord of this new human species, the "new Adam," as the Scripture so 
well describes Him, will have no compromise; He puts the choice: God or mammon. 
Whoever chooses 


conversion, whoever obeys the warning of Christ, "Follow me!" must also when necessary 
leave father and mother, wife and child; but he does not leave them, like the disciples of 
Buddha, to find death, but to find life. Here is no room for pity: whom we have lost we 
have lost, and with the ancient hardness of the heroic spirit not a tear is shed over those 
who are gone: "Let the dead bury their dead." Not every one is capable of understanding 
the word of Christ, He in fact tells us, "Many are called but few are chosen," and here again 
Paul has given drastic expression to this fact: "The preaching of the Cross is to them that 
perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." So far as outward 
forms go Christ has no preferences, but where the direction of the will is concerned, 
whether it is directed to the Eternal or the Temporal, whether it advances or hinders the 
unfolding of that immeasurable power of life in the heart of man, whether it aims at the 
quickening of that "Kingdom of God within us" or, on the other hand, scatters for ever the 
one treasure of "them that are chosen" — there is with Him no question of tolerance and never 
can be. In this very connection much has been done since the eighteenth century to rob 
the sublime countenance of the Son of Man of all its mighty features. We have had 
represented to us as Christianity a strange delusive picture of boundless tolerance, of 
universally gentle passivity, a kind of milk-and-water religion; in the last few years we 
have actually witnessed "interconfessional religious congresses," where all the priests of the 
world shake hands as brothers, and many Christians welcome this as particularly 
"Christlike." It may be ecclesiastical, it may be right and good, but Christ would never have 
sent an apostle to such a congress. Either the word of the Cross is "foolishness" or it is "a 
divine power"; between the two Christ himself has torn open the yawning 


gulf of "division," and, to prevent any possibility of its being bridged, has drawn the 
flaming "sword." Whoever understands the revelation of Christ cannot be surprised. The 
tolerance of Christ is that of a spirit which soars high as Heaven above all forms that 
divide the world; a combination of these forms could not have the slightest importance 
for Him — that would mean only the rise of a new form; He, on the other hand, considers 
only the "spirit and the truth." And when Christ teaches, "Whosoever shall smite thee on thy 
right cheek turn to him the other also, and if any man will take away thy coat let him have 
thy cloak also" — a doctrine to which His example on the Cross gave everlasting 
significance — who does not understand that this is closely related to what follows, "Love 
your enemies, do good to them that hate you," and that here that inner "conversion" is 
expressed, not passively, but in the highest possible form of living action? If I offer the 
impudent striker my left cheek, I do not do so for his sake; if I love my enemy and show 
him kindness, it is not for his sake; after the conversion of the will it is simply inevitable 
and therefore I do it. The old law, an eye for an eye, hatred for hatred, is just as natural a 
reflex action as that which causes the legs of a dead frog to kick when the nerves are 
stimulated. In sooth it must be a "new Adam" who has gained such complete mastery over 
his "old Adam" that he does not obey this impulse. However, it is not merely self-control — 
for if Buddha forms the one opposite pole to Christ, the Stoic forms the other; but that 
conversion of the will, that entry into the hidden kingdom of God, that being born again, 
which makes up the sum of Christ's example, demands a complete conversion of the 

feelings. This, in fact, is the new thing. Till Christ blood-vengeance was the sacred law of 
all men of the most different races; but from the Cross there 


came the cry, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!" Whoever takes the 
divine voice of pity for weak humanitarianism has not understood a single feature of the 
advent of Christ. The voice which here speaks comes from that Kingdom of God which is 
within us; pain and death have lost their power over it; they affect him who is born again 
just as little as the stroke on the cheek or the theft of the coat; everything that drives, 
constrains and compels the human half-ape — selfishness, superstition, prejudice, envy, 
hatred — breaks on such a will as this like sea-foam on a granite cliff; in face of death 
Christ scarcely notices His own pain and tribulation. He sees only that men are crucifying 
what is divine in them, and they are treading under foot the seed of the Kingdom of God 
and scattering the "treasure in the field," and thus it is that, full of pity. He calls out, "They 
know not what they do!" Search the history of the world and you will not find a word to 
equal this for sublime pride. Here speaks a discernment that has penetrated farther than 
the Indian mind, here speaks at the same time the strongest will, the surest consciousness 
of self. 

Just as we children of a modern age have discovered in the whole world a power which 
before only from time to time flashed forth in fleeting clouds as the lightning, a power 
hidden, invisible, perceived by no sense, to be explained by no hypothesis, but all-present 
and almighty, and in the same way as we are driven to trace the complete transformation 
of our outward conditions of life to this power — so Christ pointed to a hidden power in the 
unfathomed and unfathomable depths of the human heart, a power capable of completely 
transforming man, capable of making a sorrow-trodden wretch mighty and blessed. The 
lightning had hitherto been only a destroyer; the power which it taught us to discover is 


now the servant of peaceful work and comfort; in like manner the human will, from the 
beginning of time the seed of all the misfortune and misery that descended upon the 
human race, was henceforth to minister to the new birth of this race, to the rise of a new 
human species. Hence, as I have pointed out in the introduction to this book, the 
incomparable significance of the life of Christ for the world's history. No political 
revolution can compare with it. 

From the point of view of universal history we have every reason to put the 
achievement of Christ on a parallel with the achievements of the Hellenes. In the first 
chapter I have described in how far Homer, Democritus, Plato, &c. &c. are to be 
considered as real "creators," and I added, "then and then only is a new creature born, then 
only does the macrocosm contain a microcosm. The only thing that deserves to be called 
culture is the daughter of such creative freedom." * What Greece did for the intellect, 
Christ did for the moral life: man had not a moral culture till He gave it. I should rather 
say, the possibility of a moral culture; for the motive power of culture is that inner, 
creative process, the voluntary masterful conversion of the will, and this very motive 
power was with rare exceptions quite overlooked; Christianity became an essentially 

historical religion, and at the altars of its churches all the superstitions of antiquity and of 
Judaism found a consecrated place of refuge. Yet we have in the revelation of Christ the 
one foundation of all moral culture, and the moral culture of our nations is greater or 
smaller in proportion to the extent to which his personality is able more or less clearly to 

It is in this connection that we can with truth assert that the appearance of Christ upon 
earth has divided 

* See p. 25. 


mankind into two classes. It created for the first time true nobility, and indeed true 
nobility of birth, for only he who is chosen can be a Christian. But at the same time it 
sowed in the hearts of the chosen the seed of new and bitter suffering: it separated them 
from father and mother, it made them lonely wanderers among men who did not 
understand them, it stamped them as martyrs. And who after all is really master? Who 
has entirely conquered his slavish instincts? Discord from now onward rent the individual 
soul. And now that the individual, who hitherto in the tumultuous struggle of life had 
scarcely attained to a consciousness of his "Ego," was awakened to an unexpectedly high 
conception of his dignity, inner significance and power, how often was his heart bound to 
fail him in the consciousness of his weakness and unworthiness? Now and now only did 
life become truly tragical. This was brought about by man's own free act in rising against 
his animal nature. "From a perfect pupil of nature man became an imperfect moral being, 
from a good instrument a bad artist," says Schiller. But man will no longer be an 
instrument; and as Homer had created gods such as he wished them, so now man rebelled 
against the moral tyranny of nature and created a sublime morality such as he desired; he 
would no longer obey blind impulses, beautifully constrained and restricted as they might 
be by legal paragraphs; his own law of morals would henceforth be his only standard. In 
Christ man awakens to consciousness of his moral calling, but thereby at the same time to 
the necessity of an inner struggle that is reckoned in tens of centuries. Under the heading 
Philosophy in the ninth chapter (vol. ii.), I shall show that after an anti-Christian reaction 
lasting for many centuries we have with Kant returned again to exactly the same path. 
The humanitarian Deists of the eighteenth century who turned 


away from Christ thought the proper course was a "return to nature": on the contrary, it is 
emancipation from nature, without which we can achieve nothing, but which we are 
determined to make subject to ourselves. In Art and Philosophy man becomes conscious 
of himself, in contrast to nature, as an intellectual being; in marriage and law he becomes 
conscious of himself as a social being, in Christ as a moral being. He throws down the 
gauntlet for a fight in which there is no place for humility; whoever will follow Christ 
requires above all courage, courage in its purest form, that inner courage, which is steeled 
and hardened anew every day, which proves itself not merely in the intoxicating clash of 
battle, but in bearing and enduring, and in the silent, soundless struggle of every hour in 

the individual breast. The example is given. For in the advent of Christ we find the 
grandest example of heroism. Moral heroism is in Him so sublime that the much-extolled 
physical courage of heroes seems as nothing; certain it is that only heroic souls — only 
"masters" — can in the true sense of the word be Christians. And when Christ says, "I am 
meek," we well understand that this is the meekness of the hero sure of victory; and when 
He says, "I am lowly of heart," we know that this is not the humility of the slave, but the 
humility of the master, who from the fulness of his power bows down to the weak. 

On one occasion when Jesus was addressed not simply as Lord or Master, but as "good 
master," He rejected the appellation: "Why callest thou Me good: there is none good." This 
should make us think, and should convince us that it is a mistaken view of Christ which 
forces His heavenly goodness. His humility and long-suffering, into the foreground of 
His character; they do not form its basis, but are like fragrant flowers on a strong stem. 
What was the basis of the world-power of 


Buddha? Not his doctrine, but his example, his heroic achievement; it was the revelation 
of an almost supernatural will-power which held and still holds millions in its spell. But 
in Christ a still higher will revealed itself; He did not need to flee from the world; He did 
not avoid the beautiful. He praised the use of the costly — which His disciples called 
"prodigality"; He did not retire to the wilderness, from the wilderness He came and entered 
into life, a victor, who had a message of good news to proclaim — not death, but 
redemption! I said that Buddha represented the senile decay of a culture which had 
strayed into wrong paths: Christ, on the other hand, represents the morning of a new day; 
He won from the old human nature a new youth, and thus became the God of the young, 
vigorous Indo-Europeans, and under the sign of His cross there slowly arose upon the 
ruins of the old world a new culture — a culture at which we have still to toil long and 
laboriously until some day in the distant future it may deserve the appellation "Christ-like." 


Were I to follow my own inclination, I should close this chapter here. But it is 
necessary in the interest of many points to be discussed later to consider the personality 
of Christ not only in its pure isolated individuality but also in its relation to its 
surroundings. Otherwise there are many important phenomena in the past and the present 
which remain incomprehensible. It is by no means a matter of indifference whether by 
close analysis we have formed exact ideas as to what in this figure is Jewish and what is 
not. On this point there has been from the beginning of the Christian era to the present 
day and from the lowest depths of the intellectual world to its greatest heights, enormous 
confusion. Not 


merely was so sublime a figure not easy for any one to comprehend and to contemplate in 
its organic relations to the contemporary world, but everything concurred to dim and 

falsify its true features: Jewish religious idiosyncrasy, Syrian mysticism, Egyptian 
asceticism, Hellenic metaphysics, soon too Roman traditions of State and Pontifex, as 
also the superstitions of the barbarians; every form of misunderstanding and stupidity had 
a share in the work. In the nineteenth century many have devoted themselves to the 
unravelling of this tangle, but, so far as I know, no one has succeeded in separating from 
the mass of facts the few essential points and putting them clearly before the eyes of all. 
In fact even honest learning does not protect us against prejudice and partiality. We shall 
here try, unfortunately indeed without the specialist's knowledge, but also without 
prejudice, to find out how far Christ belonged to His surroundings and employed their 
forms for viewing things, how far He differed from them and rose high as the heavens 
above them; only in this way can we free His personality from all accidental 
circumstances and show its full autonomous dignity. 

Let us therefore first ask ourselves, was Christ a Jew by race? 

The question seems at the first glance somewhat childish. In the presence of such a 
personality peculiarities of race shrink into nothingness. An Isaiah, however much he 
may tower above his contemporaries, remains a thorough Jew; not a word did he utter 
that did not spring from the history and spirit of his people; even where he mercilessly 
exposes and condemns what is characteristically Jewish, he proves himself — especially in 
this — the Jew; in the case of Christ there is not a trace of this. Take again Homer! He 
awakens the Hellenic people for the first time to consciousness of itself; to be able to do 
that, he had to harbour in his 


own bosom the quintessence of all Hellenism. But where is the people, which, awakened 
by Christ to life, has gained for itself the precious right — of calling Christ its own? 
Certainly not in Judea! — To the believer Jesus is the Son of God, not of a human being; for 
the unbeliever it will be difficult to find a formula to characterise so briefly and yet so 
expressively the undeniable fact of this incomparable and inexplicable personality. After 
all there are phenomena which cannot be placed in the complex of our intellectual 
conceptions without a symbol. So much in regard to the question of principle, and in 
order to remove from myself all suspicion of being taken in tow by that superficial 
"historical" school, which undertakes to explain the inexplicable. It is another matter to 
seek to gain all possible information regarding the historical surroundings of a personality 
for the simple purpose of obtaining a clearer and better view of it. If we do attempt this, 
the answer to the question. Was Christ a Jew? is by no means a simple one. In religion 
and education He was so undoubtedly; in race — in the narrower and real sense of the word 
"Jew" — most probably not. 

The name Galilee (from Gelil haggoyim) means "district of the heathen." It seems that 
this part of the country, so far removed from the intellectual centre, had never kept itself 
altogether pure, even in the earliest times when Israel was still strong and united, and it 
had served as home for the tribes Naphtali and Zebulon. Of the tribe Naphtali we are told 
that it was from the first "of very mixed origin," and while the non-Israelitic aborigines 
continued to dwell in the whole of Palestine as before, this was the case "nowhere in so 
great a degree as in the northern districts." * There was, however. 

* Wellhausen: Israelitische und judische Geschichte, 3rd ed., 1897, pp. 16 and 74. Cf. 
too, Judges, i. 30 and 33, and further on in this book, chap. v. 


another additional circumstance. While the rest of Palestine remained, owing to its 
geographical position, isolated as it were from the world, there was, even at the time 
when the Israelites took possession of the land, a road leading from the lake of 
Gennesareth to Damascus, and from that point Tyre and Sidon were more accessible than 
Jerusalem. Thus we find that Solomon ceded a considerable part of this district of the 
heathen (as it was already called, 1 Kings, ix. 11), with twenty cities to the King of Tyre 
in payment of his deliveries of cedar- and pine-trees, as well as for the one hundred and 
twenty hundredweights of gold which the latter had contributed towards the building of 
the temple; so little interest had the King of Judea in this land, half inhabited as it was by 
heathens. The Tyrian King Hiram must in fact have found it sparsely populated, as he 
profited by the opportunity to settle various foreign tribes in Galilee. * Then came, as 
every one knows, the division into two kingdoms, and since that time, that is, since about 
a thousand years before Christ (!) only now and again, and then but for a short time, had 
there been any comparatively close political connection between Galilee and Judea, and it 
is only this, not community of religious faith, that furthers a fusion of races. In Christ's 
time, too, Galilee was politically quite separate from Judea, so that it stood to the latter in 
the relation "of a foreign country" t In the meantime, however, something had happened, 
which must have destroyed almost completely 

* Graetz: Volkstumliche Geschichte der Juden, i. 88. 

t Ibid. i. 567. Galilee and Perea had together a tetrarch who ruled independently, while 
Judea, Samaria and Idumea were under a Roman procurator. Graetz adds at this point, 
"Owing to the enmity of the Samaritans whose land lay like a wedge between Judea and 
Galilee and round [sic] both, there was all the less intercourse between the two separated 
districts." I have here for simplicity refrained from mentioning the further fact that we 
have no right to identify the genuine "Israelites" of the North with the real "Jews" of the 
South; but cf. chap. v. 


for all time the Israelitish character of this northern district: seven hundred and twenty 
years before Christ (that is about one hundred and fifty years before the Babylonian 
captivity of the Jews) the northern kingdom of Israel was laid waste by the Assyrians, and 
its population — it is said to a man, at all events to a large extent — deported into different 
and distant parts of the Empire, where it soon fused with the rest of the inhabitants and in 
consequence completely disappeared. * At the same time strange races from remote 
districts were transported to Palestine to settle there. The authorities indeed suppose 
(without being able to vouch for it) that a considerable portion of the former mixed 
Israelitish population had remained in the land; at any rate this remnant did not keep apart 
from the strangers, but became merged in the medley of races, t The fate of these districts 
was consequently quite different from that of Judea. For when the Judeans at a later time 

were also led into captivity, their land remained so to speak empty, inhabited only by a 
few peasants who moreover belonged to the country, so that when they returned from the 
Babylonian captivity, during which they had kept their race pure, they were able without 
difficulty to maintain that purity. Galilee, on the other hand, and 

* So completely disappeared that many theologians, who had leisure, puzzled their 
brains even in the nineteenth century to discover what had become of the Israelites, as 
they could not believe that five-sixths of the people to whom Jehovah had promised the 
whole world should have simply vanished off the face of the earth. An ingenious brain 
actually arrived at the conclusion that the ten tribes believed to be lost were the English 
of to-day! He was not at a loss for the moral of this discovery either: in this way the 
British possess by right five-sixths of the whole earth; the remaining sixth the Jews. Cf. 
H. L.: Lost Israel, where are they to be found? (Edinburgh, 6th ed., 1877). In this 
pamphlet another work is named, Wilson, Our Israelitish Origin. There are, according to 
these authorities, honest Anglo-Saxons who have traced their genealogy back to Moses! 

t Robertson Smith: The Prophets of Israel (1895), p. 153, informs us to what an extent 
"the distinguishing character of the Israelitish nation was lost." 


the neighbouring districts had, as already mentioned, been systematically colonised by 
the Assyrians, and, as it appears from the Biblical account, from very different parts of 
that gigantic empire, among others from the northerly mountainous Syria. Then in the 
centuries before the birth of Christ many Phoenicians and Greeks had also migrated 
thither. * This last fact would lead one to assume that purely Aryan blood also was 
transplanted thither; at any rate it is certain that a promiscuous mixture of the most 
different races took place, and that the foreigners in all probability settled in largest 
numbers in the more accessible and at the same time more fertile Galilee. The Old 
Testament itself tells with artless simplicity how these strangers originally came to be 
acquainted with the worship of Jehovah (2 Kings, xvii. 24 ff.): in the depopulated land 
beasts of prey multiplied; this plague was held to be the vengeance of the neglected "God 
of the Land" (verse 26); but there was no one who knew how the latter should be 
worshipped; and so the colonists sent to the King of Assyria and begged for an Israelitish 
priest from the captivity, and he came and "taught them the manner of the God of the land." 
In this way the inhabitants of Northern Palestine, from Samaria downward, became Jews 
in faith, even those of them who had not a drop of Israelitish blood in their veins. In later 
times many genuine Jews may certainly have settled there; but probably only as strangers 
in the larger cities, for one of the most admirable characteristics of the Jews — particularly 
since their return from captivity where the clearly circumscribed term "Jew" first appears as 
the designation of a religion (see Zechariah, viii. 23) — was their care to keep the race pure; 
marriage between Jew and Galilean was unthinkable. However, 

* Albert Reville: Jesus de Nazareth, i. 416. One should remember also that Alexander 
the Great had peopled neighbouring Samaria with Macedonians after the revolt of the 
year 311. 


even these Jewish elements in the midst of the strange population were completely 
removed from Galilee not very long before the birth of Christ! It was Simon Tharsi, one 
of the Maccabeans, who, after a successful campaign in Galilee against the Syrians, 
"gathered together the Jews who lived there and bade them emgrate and settle bag and 
baggage in Judea." * Moreover the prejudice against Galilee remained so strong among 
the Jews that, when Herod Antipas during Christ's youth had built the city of Tiberias and 
tried to get Jews to settle there, neither promises nor threats were of any avail, t There is, 
accordingly, as we see, not the slightest foundation for the supposition that Christ's 
parents were of Jewish descent. 

In the further course of historical development an event took place which has many 
parallels in history: among the inhabitants of the more southerly Samaria (which directly 
bordered on Judea) — a people which beyond doubt was much more closely related to the 
real Jews by blood and intercourse than the Galileans were — the North-Israelitish tradition 
of hatred and jealousy of the Jews was kept up; the Samaritans did not recognise the 
ecclesiastical supremacy of Jerusalem and were therefore, as being "heterodox," so hated 
by the Jews that no kind of intercourse with them was permitted: not even a piece of 
bread could the faithful take from their hand; that was considered as great a sin as eating 
pork, t The Galileans, on the other hand, who were to the Jews simply "foreigners," and as 
such of course despised and excluded from many religious observances, were yet strictly 
orthodox and frequently fanatical 

* Graetz, as above, i. 400. See also 1 Maccabees, v. 23. 

t Graetz, as above, i. 568. Compare Josephus, Book XVin., chap. iii. 

t Quoted by Renan from the Mishna: s. Vie de Jesus, 23rd edition, p. 242. 


"Jews." To see in that a proof of descent is absurd. It is just the same as if one were to 
identify the genuinely Slav population of Bosnia or the purest Indo-Aryans of 
Afghanistan ethnologically with the "Turks," because they are strict Mohammedans, much 
more pious and fanatical than the genuine Osmans. The term Jew is applicable to a 
definite, remarkably pure race, and only in a secondary and very inexact sense to the 
members of a religious community. It is moreover far from correct to identify the term 
"Jew" with the term "Semite," as has so frequently been done of late years; the national 
character of the Arabs, for instance, is quite different from that of the Jews. I return to 
this point in the fifth chapter; in the meantime, I must point out that the national character 
of the Galileans was essentially different from that of the Jews. Open any history of the 
Jews that you will, that of Ewald or Graetz or Renan, everywhere you will find that in 
character the Galileans present a direct contrast to the rest of the inhabitants of Palestine; 
they are described as hot-heads, energetic idealists, men of action. In the long struggles 
with Rome, before and after the time of Christ, the Galileans are mostly the ringleaders — 
an element which death alone could overcome. While the great colonies of genuine Jews 
in Rome and Alexandria lived on excellent terms with the heathen Empire, where they 
enjoyed great prosperity as interpreters of dreams, * dealers in second-hand goods. 

pedlars, money-lenders, actors, law-agents, merchants, teachers, &c., in distant Galilee 
Hezekiah ventured, even in the lifetime of Caesar, to raise the standard of religious 
revolt. He was followed by the famous Judas the Galilean with the motto, "God alone is 
master, death does not matter, freedom is all 

* Juvenal says: 

Aere minuto 

Qualiacunque voles Judaei somnia vendunt... 


in all!" * In Galilee was formed the Sicarian party (i.e., men of the knife), not unlike the 
Indian Thugs of to-day; their most influential leader, the Galilean Menaham, in Nero's 
time destroyed the Roman garrison of Jerusalem, and as a reward the Jews themselves 
executed him, under the pretext that he wished to proclaim himself the Messias; the sons 
of Judas also were crucified as politically dangerous revolutionaries (and that too by a 
Jewish procurator); John of Giscala, a city on the extreme northern boundary of Galilee, 
headed the desperate defence of Jerusalem against Titus — and the series of Galilean heroes 
was completed by Eleazar, who years after the destruction of Jerusalem maintained with 
a small troop a fortified position in the mountains, where he and his followers, when the 
last hope was lost, killed first their wives and children and then themselves, t In these 
things, as every one will probably admit, a peculiar, distinct national character reveals 
itself. There are many reports too of the special beauty of the women of Galilee; 
moreover, the Christians of the first centuries speak of their great kindness, and contrast 
their friendliness to those of a different faith with the haughty contemptuous treatment 
they met with at the hands of genuine Jewesses. Their peculiar national character 
unmistakably betrayed itself in another way, viz., their language. In Judea and the 
neighbouring lands Aramaic was spoken at the time of Christ; Hebrew was already a 
dead language, preserved only in the sacred writings. We are now informed that the 
Galileans spoke so peculiar and strange a dialect of Aramaic that one recognised them 
from the first word; "thy language betrayeth thee" the servants of the High Priest cry to 

* Mommsen, Romische Geschichte, v. 515. 

t Later, too, the inhabitants of Galilee were a peculiar race distinguished for strength 
and courage, as is proved by their taking part in the campaign under the Persian 
Scharbarza and in the taking of Jerusalem in the year 614. 


Peter. * The acquisition of Hebrew is said to have been utterly impossible to them, the 
gutturals especially presenting insuperable difficulties, so that they could not be allowed, 
for example, to pray before the people, as their "wretched accent made every one laugh." t 
This fact points to a physical difference in the form of the larynx and would alone lead us 

to suppose that a strong admixture of non-Semitic blood had taken place; for the 
profusion of gutturals and facility in using them are features common to all Semites, t 

I have thought it necessary to enter with some fulness into this question — was Christ a 
Jew in race? — because in not a single work have I found the facts that pertain to it clearly 
put together. Even in an objectively scientific work like that of Albert Reville, § which is 
influenced by no theological motives — Reville is the well-known Professor of 
Comparative Religions at the College de France — the word Jew is sometimes used to 
signify the Jewish race, sometimes the Jewish religion. 

* As a matter of fact sufficient evidence of the difference between the Galileans and 
the real Jews could be gathered from the gospels. In John especially "the Jews" are always 
spoken of as something alien, and the Jews on their part exclaim, "Out of Galilee ariseth 
no prophet" (7, 52). 

t Cf., for example, Graetz, as above, i. 575. With regard to the peculiarity of the speech 
of the Galileans and their incapacity to pronounce the Semitic gutturals properly, see 
Renan: Langues semitiques, 5th ed., p. 230. 

t See, for example, the comparative table in Max Mliller: Science of Language, 9th ed., 
p. 169, and in each separate volume of the Sacred Books of the East. The Sanscrit 
language has only six genuine "gutturals," the Hebrew ten; most striking, however, is the 
difference in the guttural aspirate h, for which the Indo-Teutonic languages from time 
immemorial have known only one sound, the Semitic, on the other hand, five different 
sounds. Again, we find in Sanscrit seven different lingual consonants, in Hebrew only 
two. How exceedingly difficult it is for such inherited linguistic marks of race to 
disappear altogether is well known to us all through the example of the Jews living 
among us; a perfect mastery of the lingual sounds is just as impossible for them as the 
mastery of the gutturals for us. 

§ Jesus de Nazareth, etudes critiques sur les antecedents de I'histoire evangelique et la 
vie de Jesus, vol. ii. 1897. 


We read, for example (i. 416), "Galilee was chiefly inhabited by Jews, but Syrian, 
Phoenician and Greek heathens also made their home there." Here accordingly Jew means 
one who worships the God of the land of Judea, no matter of what race he may claim to 
be. On the very next page, however, he speaks of an "Aryan race," in opposition to a "Jewish 
nation"; here consequently Jew denotes a definite, limited race which has kept itself pure 
for centuries. And now follows the profound remark: "The question whether Christ is of 
Aryan descent is idle. A man belongs to the nation in whose midst he has grown up." This 
is what people called "science" in the year of grace 1896! To think that at the close of the 
nineteenth century a professor could still be ignorant that the form of the head and the 
structure of the brain exercise quite decisive influence upon the form and structure of the 
thoughts, so that the influence of the surroundings, however great it may be estimated to 
be, is yet by this initial fact of the physical tendencies confined to definite capacities and 
possibilities, in other words, has definite paths marked out for it to follow! To think that 
he could fail to know that the shape of the skull in particular is one of those 
characteristics which are inherited with ineradicable persistency, so that races are 

distinguished by craniological measurements, and, in the case of mixed races, the original 
elements which occur by atavism become still manifest to the investigator! He could 
believe that the so-called soul has its abode outside the body, and leads the latter like a 
puppet by the nose. O Middle Ages! when will your night leave us? When will men 
understand that form is not an unimportant accident, a mere chance, but an expression of 
the innermost being? that in this very point the two worlds, the inner and the outer, the 
visible and the invisible, touch? I have spoken of the human personality as the mysterium 
magnum of existence; now this inscrutable wonder shows itself in its visible form to the 
eye and 


the investigating understanding. And exactly as the possible forms of a building are 
determined and limited in essential points by the nature of the building material, so the 
possible form of a human being, his inner and his outer, are defined in decisively 
essential points by the inherited material of which this new personality is composed. It 
certainly may happen that too much importance is attached to the idea of race: we detract 
thereby from the autonomy of personality and run the risk of undervaluing the great 
power of ideas; besides, this whole question of race is infinitely more complicated than 
the layman imagines; it belongs wholly to the sphere of anthropological anatomy and 
cannot be solved by any dicta of the authorities on language and history. Yet it will not 
do simply to put race aside as a negligible quantity; still less will it do to proclaim 
anything directly false about race and to let such an historical lie crystallise into an 
indisputable dogma. Whoever makes the assertion that Christ was a Jew is either ignorant 
or insincere: ignorant when he confuses religion and race, insincere when he knows the 
history of Galilee and partly conceals, partly distorts the very entangled facts in favour of 
his religious prejudices or, it may be, to curry favour with the Jews. * The probability that 
Christ was no Jew, that He had not a drop of genuinely Jewish 

* How is one, for example, to explain the fact that Renan, who in his Vie de Jesus, 
published in 1863, says it is impossible even to make suppositions about the race to 
which Christ by blood belonged (see chap, ii.), in the fifth volume of his Histoire du 
Peuple d'Israel, finished in 1891, makes the categorical assertion, "Jesus etait un Juif," and 
attacks with unwonted bitterness those who dare doubt the fact? Is it to be supposed that 
the Alliance Israelite, with which Renan was so closely connected in the last years of his 
life, had not had something to do with this? In the nineteenth century we have heard so 
much fine talk about the freedom of speech, the freedom of science, &c.; in reality, 
however, we have been worse enslaved than in the eighteenth century; for in addition to 
the tyrants who have really never been disarmed, new and worse ones have arisen. The 
former tyranny could, with all its bitter injustice, strengthen the character: the new, which 
is a tyranny proceeding from and aiming at money, degrades to the lowest depth of 


blood in his veins, is so great that it is almost equivalent to a certainty. To what race did 
He belong? This is a question that cannot be answered at all. Since the land lay between 
Phoenicia and Syria, which in its south-western portion was strongly imbued with 
Semitic blood, and in addition had never been quite cleared of its former mixed- 
Israelitish (but at no time Jewish) population, the probability of a descent principally 
Semitic is very great. But whoever has even casually glanced at the race-babel of the 
Assyrian empire * and then learns that colonists from all parts of this empire settled in 
that former home of Israel, will be baffled by the question. It is indeed possible that in 
some of these groups of colonists there prevailed a tradition of marrying among 
themselves, whereby a tribe would have kept itself pure; that this, however, should have 
been kept up more than five hundred years is almost unthinkable; the very conversion to 
the Jewish faith had gradually obliterated those tribal differences which at first had been 
maintained by religious customs brought from their old homes (2 Kings, xvii. 29). We 
hear that in later times Greeks too migrated thither; in any case they belonged to the 
poorest classes, and accepted immediately the "god of the country"! Only one assertion can 
therefore be made on a sound historical basis: in that whole region there was only one 
single pure race, a race which by painfully scrupulous measures protected itself from all 
mingling with other nations — the Jewish; that Jesus Christ did not belong to it can be 
regarded as certain. Every further statement is hypothetical. 

This result, though essentially negative, is of great value; it means an important 
contribution to the right knowledge of the personality of Christ, and at the same time to 
the understanding of its effectiveness up to the present day as well as to the 
disentanglement of the 

* Cf. Hugo Winckler: Die Volker Vorderasiens, 1900. 


wildly confused clue of contradictory ideas and false conceptions, which has wound itself 
around the simple, transparent truth. It is time to go deeper. The outward connection is 
less important than the inner; now and now only do we come to the decisive question: 
how far does Christ as a moral fact belong to Judaism and how far does He not? To fix 
this once for all, we shall have to make a series of important distinctions, for which I beg 
the fullest attention of the reader. 


Christ is, quite generally — indeed, perhaps universally — represented as the perfecter of 
Judaism, that is to say, of the religious ideas of the Jews. * Even the orthodox Jews, 
though they cannot exactly honour Him as the perfecter, behold in Him an offshoot from 
their tree and proudly regard all Christianity as an appendix to Judaism. That, I am firmly 
convinced, is a mistake; it is an inherited delusion, one of those opinions that we drink in 
with our mother's milk and about which in consequence the free-thinker never comes to 
his senses any more than the strictly orthodox Churchman. Certainly Christ stood in 
direct relation to Judaism, and the influence of Judaism, in the first place upon the 

moulding of His personality and in a still higher degree upon the development and history 
of Christianity is so great, definite and essential, that every attempt to deny it must lead to 
nonsensical results; but this influence is only in the smallest degree a religious one. 
Therein lies the heart of the error. 

We are accustomed to regard the Jewish people as the religious people above all 
others: as a matter of fact in 

* The great legal authority Jhering is a praiseworthy exception. In his Vorgeschichte 
der Indoeuropaer, p. 300, he says: "The doctrine of Christ did not spring from his native 
soil, Christianity is rather an overcoming of Judaism; there is even in his origin 
something of the Aryan in Christ." 


comparison with the Indo-European races it is quite stunted in its religious growth. In this 
respect what Darwin calls "arrest of development" has taken place in the case of the Jews, 
an arrest of the growth of the faculties, a dying in the bud. Moreover all the branches of 
the Semitic stem, though otherwise rich in talents, were extraordinarily poor in religious 
instinct; this is the "hard-heartedness" of which the more important men among them 
constantly complain. * How different the Aryan! Even the oldest documents (which go 
back far beyond the Jewish) present him to us as earnestly following a vague impulse 
which forces him to investigate in his own heart. He is joyous, full of animal spirits, 
ambitious, thoughtless, he drinks and gambles, he hunts and robs; but suddenly he begins 
to think: the great riddle of existence holds him absolutely spellbound, not, however, as a 
purely rationalistic problem — whence is this world? whence came I? questions to which a 
purely logical and therefore unsatisfactory answer would require to be given — but as a 
direct compelling need of life. Not to understand, but to be, that is the point to which he 
is impelled. Not the past with its litany of cause and effect, but the present, the 
everlasting present holds his astonished mind spellbound. And he feels that it is only 
when he has bridged the gulf between himself and all that surrounds him, when he 
recognises himself — the one thing that he directly knows — in every phenomenon and finds 
again every phenomenon in himself, when he has, so to speak, put the world and himself 
in harmony, that he can hope to listen with his own ear to the weaving of the everlasting 
work and bear in his own heart the mysterious music of existence. And in order that he 
may find this harmony, he utters 

* "The Semites have much superstition, but little religion," says Robertson Smith, one of 
the greatest authorities. (See The Prophets of Israel, p. 33.) 


his own song, tries it in all tones, practises all melodies; then he listens with reverence. 
And not unanswered is his call: he hears mysterious voices; all nature becomes alive, 
everything in her that is related to man begins to stir. He sinks in reverence upon his 
knees, does not fancy that he is wise, does not believe that he knows the origin and 
finality of the world, yet has faint forebodings of a loftier vocation, discovers in himself 

the germ of immeasurable destinies, "the seed of immortality." This is, however, no mere 
dream, but a living conviction, a faith, and like everything living, it in its turn begets life. 
The heroes of his race and his holy men he sees as "supermen" (as Goethe says) [**] 
hovering high above the earth; he wills to be like them, for he too is impelled onward and 
upward, and now he knows from what a deep inner well they drew the strength to be 
great. — Now this glance into the unfathomable depths of his own soul, this longing to soar 
upwards, this is religion. Religion has primarily nothing to do either with superstition or 
with morals; it is a state of mind. And because the religious man is in direct contact with 
a world beyond reason, he is thinker and poet: he appears consciously as a creator; he 
toils unremittingly at the noble Sisyphus work of giving visible shape to the Invisible, of 
making the Unthinkable capable of being thought; * we never find with him a hard and 
fast chronological cosmogony and theogony, he has inherited too lively a feeling of the 
Infinite for that; his conceptions remain in flux and never grow rigid; old ones are 
replaced by new; gods, honoured in one century, are in another scarcely known by name. 
Yet the great facts of knowledge, once firmly acquired, are 

* Herder says well, "Man alone is in opposition to himself and the earth; for the most 
fully developed creature among all her organisations is at the same time the least 
developed in his own new capacity... He represents therefore two worlds at once and this 
causes the apparent duplicity of his being." — Ideen zur Geschichte der Menscheit, Teil 1., 
Buch v., Abschnitt 6. 

[** German: Ubermensch. See Goethe's Faust.] 


never again lost, and more than all that fundamental truth which the Rigveda centuries 
and centuries before Christ tried thus to express, "The root of existence, the wise found in 
the heart" — a conviction which in the nineteenth century has been almost identically 
expressed by Goethe: 

1st nicht der Kern der Natur 
Menschen im Herzen? * 

That is religion! — Now this very tendency, this state of mind, this instinct, "to seek the core 
of nature in the heart," the Jews lack to a startling degree. They are born rationalists. 
Reason is strong in them, the will enormously developed, their imaginative and creative 
powers, on the other hand, peculiarly limited. Their scanty mythically religious 
conceptions, indeed even their commandments, customs and ordinances of worship, they 
borrowed without exception from abroad, they reduced everything to a minimum t which 
they kept rigidly unaltered; the creative element, the real inner life is almost totally 
wanting in them; at the best it bears, in relation to the infinitely rich religious life of the 
Aryans, which includes all the highest thought and poetical invention of these peoples, 
like the lingual sounds referred to above, a ratio of 2 to 7. Consider what a luxuriant 
growth of magnificent religious conceptions and ideas, and in addition, what art and 
philosophy, thanks to the Greeks and Teutonic races, sprang up upon the soil of 
Christianity and then ask with what images and thoughts the so-called religious nation of 

the Jews has in the same space of time enriched mankind! Spinoza's Geometric Ethics (a 
false, still-born adaptation of a brilliant and pregnant thought of Descartes) seems to me 
in reality the most cruel mockery of the Talmud 

* Is not the core of nature / In the heart of man? 
t For details, see chap. v. 


morality and has in any case still less to do with religion than the Ten Commandments of 
Moses, which were probably derived from Egypt. * No, the power of Judaism which 
commands respect lies in quite another sphere; I shall speak of it immediately. 

But how then was it possible to let our judgment be so befogged as to consider the 
Jews a religious people? 

In the first place it was the Jews themselves, who from time immemorial assured us 
with the greatest vehemence and volubility, that they were "God's people"; even a free- 
thinking Jew like the philosopher Philo makes the bold assertion that the Israelites alone 
were "men in the true sense"; f the good stupid Indo-Teutonic peoples believed them. But 
how difficult it became for them to do so is proved by the course of history and the 
statements of all their most important men. This credulity was only rendered possible by 
the Christian interpreters of the Script making the whole history of Judah a Theodicy, in 
which the crucifixion of Christ forms the culminating point. Even Schiller (Die Sendung 
Moses) seems to think that Providence broke up the Jewish nation, as soon as it had 
accomplished the work given it to do! Here the authorities overlooked the telling fact that 
Judaism paid not the slightest attention to the existence of Christ, that the oldest Jewish 
historians do not once mention His name; and to this has now to be added the fact that 
this peculiar people after two thousand years still lives and manifests great prosperity; 
never, not even in Alexandria, has the lot of the Jews been so bright as it is to-day. 
Finally a third prejudice, derived fundamentally from the philosophic workshops of 
Greece, had some influence; according to it monotheism, i.e., the idea of a single 
inseparable God, was supposed to be the symptom 

* See chap. cxxv. of the Book of the Dead. 

t Quoted by Graetz, as above, i. 634, without indication of the passage. 


of a higher religion; that is altogether a rationalistic conclusion; arithmetic has nothing to 
do with religion; monotheism can signify an impoverishment as well as an ennobling of 
religious life. Besides, two objections may be urged against this fatal prejudice, which 
has contributed perhaps more than anything else to the delusion of a religious superiority 
of the Jews; in the first place, the fact that the Jews, as long as they formed a nation and 
their religion still possessed a spark of fresh life, were not monotheists but polytheists, for 
whom every little land and every little tribe had its own God; secondly, that the Indo- 
Europeans by purely religious ways had attained to conceptions of an individual Divinity 

that were infinitely more sublime than the painfully stunted idea which the Jews had 
formed of the Creator of the world. * 

* I do not require to adduce evidence of the polytheism of the Jews; one finds it in 
every scientific work and besides on every other page of the Old Testament; see chap. v. 
Even in the Psalms "all the Gods" are called upon to worship Jehovah; Jehovah is only in 
so far the "one God" for later Jews, as the Jews (as Philo just told us) are "the only men in 
the real sense." Robertson Smith, whose History of the Semites is regarded as a scientific 
and fundamental book, testifies that monotheism did not proceed from an original 
religious tendency of the Semitic spirit, but is essentially a political result!! (See p. 74 of 
the work quoted.) — With regard to the monotheism of the Indo-Europeans I make the 
following brief remarks. The Brahman of the Indian philosophers is beyond doubt the 
greatest religious thought ever conceived; with regard to the pure monotheism of the 
Persians we can obtain information in Darmesteter (The Zend-Avesta, I. Ixxxii. ff.); the 
Greek had however been on the same path, as Ernst Curtius testifies, "I have learned much 
that is new, particularly what a stronghold of the monotheistic view of God Olympia was 
and what a moral world-power the Zeus of Phidias has been" (Letter to Gelzer of Jan. 1 , 
1896, published in the Deutsche Revue, 1897, p. 241). Besides we can refer here to the 
best of all witnesses. The Apostle Paul says (Romans, i. 21): "The Romans knew that there 
is one God"; and the churchfather Augustine shows, in the eleventh chapter of the 4th 
book of his De civitate Dei, that according to the views of the educated Romans of his 
time, the magni doctores paganorum, Jupiter was the one and only God, while the other 
divinities only demonstrated some of his "virtutes." Augustine employed the view which 
was already prevalent, to make it clear to the heathens that it would be no trouble for 
them to adopt the belief in a single God and to give up the others. Haec si ita sint, quid 
perderent si unum Deum colerent prudentiore compendio? (the 


I shall have repeated occasion to return to these questions, particularly in the sections 
dealing with the entry of the Jews into western history and with the origin of the Christian 
Church. In the meantime I hope I have succeeded in removing to some extent the 
preconceived opinion of the special religiousness of Judaism. I think the reader of the 
orthodox Christian Neander will henceforth shake his head sceptically when he finds the 
assertion that the advent of Christ forms the "central point" of the religious life of the Jews, 

recommendation to believe in a single God "because it simplifies matters" is a touching 
feature of the golden childhood of the Christian Church!). And what Augustine 
demonstrates in the case of the educated heathen, TertuUian asserts of the uneducated 
people in general. "Everybody," he says, "believes only in a single God, and one never hears 
the Gods invoked in the plural, but only as 'Great God' ! 'Good God' ! 'As God will' ! 'God be 
with you'! 'God bless you'!" This TertuUian regards as the evidence of a fundamentally 
monotheistic soul: "O testimonium animae naturaliter Christianae!" (Apologeticus, xvii). 
[Giordano Bruno in his Spaccio de la bestia trionfante, ed. Lagarde, p. 532, has some 
beautiful remarks on the monotheism of the ancients.] — In order that in a matter of such 

significance nothing may remain obscure, I must add that Curtius, Paul, Augustine and 
Tertullian are all four labouring under a thorough delusion, when they see in these things 
a proof of monotheism in the sense of Semitic materialism; their judgment is here 
dimmed by the influence of Christian ideas. The conception "the Divine" which we see in 
the Sanscrit neuter Brahman and in the Greek neuter Gsiov, as well as in the German 
neuter Gott, which only at a later time in consequence of Christian influence was 
regarded as a masculine (see Kluge's Etymologisches Worterbuch), cannot be identified at 
all with the personal world-creator of the Jews. In this case one can say of all the Aryans 
who are not influenced by the Semitic spirit what Professor Erwin Rohde proves for the 
Hellenes: "The view that the Greeks had a tendency to monotheism (in the Jewish sense) 
is based on a wrong interpretation.... It is not a unity of the divine person, but a 
uniformity of divine entity, a divinity living uniformly in many Gods, something 
universally divine in the presence of which the Greek stands when he enters into religious 
contact with the Gods" (Die Religion der Griechen in the Bayreuther Blatter, 1895, p. 
213). Very characteristic are the words of Luther in this connection, "In creation and in 
works (to reckon from without to the creature) we Christians are at one with the Turks; 
for we say too that there is not more than one single God. But we say, this is not enough, 
that we only believe that there is one single God." 


"in the whole organism of this religion and people's history it was of inner necessity 
determined," &c. &c. * As for the oratorical flourishes of the free-thinker Renan: Le 
Christianisme est le chef-d'oeuvre du judaisme, sa gloire, le resume de son evolution.... 
Jesus est tout entier dans Isaie, &c., t he will smile over them with just a shade of 
indignation; and I fear he will burst into Homeric laughter when the orthodox Jew Graetz 
assures him that the teaching of Christ is the "old Jewish doctrine in a new dress," that "the 
time had now come when the fundamental truths of Judaism ... the wealth of lofty 
thoughts concerning God and a holy life for the individual and the community should 
flow in upon the emptiness of the rest of the world, filling it with a rich endowment." t 

* AUgemeine Geschichte der christlichen Religion, 4th ed. i. 46. 

t Histoire du Peuple d'Israel, v. 415, ii. 539, &c. The enormity of the assertion in regard 
to Isaiah becomes clear from the fact that Renan himself describes and praises this 
prophet as a "litterateur" and a "joumaliste," and that he proves in detail what a purely 
political role this important man played. "Not a line from his pen, which was not in the 
service of a question of the day or an interest of the moment" (ii. 481). And we are to 
believe that in this very man the whole personality of Jesus Christ is inherent? It is quite 
as unjustifiable (unfortunately in others as well as in Renan) to quote single verses from 
Isaiah, to make it appear as if Judaism had aimed at a universal religion. Thus xlix. 6, is 
quoted, where Jehovah says to Israel, "I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that 
thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth," and nothing is said of the fact that 
in the course of the chapter the explanation is given that the Gentiles shall become the 
slaves of the Jews and their Kings and Princesses shall "bow down to them with their face 
toward the earth" and "lick up the dust of their feet." And this we are to regard as a sublime 
universal religion! Exactly the same is the case with the constantly quoted chapter Ix. 

where we find first the words, "The Gentiles shall come to thy light," but afterwards with 
an honesty for which one is thankful, "The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee 
shall perish, yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted"! Moreover the Gentiles are told in 
this passage to bring all their gold and treasures to Jerusalem, for the Jews shall "inherit 
the land for ever." To think of any one venturing to put such political pamphleteering on a 
parallel with the teaching of Christ! 

t As above, i. 570. It has often been asserted that the Jews have little sense of humour: 
that seems to be true, at least of individuals; 



Whoever wishes to see the revelation of Christ must passionately tear this darkest of 
veils from his eyes. His advent is not the perfecting of the Jewish religion but its 
negation. It was in the very place where feelings played the least part in religious 
conceptions that a new religious ideal appeared, which — unlike the other great attempts 
further to explain the inner life, by thoughts or by images — laid the whole burthen of this 
"life in spirit and in truth" upon the feelings. The relation to the Jewish religion could at 
most be regarded as a reaction; the feelings are, as we have said, the fountain head of all 
genuine religion; this spring which the Jews had well-nigh choked with their formalism 
and hard-hearted rationalism Christ opened up. Few things let us see so deeply into the 
divine heart of Christ as His attitude towards the Jewish religious ordinances. He 
observed them, but without zeal and without laying any stress upon them; at best they are 
but a vessel, which, holding nothing, would remain empty; and as soon as an ordinance 
bars His road. He breaks it without the least scruple, but at the same time calmly and 
without anger: for what has all this to do with religion? "Man * is Lord 

just imagine the "wealth" of these crassly ignorant unimaginative scribes and the "emptiness" 
of the Hellenes! Graetz has not much regard for the personality of Christ; the highest 
appreciation to which he deigns to rise is as follows: "Jesus may also have possessed a 
sympathetic nature that won hearts, whereby His words could make an impression" (i. 
576). The learned Professor of Breslau regards the crucifixion as the result of a 
"misunderstanding." With regard to the Jews who afterwards went over to Christianity 
Graetz is of opinion that it was done for their material advantages and because the belief 
in the Crucified One "was taken into the bargain as something unessential" (ii. 30). Is that 
still true? We knew from the Old Testament that the covenant with Jehovah was a 
contract with obligations on both sides, but what can be "bargained" in regard to Christ I 
cannot understand. 

* The following information about the expression "son of man" is important: "The 
Messianic interpretation of the expression 'son 


also of the Sabbath": for the Jew Jehovah alone had been Lord — man his slave. With regard 
to the Jewish laws in relation to food (so important a point in their religion that the 

quarrel with regard to its obligatoriness continued on into the early Christian times) 
Christ says: "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man but that which cometh 
out of the mouth, this defileth a man. For those things which proceed out of the mouth 
come forth from the heart: and they defile the man." * In this connection consider too how 
Christ uses Holy Scripture. He speaks of it with reverence but without fanaticism. It is 
indeed very remarkable how He makes Scripture serve His purpose; over it too He feels 
Himself "Lord" and transforms it, when necessary, into its opposite. His doctrine is that the 
"whole law and the prophets" may be summed up in the one command: Love God and thy 
neighbour. That sounds almost like sublime irony, especially when we consider that 
Christ on this occasion never once mentions "the fear of God," which (and not the love of 
God) forms the basis of the whole Jewish religion. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning 
of wisdom," sings the Psalmist. "Hide thee in the dust for fear of the Lord, and for the glory 
of His majesty," Isaiah calls to the Israelites, and even Jeremiah seemed to have forgotten 
that there is a law according to which man "shall love God with all his heart, with all his 
soul, with all his strength, and with all his mind," t 

of man' originated from the Greek translators of the Gospel. As Jesus spoke Aramaic, He 
said not o m6(; xou dvGproTiov but bamascha. But that means man and nothing more; the 
Arameans had no other expression for the idea" (Wellhausen: Israelitische und jiidische 
Geschichte, 3rd ed. p. 381). 

* "If man is impure, he is so because he speaks what is untrue," said the sacrificial 
ordinances of the Aryan Indians, one thousand years before Christ (Satapatha-Brahmana, 
1st verse of the 1st division of the 1st book.) 

t In the fifth book of Moses (Deuteronomy vi. 5) are to be found words similar to these 
quoted from Christ's sayings (from Matthew xxii. 37), but — we must look at the context! 
Before the command- 


and had represented Jehovah as saying to His people, "I will put my fear in their hearts 
that they shall not depart from me; they shall fear me for ever"; it is only when the Jews 
fear Him that He "will not turn away from them to do them good," &c. We find that Christ 
also frequently changes the meaning of the words of Scripture in a similar manner. Now 
if we see on the one hand a God of mercy and on the other a hard-hearted Jehovah, * on 
the one hand the doctrine which teaches us to love our "heavenly Father" with all our heart 
and on the other "servants," who are enjoined "to fear the lord" as their 

ment to love (to our mind a peculiar conception — to love by command) stands as the first 
and most important commandment (verse 2), "Thou shalt fear the Lord, thy God, to keep 
all his statutes and his commandments"; the commandment to love is only one among 
other commandments which the Jew shall observe and immediately after it comes the 
reward for this love (verse 10 ff.). "I shall give thee great and goodly cities, which thou 
buildedst not, and houses full of all good things which thou filledst not, and wells digged 
which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive-trees, which thou plantedst not, &c" That 
kind of love may be compared to the love which underlies so many marriages at the 
present day! In any case the "love of one's neighbour" would appear in a peculiar light, if 

one did not know that according to the Jewish law only the Jew is a "neighbour" of the Jew; 
as is expressed in the same place, chap. vii. 16, "Thou shalt consume all the peoples which 
the Lord thy God shall deliver thee!" This commentary to the commandment to "love one's 
neighbour" makes every further remark superfluous. But in order that no one may be in 
doubt as to what the Jews later meant by the command to love God with the whole heart, 
I shall quote the commentary of the Talmud (Jomah, Div. 8) to that part of the law, 
Deuteronomy, vi. 5: "The teaching of this is: thy behaviour shall be such that the name of 
God shall be loved through you; man shall in fact occupy himself with the study of Holy 
Scripture and of the Mishna and have intercourse with learned and wise men; his 
language shall be gentle, his other conduct proper, and in commerce and business with 
his fellow men he shall strive after honesty and uprightness. What will people then say? 
Hail to this man who has devoted himself to the study of the sacred doctrine!" In the book 
Sota of the Jerusalem Talmud (v. 5) one finds a somewhat more reasonable but no less 
prosaic commentary. — This is the orthodox Jewish interpretation of the commandment, 
"Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart"! Is it not the most unworthy playing with 
words to assert that Christ taught the same doctrine as the Thora? 

* The orthodox Jew Montefiore, Religion of the Ancient Hebrews (1893), p. 442, 
admits that the thought, "God is love," does not occur in any purely Hebrew work of any 


first duty, * we may well ask what meaning can there be in characterising the one 
personal philosophy as the work, as the perfection of the other? This is sophistry, not 
truth. Christ himself has said in plain words, "Whoever is not with me is against me"; no 
fact in the world is so completely against Him as the Jewish religion, indeed the whole 
Jewish conception of religion — from earliest times to the present day. 

And yet the Jewish religion has in this connection formed a fine soil, better than any 
other, for the growth of a new religious ideal, that is, for a new conception of God. 

What meant poverty for others became in fact for Christ a source of the richest gifts. 
For example, the fearful, to us almost inconceivable, dreariness of Jewish life — without 
art, without philosophy, without science — from which the more gifted Jews fled in crowds 
to foreign parts, was an absolutely indispensable element for his simple, holy life. The 
Jewish life offered almost nothing — nothing but the family life — to the feelings of the 
individual. And thus the richest mind that ever lived could sink into itself, and find 
nourishment only in its own inmost depths. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the 
Kingdom of Heaven." Perhaps it was only in these dreary surroundings that it was possible 
to discover that conversion of will as the first step towards a new ideal of mankind; only 
here where the "Lord of hosts" ruled without pity, that the heavenly presentiment God is 
love could be elevated to a certainty. 

The following is, however, the most important point in this discussion. 

The peculiar mental characteristic of the Jews, their 

* Montefiore and others dispute the statement that the relation of Israel to Jehovah was 
that of servants to their master, but Scripture says so clearly in many places, e.g., 
Leviticus xxv. 55: "The children of Israel are servants, they are my servants whom I 

brought forth out of the land of Egypt," and the literal translation of the Hebrew text 
would be slave! (Cf. the literal translation by Louis Segond.) 


lack of imagination, brought about by the tyrannical predominance of the will, had led 
them to a strange abstract materialism. Being materialists, the Jews were most prone, like 
all Semites, to crass idolatry; we see them ever and anon setting up images and bowing 
down before them; the moral struggle which their great men for centuries waged against 
it is an heroic page in the history of the human power of will. But the will which was not 
balanced by imagination shot as usual far beyond the mark; every image, in fact 
frequently everything that is at all the "work of hands," contains for the Jew of the Old 
Testament the danger of becoming a worshipped idol. Not even the coins may bear a 
human head or an allegorical figure, not even the flags an emblem. And so all non-Jews 
are to the Jews "worshippers of idols." And from this fact again arose, by the way, a 
Christian misconception which was not dissipated till the last years of the nineteenth 
century, and then only for the specialist, not for the mass of the educated. As a matter of 
fact, the Semites are probably the only people in the whole earth who ever were and 
could be genuine idolators. In no branch of the Indo-European family has there ever been 
idolatry. The unmixed Aryan Indians, as also the Eranians, had never either image or 
temple; they would have been incapable even of understanding the crassly materialistic 
sediment of Semitic idolatry in the Jewish ark of the covenant with its Egyptian sphinxes; 
neither the Teutons nor the Celts nor the Slavs worshipped images. And where did the 
Hellenic Zeus live? Where Athene? In poetry, in the imagination, up in cloud-capped 
Olympus, but never in this or that temple. In honour of the god Phidias created his 
immortal work, in honour of the gods the numerous little images were made which 
adorned every house and filled it with the living conception of higher beings. To the Jew, 
however, that seemed 


idolatry! The will being with them predominant, they regarded each thing only from the 
point of view of its utility; it was incomprehensible to them that a man should put 
anything beautiful before his eyes, to elevate and console himself therewith, to provide 
food for his mind, to awaken his religious sense. Similarly, too, the Christians have at a 
later time looked upon images of Buddha as idols: but the Buddhists recognise no God, 
much less an idol; these statues served as a stimulus to contemplation and alienation from 
the world. Indeed ethnologers have lately been beginning to question the possibility of 
there ever being a people so primitive as to worship so-called fetishes as idols. Formerly 
this was simply taken for granted; now it is being found in more and more cases that 
these children of nature attach the most complicated symbolical conceptions to their 
fetishes. It seems as if the Semites were the only human race that had succeeded in 
making golden calves, iron serpents, &c., and then worshipping them. * And as the 
Israelites even at that time were much more highly developed than the Australasian 
negroes of to-day, we conclude that such aberrations on their part must be put down not 
to immaturity of judgment, but to some onesidedness of their intellect: this onesidedness 

was the enormous predominance of will. The will as such lacks not merely all 
imagination, but all reflection; to it only one thing is natural, to precipitate itself upon, 
and to grasp the present. And so for no people was it so difficult as it was for the people 
of Israel, to rise to a high conception of the Divine, and for none was it so hard to keep 
this conception pure. But strength is steeled in the fray: the most unreligious people in the 
world created in its need the foundation of a new and most sublime conception 

* It is scarcely necessary to call the reader's attention to the fact that the Egyptian and 
Syrian forms of worship from which the Jews took the idea of the ox and the serpent 
were purely symbolical. 


of God, which has become the common property of all civilised mankind. For on this 
foundation Christ built; He could do so, thanks to that "abstract materialism" which He 
found around Him. Elsewhere religions were choked by the richness of their 
mythologies; here there was no mythology at all. Elsewhere every god possessed so 
distinct a physiognomy, had been made by poetry and the plastic arts so thoroughly 
individual, that no one could have changed him over night; or, on the other hand (as is the 
case with Brahman in India) the conception of him had been gradually so sublimated that 
nothing remained from which to create a new living form. Neither of these two things had 
happened with the Jews: Jehovah was in truth a remarkably concrete, indeed an 
altogether historical conception, and in so far a much more tangible figure than the 
imaginative Aryan had ever possessed; at the same time it was forbidden to represent 
Him either by image or word. * Hence the religious genius of mankind found here a 
tabula rasa. Christ required to destroy the historical Jehovah just as little as the Jewish 
"law"; neither the one nor the other has an immediate relation to real religion; but just as He 
in point of fact by that inner "conversion" transformed the so-called law into a 
fundamentally new law, so He used the concrete abstraction of the Jewish God in order to 
give the world a quite new conception of God. We speak of anthropomorphism! Can then 
man act and think otherwise than as an anthropos? This new conception of the Godhead 
differed, however, from other sublime intuitions in this, that the image was created not 
with the brilliant colours of symbolism nor with the etching-needle of thought, but was 
caught as it were on a mirror 

* When at a very late period the Jews could not quite resist the impulse to presentation, 
they sought to conceal the want of imaginative power by Oriental verbiage. We can see 
an example of it in chap. i. of Ezekiel. 


in the innermost mind, and became henceforth a direct individual experience to every one 
that had eyes to see. — Certain it is that this new ideal could not have been set up in any 
other place than where the conception of God had been fanatically clung to, and yet left 
totally undeveloped. 

Hitherto we have directed our attention to what separates or at least distinguishes 
Christ from Judaism; it would be one-sided to leave it at that alone. His fate and the main 
tendency of His thought are both closely connected with genuine Jewish life and 
character. He towers above His surroundings, but yet He belongs to them. Here we have 
to consider especially two fundamental features of the Jewish national character: the 
historical view of religion and the predominance of the will. These two features are, as 
we shall immediately see, genetically related. The former has strongly influenced Christ's 
life and His memory after death; in the latter is rooted His doctrine of morals. A study of 
these two points will throw light on many of the deepest and most difficult questions in 
the history of Christianity, as well as on many of the inexplicable inner contradictions of 
our religious tendencies up to the present day. 


Of the many Semitic peoples one only, and that one politically one of the smallest and 
weakest, has maintained itself as a national unity; this small nation has defied all storms 
and stands to-day a unique fact among men — without fatherland, without a supreme head, 
scattered all over the world, enrolled among the most different nationalities, and yet 
united and conscious of unity. This miracle is the work of a book, the Thora, with all that 
has been added to it by way of supplement up to the present day. But this book must be 
regarded as evidence of a peculiar national soul, which at a critical 


moment was guided in this direction by individual eminent and far-seeing men. In the 
next chapter but one I shall have to enter more fully into the origin and importance of 
these canonical writings. In the meantime, I shall merely call attention to the fact that the 
Old Testament is a purely historical work. If we leave out of account a few late and 
altogether unessential additions (like the socalled Proverbs of Solomon), every sentence 
of these books is historical; the whole legislation too which they contain is based on 
history, or has at least a chronological connection with the events described: "The Lord 
spake unto Moses," Aaron's burnt-offering is accepted by the Lord, Aaron's sons are killed 
during the proclamation of the law, &c. &c.; and if it is a question of inventing 
something, the narrator either links it on to a fictitious story, as in the book of Job, or to a 
daring falsification of history, as in the book of Esther. By this predominance of the 
chronological element the Bible differs from all other known sacred books. The religion 
it contains is an element in the historical narrative and not vice versa; its moral 
commandments do not grow with inherent necessity out of the depths of the human heart, 
they are "laws," which were promulgated under definite conditions on fixed days, and 
which can be repealed at any time. Compare for a moment the Aryan Indians; they often 
stumbled upon questions concerning the origin of the world, the whence and the whither, 
but these were not essential to the uplifting of their souls to God; this question concerning 
causes has nothing to do with their religion: indeed, far from attaching importance to it, 
the hymnists exclaim almost ironically: 

Who hath perceived from whence creation comes? 
He who in Heaven's light upon it looks, 
He who has made or has not made it all, 
He knows it! Or does he too know it not? * 

Goethe, who is often called the "great Heathen," but 

* Rigveda, x. 129, 7. 


who might with greater justice be termed the "great Aryan," gave expression to exactly the 
same view when he said, "Animated inquiry into cause does great harm." Similarly the 
German natural scientist of to-day says, "In the Infinite no new end and no beginning can 
be sought. However far back we set the origin, the question still remains open as to the 
first of the first, the beginning of the beginning." * The Jew felt quite differently. He knew 
as accurately about the creation of the world as do the wild Indians of South America or 
the Australian blacks to-day. That, however, was not due — as is the case with these — to 
want of enlightenment, but to the fact that the Aryan shepherd's profound, melancholy 
mark of interrogation was never allowed a place in Jewish literature; his tyrannous will 
forbade it, and it was the same will that immediately silenced by fanatical dogmatism the 
scepticism that could not fail to assert itself among so gifted a people (see the Koheleth, 
or Book of the Preacher). Whoever would completely possess the "to-day" must also grasp 
the "yesterday" out of which it grew. Materialism suffers shipwreck as soon as it is not 
consistent; the Jew was taught that by his unerring instinct; and just as accurately as our 
materialists know to-day how thinking arises out of the motion of atoms, did he know 
how God had created the world and made man from a clod of earth. Creation, however, is 
the least thing of all; the Jew took the myths with which he became acquainted on his 
journeys, stripped them as far as possible of everything mythological and pruned them 
down to concrete historical events, t But then, and not till then, came his masterpiece: 
from the scanty material common to all Semites t 

* Adolf Bastian, the eminent ethnologist, in his work: Das Bestandige in den 
Menschenrassen (1868), p. 28. 

t "Les mythologies etrangeres se transforment entre les mains des Semites en recits 
platement historiques" (Renan, Israel, i. 49). 

t Cf. the history of creation by the Phoenician Sanchuniathon. 


the Jew constructed a whole history of the world of which he made himself the centre; 
and from this moment, that is, the moment when Jehovah makes the covenant with 
Abraham, the fate of Israel forms the history of the world, indeed, the history of the 
whole cosmos, the one thing about which the Creator of the world troubles himself. It is 
as if the circles always became narrower; at last only the central point remains — the "Ego," 
the will has prevailed. That indeed was not the work of a day; it came about gradually; 

genuine Judaism, that is, the Old Testament in its present form, shaped and established 
itself only after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity. * And now what 
formerly had been effected with unconscious genius was applied and perfected 
consciously: the union of the past and the future with the present in such a way that each 
individual moment formed a centre on the perfectly straight path, which the Jewish 
people had to follow and from which it henceforth could not deviate either to right or to 
left. In the past divine miracles in favour of the Jews and in the future expectation of the 
Messiah and world-empire: these were the two mutually complementary elements of this 
view of history. The passing moment received a peculiarly living importance from the 
fact that it was seen growing out of the past, as reward or punishment, and that it was 
believed to have been exactly foretold in prophecies. By this the future itself acquired 
unexampled reality: it seemed to be something tangible. Even should countless promises 
and prophecies not come true, t that could always be easily explained. Will looks not too 
close, but what it holds it does not let go, 

* Seechap. v. In order to give a fixed point and to reveal drastically the differences of 
mental tendencies, I may mention that this was about three hundred years after Homer, 
scarcely a century before Herodotus. 

t For example, the promise to Abraham in reference to Canaan, "To thee will I give it, 
and to thy seed for ever." 


even if it be but a phantom; the less the past had given the richer appeared the future; and 
so much was possessed in black and white (particularly in the legend of the Exodus), that 
doubt could not arise. The so-called Jewish "literal adherence to creed" is surely quite a 
different thing from the dogmatic faith of the Christians: it is not a faith in abstract 
inconceivable mysteries and in all kinds of mythological conceptions, but something 
quite concrete and historical. The relation of the Jews to their God is from the first 
political. * Jehovah promises them the empire of the world — under certain conditions; and 
their historical work is such a marvel of ingenious structure that the Jews see their past in 
the most glowing colours, and everywhere perceive the protecting hand of God extended 
over His chosen people, "over the only men in the true sense of the word"; and this in spite 
of the fact that theirs has been the most wretched and pitiful fate as a people that the 
annals of the world can show; for only once under David and Solomon did they enjoy 
half a century of relative prosperity and settled conditions: thus they possess on all hands 
proofs of the truth of their faith, and from this they draw the assurance that what was 
promised to Abraham many centuries before will one day take place in all its fulness. But 
the divine promise was, as I have said, dependent upon conditions. Men could not move 
about in the house, could not eat and drink or walk in the fields, without thinking of 
hundreds of commandments, upon the fulfilment of which the fate of the nation 
depended. As the Psalmist sings of the Jew (Psalm i. 2): 

He placeth his delight 

Upon God's law, and meditates 

On his law day and night, t 

* See Rob. Smith: The Prophets of Israel, pp. 70 and 133. 

t In the Sippurim, a collection of Jewish popular sagas and stories, it is frequently 
mentioned that the ordinary uneducated Jew has 613 commandments to learn by heart. 
But the Talmud teaches 13,600 


Every few years each of us throws a voting-paper into the box; otherwise we do not know 
or hardly know that our life is of national importance; but the Jew could never forget that. 
His God had promised him, "No people shall withstand thee, till thou destroyest it," but 
immediately added, "All the commandments which I command thee, thou shalt keep!" God 
was thus always present to consciousness. Practically everything but material possession 
was forbidden to the Jew; his mind therefore was directed to property alone; and it was to 
God that he had to look for the possession of that property. — The man who has never 
brought home to himself the conditions here hastily sketched will have difficulty in 
realising what unanticipated vividness the conception of God acquired under these 
conditions. The Jew could not indeed represent Jehovah by images; but His working. His 
daily intervention in the destiny of the world was, so to speak, a matter of experience; the 
whole nation indeed lived upon it; to meditate upon it was their one intellectual 
occupation (if not in the Diaspora, at least in Palestine). 

It was in these surroundings that Christ grew up; beyond them He never stepped. 
Thanks to this peculiar historical sense of the Jews He awoke to consciousness as far as 
possible from the all-embracing Aryan cult of nature and its confession tat-tvam-asi (that 
thou art also), in the focus of real anthropomorphism, where all creation was but for man, 
and all men but for this one chosen people, that is. He awoke in the direct presence of 
God and Divine Providence. He found here what He would have found nowhere else in 
the world: a complete scaffolding ready for Him, within which His entirely new 
conception of God and of religion could be built up. After Jesus had lived, nothing 
remained of the genuinely Jewish 

laws, obedience to which is divine command! (See Dr. Emanuel Schreiber: Der Talmud 
vom Standpunkte des modernen Judentums.) 


idea; now that the temple was built the scaffolding could be removed. But it had served 
its purpose, and the building would have been unthinkable without it. The God to whom 
we pray to give us our daily bread could only be thought of where a God had promised to 
man the things of this world; men could only pray for forgiveness of sins to Him who had 
issued definite commandments. — I almost fear, however, that if I here enter into details I 
may be misunderstood; it is enough if I have succeeded in giving a general conception of 
the very peculiar atmosphere of Judea, for that will enable us to discern that this most 
ideal religion would not possess the same life-power if it had not been built upon the 
most real, the most materialistic — yes, assuredly the most materialistic — religion in the 

world. It is this and not its supposed higher religiosity that has made Judaism a religious 
power of world-wide importance. 

The matter becomes still clearer whenever we consider the influence of this historical 
faith upon the fate of Christ. 

The most powerful personality can be influential only when it is understood. This 
understanding may be very incomplete, it may indeed frequently be direct 
misunderstanding, but some community of feeling and thought must form the link of 
connection between the lonely genius and the masses. The thousands that listened to the 
Sermon on the Mount certainly did not understand Christ; how could that have been 
possible? They were a poor people, downtrodden and oppressed by continual war and 
discord, systematically stupefied by their priests; but the power of his word awakened in 
the heart of the more gifted among them an echo which it would have been impossible to 
awaken in any other part of the world: was this to be the Messiah, the promised redeemer 
from their misery and wretchedness? What immeasurable power lay in the possibility of 


a conception! At once the homely, fleeting present was linked to the remotest past and the 
most indubitable future, and thereby the present received everlasting importance. It does 
not matter that the Messiah, whom the Jews expected, had not the character which we 
Indo-Europeans attach to this conception; * the idea 

* Even so orthodox an investigator as Stanton admits that the Jewish idea of the 
Messiah was altogether political (see The Jewish and the Christian Messiah, 1886, pp. 
122 f., 128, &c.). It is well known that theology has occupied itself much of late years 
with the history of the conceptions of the Messiah. The principal result of the 
investigation for us laymen is the proof that the Christians, misled by what were 
specifically Galilean and Samarian heterodoxies, supplanted the Jewish conception of the 
coming of the Messiah by a view which the Jews never really held. The Jews who were 
learned in Scripture were always indignant at the strained interpretations of the Old 
Prophets; now even the Christians admit that the Prophets before the exile (and these are 
the greatest) knew nothing of the expectation of a Messiah (see, for example, the latest 
summary account, that of Paul Volz: Die vorexilische Jahveprophetie und der Messias, 
1897); the Old Testament does not even know the word, and one of the most important 
theologists of our time, Paul de Lagarde (Deutsche Schriften, p. 53), calls attention to the 
fact that the expression maschiach is not of Hebrew origin at all, but was borrowed at a 
late time from Assyria or Babylon. It is particularly noteworthy also that this expectation 
of the Messiah wherever it existed was constantly taking different forms; in one case a 
second King David was to come, in another the idea was one only of Jewish world- 
empire in general, then again it is God himself with his heavenly judgment "who will put 
an end at once to those who have hitherto held sway and give the people of Israel power 
for ever, an all-embracing empire, in which the just of former times who rise again shall 
take part, while the rebellious are condemned to everlasting shame" (cf. Karl Mliller: 
Kirchengeschichte, i. 55); other Jews again dispute whether the Messiah will be a Ben- 
David or a Ben-Joseph; many believe there would be two of them, others are of the 

opinion that he would be born in the Roman Diaspora; but nowhere and at no time do we 
find the idea of a suffering Messiah, who by his death redeems us (see Stanton, pp. 122- 
124). The best, the most cultured and pious Jews have never entertained such apocalyptic 
delusions. In the Talmud (Sabbath, Part 6) we read, "Between the present time and the 
Messianic there is no difference except that the pressure, under which Israel pines till 
then, will cease." (Contrast with this the frightful confusion and complete puerility of the 
Messianic conceptions in the Sanhedrin of the Babylonian Talmud.) I think that with 
these remarks I have touched the root of the matter: in the case of an absolutely historical 
religion, like the Jewish, the sure possession of the future is just as imperative a necessity 
as the sure possession of the 


was there, the belief founded on history that at any moment a saviour could and must 
appear from Heaven. In no other part of the earth could a single man have this 
conception, full of misunderstandings as it was, of the world-wide importance of Christ. 
The Saviour would have remained a man among men. And in so far I think that the 
thousands who soon afterwards cried, "Crucify him, crucify him," showed just as much 
understanding as those who had piously listened to the Sermon on the Mount. Pilate, at 
other times a hard, cruel judge, could find no fault in Christ; * in Hellas and in Rome He 
would have been honoured as a holy man. But the Jew lived only in history, to him the 
"heathen" idea of morality and sanctity was strange, since he knew only a "law," and 
moreover obeyed this law for quite practical reasons, namely, to stay the wrath of God 
and to make sure of his future, and so he judged a phenomenon like the revelation of 
Christ from a purely historical standpoint, and became justly filled with fury, when the 
promised kingdom, to win which he had suffered and endured for centuries — for the sake 
of possessing which he had separated himself from all people upon the earth, and had 
become hated and despised of all — when this kingdom, in which he hoped to see all 
nations in fetters and all princes upon their knees "licking the dust," was all at once 
transformed from an earthly kingdom into one "not of this world." Jehovah had often 
promised his people that he would "not betray" them; but to the Jews this was bound to 
appear be- 
past; from the earliest times we see this thought of the future inspiring the Jews and it still 
inspires them; this unimaginative people gave its expectations various forms, according 
to the varying influences of surroundings, essential only is the firm ineradicable 
conviction that the Jews should one day rule the world. This is in fact an element of their 
character, the visible bodying-forth of their innermost nature. It is their substitute for 

* TertuUian makes the charmingly simple remark: "Pilate was already at heart a 
Christian" (Aplogeticus xxi.). 


trayal. They executed not one only but many, because they were held to be, or gave 
themselves out to be, the promised Messiah. And rightly too, for the belief in the future 

was just as much a pillar of the popular idea as the belief in the past. And now, to crown 
all, this Galilean heterodoxy! To plant the flag of idealism on this ancient consecrated 
seat of the most obstinate materialism! To transform, as if by magic, the God of 
vengeance and of war into a God of love and peace! To teach the stormy will, that 
stretched out both hands for all the gold of the world, that it should throw away what it 
possessed and seek the hidden treasure in its own heart!... The Jewish Sanhedrim had 
seen farther than Pilate (and than many thousands of Christian theologists). Not, indeed, 
with full consciousness, but with that unerring instinct, which pure race gives, it seized 
Him who undermined the historical basis of Jewish life, by teaching, "Take no heed for 
the morrow," who in each one of His words and deeds transformed Judaism into its 
antithesis, and did not release Him till He had breathed His last. And thus only, by death, 
was destiny fulfilled and the example given. No new faith could be established by 
doctrines; there was at that time no lack of noble and wise teachers of ethics, but none has 
had any power over men; a life had to be lived and this life had immediately to receive its 
place in the great enduring history of the world as a fact of universal moment. Only 
Jewish surroundings suited these conditions. And just as the life of Christ could only be 
lived by the help of Judaism, although it was its negation, so too the young Christian 
Church developed a series of ancient Aryan conceptions — of sin, redemption, rebirth, 
grace, &c. (things till then and afterwards quite unknown to the Jews) — and gave them a 
clear and visible form, by introducing them into the Jewish historical scheme. * No one 
will ever succeed 

* The m54h of the fall of man stands indeed at the beginning of the first book of 
Moses, but is clearly borrowed, since the Jews never 


in quite freeing the revelation of Christ from this Jewish groundwork; it was tried in the 
first centuries of the Christian era, but without success, since the thousand features in 
which the personality had revealed its individuality became thereby blurred, and nothing 
but an abstraction remained behind. * 


Still profounder is the influence of the second trait of character. 

We have seen that what I call the historical instinct of the Jews rests above all upon the 
possession of an abnormally developed will. The will in the case of the Jew attains such 
superiority that it enthrals and tyrannises over all other faculties. And so it is that we find 
on the one hand extraordinary achievements, which would be almost impossible for other 
men, and on the other, peculiar limitations. However that may be, it is certain that we see 
this very predominance of will in Christ at all times: frequently un-Jewish in His 
individual utterances, quite Jewish, in so far as the will is almost solely emphasised. This 
feature is like a branching of veins that goes deep and spreads far: we find it in every 
word, in every 

understood it and did not employ it in their system. He who does not transgress the law 
is, in their eyes, free from sin. Just as little has their expectation of a Messiah to do with 
our conception of redemption. See, further, chap. v. and vol ii chap. vii. 

* That is the tendency of gnosticism as a whole; this movement finds its most carefully 
pondered and noblest expression, as far as I can venture to express an opinion, in 
Marcion (middle of the second century), who was more filled with the absolutely new in 
the Christian ideal than perhaps any religious teacher since his time; but in just such a 
case one sees how fatal it is to ignore historical data. (See any Church History. On the 
other hand I must warn the student that the three lines which Professor Ranke devotes to 
this really great man (Weltgeschichte, ii. 171) contain not a single word of what should 
have been said on this point.) [For a knowledge of Marcion and gnosticism as a whole 
Mead's Fragments of a Faith Forgotten may be recommended.] 


single conception. By a comparison I hope to make my meaning clear and 

Consider the Hellenic conception of the Divine and the Human and of their relation to 
one another. Some Gods fight for Troy, others for the Achaeans; while I propitiate one 
part of the Divine I estrange the other; life is a battle, a game, the noblest may fall, the 
most miserable gain the victory; morality is in a way a personal affair, man is lord of his 
own heart but not of his destiny; there is no Providence that protects, punishes and 
rewards. The Gods themselves are in fact not free; Zeus himself must yield to fate. 
Herodotus says "Even a God cannot escape what is destined for him." A nation which 
produces the Iliad will in a later age produce great investigators of nature and great 
thinkers. For he who looks at nature with open eyes which are not blinded by selfishness 
will discover everywhere in it the rule of law; the presence of law in the moral sphere is 
fate for the artist — predestination for the philosopher. For the faithful observer of nature 
the idea of arbitrariness is, to begin with, simply impossible; do what he will, he cannot 
make up his mind to impute it even to a God. This philosophical view has been 
beautifully expressed by Here in Goethe's fragment, Achilleis: 

Willkiir bleibet ewig verhasst den Gottern und Menschen, 
Wenn sie in Thaten sich zeigt, auch nur in Worten sich kundgiebt. 
Denn so hoch wir auch stehen, so ist der ewigen Gotter 
Ewigste Themis * allein, und diese muss dauern und walten. t 

* Themis has degenerated in modern times to an allegory of impartial jurisdiction, that 
is, of an altogether arbitrary agreement, and she is appropriately represented with veiled 
eyes; while mythology lived, she represented the rule of law in all nature, and the old 
artists gave her particularly large, wide-open eyes. 

t Arbitrariness remains ever hateful to gods and men, when it reveals itself in deeds or 
even in words only. For however high we may stand, the eternal Themis of the eternal 
Gods alone is, and she must lastingly hold sway. 


On the other hand, the Jewish Jehovah can be described as the incarnation of 
arbitrariness. Certainly this divine conception appears to us in the Psalms and in Isaiah in 
altogether sublime form; it is also — for the chosen people — a source of high and serious 
morality. But what Jehovah is, He is, because He wills to be so; He stands above all 
nature, above every law, the absolute, unlimited autocrat. If it pleases Him to choose out 
from mankind a small people and to show His favour to it alone. He does so; if He wishes 
to vex it. He sends it into slavery; if he, on the other hand, wishes to give it houses which 
it has not built and vineyards which it has not planted. He does so and destroys the 
innocent possessors; there is no Themis. So too the divine legislation. Beside moral 
commands which breathe to some extent high morality and humanity, there stand 
commands which are directly immoral and inhuman; * others again determine most 
trivial points: what one may eat and may not eat, how one shall wash, &c., in short, 
everywhere absolute arbitrariness. He who sees deeper will not fail to note in this the 
relationship between the old Semitic idolatry and the belief in Jehovah. Considered from 
the Indo-European standpoint, Jehovah would in reality be called rather an idealised idol, 
or, if we prefer it, an anti-idol, than a god. And yet this conception of God contains 
something which could not, any more than arbitrariness, be derived from observation of 
nature, namely, the idea of a Providence. According to Renan, "the exaggerated belief in a 
special Providence is the basis of the whole Jewish religion." t Moreover, with 

* Besides the countless raids involving wholesale slaughter divinely commanded, in 
which "the heads of the children" are to be "dashed against the stones," note the cases where 
command is given to attack with felonious intent "the brother, companion, and neighbour" 
(Exodus xxxii. 27), and the disgusting commands such as in Ezekiel v. 12-15. 

t Histoire du peuple d'Israel, ii. p. 3. 


this freedom of God another freedom is closely connected, that of the human will. The 
liberum arbitrium is decidedly a Semitic conception and in its full development a 
specifically Jewish one; it is inseparably bound up with the particular idea of God. * 
Freedom of will implies nothing less than "ever repeated acts of creation"; carefully 
considered it will be clear that this supposition (as soon as it has to do with the world of 
phenomena) contradicts not merely all physical science, but also all metaphysics, and 
means a negation of every transcendent religion. Here cognition and will stand in strict 
opposition. Now wherever we find limitations of this idea of freedom — in Augustine, 
Luther, Voltaire, Kant, Goethe — we can be sure that an Indo-European reaction against the 
Semitic spirit is taking place. So, for example, when Calderon in the Great Zenobia lets 
the wild autocratic Aurelian mock him 

who called the will free. 

For — though one must certainly be on one's guard against misusing such formulary 
simplifications — one can still make the assertion that the idea of necessity is in all Indo- 
European races particularly strongly marked, and is met with again and again in the most 

different spheres; it points to high power of cognition free from passion; on the other 
hand, the idea of arbitrariness, that is, of an 

* We can trace in every history of Judaism with what very logical fanaticism the 
Rabbis still champion the unconditioned and not merely metaphysically meant freedom 
of will. Diderot says: "Les Juifs sont si jaloux de cette liberte d'indifference, qu'ils 
s'imaginent qu'il est impossible de penser sur cette matiere autrement qu'eux." And how 
closely this idea is connected with the freedom of God and with Providence becomes 
clear from the commotion which arose when Maimonides wished to limit divine 
Providence to mankind and maintained that every leaf was not moved by it nor every 
worm created by its will. — Of the so-called "fundamental doctrines" of the famous 
Talmudist Rabbi Akiba the two first are as follow: (1) Everything is supervised by the 
Providence of God; (2) Freedom of will is stipulated (Hirsch Graetz: Gnosticismus und 
Judentum, 1846, p. 91). 


unlimited sway of will, is specifically characteristic of the Jew; he reveals an intelligence 
which in comparison with his will-power is very limited. It is not a question here of 
abstract generalisations, but of actual characteristics, which we can still daily observe; in 
the one case intellect is predominant, in the other the will. 

Let me give a tangible example from the present. I knew a Jewish scholar, who, as the 
competition in his branch prevented him from earning much money, became a 
manufacturer of soap, and that, too, with great success; but when at a later time foreign 
competition once more took the ground from beneath his feet, all at once, though ripe in 
years, he became dramatic poet and Man of Letters and made a fortune at it. There was 
no question of universal genius in his case; he was of moderate intellectual abilities and 
devoid of all originality; but with this intellect the will achieved whatever it wished. 

The abnormally developed will of the Semites can lead to two extremes: either to 
rigidity, as in the case of Mohammed, where the idea of the unlimited divine caprice is 
predominant; or, as is the case with the Jews, to phenomenal elasticity, which is produced 
by the conception of their own human arbitrariness. To the Indo-European both paths are 
closed. In nature he observes everywhere the rule of law, and of himself he knows that he 
can only achieve his highest when he obeys inner need. Of course his will, too, can 
achieve the heroic, but only when his cognition has grasped some idea — religious, artistic, 
philosophic, or one which aims at conquest, command, enrichment, perhaps crime; at any 
rate, in his case the will obeys, it does not command. Therefore it is that a moderately 
gifted Indo-European is so peculiarly characterless in comparison with the most poorly 
gifted Jew. Of ourselves, we should certainly 


never have arrived at the conception of a free almighty God and of what may be called an 
"arbitrary Providence," a Providence, that is, which can decree something in one way, and 
then in answer to prayers or from other motives decide in a contrary direction. * We do 
not find that, outside of Judaism, man ever came to the conception of a quite intimate and 

continual personal relation between God and mankind — to the conception of a God who 
would almost seem to be there only for the sake of man. In truth the old Indo-Aryan Gods 
are benevolent, friendly, we might almost say genial powers; man is their child, not their 
slave; he approaches them without fear; when sacrificing he "grasps the right hand of God"; 
t the want of humility in presence of God has indeed filled many a one with horror: yet as 
we have seen nowhere do we find the conception of capricious autocracy. And with this 
goes hand in hand remarkable infidelity; now this, now that God is worshipped, or, if the 
Divine is viewed as a unified principle, then the one school has this idea of it, the other 
that (I remind the reader of the six great philosophically religious systems of India, all six 
of which passed as orthodox); the brain in fact works irresistibly on, producing new 
images and new shapes, the Infinite is its home, freedom its element and creative power 
its joy. Just consider the beginning of the following hymn from the Rigveda (6, 9): 

My ear is opened and my eye alert. 

The light awakes within my heart! 

My spirit flies to search in distant realms: 

What shall I say? of what shall my verse sing? 

* In the case of the Indo-Europeans the Gods are never "creators of the world"; where the 
Divine is viewed as creator, as in the case of the Brahman of the Indians, that refers to a 
freely metaphysical cognition, not to an historical and mechanical process, as in Genesis 
i.; in other cases the Gods are viewed as originating "on this side of creation," their birth 
and death are spoken of. 

t Oldenberg: Die Religion des Veda, p. 310. 


and compare it with the first verses of any Psalm, for instance, the 76th: 

In Judah is God known: His name is great in Israel. 

In Salem also is His tabernacle, and His dwelling-place in Sion. 

We see what an important element of faith the will is. While the Aryan, rich in cognition, 
"flies to search in distant realms," the strong-willed Jew makes God pitch His tent once for 
all in his own midst. The power of his will to live has not only forged for the Jew an 
anchor of faith, which holds him fast to the ground of historical tradition, but it has also 
inspired him with unshakable confidence in a personal, directly present God, who is 
almighty to give and to destroy; and it has brought him, the man, into a moral relation to 
this God, in that God in His all-powerfulness issued commands, which man is free to 
follow or neglect. * 


There is another matter which must not be omitted in this connection: the one-sided 
predominance of the will makes the chronicles of the Jewish people in general 

* If this were the place for it, I should gladly prove in greater detail that this Jewish 
conception of the almighty God who rules as free Providence inevitably determines the 
historical view of this God and that every genuine Aryan mind revolts again and again 
against this. This has caused, for instance, the whole tragic mental life of Peter Abelard: 
in spite of the most intense longing for orthodoxy, he cannot adapt his spirit to the 
religious materialism of the Jews. Ever and anon, for example, he comes to the 
conclusion that God does what he does of necessity (and here he could refer for support 
to the earlier writings of Augustine, especially his De libero arbitrio); this is intellectual 
anti-Semitism in the highest degree! He denies also every action, every motion in the 
case of God; the working of God is for him the coming to pass of an everlasting 
determination of will: "with God there is no sequence of time." (See A. Hausrath: Peter 
Abelard, p. 201 f.) With this Providence disappears. — However, what is the use of seeking 
for learned proofs? The noble Don 


dreary and ugly; and yet in this atmosphere there grew up a series of important men, 
whose peculiar greatness makes it impossible to compare them with other intellectual 
heroes. In the introduction to this division I have already spoken of those "disavowers" of 
the Jewish character, who themselves remained the while such out and out Jews, from the 
crown of their heads to the soles of their feet, that they contributed more than anything 
else to the growth of the most rigid Hebraism; in chap. v. I shall return to them; only so 
much must here be said: these men, in grasping religious materialism by its most abstract 
side, raised it morally to a very great height; their work has paved the way historically in 
essential points for Christ's view of the relation between God and man. Moreover, an 
important feature, which is essentially rooted in Judaism, shows itself most clearly in 
them: the historical religion of this people lays emphasis not upon the individual, but 
upon the whole nation; the individual can benefit or injure the whole community, but 
otherwise he is of little moment; from this resulted of necessity a markedly socialistic 
feature which the Prophets often powerfully express. The individual who attains to 
prosperity and wealth, while his brothers starve, falls under the ban of God. While Christ 
in one way represents exactly the opposite principle, namely, that of extreme 
individualism, the redeeming of the individual by regeneration. His life and His teaching, 
on the other hand, point unmistakably to a condition of things which can only be realised 
by having all things common. The communism of "one flock and one shepherd" is certainly 
different from the entirely politically coloured, theocratic communism of the Prophets; 

Quixote explains with pathetic simplicity to his faithful Sancho, "for God there is no past 
and no future, all is present" (Book IX. chap, viii.): hereby the immortal Cervantes 
expresses briefly and correctly the unhistorical standpoint of all non-Semites. 


but here again the basis is solely and characteristically Jewish. 


Whatever one may be inclined to think of these various Jewish conceptions, no one 
will deny their greatness, or their capacity to exercise an almost inestimable influence 
upon the moulding of the life of mankind. Nor will any one deny that the belief in divine 
almightiness, in divine Providence and in the freedom of the human will, * as well as the 
almost exclusive emphasising of the moral nature of men and their equality before God 
("the last shall be first") are essential elements of the personality of Christ. Far more than 
the fact that He starts from the Prophets, far more than His respect for Jewish legal 
enactments, do these fundamental views show us that Christ belonged morally to the 
Jews. Indeed, when we penetrate farther to that central point in Christ's teaching, to that 
"conversion of the will," then we must recognise — as I have already hinted at the beginning 
of this chapter in the comparison with Buddha — that here is something Jewish in contrast 
to the Aryan negation of the will. The latter is a fruit of perception, of too great 
perception; Christ, on the other hand, addresses Himself to men, in whom the will — not 
the thought, is supreme; what He sees around Him is the insatiable, ever-covetous Jewish 
will that is always stretching out both hands; He recognises the might of this will and 
commands it — not to be silent, but to take a new direction. Here we must say, Christ is a 
Jew, and He can only be understood when we have learned to grasp critically these 
peculiarly Jewish views which He found and made His own. 

* The latter, however, as it appears, with important limitations, since the Aryan idea of 
grace more than once clearly appears in Christ's words. 


I said just now that Christ belonged "morally" to the Jews. This somewhat ambiguous 
word "moral" must here be taken in a narrow sense. For it is just in the moral application of 
these conceptions of God's almightiness and providence, of the direct relations between 
man and God following therefrom, and of the employment of the free human will, that 
the Saviour departed in toto from the doctrines of Judaism; that is clear to every one, and 
I have, moreover, sought to emphasise it in what has gone before; but the conceptions 
themselves, the frame into which the moral personality fitted itself, and out of which it 
cannot be moved, the unquestioning acceptance of these premisses regarding God and 
man, which by no means belong to the human mind as a matter of course but are, on the 
contrary, the absolutely individual achievement of a definite people in the course of an 
historical development which lasted for centuries: this is the Jewish element in Christ. In 
the chapters on Hellenic Art and Roman Law I have already called attention to the power 
of ideas; here again we have a brilliant example of it. Whoever lived in the Jewish 
intellectual world was bound to come under the influence of Jewish ideas. And though 
He brought to the world an entirely new message, though His life was like the dawn of a 
new morn, though His personality was so divinely great that it revealed to us a power in 
the human breast, capable — if it ever should be fully realised — of completely changing 
humanity: yet the personality, the life and the message were none the less chained to the 

fundamental ideas of Judaism; only in these could they reveal, exercise and proclaim 



I hope I have attained my purpose. Proceeding from the consideration of the 
personality in its individual, autonomous import, I have gradually widened the circle, to 
reveal the threads of life which connect it with its surroundings. In this a certain 
amplification was unavoidable; the sole subject of this book, the foundations of the 
nineteenth century, I have nevertheless not lost sight of for a single moment. For how 
could I, an individual, venture to approach that age either as chronicler or 
encyclopaedist? May the Muses keep me from such madness! On the other hand, I shall 
attempt to trace as far as possible the leading ideas, the moulding thoughts of our age; but 
these ideas do not fall from Heaven, they link on to the past; new wine is very often 
indeed poured into old bottles, and very old, sour wine, which nobody would taste, if he 
knew its origin, into quite new ones; and as a matter of fact the curse of confusion weighs 
heavily upon a culture born so late as ours, especially in an age of breathless haste, where 
men have to learn too much to be able to think much. If we wish to become clear about 
ourselves, we must, above all, be quite clear about the fundamental thoughts and 
conceptions which we have inherited from our ancestors. I hope I have brought it home to 
the reader how very complex is the Hellenic legacy, how peculiarly contradictory the 
Roman, but at the same time how profoundly they affect our life and thought to-day. 
Now we have seen that even the advent of Christ, on the threshold between the old and 
the new age, does not present itself to our distant eye in so simple a form that we can 
easily free it from the labyrinth of prejudices, falsehoods and errors. And yet nothing is 
more necessary than to see this revelation of Christ clearly in the light of truth. For — 


however unworthy we may show ourselves of this — our whole culture, thank God, still 
stands under the sign of the Cross upon Golgotha. We do see this Cross; but who sees the 
Crucified One? Yet He, and He alone is the living well of all Christianity, of the 
intolerantly dogmatic as well as of that which gives itself out to be quite unbelieving. In 
later ages it will be an eloquent testimony to the childishness of our judgment that we 
have ever doubted it, and that the nineteenth century has reared itself on books, which 
demonstrated that Christianity originated by chance, at haphazard, as a "mythological 
paroxysm," as a "dialectical antithesis," as a necessary result of Judaism, and I know not 
what else. The importance of genius cannot be reckoned high enough: who ventures to 
estimate the influence of Homer upon the mind of man? But Christ was still greater. And 
like the everlasting "hearth-fire" of the Aryans, so the torch of truth which He kindled for 
us can never be extinguished; though at times a shadow of night may wrap manhood far 
and wide in the folds of darkness, yet all that is wanted is one single glowing heart, in 
order that thousands and millions may once more blaze under the bright light of day.... 
Here, however, we can and must ask with Christ, "But if the light that is in thee be 

darkness, how great is that darkness?" Even the origin of the Christian Church leads us 
into the profoundest gloom, and its further history gives us rather the impression of a 
groping about in darkness than of clear seeing in the sunlight. How then shall we be able 
to distinguish what in so-called Christianity is spirit of Christ's spirit, and what, on the 
other hand, is imported from Hellenic, Jewish, Roman and Egyptian sources, if we have 
never come to see this revelation of Christ in its sublime simplicity? How shall we speak 
about what is Christian in our present confessions, in our literatures and arts, in our 


and politics, in our social institutions and ideals, how shall we separate what is Christian 
from what is anti-Christian, and be able with certainty to decide, what in the movements 
of the nineteenth century can be traced back to Christ and what not, or in how far it is 
Christian, whether merely in the form or also in the content, or perhaps in content, i.e., in 
its general tendency, but not with regard to the characteristically Jewish form — how shall 
we, above all, be able to sift and separate from the "bread of life" this specifically Jewish 
element which is so threateningly perilous to our spirit, if the revelation of Christ does 
not stand conspicuously before our eyes in its general outlines, and if we are not able 
clearly to distinguish in this image the purely personal from its historical conditions. This 
is certainly a most important and indispensable foundation for the formation of our 
judgments and appreciations. 

To pave, to some modest degree, the way for that result has been the purpose of this 



Der hohe Sinn, das Ruhmliche 

Von dem Gerlihmten rein zu unterscheiden 



WHO were the heirs of antiquity? This question is at least as important as that concerning 
the legacy itself and, if possible, more difficult to answer. For it introduces us to the study 
of race problems, which science during the last quarter of a century, so far from solving, 
has rather revealed in all their intricacy. And yet all true comprehension of the nineteenth 
century depends on the clear answering of this question. Here, then, we must be at once 
daring and cautious if we are to remember the warning of the preface, and steer safely 
between the Scylla of a science almost unattainable, and so far most problematic in its 

results, and the Charybdis of unstable and baseless generalisations. Necessity compels us 
to make the bold attempt. 


Rome had transferred the centre of gravity of civilisation to the West. This proved to 
be one of those unconsciously 


accomplished acts of world-wide importance which no power can undo. The West of 
Europe, remote from Asia, was to be the focus of all further civilisation and culture. But 
that happened only gradually. At first it was politics alone which turned ever more and 
more towards the West and North; intellectually Rome itself long remained very 
dependent upon the former centre of culture in the East. In the first centuries of our era, 
with the exception of Rome itself, only what lies South and East of it is intellectually of 
any importance; Alexandria, Ephesus, Antioch, in fact all Syria, then Greece with 
Byzantium, as well as Carthage and the other towns of ancient Africa, are the districts 
where the legacy was taken up and long administered, and the inhabitants of these places 
then handed it on to later times and other races. And these very countries were at that 
time, like Rome itself, no longer inhabited by a definite people, but by an inextricable 
confusion of the most different races and peoples. It was a chaos. And this chaos did not 
by any means disappear at a later time. In many places this chaotic element was pressed 
back by the advance of pure races, in others it fell out of the list of those that count 
through its own weakness and want of character, yet for all that it has beyond doubt 
maintained itself in the South and East; moreover fresh influx of blood has frequently 
given it new strength. That is a first point of far-reaching importance. Consider, for 
example, that all the foundations for the structure of historical Christianity were laid and 
built up by this mongrel population! With the exception of some Greeks, all of whom, 
however, with Origenes at their head, disseminated highly unorthodox, directly anti- 
Jewish doctrines which had no success, * one can scarcely even conjecture to what 
nationality any of the Church 

* Origenes, for example, was confessedly a pessimist (in the metaphysical sense of the 
word), by which in itself he proved his Indo-European descent; he saw suffering 
everywhere in the world and con- 


fathers actually belonged. The same may be said of the corpus juris; here, too, it was the 
Chaos (according to Hellenic ideas the mother of Erebus and Nox, of darkness and night), 
to which the task fell of perfecting and transforming the living work of a living people to 
an international dogma. Under the same influence, art ever more and more lost its 
personal, freely creative power and became transformed into an hieratically formulary 
exercise, while the lofty, philosophical speculation of the Hellenes was displaced by its 

caricature, the cabalistic phantoms of demiurges, angels and daemons — conceptions which 
could not be designated by a higher name than "airy materialism." * We must therefore, to 
begin with, turn our attention to this Chaos of Peoples. 


Out of the midst of the chaos towers, like a sharply defined rock amid the formless 
ocean, one single people, a numerically insignificant people — the Jews. This one race has 
established as its guiding principle the purity of the blood; it alone possesses, therefore, 
physiognomy and character. If we contemplate the southern and eastern centres of culture 
in the world-empire in its down- 
eluded from that that its chief end was not the enjoyment of a god-given happiness but 
the prevention of an evil (compare Christ's chief doctrine, that of the "conversion of will," 
cf. p. 188). Augustine, the African mestizo, found it easy to refute him; he appealed to the 
first chapter of the first book of the Jewish Thora, to prove beyond dispute that 
everything is good and that "the world exists for no other reason than because it has been 
pleasing to a good God to create the absolutely good." (See the very instructive discussion 
in the De civitate Dei, xi. 23.) Augustine triumphantly introduces another argument in 
this place: if Origenes were right, then the most sinful creatures would have the heaviest 
bodies and devils would be visible, but devils have airy, invisible shapes, and so, &c. 
Thus thoughts that arose in the Chaos prevailed over metaphysical religion. (The same 
arguments are to be found, word for word, in the Flihrer der Irrenden of the Jew 

* Burger calls it Luftiges Gesindel (airy rabble) in his Lenore. 


fall, and let no sympathies or antipathies pervert our judgment, we must confess that the 
Jews were at that time the only people deserving respect. We may well apply to them the 
words of Goethe, "the faith broad, narrow the thought." In comparison with Rome and still 
more so with Hellas their intellectual horizon appears so narrow, their mental capacities 
so limited, that we seem to have before us an entirely new type of being but the 
narrowness and want of originality in thought are fully counterbalanced by the power of 
faith, a faith which might be very simply defined as "faith in self." And since this faith in 
self included faith in a higher being, it did not lack ethical significance. However poor the 
Jewish "law" may appear, when compared with the religious creations of the various Indo- 
European peoples, it possessed a unique advantage in the fallen Roman Empire of that 
time: it was, in fact, a law; a law which men humbly obeyed, and this very obedience was 
bound to be of great ethical import in a world of such lawlessness. Here, as everywhere, 
we shall find that the influence of the Jews — for good and for evil — lies in their character, 
not in their intellectual achievements. * Certain historians of the nineteenth century, even 
men so intellectually pre-eminent as Count Gobineau, have supported the view that 
Judaism has always had merely a disintegrating influence upon all peoples. I cannot share 
this conviction. In truth, where the Jews become very numerous in a strange land, they 

may make it their object to fulfil the promises of their Prophets and with the best will and 
conscience to "consume the strange peoples"; did they not say of themselves, even in the 
lifetime of Moses, that they were "like locusts"? However, we must distinguish between 
Judaism and the Jews and admit that Judaism as an idea is one of the most conservative 
ideas in the world. The idea of physical race-unity and race-purity, which is the very 

* See p. 238 f. 


essence of Judaism, signifies the recognition of a fundamental physiological fact of life; 
wherever we observe life, from the hyphomycetes to the noble horse, we see the 
importance of "race"; Judaism made this law of nature sacred. And this is the reason why it 
triumphantly prevailed at that critical moment in the history of the world, when a rich 
legacy was waiting in vain for worthy heirs. It did not further, but rather put a stop to, 
universal disintegration. The Jewish dogma was like a sharp acid which is poured into a 
liquid which is being decomposed in order to clear it and keep it from further 
decomposition. Though this acid may not be to the taste of every one, yet it has played so 
decisive a part in the history of the epoch of culture to which we belong that we ought to 
be grateful to the giver: instead of being indignant about it, we shall do better to inform 
ourselves thoroughly concerning the significance of this "entrance of the Jews into the 
history of the West," an event which in any case exercised inestimable influence upon our 
whole culture, and which has not yet reached its full growth. 

Another word of explanation. I am speaking of Jews, not of Semites in general; not 
because I fail to recognise the part played by the latter in the history of the world, but 
because my task is limited both in respect of time and space. Indeed for many centuries 
other branches of the Semitic race had founded powerful kingdoms on the South and East 
coasts of the Mediterranean and had established commercial depots as far as the coasts of 
the Atlantic Ocean; doubtless they had also been stimulative in other ways, and had 
spread knowledge and accomplished merits of many kinds; but nowhere had there been a 
close intellectual connection between them and the other inhabitants of future Europe. 
The Jews first brought this about, not by the millions of Jews who lived in the Diaspora, 
but first and foremost by the Christian idea. It was only when the Jews crucified Christ 
that they 


unconsciously broke the spell which had hitherto isolated them in the pride of ignorance. — 
At a later time, indeed, a Semitic flood swept once more across the European, Asiatic and 
African world, a flood such as, but for the destruction of Carthage by Rome, would have 
swept over Europe a thousand years before, with results which would have been decisive 
and permanent. * But here, too, the Semitic idea — "faith wide, narrow the thought" — proved 
itself more powerful than its bearers; the Arabs were gradually thrown back and, in 
contrast to the Jews, not one of them remained on European soil; but where their abstract 
idolatry t had obtained a foothold all possibility of a culture disappeared; the Semitic 
dogma of materialism, which in this case and in contrast to Christianity had kept itself 

free of all Aryan admixtures, deprived noble human races of all soul, and excluded them 
for ever from the "race that strives to reach the light." — Of the Semites only the Jews, as we 
see, have positively furthered our culture and also shared, as far as their extremely 
assimilative nature permitted them, in the legacy of antiquity. 


The entrance of the Teutonic races into the history of the world forms the counterpart 
to the spread of this diminutive and yet so influential people. There, too, we see what 
pure race signifies, at the same time, however, what variety of races is — that great natural 
principle of many-sidedness, and of dissimilarity of mental gifts, which shallow, venal, 
ignorant babblers of the present day would fain deny, slavish souls sprung from the chaos 
of peoples, who feel at ease only in a confused atmosphere of characterlessness and 
absence of individuality. To this day these two powers — Jews and Teutonic 

*Seep. 115 
t See p. 240. 


races — stand, wherever the recent spread of the Chaos has not blurred their features, now 
as friendly, now as hostile, but always as alien forces face to face. 

In this book I understand by "Teutonic peoples" the different North-European races, 
which appear in history as Celts, Teutons (Germanen) and Slavs, and from whom — mostly 
by indeterminable mingling — the peoples of modern Europe are descended. It is certain 
that they belonged originally to a single family, as I shall prove in the sixth chapter; but 
the Teuton in the narrower Tacitean sense of the word has proved himself so 
intellectually, morally and physically pre-eminent among his kinsmen, that we are 
entitled to make his name summarily represent the whole family. The Teuton is the soul 
of our culture. Europe of to-day, with its many branches over the whole world, represents 
the chequered result of an infinitely manifold mingling of races: what binds us all 
together and makes an organic unity of us is "Teutonic" blood. If we look around, we see 
that the importance of each nation as a living power to-day is dependent upon the 
proportion of genuinely Teutonic blood in its population. Only Teutons sit on the thrones 
of Europe. — What preceded in the history of the world we may regard as Prolegomena; 
true history, the history which still controls the rhythm of our hearts and circulates in our 
veins, inspiring us to new hope and new creation, begins at the moment when the Teuton 
with his masterful hand lays his grip upon the legacy of antiquity. 




So viel ist wohl mit Wahrscheinlichkeit zu urteilen: dass die Vermischung der Stamme, 
welche nach und nach die Charaktere ausloscht, dem Menschengeschlecht, alles 
vorgeblichen Philanthropismus ungeachtet, nicht zutraglich sei. 


THE remarks which I made in the introduction to the second division will suffice as a 
general preface to this chapter on the chaos of peoples in the dying Roman Empire; they 
explain to what time and what countries I refer in speaking of the "chaos of peoples." Here, 
as elsewhere, I presuppose historical knowledge, at least in general outline, and as I 
should not like to write a single line in this whole book which did not originate from the 
need of comprehending and of judging the nineteenth century better, I think I should use 
the subject before us especially to discuss and answer the important question: Is nation, is 
race a mere word? Is it the case, as the ethnographer Ratzel asserts, that the fusion of all 
mankind should be kept before us as our "aim and duty, hope and wish"? Or do we not 
rather deduce from the example of Hellas and Rome, on the one hand, and of the pseudo- 
Roman empire on the other, as well as from many other examples in history, that man can 
only attain his zenith within those limits in which sharply defined, individualistic national 
types are produced? Is the present condition of things in 


Europe with its many fully formed idioms, each with its own peculiar poetry and 
literature, each the expression of a definite, characteristic national soul — is this state of 
things really a retrograde step in comparison with the time, when Latin and Greek, as a 
kind of twin Volapuk, formed a bond of union between all those Roman subjects who 
had no fatherland to call their own? Is community of blood nothing? Can community of 
memory and of faith be replaced by abstract ideals? Above all, is the question one to be 
settled by each as he pleases, is there no clearly distinguishable natural law, according to 
which we must fit our judgment? Do not the biological sciences teach us that in the whole 
animal and vegetable kingdoms pre-eminently noble races — that is, races endowed with 
exceptional strength and vitality — are produced only under definite conditions, which 
restrict the begetting of new individuals? Is it not possible, in view of all these human and 
non-human phenomena, to find a clear answer to the question. What is race? And shall 
we not be able, from the consciousness of what race is, to say at once what the absence of 
definite races must mean for history? When we look at those direct heirs of the great 
legacy, these questions force themselves upon us. Let us in the first place discuss races 
quite generally; then, and then only, shall we be able to discuss with advantage the 
conditions prevailing in this special case, their importance in the course of history, and 
consequently in the nineteenth century. 

There is perhaps no question about which such absolute ignorance prevails among 
highly cultured, indeed learned, men, as the question of the essence and the significance 
of the idea of "race." What are pure races? Whence do they come? Have they any historical 
importance? Is the idea, to be taken in a broad or a narrow sense? Do we know anything 

on the subject or not? What is the relation of the ideas of race and of nation to one 


I confess that all I have ever read or heard on this subject has been disconnected and 
contradictory: some specialists among the natural investigators form an exception, but 
even they very rarely apply their clear and detailed knowledge to the human race. Not a 
year passes without our being assured at international congresses, by authoritative 
national economists, ministers, bishops, natural scientists, that there is no difference and 
no inequality between nations. Teutons, who emphasise the importance of race- 
relationship, Jews, who do not feel at ease among us and long to get back to their Asiatic 
home, are by none so slightingly and scornfully spoken of as by men of science. 
Professor Virchow, for instance, says * that the stirrings of consciousness of race among 
us are only to be explained by the "loss of sound common sense": moreover, that it is "all a 
riddle to us, and no one knows what it really means in this age of equal rights." 
Nevertheless, this learned man closes his address with the expression of a desire for 
"beautiful self-dependent personalities." As if all history were not there to show us how 
personality and race are most closely connected, how the nature of the personality is 
determined by the nature of its race, and the power of the personality dependent upon 
certain conditions of its blood! And as if the scientific rearing of animals and plants did 
not afford us an extremely rich and reliable material, whereby we may become 
acquainted not only with the conditions but with the importance of "race"! Are the so-called 
(and rightly so-called) "noble" animal races, the draught-horses of Limousin, the American 
trotter, the Irish hunter, the absolutely reliable sporting 

* Der ijbergang aus dem philosophischen in das naturwissenschaftliche Zeitalter, 
Rektoratsrede, 1893, p. 30. 1 choose this example from hundreds, since Virchow, being 
one of the most ardent anthropologists and ethnographers of the nineteenth century, and 
in addition, a man of great learning and experience, ought to have been well informed on 
the subject. 


dogs, produced by chance and promiscuity? Do we get them by giving the animals 
equality of rights, by throwing the same food to them and whipping them with the same 
whip? No, they are produced by artificial selection and strict maintenance of the purity of 
the race. Horses and especially dogs give us every chance of observing that the 
intellectual gifts go hand in hand with the physical; this is specially true of the moral 
qualities: a mongrel is frequently very clever, but never reliable; morally he is always a 
weed. Continual promiscuity between two pre-eminent animal races leads without 
exception to the destruction of the pre-eminent characteristics of both. * Why should the 
human race form an exception? A father of the Church might imagine that it does, but is 
it becoming in a renowned natural investigator to throw the weight of his great influence 
into the scale of mediaeval ignorance and superstition? Truly one could wish that these 
scientific authorities of ours, who are so utterly lacking in philosophy, had followed a 

course of logic under Thomas Aquinas; it could only be beneficial to them. In spite of the 
broad common foundation, the human races are, in reality, as different from one another 
in character, qualities, and above all, in the degree of their individual capacities, as 
greyhound, bulldog, poodle and Newfoundland dog. Inequality is a state towards which 
nature inclines in all spheres; nothing extraordinary is produced without "specialisation"; in 
the case of men, as of animals, it is this specialisation that produces noble races; history 
and ethnology reveal this secret to the dullest eye. Has not every genuine race its own 
glorious, incomparable physiognomy? How could Hellenic art have arisen without 

* See especially Darwin's Plants and Animals under Domestication, chaps, xv. xix. 
"Free crossing obliterates characters." For the "superstitious care with which the Arabs keep 
their horses pure bred" see interesting details in Gibbon's Roman Empire, chap. 50. See 
also Burton's Mecca, chap. xxix. 


How quickly has the jealous hostility between the different cities of the small country of 
Greece given each part its sharply defined individuality within its own family type! How 
quickly this was blurred again, when Macedonians and Romans with their levelling hand 
swept over the land! And how everything which had given an everlasting significance to 
the word "Hellenic" gradually disappeared when from North, East and West new bands of 
unrelated peoples kept flocking to the country and mingled with genuine Hellenes ! The 
equality, before which Professor Virchow bows the knee, was now there, all walls were 
razed to the ground, all boundaries became meaningless; the philosophy, too, with which 
Virchow in the same lecture breaks so keen a lance, was destroyed, and its place taken by 
the very soundest "common sense"; but the beautiful Hellenic personality, but for which all 
of us would to-day be merely more or less civilised barbarians, had disappeared, 
disappeared for ever. "Crossing obliterates characters." 

If the men who should be the most competent to pronounce an opinion on the essence 
and significance of Race show such an incredible lack of judgment — if in dealing with a 
subject where wide experience is necessary for sure perception, they bring to bear upon it 
nothing but hollow political phrases — how can we wonder that the unlearned should talk 
nonsense even when their instinct points out the true path? For the subject has in these 
days aroused interest in widely various strata of society, and where the learned refuse to 
teach, the unlearned must shift for themselves. When in the fifties Count Gobineau 
published his brilliant work on the inequality of the races of mankind, it passed 
unnoticed: no one seemed to know what it all meant. Like poor Virchow men stood 
puzzled before a riddle. Now that the Century has come to an end things have changed: 
the more passionate, more impulsive element in the 


nations pays great and direct attention to this question. But in what a maze of 
contradiction, errors and delusions public opinion moves ! Notice how Gobineau bases his 
account — so astonishingly rich in intuitive ideas which have later been verified and in 

historical knowledge — upon the dogmatic supposition that the world was peopled by 
Shem, Ham and Japhet. Such a gaping void in capacity of judgment in the author 
suffices, in spite of all his documentary support, to relegate his work to the hybrid class 
of scientific phantasmagorias. With this is connected Gobineau's further fantastic idea, 
that the originally "pure" noble races crossed with each other in the course of history, and 
with every crossing became irrevocably less pure and less noble. From this we must of 
necessity derive a hopelessly pessimistic view of the future of the human race. But this 
supposition rests upon total ignorance of the physiological importance of what we have to 
understand by "race." A noble race does not fall from Heaven, it becomes noble gradually, 
just like fruit-trees, and this gradual process can begin anew at any moment, as soon as 
accident of geography and history or a fixed plan (as in the case of the Jews) creates the 
conditions. We meet similar absurdities at every step. We have, for example, a powerful 
Anti-Semitic movement: are we to consider the Jews as identical with the rest of the 
Semites? Have not the Jews by their very development made themselves a peculiar, pure 
race profoundly different from the others? Is it certain that an important crossing did not 
precede the birth of this people? And what is an Aryan? We hear so many and so definite 
pronouncements on this head. We contrast the Aryan with the "Semite," by whom we 
ordinarily understand "the Jew" and nothing more, and that is at least a thoroughly concrete 
conception based upon experience. But what kind of man is the Aryan? What concrete 
conception does he correspond to? Only 


he who knows nothing of ethnography can give a definite answer to this question. As 
soon as we do not limit this expression to the Indo-Eranians who are doubtless 
interrelated, we get into the sphere of uncertain hypotheses. * The peoples whom we have 
learned to classify together as "Aryans" differ physically very much from each other; they 
reveal the most different structure of skull, also different colour of skin, eyes and hair; 
and even granted that there was once a common ancestral Indo-European race, what 
evidence can we offer against the daily increasing sum of facts which make it probable 
that other absolutely unrelated types have also been from time immemorial richly 
represented in our so-called Aryan nations of to-day, so that we can never apply the term 
"Aryan" to a whole people, but, at most, to single individuals? Relationship of language is 
no conclusive proof of community of blood; the theory of the immigration of the so- 
called Indo-Europeans from Asia, which rests upon very slight grounds, encounters the 
grave difficulty that investigators are finding more and more reason to believe that the 
population which we are accustomed to call Indo-European was settled in Europe from 
time immemorial; t for the opposite hypothesis 

* Even with this very qualified statement, derived from the best books I know, I seem 
to have presupposed more than science can with certainty assert; for I read in a 
specialised treatise, Les Aryens au nord et au sud de I'Hindou-Kousch, by Charles de 
Ujfalvi (Paris, 1896, p. 15), "Le terme d'aryen est de pure convention; les peuples eraniens 
au nord et les tribus hindoues au sud du Caucase indien, different absolument comme 
type et descendent, sans aucun doute, de deux races differentes." 

t G. Schrader (Sprachvergleichung und Urgeschichte), who has studied the question 
more from the linguistic standpoint, comes to the conclusion, "It is proved that the Indo- 
Teutonic peoples were settled in Europe at a very ancient period"; Johannes Ranke (Der 
Mensch) is of opinion that it is now an established fact that at least a great part of the 
population of Europe were Aryans as early as the stone age; and Virchow, whose 
authority is all the greater in the sphere of anthropology because he shows unconditional 
respect for facts and, 


of a colonisation of India from Europe there are not the slightest grounds... in short, this 
question is what miners call "swimming land"; he who knows the danger sets foot on it as 
little as possible. The more we study the specialists, the less certain we become. It was 
originally the philologists who established the collective idea "Aryans." Then came the 
anatomical anthropologists; the inadmissibility of conclusions drawn from mere 
philology was demonstrated, and now skull-measuring began; craniometry became a 
profession, and it did provide a mass of extremely interesting material; lately, however, 
the same fate is overtaking this so-called "somatic anthropology" that formerly overtook 
philology: ethnographers have begun to travel and to make scientifically systematic 
observations from living man, and in this way have been able to prove that the measuring 
of bones by no means deserves the importance that was wont to be attached to it; one of 
the greatest of Virchow 's pupils has become convinced that the idea of solving problems 
of ethnology by the measurement of skulls is fruitless. * All these advances have been 
made in the second half of the nineteenth century; who knows what will be taught about 
"Aryans" t in the year 1950? At present, at any rate, the layman can say nothing on the 
subject. If he turns up one of the well-known authorities, he will be told that the Aryans 
"are an invention of the study and not a 

unlike Huxley and many others, builds no Darwinian castles in the air, says that from 
anatomical discoveries one may assert that "the oldest troglodytes of Europe were of 
Aryan descent!" (quoted from Ranke, Der Mensch, ii. 578). 

* Ehrenreich: Anthropologische Studien liber die Urbewohner Brasiliens, 1897. 

t When I use the word Aryan in this book, I take it in the sense of the original Sanscrit 
"arya," which means "belonging to the friends," without binding myself to any hypothesis. 
The relationship in thought and feeling signifies in any case an homogeneousness. Cf. the 
note on p. 93. 


primeval people," * if he seeks information from another, he receives the answer that the 
common characteristics of the Indo-Europeans, from the Atlantic Ocean to India, suffice 
to put the actual blood-relationship beyond all doubt, t 

I hope I have clearly illustrated in these two paragraphs the great confusion which is 
prevalent among us to-day in regard to the idea "race." This confusion is not necessary, that 
is, with practical, active men who belong to life as we do. And it is unnecessary for this 
reason, that we, in order to interpret the lessons of history and to comprehend our present 

age in connection therewith, do not in any way need to seek for hidden origins and 
causes. In the former division I have already quoted the words 

* R. Hartmann: Die Negritier (1876), p. 185. Similarly Luschan and many 
investigators. Salomon Reinach, for instance, writes in L'Origine des Aryens, 1892, p. 90: 
"Parler d'une race aryenne d'il y a trois mille ans, c'est emettre une hypothese gratuite: en 
parler comme si elle existait encore aujourd'hui, c'est dire tout simplement une absurdite." 

t Friedrich Ratzel, Johannes Ranke, Paul Ehrenreich, &c., in fact the more modern, 
widely travelled ethnographers. But they hold the view with many variations, since the 
relationship does not necessarily rest upon common origin, but might have been produced 
by crossing. Ratzel, for instance, who in one place positively asserts the uniformity of the 
whole Indo-European race (Litterarisches Centralblatt, 1897, p. 1295), says in another 
(Volkerkunde, 1895, ii. 751), "the supposition that all these peoples have a uniform origin 
is not necessary or probable." — It is worth remarking that even those who deny the fact of 
an Aryan race still constantly speak of it; they cannot do without it as a "working 
hypothesis." Even Reinach, after proving that there never was an Aryan race, speaks in an 
unguarded moment (loc. cit. p. 98) of the "common origin of the Semites and the Aryans." 
Ujfalvi, quoted above, has after profound study arrived at the opposite conclusion and 
believes in a "grande famille aryenne." In fact anthropologists, ethnographers and even 
historians, theologians, philologists and legal authorities find the idea "Aryan" more and 
more indispensable every year. And yet if one of us makes even the most cautious and 
strictly limited use of the conception, he is scorned and slandered by academic scribes 
and nameless newspaper reviewers. May the reader of this book trust science more than 
the official simplifiers and levellers and the professional anti- Aryan confusion-makers. 
Though it were proved that there never was an Aryan race in the past, yet we desire that 
in the future there may be one. That is the decisive standpoint for men for action. 


of Goethe, "Animated inquiry into cause does great harm." What is clear to every eye 
suffices, if not for science, at least for life. Science must, of course, ever wander on its 
thorny but fascinating path; it is like a mountain climber, who every moment imagines 
that he will reach the highest peak, but soon discovers behind it a higher one still. But life 
is only indirectly interested in these changing hypotheses. One of the most fatal errors of 
our time is that which impels us to give too great weight in our judgments to the so-called 
"results" of science. Knowledge can certainly have an illuminating effect; but it is not 
always so, and especially for this reason, that knowledge always stands upon tottering 
feet. For how can intelligent men doubt but that much which we think we know to-day 
will be laughed at as crass ignorance, one hundred, two hundred, five hundred years 
hence? Many facts may, indeed, be looked upon to-day as finally established; but new 
knowledge places these same facts in quite a new light, unites them to figures never 
thought of before, or changes their perspective; to regulate our judgments by the 
contemporary state of science may be compared to an artist's viewing the world through a 
transparent, ever-changing kaleidoscope, instead of with the naked eye. Pure science (in 
contrast to industrial science) is a noble plaything; its great intellectual and moral worth 
rests in no small degree upon the fact that it is not "useful"; in this respect it is quite 

analogous to art, it signifies the application of thought to the outward world; and since 
nature is inexhaustibly rich, she thereby ever brings new material to the mind, enriches its 
inventory of conceptions and gives the imagination a new dream-world to replace the 
gradually fading old one. * Life, 

* The physical scientist Lichtenberg makes a similar remark: "The teaching of nature is, 
for me at least, a kind of sinking fund for religion, when overbold reason falls into debt" 
(Fragmentarische Bemerkungen liber physikalische Gegenstande, 15). 


on the other hand, purely as such, is something different from systematic knowledge, 
something much more stable, more firmly founded, more comprehensive; it is in fact the 
essence of all reality, whereas even the most precise science represents the thinned, 
generalised, no longer direct reality. Here I understand by "life" what is otherwise also 
called "nature," as when, for instance, modern medicine teaches us that nature encourages 
by means of fever the change of matter and defends man against the illness which has 
seized him. Nature is in fact what we call "automatic," its roots go very much deeper than 
knowledge will ever be able to follow. And so it is my conviction that we — who as 
thinking, well-informed, boldly dreaming and investigating beings are certainly just such 
integral parts of nature as all other beings and things, and as our own bodies — may entrust 
ourselves to this nature — to this "life" — with great confidence. Though science leaves us in 
the lurch at many points, though she, fickle as a modern parliamentarian, laughs to-day at 
what she yesterday taught as everlasting truth, let this not lead us astray; what we require 
for life, we shall certainly learn. On the whole science is a splendid but somewhat 
dangerous friend; she is a great juggler and easily leads the mind astray into wild 
sentimentality; science and art are like the steeds attached to Plato's car of the soul; "sound 
common sense" (whose loss Professor Virchow lamented) proves its worth not least of all 
in pulling the reins tight and not permitting these noble animals to bolt with its natural, 
sound judgment. The very fact that we are living beings gives us an infinitely rich and 
unfailing capacity of hitting upon the right thing, even without learning, wherever it is 
necessary. Whoever simply and with open mind questions nature — the "mother" as the old 
myths called her — can be sure of being answered, as a mother answers her son, not 


always in blameless logic, but correctly in the main, intelligibly and with a sure instinct 
for the best interests of the son. So is it, too, in regard to the question of the significance 
of race: one of the most vital, perhaps the most vital, questions that can confront man. 


Nothing is so convincing as the consciousness of the possession of Race. The man who 
belongs to a distinct, pure race, never loses the sense of it. The guardian angel of his 
lineage is ever at his side, supporting him where he loses his foothold, warning him like 

the Socratic Daemon where he is in danger of going astray, compelling obedience, and 
forcing him to undertakings which, deeming them impossible, he would never have dared 
to attempt. Weak and erring like all that is human, a man of this stamp recognises 
himself, as others recognise him, by the sureness of his character, and by the fact that his 
actions are marked by a certain simple and peculiar greatness, which finds its explanation 
in his distinctly typical and super-personal qualities. Race lifts a man above himself: it 
endows him with extraordinary — I might almost say supernatural — powers, so entirely does 
it distinguish him from the individual who springs from the chaotic jumble of peoples 
drawn from all parts of the world: and should this man of pure origin be perchance gifted 
above his fellows, then the fact of Race strengthens and elevates him on every hand, and 
he becomes a genius towering over the rest of mankind, not because he has been thrown 
upon the earth like a flaming meteor by a freak of nature, but because he soars 
heavenward like some strong and stately tree, nourished by thousands and thousands of 
roots — no solitary individual, but the living sum of untold souls striving for the same goal. 
He who has eyes to see at once detects Race in 


animals. It shows itself in the whole habit of the beast, and proclaims itself in a hundred 
peculiarities which defy analysis: nay more, it proves itself by achievements, for its 
possession invariably leads to something excessive and out of the common — even to that 
which is exaggerated and not free from bias. Goethe's dictum, "only that which is 
extravagant (iiberschwanglich) makes greatness," is well known. * That is the very quality 
which a thoroughbred race reared from superior materials bestows upon its individual 
descendants — something "extravagant" — and, indeed, what we learn from every racehorse, 
every thoroughbred fox-terrier, every Cochin China fowl, is the very lesson which the 
history of mankind so eloquently teaches us! Is not the Greek in the fulness of his glory 
an unparalleled example of this "extravagance"? And do we not see this "extravagance" first 
make its appearance when immigration from the North has ceased, and the various strong 
breeds of men, isolated on the peninsula once for all, begin to fuse into a new race, 
brighter and more brilliant, where, as in Athens, the racial blood flows from many 
sources — simpler and more resisting where, as in Lacedaemon, even this mixture of blood 
had been barred out. Is the race not as it were extinguished, as soon as fate wrests the 
land from its proud exclusiveness and incorporates it in a greater whole? f Does not Rome 
teach us the same 

* Materialien zur Geschichte der Farbenlehre, the part dealing with Newton's 

t It is well known that it was but gradually extinguished, and that in spite of a political 
situation, which must assuredly have brought speedy destruction on everything Hellenic, 
had not race qualities here had a decisive influence. Till late in the Christian era Athens 
remained the centre of intellectual life for mankind; Alexandria was more talked of, the 
strong Semitic contingent saw to that; but any one who wished to study in earnest 
travelled to Athens, till Christian narrow-mindedness for ever closed the schools there in 
the year 529, and we learn that as late as this even the man of the people was 

distinguished in Athens "by the liveliness of his intellect, the correctness of his language 
and the sureness of his taste" (Gibbon, 


lesson? Has not in this case also a special mixture of blood produced an absolutely new 
race, * similar in qualities and capacities to no later one, endowed with exuberant power? 
And does not victory in this case effect what disaster did in that, but only much more 
quickly? Like a cataract the stream of strange blood overflooded the almost depopulated 
Rome and at once the Romans ceased to be. Would one small tribe from among all the 
Semites have become a world-embracing power had it not made "purity of race" its 
inflexible fundamental law? In days when so much nonsense is talked concerning this 
question, let Disraeli teach us that the whole significance of Judaism lies in its purity of 
race, that this alone gives it power and duration, and just as it has outlived the people of 
antiquity, so, thanks to its knowledge of this law of nature, will it outlive the constantly 
mingling races of to-day. t 

What is the use of detailed scientific investigations as to whether there are 
distinguishable races? whether race has a worth? how this is possible? and so on. We turn 
the tables and say: it is evident that there are such races: it is a fact of direct experience 
that the quality of the race is of vital importance; your province is only to find out the 
how and the wherefore, not to deny the facts themselves in order to indulge your 
ignorance. One of the greatest ethnologists of the present day, 

chap. xl.). There is in George Finlay's book. Medieval Greece, chap, i., a complete and 
very interesting and clear account of the gradual destruction of the Hellenic race by 
foreign immigration. One after the other colonies of Roman soldiers from all parts of the 
Empire, then Celts, Teutonic peoples, Slavonians, Bulgarians, Wallachians, Albanesians, 
&c., had moved into the country and mixed with the original population. The Zaconians, 
who were numerous even in the fifteenth century, but have now almost died out, are said 
to be the only pure Hellenes. 

* Cf. p. 109, note. 

t See the novels Tancred and Coningsby. In the latter Sidonia says: "Race is everything; 
there is no other truth. And every race must fall which carelessly suffers its blood to 
become mixed." 


Adolf Bastian, testifies that, "what we see in history is not a transformation, a passing of 
one race into another, but entirely new and perfect creations, which the ever-youthful 
productivity of nature sends forth from the invisible realm of Hades." * Whoever travels 
the short distance between Calais and Dover, feels almost as if he had reached a different 
planet, so great is the difference between the English and French, despite their many 
points of relationship. The observer can also see from this instance the value of purer 
"inbreeding." England is practically cut off by its insular position: the last (not very 
extensive) invasion took place 800 years ago; since then only a few thousands from the 
Netherlands, and later a few thousand Huguenots have crossed over (all of the same 

origin), and thus has been reared that race which at the present moment is unquestionably 
the strongest in Europe, t 

Direct experience, however, offers us a series of quite different observations on race, 
all of which may gradually contribute to the extension of our knowledge as well as to its 
definiteness. In contrast to the new, growing, Anglo-Saxon race, look, for instance, at the 
Sephardim, the so-called "Spanish Jews"; here we find how a genuine race can by purity 
keep itself noble for centuries and tens of centuries, but at the same time how very 
necessary it is to distinguish between the nobly reared portions of a nation and the rest. In 
England, Holland and Italy there are still genuine Sephardim but very few, since 

* Das Bestandige in den Menschenrassen und die Spielweite ihrer Veranderlichkeit, 
1868, p. 26. 

t Mention should also be made of Japan, where likewise a felicitous crossing and 
afterwards insular isolation have contributed to the production of a very remarkable race, 
much stronger and (within the Mongoloid sphere of possibility) much more profoundly 
endowed than most Europeans imagine. Perhaps the only books in which one gets to 
know the Japanese soul are those of Lafcadio Hearn: Kokoro, Hints and Echoes of 
Japanese Inner Life; Gleanings in Buddha Fields, and others. 


they can scarcely any longer avoid crossing with the Ashkenazim (the so-called "German 
Jews"). Thus, for example, the Montefiores of the present generation have all without 
exception married German Jewesses. But every one who has travelled in the East of 
Europe, where the genuine Sephardim still as far as possible avoid all intercourse with 
German Jews, for whom they have an almost comical repugnance, will agree with me 
when I say that it is only when one sees these men and has intercourse with them that one 
begins to comprehend the significance of Judaism in the history of the world. This is 
nobility in the fullest sense of the word, genuine nobility of race! Beautiful figures, noble 
heads, dignity in speech and bearing. The type is Semitic in the same sense as that of 
certain noble Syrians and Arabs. That out of the midst of such people Prophets and 
Psalmists could arise — that I understood at the first glance, which I honestly confess that I 
had never succeeded in doing when I gazed, however carefully, on the many hundred 
young Jews — "Bochers" — of the Friedrichstrasse in Berlin. When we study the Sacred Books 
of the Jews we see further that the conversion of this monopolytheistic people to the ever 
sublime (though according to our ideas mechanical and materialistic) conception of a true 
cosmic monotheism was not the work of the community, but of a mere fraction of the 
people; indeed this minority had to wage a continuous warfare against the majority, and 
was compelled to enforce the acceptance of its more exalted view of life by means of the 
highest Power to which man is heir, the might of personality. As for the rest of the 
people, unless the Prophets were guilty of gross exaggeration, they convey the impression 
of a singularly vulgar crowd, devoid of every higher aim, the rich hard and unbelieving, 
the poor fickle and ever possessed by the longing to throw themselves into the arms of 
the wretchedest and filthiest idolatry. The 


course of Jewish history has provided for a peculiar artificial selection of the morally 
higher section: by banishments, by continual withdrawals to the Diaspora — a result of the 
poverty and oppressed condition of the land — only the most faithful (of the better classes) 
remained behind, and these abhorred every marriage contract — even with Jews ! — in which 
both parties could not show an absolutely pure descent from one of the tribes of Israel 
and prove their strict orthodoxy beyond all doubt. * There remained then no great choice; 
for the nearest neighbours, the Samaritans, were heterodox, and in the remoter parts of 
the land, except in the case of the Levites who kept apart, the population was to a large 
extent much mixed. In this way race was here produced. And when at last the final 
dispersion of the Jews came, all or almost all of these sole genuine Jews were taken to 
Spain. The shrewd Romans in fact knew well how to draw distinctions, and so they 
removed these dangerous fanatics, these proud men, whose very glance made the masses 
obey, from their Eastern home to the farthest West, t while, on the other hand, they did not 
disturb the Jewish people outside of the narrower Judea more than the Jews of the 
Diaspora, t — Here, again, we have a most interesting object-lesson on the origin and worth 
of "race"! For of all the men whom we are wont to characterise as Jews, relatively few are 
descended from these great genuine Hebrews, they are rather the descendants of the Jews 
of the Diaspora, 

* Natural children are not at all taken into the community by orthodox Jews. Among 
the Sephardim of East Europe to-day, a girl who is known to have gone wrong is 
immediately taken by the plenipotentiaries of the community to a strange land and 
provided for there; neither she nor her child can venture ever to let anything be heard of 
them, they are regarded as dead. Thus they provide against blind love introducing strange 
blood into the tribe. 

t See Graetz, as above, chap, ix., on The Period of the Diaspora. 

t In Tiberias, for example, there was a Rabbi's school which for centuries set the 
fashion. (Regarding the ennobling of the Sephardim by Gothic blood, see below.) 


Jews who did not take part in the last great struggles, who, indeed, to some extent did not 
even live through the Maccabean age; these and the poor country people who were left 
behind in Palestine, and who later in Christian ages were banished or fled, are the 
ancestors of "our Jews" of to-day. Now whoever wishes to see with his own eyes what 
noble race is, and what it is not, should send for the poorest of the Sephardim from 
Salonici or Sarajevo (great wealth is very rare among them, for they are men of stainless 
honour) and put him side by side with any Ashkenazim financier; then will he perceive 
the difference between the nobility which race bestows and that conferred by a monarch. 


It would be easy to multiply examples. But I think that we now have all the material 
that is necessary for a systematic analysis of our knowledge regarding race, from which 
we may then derive the cardinal principles of a conscious and appropriate judgment. We 
are not reasoning from hypothetical conditions in the remote past to possible results, but 
arguing from sure facts back to their direct causes. The inequality of gifts even in what 
are manifestly related races is evident; it is, moreover, equally evident to every one who 
observes more closely that here and there, for a shorter or a longer time, one tribe does 
not only distinguish itself from the 

* The Goths, who in a later age went over to Mohammedanism in great crowds, and 
became its noblest and most fanatical protagonists, are said to have at an earlier period 
adopted Judaism in great numbers, and a learned specialist of Vienna University assures 
me that the moral and intellectual as well as the physical superiority of the so-called 
"Spanish" and "Portuguese" Jews is to be explained rather by this rich influx of Teutonic 
blood than by that breeding which I have singled out to emphasise, and the importance of 
which he too would not incline to underestimate. Whether this view is justifiable or not 
may remain an open question. 


others, but is easily pre-eminent among them because there is something beyond the 
common in its gifts and capabilities. That this is due to racial breeding I have tried to 
illustrate graphically by the preceding examples. The results deducible from these 
examples (and they can be multiplied to any extent) enable us to affirm that the origin of 
such noble races is dependent upon five natural laws. 

(1) The first and fundamental condition is undoubtedly the presence of excellent 
material. Where there is nothing, the king has no rights. But if I am asked. Whence comes 
this material? I must answer, I know not, I am as ignorant in this matter as if I were the 
greatest of all scholars and I refer the questioner to the words of the great world-seer of 
the nineteenth century, Goethe, "What no longer originates, we cannot conceive as 
originating. What has originated we do not comprehend." As far back as our glance can 
reach, we see human beings, we see that they differ essentially in their gifts and that some 
show more vigorous powers of growth than others. Only one thing can be asserted 
without leaving the basis of historical observation: a high state of excellence is only 
attained gradually and under particular circumstances, it is only forced activity that can 
bring it about; under other circumstances it may completely degenerate. The struggle 
which means destruction for the fundamentally weak race steels the strong; the same 
struggle, moreover, by eliminating the weaker elements, tends still further to strengthen 
the strong. Around the childhood of great races, as we observe, even in the case of the 
metaphysical Indians, the storm of war always rages. 

(2) But the presence of excellent human material is not enough to give birth to the 
"extravagant"; such races as the Greeks, the Romans, the Franks, the Swabians, the Italians 
and Spaniards in the period of their splendour, 


the Moors, the English, such abnormal phenomena as the Aryan Indians and the Jews 
only spring from continued inbreeding. They arise and they pass away before our eyes. 
Inbreeding means the producing of descendants exclusively in the circle of the related 
tribesmen, with the avoidance of all foreign mixture of blood. Of this I have already 
given striking examples. 

(3) But inbreeding pur et simple does not suffice: along with it there must be selection, 
or, as the specialists say, "artificial selection." We understand this law best when we study 
the principles of artificial breeding in the animal and vegetable worlds; I should 
recommend every one to do so, for there are few things which so enrich our conceptions 
of the plastic possibilities of life. * When one has come to understand what miracles are 
performed by selection, how a racehorse or a Dachshund or a choice chrysanthemum is 
gradually produced by the careful elimination of everything that is of indifferent quality, 
one will recognise that the same phenomenon is found in the human race, although of 
course it can never be seen with the same clearness and definiteness as in the other 
spheres. I have already advanced the example of the Jews; the exposure of weak infants is 
another point and was in any case one of the most beneficial laws of the Greeks, Romans 
and Teutonic peoples; hard times, which only the strong man and the hardy woman can 
survive, have a similar effect, t 

(4) There is another fundamental law hitherto little heeded, which seems to me quite 
clear from history, just as it is a fact of experience in the breeding of animals: 

* The literature is very great: for simplicity, comprehensibility and many-sidedness I 
recommend to every layman especially Darwin's Animals and Plants under 
Domestication. In the Origin of Species the same subject is treated rather briefly and with 
too much bias. 

t Jhering demonstrates with particular clearness that the epoch of the migrations, which 
lasted for many centuries, necessarily had upon the Teutonic peoples the effect of an ever 
more and more ennobling artificial selection (Vorgeschichte, p. 462 f.). 


the origin of extraordinary races is, without exception, preceded by a mixture of blood. 
As that acute thinker, Emerson, says: "we are piqued with pure descent, but nature loves 
inoculation." Of the Aryan Indians of course we can say nothing as regards this, their 
previous history being hidden in the misty distance of time; on the other hand, with 
regard to the Jews, Hellenes and Romans the facts are perfectly clear, and they are no less 
so in regard to all the nations of Europe which have distinguished themselves by their 
national achievements and by the production of a great number of individuals of 
"extravagant" endowments. With regard to the Jews I refer the reader to the following 
chapter, as regards the Hellenes, Romans and English I have often pointed to this fact; * 
nevertheless, I would urge the reader not to grudge the labour of carefully reading in 
Curtius and Mommsen those chapters at the beginning which, on account of the many 
names and the confusion of detail, are usually rather glanced through than studied. There 
has never been so thorough and successful a mixture as in Greece: with the old common 
stock as basis there have gradually sprung up in the valleys, separated by mountains or 
seas, characteristically different tribes, composed here of huntsmen, there of peaceful 

farmers, in other parts of seafarers, &c.; among these differentiated elements we find a 
mixing and crossing, so fine that a human brain selecting artificially could not have 
reasoned the matter out more perfectly. In the first place we have migrations from East to 
West, later from West to East over the Aegean Sea; in the meantime, however, the tribes 
of the extreme North (in the first place the Dorians) advanced to the extreme South, 
forcing many of the noblest who would not submit to bondage from the South to that 
North from which they themselves had just come, or over the sea to 

* See especially pp. 109, 272, 286 and 293. 


the islands and the Hellenic coast of Asia. But every one of these shiftings meant mixture 
of blood. Thus, for example, the Dorians did not all move to the Peloponnese, portions of 
them remained at every stopping-place in their slow wanderings and there fused with the 
former population. Indeed, these same original Dorians, whose special unity is such an 
apparent characteristic, knew in the old times that they were composed of three different 
stems, one of which moreover was called "Pamphyle," that is, "the stem of people of various 
descent." The most exuberant talent showed itself where the crossing had been happiest — in 
New Ionia and in Attica. In New Ionia "Greeks came to Greeks, lonians returned to their 
old home, but they came so transformed that from the new union of what was originally 
related, a thoroughly national development, much improved, rich, and in its results 
absolutely new, began in the old Ionian land." But most instructive is the history of the 
development of the Attic and particularly of the Athenian people. In Attica (just as in 
Arcadia, but nowhere else) the original Pelasgic population remained; it "was never driven 
out by the power of the stranger." But the coastland that belonged to the Archipelago 
invited immigration; and this came from every side; and while the alien Phoenicians only 
founded commercial stations on the neighbouring islands, the related Greeks pressed on 
into the interior from this side and that side of the sea, and gradually mingled with the 
former inhabitants. Now came the time of the already mentioned Dorian migrations and 
the great and lasting changes; Attica alone was spared; and thither fled many from all 
directions, from Boeotia, Achaea, Messenia, Argos and Aegina, &c.; but these new 
immigrants did not represent whole populations; in the great majority of cases they were 
chosen men, men of illustrious, often of royal birth. By their influx the one 


small land became exceptionally rich in genuine, pure nobility. Then and then only, that 
is, after a varied crossing, arose that Athens to which humanity owes a greater debt than 
could ever be reckoned up. * — The least reflection will show that the same law holds good 
in the case of Germans, French, Italians and Spaniards. The individual Teutonic tribes, 
for example, are like purely brutal forces of nature, till they begin to mingle with one 
another; consider how Burgundy, which is rich in great men, owes its peculiar population 
to a thorough crossing of the Teutonic and the Romance elements, and develops its 
characteristic individuality by long-continued political isolation; t the Franks grow to their 
full strength and give the world a new type of humanity where they mingle with the 

Teutonic tribes who preceded them and with Gallo-Romans, or where they, as in 
Franconia, form the exact point of union of the most diverse German and Slavonic 
elements; Swabia, the home of Mozart and Schiller, is inhabited by a half-Celtic race; 
Saxony, which has given Germany so many of its greatest men, contains a population 
quickened almost throughout by a mixture of Slavonic blood; and has not Europe seen 
within the last three centuries how a nation of recent origin — Prussia — in which the 

* See Curtius: Griechische Geschichte, i. 4, and ii. 1 and 2. Count Gobineau asserts 
that the extraordinary intellectual and above all artistic talent of the Greeks is to be 
explained by an infiltration of Semitic blood: this shows to what senseless views one is 
forced by fundamental hypotheses which are false, artificial and contrary to history and 
natural observation. 

t This thorough crossing was caused by the fact that the Burgundians settled 
individually over the whole land and each of them became the "hospes" of a former 
inhabitant, of whose cultivated land be received two-thirds, and of his buildings and 
garden a half, while woods and pastures remained common property. Now though there 
might not be much sympathy between the new-comer and the old possessor, yet they 
lived side by side and were solidly united in disputes about boundaries and such-like 
questions of property; thus crossing could not be long deferred. (Cf. especially Savigny, 
Geschichte des romischen Rechts im Mittelalter, chap. v. div. 1.) 


mixture of blood was still more thorough, has raised itself by its pre-eminent power to 
become the leader of the whole German Empire? — It cannot of course be my task to give a 
detailed proof of what is here simply pointed out; but as I am advocating especially the 
great importance of purely-bred races, I desire particularly to emphasise the necessity, or 
at least the advantage, of mixture of blood and that not merely to meet the objection of 
one-sidedness and bias a priori, but because it is my conviction that the advocates of this 
theory have injured it very much by disregarding the important law of crossing. They get 
then to the mystical conception of a race pure in itself, which is an airy abstraction that 
retards instead of furthering. Neither history nor experimental biology has anything to say 
for such a view. The race of English thoroughbreds has been produced by the crossing of 
Arabian stallions with ordinary, but of course specially chosen, English mares, followed 
by inbreeding, yet in such a way that later crossing between varieties not far removed, or 
even with Arabians, is advisable from time to time; one of the noblest creatures that 
nature possesses, the so-called "genuine" Newfoundland dog, originated from the crossing 
of the Eskimo dog and a French hound; in consequence of the isolated position of 
Newfoundland, it became by constant inbreeding fixed and "pure," it was then brought to 
Europe by fanciers and raised to the highest perfection by artificial selection. — Many of 
my readers may be amused at my constant references to the breeding of animals. But it is 
certain that the laws of life are great simple laws, embracing and moulding everything 
that lives; we have no reason to look upon the human race as an exception; and as we are 
unfortunately not in a position to make experiments in this matter with human beings, we 
must seek counsel from the experiments made with plants and animals. — But I cannot 


close my discussion of the fourth law without emphasising another side of this law of 
crossing; continued inbreeding within a narrow circle, what one might call "close 
breeding," leads in time to degeneration and particularly to sterility. Countless experiences 
in animal breeding prove that. Sometimes in such a case a single crossing, applied, for 
example, only to single members of a pack of hounds, will suffice to strengthen the 
weakened race and restore its productivity. In the case of men the attraction of Passion 
provides sufficiently for this quickening, so that it is only in the highest circles of the 
nobility and in some royal houses * that we observe increasing mental and physical 
degeneration in consequence of "close breeding." t 

The slightest increase of remoteness in the degree of relationship of those marrying 
(even within the strict limits of the same type) suffices to give all the great advantages of 
inbreeding and to prevent its disadvantages. Surely it is manifest that here we have the 
revelation of a mysterious Law of Life, a Law of Life so urgent that in the vegetable 
kingdom — where fructification within one and the same blossom seems at the first glance 
the natural and unavoidable thing — there are in most cases the most complicated 
arrangements to hinder this and at the same time to see that the pollen, when not borne by 
the wind, is carried by insects from the one individual flower to the other, t When we 

* See the facts in Haeckel: Naturliche Schopfungsgeschichte (lect. 8). Still more detail 
in a book by P. Jacoby, which I have unfortunately not before me, his Etudes sur la 
selection dans ses rapports avec I'heredite chez I'homme. 

t In this connection too we have the well-known evil results of marriage between near 
relatives: the organs of sense (in fact the whole nervous system) and the sexual organs 
suffer most frequently from this. (See George H. Darwin's lectures. Die Ehen zwischen 
Geschwisterkindern und ihre Folgen, Leipzig, 1876.) 

1 1 should recommend the large number of people who unfortunately still keep aloof 
from natural science, to read carefully Christian Konrad Sprengel's Das entdeckte 
Geheimnis der Natur im Bau und in der Befrucht- 


what is so evidently a fundamental law of nature, we are led to suppose that it is not by 
mere chance that pre-eminent races have sprung from an original fusing of different 
stems, such as we have observed in history; the historical facts rather provide still further 
proof for the view that mixture of blood supplies particularly favourable physiological 
conditions for the origin of noble races. * 

(5) A fifth law must also be mentioned, although it is restrictive and explanatory rather 
than contributive of any new element to the question of race. Only quite definite, limited 
mixtures of blood contribute towards the ennoblement of a race, or, it may be, the origin 
of a new one. Here again the clearest and least ambiguous examples are furnished by 
animal breeding. The mixture of blood must be strictly limited as regards time, and it 
must, in addition, be appropriate; not all and any crossings, but only definite ones can 
form the basis of ennoblement. By time-limitation I mean that the influx of new blood 

must take place as quickly as possible and then cease; continual crossing ruins the 
strongest race. To take an extreme example, the most famous 

ung der Blumen, 1793. The whole German nation ought to be proud of this work: since 
1893 there has been a facsimile reprint of it (Mayer and Miiller, Berlin) and it can be read 
by any layman. Of more recent publications Hermann Miiller's Alpenblumen, ihre 
Befruchtung durch Insekten und ihre Anpassungen an dieselben (Engelmann, 1881) is 
specially stimulating, clear by reason of the many illustrations, and complete. A summary 
account, which includes plants other than European, is found in the same author's Blumen 
und Insekten in Trewendt's Encyklopadie der Naturwissenschaften. There are certainly 
few speculations that introduce us so directly to the most mysterious wonders of nature as 
this revelation of the mutual relations of the plant and animal worlds. What are all our 
knowledge and hypotheses in comparison with such phenomena? They teach us to 
observe faithfully and to be satisfied with the circle of things attainable. (During the 
printing of this book Knuth's Handbuch der Bliitenbiologie, published by Engelmann, 
began to appear.) 

* For this question of the mixture of blood indispensable to the origin of pro-eminently 
gifted races Reibmayr's book, Inzucht und Vermischung beim Menschen, 1897, should be 


pack of greyhounds in England was crossed once only with bulldogs, whereby it gained 
in courage and endurance, but further experiments prove that when such a crossing is 
continued, the characters of both races disappear and quite characterless mongrels remain 
behind. * Crossing obliterates characters. The limitation to definitely appropriate 
crossings means that only certain crossings, not all, ennoble. There are crossings which, 
far from having an ennobling influence, ruin both races, and moreover, it frequently 
happens that the definite, valuable characters of two different types cannot fuse at all; in 
the latter case some of the descendants take after the one parent, others after the other, but 
naturally with mingled characteristics, or again, genuine real mongrels may appear, 
creatures whose bodies give the impression of being screwed together from parts that do 
not fit, and whose intellectual qualities correspond exactly to the physical, t Here too it 
should be remarked that the union of mongrel with mongrel brings about with startling 
rapidity the total destruction of all and every pre-eminent quality of race. It is therefore an 
entirely mistaken idea that mixture of blood between different stems invariably ennobles 
the race, and adds new qualities to the old. It does so only with the strictest limitations 
and under rare and definite conditions; as a rule mixture of blood leads to degeneration. 
One thing is perfectly clear: that the crossing of two very different types contributes to 
the formation of a noble race only when it takes place very seldom and is followed by 
strict inbreeding (as in the case of the English thoroughbred and the Newfoundland dog); 
in all other cases crossing is a success only when it takes place between those closely 
related, i.e., between those that belong to the same funda- 

* Darwin, Animals and Plants, chap. xv. 

t For this too there are numerous examples in Darwin. As regards dogs in particular, 
examples will occur to every one. 


mental type. — Here too no one who knows the detailed results of animal breeding can 
doubt that the history of mankind before us and around us obeys the same law. Naturally, 
it does not appear with the same clearness in the one case as in the other; we are not in a 
position to shut in a number of human beings and make experiments with them for 
several generations; moreover, while the horse excels in swiftness, the dog in remarkable 
and plastic flexibility of body, man excels in mind: here all his vigour is concentrated, 
here too, therefore, is concentrated all his variability, and it is just these differences in 
character and intelligence that are not visible to the eye. * But history has carried out 
experiments on a large scale, and every one whose eye is not blinded by details, but has 
learned to survey great complexes, every one who studies the soul-life of nations, will 
discover any amount of proofs of the law here mentioned. While, for example, the 
"extravagantly" gifted Attics and the uniquely shrewd and strong Roman race are produced 
by the fusion of several stems, they are nevertheless nearly related and noble, pure stems, 
and these elements are then, by the formation of States, isolated for centuries, so that they 
have time to amalgamate into a new solid unity; when, on the other hand, these States are 
thrown open to every stranger, the race is ruined, in Athens slowly, because owing to the 
political situation there was not much to get there, and the mixing in consequence only 
took place gradually 

* We must, however, not overlook the fact that, if we could make experiments in 
breeding with men, very great differences in physique also could certainly be achieved in 
regard to size, hair, proportions, &c. Place a dwarf from the primeval forest of the Middle 
Congo, little more than 3 feet high, the whole body covered with hair, beside a Prussian 
Grenadier of the Guards: one will see what plastic possibilities slumber in the human 
body. — As far as the dog is concerned, we must remember also that the various breeds 
"certainly originate from more than one wild species" (Claus, Zoologie, 4th edit. ii. 458); 
hence its almost alarming polymorphism. 


and then for the most part with Indo-European peoples, * in Rome with frightful rapidity, 
after Marius and Sulla had, by murdering the flower of the genuine Roman youth, 
dammed the source of noble blood and at the same time, by the freeing of slaves, brought 
into the nation perfect floods of African and Asiatic blood, thus transforming Rome into 
the cloaca gentium, the trysting-place of all the mongrels of the world, t We observe the 
same on all sides. We see the English race arising out of a mutual fusion of separated but 
closely related Teutonic tribes; the Norman invasion provides in this case the last brilliant 
touch; on the other hand, geographical and historical conditions have so wrought that the 
somewhat more distantly related Celts remained by themselves, and even to-day only 
gradually mingle with the ruling race. How manifestly stimulating and refreshing, even to 
the present day, is the influence of the immigration of French Huguenots into Berlin! 

They were alien enough to enrich the life there with new elements and related enough to 
produce with their Prussian hosts not "mongrels that seem screwed together" but men of 
strong character and rare gifts. To see the opposite, we need only look over to South 
America. Where is there a more pitiful sight than that of the mestizo States there? The so- 
called savages of Central Australia lead a much more harmonious, dignified and, let us 
say, more "holy" life than these unhappy Peruvians, Paraguayans, &c., mongrels from two 
and often more than two incongruous races, from two cultures 

* It is very instructive to observe, on the other hand, that the Hellenes in Ionia, who 
were subject to every kind of mongrel crossing, disappeared much more quickly. 

t Long before me Gibbon had recognised the physical degeneration of the Roman race 
as the cause of the decline of the Roman Empire; now that is more fully demonstrated by 
O. Seeck in his Geschichte der Unterganges der antiken Welt. It was only the 
immigration of the vigorous Teutonic peoples that kept the chaotic empire artificially 
alive for a few centuries longer. 


with nothing in common, from two stages of development, too different in age and form 
to be able to form a marriage union — children of an unnatural incest. Any one who 
earnestly desires to know what race signifies can learn much from the example of these 
States; let him but consult the statistics, he will find the most different relations between 
the pure European or pure Indian population and the half-caste, and he will see that 
relative degeneration goes exactly hand in hand with the mixture of blood. I take the two 
extreme examples, Chile and Peru. In Chile, the only one of these States * that can make 
a modest claim to true culture and that can also point to comparatively well-ordered 
political conditions, about 30 percent, of the inhabitants are still of pure Spanish origin, 
and this third is sufficient to check moral disintegration, t On the other hand, in Peru, 
which, as is well known, gave the first example to the other republics of a total moral and 
material bankruptcy, there are almost no Europeans of pure race left; with the exception 
of the still uncivilised Indians in the interior the whole population consists of Cholos, 
Musties, Fustics, Tercerones, Quarterones, &c., crossings between Indians and Spaniards, 
between Indians and Negroes, Spaniards and Negroes, further between the different races 
and those mestizos or crosses of the mestizo species among each other; in recent years 
many thousands of Chinese have been added... here we see the promiscuity longed for by 
Ratzel and Virchow in progress, and we observe what the result is! Of course it is an 
extreme example, but all the more instructive. If the enormous force of surrounding 
civilisation did not artificially support such a State on all sides, if by any chance it were 
isolated and left to itself, it would in a short time fall a prey to total 

* In Portugese Brazil the conditions are essentially different. 

t According to Albrecht Wirth, Volkstum und Weltmacht in der Geschichte, 1901, p. 
159, the Chilians also derive advantage from the fact that their Indians — the Araucani — are 
of particularly noble race. 


barbarism — not human, but bestial barbarism. All these States are moving towards a 
similar fate. * — Here too I leave it to the reader to think over the matter and to collect 
evidence with regard to this fifth law, which shows us that every crossing is a dangerous 
matter and can only help to ennoble the race when definite conditions are observed, as 
also that many possible crossings are absolutely detrimental and destructive; once the 
eyes of the reader are opened, he will find everywhere both in the past and in the present 
proofs of this law as well as of the other four, t 

These then are the five principles which seem to me to be fundamental: the quality of 
the material, inbreeding, artificial selection, the necessity of crossings, the necessity of 
strictly limiting these crossings both in respect of choice and of time. From these 
principles we further deduce the conclusion that the origin of a very noble human race 
depends among other things upon definite historical and geographical conditions; it is 
these that unconsciously bring about the ennobling of the original material, the in- 
breeding and the artificial selection, it is these too — when a happy star shines over the 
birthplace of a new people — that produce happy tribal marriages and prevent the 
prostitution of the noble in the arms of the ignoble. The fact that there was a time in the 
nineteenth century when learned investigators, with Buckle at their head, could assert that 
geographical conditions produced the races, we may now appropriately 

* As is well known, very similar conditions prevail in the Spanish colonies. The island 
of Porto Rico forms the sole exception: here the native Caribbees were exterminated, and 
the result is a pure Indo-European population, distinguished for industry, shrewdness and 
love of order: a striking example of the significance of race! 

t In his book Altersklassen und Mannerbunde (p. 23), Heinrich Schurtz comes to the 
conclusion that, "Successful crossings are possible and advantageous only within a certain 
sphere of relationship. If the relationship is too close, really near blood-relationship, 
sickly tendencies are not counterbalanced but increased; if it is too remote, no felicitous 
mixing of the qualities is possible." 


mention with the scant honour of a paraleipsis; for that doctrine is a blow in the face of 
all history and all observation. On the other hand, every single one of the laws 
enumerated, and in addition the examples of Rome, Greece, England, Judea and South 
America in particular, let us see so clearly in how far the historical and geographical 
conditions not only contribute to the origin and the decline of a race but are actually 
decisive factors therein, that I can refrain from further discussion of the matter. * 


Is the question of race now exhausted? Far from it! These biological problems are 
remarkably complex. They embrace, for example, the still so mysterious subject of 
heredity, in regard to the fundamental principles of which the most important specialists 
are more at variance every day. t Besides, many other circumstances which pro founder 

study reveals would have to be taken into account. Nature is in fact inexhaustible; 
however deep we sink the plummet, we never reach the bottom. Whoever would make a 
study of these matters must not, for example, overlook the fact that small numbers of 
foreign elements are wont in a short time to be entirely absorbed by a strong race, but that 
there is, as the chemists say, a definite capacity, a definite power of absorption, beyond 

* If, for example, the climate of Attica had been the decisive thing, as is often asserted, 
it would be impossible to understand why the genius of its inhabitants was produced only 
under certain racial conditions and disappeared for ever with the removal of these 
conditions; on the other hand, the importance of the geographical and historical 
conditions becomes quite clear, when we observe that they isolated Attica for centuries 
from the ceaseless changes brought about by the migrations, but at the same time 
contributed to the influx of a select, noble population from different but related tribes, 
which mingled to form a new race. 

t The reader will find an interesting summary of the different opinions of modern times 
in Friedrich Rohde's Entstehung und Vererbung individueller Eigenschaften, 1895. 


which a loss of the purity of the blood, revealed by the diminution of the characteristic 
qualities, is involved. We have an instance of this in Italy, where the proudly passionate 
and brilliant families of strong Teutons, who had kept their blood pure till the fourteenth 
century, later gradually mingled with absolutely mongrel Italians and Italiots and so 
entirely disappeared (see chaps, vi. and ix.): crossing obliterates characters. The careful 
observer will further notice that in crossings between human stems, which are not closely 
related, the relative generative power is a factor which can prevail after centuries and 
gradually bring about the decline of the nobler portion of a mixed people, because in fact 
this generative power often stands in inverse relation to the nobility of the race. * In 
Europe at the present day we 

* Professor August Forel, the well-known psychiatrist, has made interesting studies in 
the United States and the West Indian islands, on the victory of intellectually inferior 
races over higher ones because of their greater virility. "Though the brain of the negro is 
weaker than that of the white, yet his generative power and the predominance of his 
qualities in the descendants are all greater than those of the whites. The white race 
isolates itself (therefore) from them more and more strictly, not only in sexual but in all 
relations, because it has at last recognised that crossing means its own destruction." Forel 
shows by numerous examples how impossible it is for the negro to assimilate our 
civilisation more than skin-deep, and how so soon as he is left to himself he everywhere 
degenerates into the "most absolute primitive African savagery." (For more detail on this 
subject, see the interesting book of Hesketh Pritchard, Where Black rules White, Hayti, 
1900; any one who has been reared on phrases of the equality of mankind, &c., will 
shudder when he learns how matters really stand so soon as the blacks in a State get the 
upper hand.) And Forel, who as scientist is educated in the dogma of the one, everywhere 
equal, humanity, comes to the conclusion: "Even for their own good the blacks must be 
treated as what they are, an absolutely subordinate, inferior, lower type of men, incapable 

themselves of culture. That must once for all be clearly and openly stated." (See the 
account of his journey in Harden's Zukunft, February 17, 1900) — For this question of race- 
crossings and the constant victory of the inferior race over the superior, see also the work 
of Ferdinand Hueppe, which is equally rich in facts and perceptions, Uber die modernen 
Kolonisationsbestrebungen und die Anpassungsmoglichkeit der Europaer an die Tropen 
(Berliner klinische Wochenschrift, 1901). In Australia, for example, a process of sifting is 
quietly but very quickly going on, whereby the tall 


have an example of this: the short round skulls are constantly increasing in numbers and 
so gradually superseding the narrow "dolichocephali," of which, according to the 
unanimous testimony of excavated tombs, almost the whole of the genuine old Teutonic, 
Slavonic and Celtic races consisted; in this we see the growing predominance of an alien 
race which had been conquered by the Indo-Teutonic (to-day it is mostly called "Turanic"), 
and which by animal force gradually overpowers the mentally superior race. * In this 
connection too perhaps should be mentioned the peculiar fact that dark eyes are 
becoming so much more prevalent than grey and blue, because in marriages between 
people with differently coloured eyes the dark are almost without exception much more 
frequently represented in the descendants than the light, t 

If I were minded to follow up this argument it would land us in one of the thorniest 
branches of modern science. This, however, is absolutely unnecessary for my purpose. 
Without troubling myself about any definition, I have given a picture of Race as it is 
exhibited in the individual character, in the mighty achievements of genius, in the most 
brilliant pages of the history of man: in the next 

fair Teuton — so strongly represented in the English blood — is disappearing, while the added 
element of the homo alpinus is gaining the upper hand. 

* There is a clear and simple summary in Johannes Ranke, Der Mensch, ii. 296 ff. The 
discussion of all these questions in Topinard's L'Anthropologie, Part n., is more thorough, 
but for that reason much more difficult to follow. It is remarkable that the latter only uses 
the word "race" to denote a hypothetical entity, the actual existence of which at any time 
cannot be proved. H n'y a plus de races pures. Who seeks to prove that there ever were 
any in this a priori sense of anthropological presuppositions? Pure animal races are 
obtained only by breeding and on the fundamental basis of crossing; why should the 
opposite hold of men? — Besides, this whole "Turanic" hypothesis is, like all these things, 
still very much of an airy abstraction. See further details in chap. vi. 

t Alphonse de CandoUe: Histoire des Sciences et des Savants depuis deux Siecles, 2e 
ed., p. 576. 


place I have called attention to the most important conditions which scientific observation 
has pointed out as laying the foundation for the origin of noble races. That the 
introduction of contrary conditions must be followed by degeneration, or at any rate by 
the retarding of the development of noble qualities, seems to be in the highest degree 

probable, and might be proved in many ways by reference both to the past and the 
present. I have purposely exercised caution and self-restraint. In such labyrinthine tangles 
the narrowest path is the safest. The only task which I have proposed to myself has been 
to call into being a really vivid representation of what Race is, of what it has meant for 
mankind in the past and still means in the present. 


There is one point which I have not expressly formulated, but it is self-evident from all 
that I have said; the conception of Race has nothing in it unless we take it in the 
narrowest and not in the widest sense: if we follow the usual custom and use the word to 
denote far remote hypothetical races, it ends by becoming little more than a colourless 
synonym for "mankind" — possibly including the long-tailed and short-tailed apes: Race only 
has a meaning when it relates to the experiences of the past and the events of the present. 

Here we begin to understand what nation signifies for race. It is almost always the 
nation, as a political structure, that creates the conditions for the formation of race or at 
least leads to the highest and most individual activities of race. Wherever, as in India, 
nations are not formed, the stock of strength that has been gathered by race decays. But 
the confusion which prevails with regard to the idea of race hinders even the most learned 
from understanding this great significance of 


nations, whereby they are at the same time prevented from understanding the 
fundamental facts of history. For, in fact, what is it that our historians to-day teach us 
concerning the relation of race to nation? 

I take up any book by chance — Renan's discourse. What is a Nation? In hundreds of 
others we find the same doctrines. The thesis is clearly formulated by Renan: "The fact of 
race," he writes, "originally of decisive importance, loses significance every day." * On what 
does he base this assertion? By pointing to the fact that the most capable nations of 
Europe are of mixed blood. What a mass of delusive conclusions this one sentence 
contains, what incapacity to be taught by what is evident to the eye! Nature and history 
do not furnish a single example of pre-eminently noble races with individual 
physiognomies, which were not produced by crossing: and now we are to believe that a 
nation of such distinct individuality as the English does not represent a race, because it 
originated from a mixture of Anglo-Saxon, Danish and Norman blood (stems moreover 
that were closely related)! I am to deny the clearest evidence which shows me that the 
Englishman is at least as markedly unique a being as the Greek and the Roman of the 
most brilliant epochs, and that in favour of an arbitrary, eternally indemonstrable 
abstraction, in favour of the presupposed, original "pure race." Two pages before, Renan 
himself had stated on the basis of anthropological discoveries that among the oldest 
Aryans, Semites, Turanians (les groupes aryen primitif, semitique primitif, touranien 
primitif) one finds men of very different build of body, some with long, others with short 
skulls, so that they too had possessed no common "physiological unity." What delusions 
will not arise, as soon as man seeks for supposed "origins"! Again and again I must 

* Renan: Discours et Conferences, 3e ed., p. 297, "Le fait de la race, capital a I'origine, 
va done toujours perdant de son importance." 


quote Goethe's great remark: "Animated inquiry into cause does infinite harm." Instead of 
taking the given fact, the discoverable as it is, and contenting ourselves with the 
knowledge of the nearest, demonstrable conditions, we ever and again fancy we must 
start from absolutely hypothetical causes and suppositions lying as far back as possible, 
and to these we sacrifice without hesitation that which is present and beyond doubt. That 
is what our "empiricists" are like. That they do not see further than their own noses, we 
gladly believe from their own confession, but unfortunately they do not see even so far, 
but run up against solid facts and complain then about the said facts, not about their own 
shortsightedness. What kind of thing is this originally "physiologically uniform race" of 
which Renan speaks? Probably a near relation of Haeckel's human apes. And in favour of 
this hypothetical beast I am to deny that the English people, the Prussians, the Spaniards 
have a definite and absolutely individual character! Renan misses physiological unity: 
does he not comprehend that physiological unity is brought about by marriage? Who then 
tells him that the hypothetical aboriginal Aryans were not also the result of gradual 
development? We know nothing about it: but what we do know entitles us to suppose it 
from analogy. There were among them narrow heads and broad ones: who knows but this 
crossing was necessary to produce one very noble race? The common English horse and 
the Arabian horse (which doubtless was produced originally by some crossing) were also 
"physiologically" very different, and yet from their union was produced in the course of 
time the most physiologically uniform and noblest race of animals in the world, the 
English thoroughbred. Now the great scholar Renan sees the English human 
thoroughbred, so to speak, arising before his eyes: the ages of history are before him. 
What does he deduce therefrom? He says: since the English- 


man of to-day is neither the Celt of Caesar's time nor the Anglo-Saxon of Hengist, nor the 
Dane of Knut, nor the Norman of the Conqueror, but the outcome of a crossing of all 
four, one cannot speak of an English race at all. That is to say because the English race, 
like every other race of which we have any knowledge, has grown historically, because it 
is something peculiar and absolutely new, therefore it does not exist! In truth, nothing 
beats the logic of the scholar! 

Was ihr nicht rechnet 
Glaubt ihr, sei nicht wahr. * 

Our opinion concerning the importance of nationality in the formation of race must be 
quite different. The Roman Empire in the imperial period was the materialisation of the 
anti-national principle; this principle led to racelessness and simultaneously to intellectual 
and moral chaos; mankind was only rescued from this chaos by the more and more 

decisive development of the opposite or national principle, t Political nationality has not 
always played the same role in the production of individual races as it has in our modern 
culture; I need only refer to India, Greece and the Israelites; but the problem was nowhere 
solved so beautifully, successfully and as it appears so lastingly, as by the Teutonic 
peoples. As though conjured up out of the soil there arose in this small corner of Europe a 
number of absolutely new, differentiated national organisms. Renan is of opinion that 
race existed only in the old "polls," because it was only there that the numerical limitation 
had permitted community of blood; this is absolutely false; one need only reckon back a 
few centuries, and every one has a hundred thousand ancestors; what, therefore, in the 
narrow circle of Athens took place in a com- 

* What you do not reckon, / You fancy, is not true. 
t This forms the subject of the eighth chapter (vol. ii.). 


paratively short time, namely, the physiological union, took place in our case in the 
course of several centuries and is still continued. Race formation, far from decreasing in 
our nations, must daily increase. The longer a definite group of countries remains 
politically united, the closer does the "physiological unity" which is demanded become, and 
the more quickly and thoroughly does it assimilate strange elements. Our anthropologists 
and historians simply presuppose that in their hypothetical primitive races the specific 
distinguishing characteristics were highly developed, but that they are now progressively 
decreasing; there is consequently, they aver, a movement from original complexity to 
increasing simplicity. This supposition is contrary to all experience, which rather teaches 
us that individualisation is a result of growing differentiation and separation. The whole 
science of biology contradicts the supposition that an organic creature first appears with 
clearly marked characteristics, which then gradually disappear; it actually forces us to the 
very opposite hypothesis that the early human race was a variable, comparatively 
colourless aggregate, from which the individual types have developed with increasing 
divergence and increasingly distinct individuality; a hypothesis which all history 
confirms. The sound and normal evolution of man is therefore not from race to 
racelessness but on the contrary from racelessness to ever clearer distinctness of race. The 
enrichment of life by new individualities seems everywhere to be one of the highest laws 
of inscrutable nature. Now here in the case of man the nation plays a most important part, 
because it almost always brings about crossing, followed by inbreeding. All Europe 
proves this. Renan shows how many Slavs have united with the Teutonic peoples, and 
asks somewhat sneeringly whether we have any right to call the Germans of to-day 
"Teutonic": well, we need not 


quarrel about names in such a case — what the Germans are to-day Renan has been able to 
learn in the year 1870; he has been taught it too by the German specialists, to whose 
industry he owes nine-tenths of his knowledge. That is the valuable result of the creation 
of race by nation-building. And since race is not a mere word, but an organic living thing. 

it follows as a matter of course that it never remains stationary; it is ennobled or it 
degenerates, it develops in this or that direction and lets this or that quality decay. This is 
a law of all individual life. But the firm national union is the surest protection against 
going astray: it signifies common memory, common hope, common intellectual 
nourishment; it fixes firmly the existing bond of blood and impels us to make it ever 


Just as important as the clear comprehension of the organic relation of race to nation is 
that of the organic relation of race to its quintessence, the hero or genius. We are apt to 
fancy we must choose between hero-worship and the opposite. But the one as well as the 
other testifies to poverty of insight. What I have said in the general introduction need not 
be repeated; but here, where the question of race is in the forefront, this problem takes a 
particularly clear form, and with some power of intuition we must surely perceive that the 
influence of intellectually pre-eminent units in a race, like the human, the individuality of 
which depends upon the development of its intellectual faculties, is immeasurable, for 
good and for evil; these units are the feet that carry and the hands that mould, they are the 
countenance on which we others gaze, they are the eye which beholds the rest of the 
world in a definite way and then communicates what it has seen to the rest of the 


But they are produced by the whole corporation; they can arise only from its vital action, 
only in it and from it do they gain importance. What is the use of the hand if it does not 
grow out of a strong arm as part and parcel of it? What is the use of the eye if the radiant 
forms which it has seen are not reflected in a dark, almost amorphous brain mass lying 
behind it? Phenomena only gain significance when they are united to other phenomena. 
The richer the blood that courses invisibly through the veins, the more luxuriant will be 
the blossoms of life that spring forth. The assertion that Homer created Greece is indeed 
literally true, but remains onesided and misleading as long as we do not add: only an 
incomparable people, only a quite definite, ennobled race could produce this man, only a 
race in which the seeing and shaping eye had been "extravagantly" developed. * Without 
Homer Greece would not have become Greece, without the Hellenes Homer would never 
have been born. It was the same race which gave birth to the great seer of forms that 
produced the inventive seer of figures, Euclid, the lynx-eyed arranger of ideas, Aristotle, 
the man who first perceived the system of the cosmos, Aristarchus, and so on ad 
infinitum. Nature is not so simple as scholastic wisdom fancies: if great personality is our 
"most precious gift," communal greatness is the only soil on which it can grow. It is the 
whole race, for instance, that creates the language, and therewith at the same time definite 
artistic, philosophical, religious, in fact even practical possibilities, but also insuperable 
limitations. No philosopher could ever arise on Hebrew soil, because the spirit of the 
Hebrew language makes the interpretation of metaphysical thoughts absolutely 

impossible; for the same reason no Semitic people could possess a mythology in the same 

* Any one who wants to gain a vivid conception of the extraordinary strength of these 
races, capable of serving as basis for a Homer, should read the description of the 
strongholds of Tiryns and Mycenae from the Atridean time, as they still stand to-day after 
tens of centuries. 


as the Indians and the Teutonic peoples. One sees what definite paths are marked out 
even for the greatest men by the common achievements of the whole race. * But it is not 
a question of language alone. Homer had to find the myths in existence in order to be able 
to mould them into shape; Shakespeare put upon the stage the history which the English 
people had made; Bach and Beethoven spring from races which had attracted the 
attention of the ancients by their singing. And Mohammed? Could he have made the 
Arabs a world-power, had they not as one of the purest bred races in the world possessed 
definite "extravagant" qualities? But for the new Prussian race, could the Great Elector 
have begun, the Great Frederick have extended, and the Great William have completed 
the structure which is now United Germany? 


The first task set us in this chapter is now fulfilled; we have got a clear concrete idea of 
what race is and what it signifies for mankind; we have seen too, from some examples of 
the present time, how fatal the absence of race, that is, the chaos of unindividualised, 
speciesless human agglomerates, is. Any one who perceives this and ponders over it will 
gradually realise what it signifies for our Teutonic culture that the inherited culture of 
antiquity, which at important points still not only forms the foundations but also the walls 
of the structure, was not transmitted to us by a definite people but by a nationless mixture 
without physiognomy, in which mongrels held the whip-hand, namely, by the racial 
chaos of the decaying Roman Empire. Our whole intellectual development is still under 
the curse of this unfortunate intermediate 

* According to Renan (Israel, i. 102) the Hebrew language is utterly incapable of 
expressing a philosophical thought, a mythological conception, the feeling of the Infinite, 
the emotions of the human soul or even pure observation of nature. 


stage; it is this that supplied weapons to the anti-national, anti-racial powers even in the 
nineteenth century. 

Even before Julius Caesar, the Chaos begins to appear; through Caracalla it is elevated 
to the official principle of the Roman Empire. * Throughout the whole extent of the 
Empire there was thorough mixing of blood, but in such a way that real bastardising, that 

is, the crossing of unrelated or of noble and ignoble races occurred almost wholly in the 
most southern and eastern parts, where the Semites met the Indo-Europeans — that is to 
say, in the capitals Rome and Constantinople, along the whole north coast of Africa (as 
well as on the coasts of Spain and Gaul), above all in Egypt, Syria and Asia Minor. 

It is as easy as it is important to form an idea of the area of this complicated 
geographical condition. The Danube and the Rhine almost meet at their source. The two 
river-districts fit so closely into each other that there is, it is said, in the neighbourhood of 
the Albula Pass a small lake, which when there is high water flows on the one side into 
the Albula and the Rhine, on the other into the Inn and the Danube. Now if we follow the 
courses of these rivers, up the Rhine from the mouth of the old Rhine near Leyden and 
down the Danube till it falls into the Black Sea, we get an unbroken line crossing the 
Continent from north-west to south-east; this, roughly speaking, forms the northern 
boundary of the Roman Empire for a long period of time; except in parts of Dacia (the 
Roumania of to-day) the Romans never asserted themselves for long north and east of 
this line, t 

*Seep. 124. 

t The Roman fortified boundary did indeed include a considerable portion north of the 
Danube and east of the Rhine, because the limes branched off westwards above 
Regensberg, came near Stuttgart, then north again till it met the Maine west of Wiirzburg. 
But this tithe-land, as it was called, was not colonised by Italians, but, as Tacitus tells us, 
by "the most fickle of the Gauls" (Cf. Wietersheim, Volkerwanderung, i. 161 ff.). 


This line divides Europe (if we include the African and Asian possessions of Rome) into 
two almost equal parts. In the south the great transfusion of blood (as the doctors call the 
injecting of strange blood into an organism) took place. If Maspero in his history of the 
peoples of the Classical East entitles one volume "The First Chaos of Races," then we may 
well speak here of a second chaos. In Britain, in Rhetia, in the extreme north of Gaul, 
&c., it seems indeed that in spite of the Roman sway there was no thorough fusion; in the 
rest of Gaul too, as well as in Spain, the newly imported elements from Rome had at least 
several centuries of comparative isolation to mingle with the former inhabitants before 
other elements came, a circumstance which rendered possible the formation of a new and 
very characteristic race, the Gallo-Roman. In the south-east, on the other hand, and 
especially in all centres of culture (which, as already pointed out, all lay in the south and 
the east), there was a medley all the more fundamentally pernicious in that those who 
came in streams from the Levant were themselves nothing but half-castes. For example, 
we must not imagine that the Syrians of that time were a definite nation, a people, a race: 
they were rather a motley agglomeration of pseudo-Hittite, pseudo-Semitic, pseudo- 
Hellenic, pseudo-Persian, pseudo-Scythian mongrels. What the French call un charme 
troublant — superficial cleverness combined with a peculiar sort of beauty — is often the 
characteristic of the half-caste; one can observe this daily at the present day in cities like 
Vienna, where people of all nations meet; but the peculiar unsteadiness, the small power 
of resistance, the want of character, in short, the moral degeneracy of these people is 
equally marked. I name the Syrian because I prefer examples to wordy enumerations; he 

was the very pattern of the bastard sundered from all national relationship, and for that 
very reason, up to the 


time of the Teutonic invasion, and even later, he played a leading part. We find Syrians 
upon the imperial throne; Caracalla belongs to them, and Heliogabalus, that monster 
robed in silk and gold, tricked out like a dancing girl, was imported direct from Syria; we 
find them in all administrative offices and prefectures; they, like their counterpart, the 
African mongrels, have great influence in the codification of the Law and an absolute 
casting-vote in the constitution of the universal Roman Church. Let us look more closely 
at one of these men; we shall in that way gain a lively picture of the civilised fraction of 
the Empire of that day with its pushing culture-mongers, and at the same time obtain an 
insight into the soul of the Chaos of Peoples. 


Every one, I fancy, knows the author Lucian, at least by name; his exceptional talents 
force him upon our notice. Born on the banks of the Euphrates, not far from the first 
spurs of the Tauric mountain range (in which energetic races of Indo-European descent 
still lived), in addition to the Syrian patois, the boy begins to learn to murder Greek. 
Having shown a talent for drawing and sculpture he is apprenticed to a sculptor, but only 
after a family council has been held to decide how the boy may as speedily as possible 
make a fortune. During his whole life, in spite of the amount of his subsequent wealth, 
this desire for money remains the guiding star — no, that is too fine an expression — the 
driving impulse of this gifted Syrian; in his Nigrinus he admits with enviable frankness 
that money and fame are the things dearest to him in the world, and even as an old man 
he writes expressly, that he accepts the high official position offered by the Gladiator- 
Emperor Commodus for the sake of the money. But in art he 


makes no progress. In a famous book The Dream, * which, however, as far as I know, is 
not appreciated according to its true purport by any historian, Lucian tells us why he gave 
up art and preferred to become a jurist and belles-lettrist. In a dream two women had 
appeared to him: the one "looked like work," had hard hands, her dress covered over and 
over with plaster; the other was elegantly dressed and stood calmly there; the one was 
Art, the other — he who does not know will never guess, the other was — Culture, t Poor Art 
tries to inspire her new disciple with zeal by the example of Phidias and Polycletus, of 
Myron and Praxiteles, but in vain; for Culture proves convincingly that Art is an "ignoble 
occupation"; that the artist remains the whole day bent over his work in a dirty 
smockfrock, like a slave; even Phidias was only "a common workman," who "lived from the 
toil of his hands"; whoever, on the other hand, chooses Culture instead of Art, has the 
prospect of riches and high offices, and when he goes for a walk in the street, the people 
will nudge each other and say, "See, there goes that famous man!" t Quickly making up his 

mind Lucian sprang to his feet: "I left the ugly toilsome life and went over to Culture." To- 
day sculptor, to-morrow advocate; he who is born without a definite calling can choose 
any; § whoever seeks gold and fame does not need to look aloft and runs no risk of 
falling into the well, like the hero of the German fairy 

* Not to be confused with the Dream of the Shoemaker Micyllus. 

t Greek word 7iai5sia German Bildung; so the best translators. It is not a question of the 
education of children, and "Science" would imply too much. The possible objection that the 
first woman does not introduce herself as "Art" simply, but as the "Art of cutting Hermae" 
may be met by the rejoinder that later she is described as Tsxvr| and that the appeal to 
Phidias and other artists admits no doubt about the intention. 

t The faint echo we have heard in the nineteenth century: "When the best names are 
named, mine too will be mentioned" (Heine). 

§ Cf. p. 242. 


tale. Do not imagine that The Dream is a satire; Lucian gave it as a lecture in his native 
town, when he visited it later, honoured and wealthy; he himself tells us that he set up his 
life as an example to the youth of Samosata. Such men, otherwise so clever, never 
understand what a bitter satire their fate is on the life of the really great; how otherwise 
could a Heine have placed himself on the same plane as a Goethe? Lucian had chosen 
Culture, and to acquire it he went to Antioch. Athens was indeed still the great high 
school of knowledge and taste, but was considered old-fashioned; Syrian Antioch and the 
so-called "Hellenic" Ephesus, which nevertheless was even in the second century 
thoroughly saturated with alien elements, offered much greater attractions to the 
cosmopolitan youth of the Roman Empire. There Lucian studied law and eloquence. But 
to him as an intelligent man the abuse of the Greek language by his teachers was painful; 
he guessed the value of a pure style and moved to Athens. It is characteristic that he 
ventured after a short spell of study to appear there as advocate and orator; in the 
meantime he had learned everything, except propriety; the Athenians taught him this, 
they laughed at the "barbarian" with his pedantic tags of strange culture and thereby gave 
him a valuable hint; he disappeared to a place where taste was not so indispensable, to 
Marseilles. This seaport of the Phoenician Diaspora had just received by the arrival of 
thousands of Jews from Palestine such a clearly marked character that it was simply 
called "the city of the Jews"; but Gauls, Romans; Spaniards, Ligurians, all conceivable 
races met there. Here, in New Athens, as the inhabitants, with a delicate recognition of 
their own intellectual worth, called it, Lucian lived for many years and became a rich 
man; he gave up the profession of advocate, for which he would have needed to learn 
Latin thoroughly; besides, there was great competition, and even in Antioch he had not 
had great success 


as a pleader; what these mushroom plutocrats chiefly wanted was Culture, modern 
Culture and rules of etiquette. Had not "Culture" been Lucian 's ideal, his dream? Had he not 

studied in Antioch and "spoken openly" even in Athens? Accordingly he gave lectures; but 
the listeners did not laugh at him, as in Athens, but paid any entrance fee that he cared to 
ask. Besides, he travelled over all Gaul as professional orator, at that time a very 
profitable business: to-day commemorating the virtues of a dead person, whom he had 
never seen in life, to-morrow taking part in the celebration of a religious festival that was 
given in honour of some local Gallo-Roman divinity, whose name a Syrian could not 
even pronounce. Any one who wishes to get an idea of this oratory should look at the 
Florida of Apuleius, a contemporary but African mestizo; * this is a collection of shorter 
and longer oratorical passages written for effect, to be put into any speech whatever, in 
order that the audience might think it a sudden inspiration, and be startled and carried 
away by the great knowledge, wit and pathos of the orator; there it is all in stock: the 
profound, the pointed, the clever anecdote, the devoutly submissive, the proud claims of 
freedom, even the excuse for being unprepared and the thanks for the statues that might 
be offered to the orator as a surprise! Just such things are pictures of a man and not of a 
man only, but of a whole Culture or, to use Lucian's word, of a whole TiaiSsia. Any one 
who has seen Prince Bismarck in one of his great speeches struggling to express himself 
will understand what I mean. — When forty years of age Lucian turned his back on Gaul; to 
settle in a definite place, to link his life perpetually with that of any country never occurs 
to him; besides 

* Apuleius boasts expressly of his mixed origin: He too studied in Syria and Egypt and 
travelled in Greece, hence had practically the same educational course as Lucian. 


there were no nations; if Lucian returns for a short visit to his native place it is not from 
heartlonging but, as he himself honestly confesses, to show his rich garments to those 
who knew him when poor. * Then he settles in Athens for a considerable period, but 
keeps silent this time and industriously studies philosophy and science in the honest 
endeavour to find at last what lies concealed behind this lauded Hellenic culture. That 
this man, who for twenty years had taught "Hellenic culture" and gained riches and honour 
from it, suddenly notices that he never understood even the elements of this culture, is an 
almost pathetic trait and a proof of exceptional gifts. For that reason I have chosen him in 
particular. In his writings one finds, alongside of puns and many good jokes and in 
addition to fine narrative, many a sharp and sometimes pathetic remark. But what could 
be the result of this study? Little or nothing. We men are not pieces in a game of 
draughts; there was just as little possibility of becoming a different person by learned 
instruction in Athens as there is to-day of becoming a "beautiful personality" in Berlin, as 
Professor Virchow hopes from the influence of the University there — if one is not already 
such at matriculation. With nothing is a man's knowledge so intimately bound up as with 
his Being, in other words, with his definite individuality, his definite organisation. Plato 
expressed the opinion that knowledge was remembrance; modern biology gives the word 
a slightly different interpretation but agrees with the philosopher. In a perfectly 
significant sense we can say that each man can only know, what he is. Lucian himself 

* The Fliegende Blatter of 1896 has a picture which shows a Counsellor of Commerce 
and his wife just entering their carriage: 
"She: Where shall we drive to to-day?" 

"He: Of course through the town; to make the people envy us!" 
That is exactly the same stage of culture. 


felt that all that he had learned and taught hitherto was mere tinsel — matters of fact, not the 
soul from which these facts grow: the covering but without the body, the shell but 
without the kernel. And when at last he understood this and broke the shell, what did he 
find? Nothing. Of course nothing. Nature has first to produce the kernel, the shell is a 
later accrescence; the body must be born before it can be clothed; the hero's heart must 
beat before heroic deeds can be achieved. The only kernel Lucian could find was himself; 
as soon as he tore from his body the rags of Roman Law and Hellenic poetry, he revealed 
a clever Syrian mestizo, a bastard born of fifty unrecorded crossings, the man who, with 
the unerring instinct of youth, had despised Phidias as a workman, and had chosen the 
career that with the least possible trouble would earn for him most money and the 
applause of the vulgar herd. All the philologists in the world may assure me that Lucian's 
remarks about religion and philosophy are profound, that he was a daring opponent of 
superstition, &c., I shall never believe it. Lucian was utterly incapable of knowing what 
religion and philosophy are. In many of his writings he enumerates all possible "systems" 
one after another; for example, in Icaromenippus, in the Selling of Philosophical 
Characters, &c.; it is always only the most superficial element that he comprehends, the 
formal motive power, without which the utterance of a thought is not possible, but which 
in truth must not be confused with the thought itself. So, too, in regard to religion. 
Aristophanes had scoffed as Voltaire did in later days; but the satire of both these men 
had its origin in a positive, constructive thought, and everywhere one sees the flash of 
fanatical love for the people of the homeland, for the firm, definite, related community, 
which embraced and supported each one of them with its traditions, its faith and its great 
men; Lucian, on the 


other hand, scoffs like Heine, * he has no noble aim, no profound conviction, no 
thorough understanding; he drifts about aimlessly like a wreck on the ocean, nowhere at 
home, not without noble impulses, but without any definite object to which he might 
devote himself, learned, but yet one of those monsters of learning who, Calderon says, 

know everything and understand nothing. 

But one thing he understood and therein lies for us his whole importance as a writer; he 
understood the spirit that he resembled, namely, the totally bastardised, depraved and 
degenerate world around him; he pictures it and scourges it, as only one who himself 
belonged to it could, one who knew its motives and methods from his own experience. 
Here the kernel was not lacking. Hence his delightful satires on the Homeric critics, on 

the learned professions which were rotten to the core, on religious swindlers, on puffed- 
up, rude and ignorant millionaires, on medical quacks, &c. Here his talent and his 
knowledge of the world together contributed to the accomplishment of great things. — And 
in order that my description may not be incomplete, I may add that the second stay in 
Athens, if it did not teach Lucian the meaning of mythology, or of metaphysics, or of the 
heroic character, yet became for him a new source of money-making. Here he turned his 
attention industriously to authorship, wrote his Conversations of the Gods, his 
Conversations of the Dead, in all probability most of his best things. He invented a light 
form of dialogue (for which he gave himself the title of "Prometheus the author"!); at 
bottom they are good feuilletons, of the kind which the philistine to this day likes to read 

* The one fault in this second comparison is that Heine did belong to a definite people 
and in consequence possessed a more definite physiognomy. 


the morning with his coffee. They brought him in considerable sums of money, when he 
began to travel again and delivered them in public as lectures. But this fashion also 
passed, or perhaps with age he had tired of a vagabond life. He discarded the one legacy, 
Hellenic art and philosophy, and turned to the other — Roman Law; he became State 
Advocate (as some say) or President of the Court (as others say) in Egypt and died in this 

I think that a single career such as this shows us, more clearly than many a learned 
exposition, what the mental chaos was, which at that time lay sheltered beneath the 
uniform mantle of the tyrannical Roman Empire. We cannot say of a man like Lucian that 
he was immoral; no, what we learn from such an example is that morality and 
arbitrariness are two contradictory ideas. Men who do not inherit definite ideals with their 
blood are neither moral nor immoral, they are simply "without morals." If I may be allowed 
to use a current phrase to explain my meaning, I should say they are neither good nor 
bad, equally they are neither beautiful nor ugly, deep nor shallow. The individual in fact 
cannot make for himself an ideal of life and a moral law; these very things can only exist 
as a gradual growth. For this reason it was very wise of Lucian, in spite of his talent, to 
give up in time his idea of emulating Phidias. He could become an orator for the 
Massillians, and a President of Court for the Egyptians, even, if you will, a feuilletonist 
for all time, but an artist or a thinker never. 


We may be met by the objection that out of the old Chaos of Peoples there arose men 
of great importance, whose influence has made itself felt upon succeeding generations, 
until this day, in a far more penetrating 


sense. This presents no difficulty for the irrefutable acceptance of the importance of race 
to humanity. In the midst of a chaos single individuals may still be of perfectly pure race, 
or they may at least belong principally to one definite race. Such a man, for example, as 
Ambrosius must surely be of genuine, noble descent, of that strong race which had made 
Rome great; I cannot indeed prove it, for in the confusion of those times history is unable 
to furnish exact information as to the pedigree of any man of importance. At the same 
time no one can prove the contrary, so the personality of the individual must decide the 
question. Moreover, it must not be overlooked that, unless crossing without plan or 
method goes on with wild recklessness, the qualities of a dominant race will remain 
conspicuous for generations, though maybe in a much weakened condition, and that they 
are capable of flashing up again as atavism in single individuals. The breeding of animals 
furnishes numerous examples of this. Take a piece of paper and sketch a genealogical 
tree; we shall see that, as soon as we go back only four generations, an individual has 
already thirty ancestors, whose blood flows in his veins. If we now suppose two races A 
and B, such a table will clearly show how very different the hybridisation in the case of a 
crossing of peoples must be, from the full hybrid directly composed of A and B to the 
individual of whose sixteen ancestors only one was a hybrid. Besides, experience daily 
teaches us that exceptionally gifted and beautiful human beings are frequently produced 
by crossing; it is, however, as I have said, not a question of the individual only, but of his 
relation to other individuals, to a uniform complex; if this single mongrel enters into a 
definite race-centre, he may have a very quickening effect upon it; if he falls among a 
mere heap of beings, he is, like Lucian, only a stick among sticks, not a branch on a 
living tree. The immeasurable 


power of ideas must also be reckoned with. They are indeed misconstrued, mishandled 
and abused by illegitimate successors — as we saw in the case of pseudo-Roman law and 
Platonic philosophy — but they continue to have a formative influence. What was it if not 
the death-agony of the old genuine imperial idea that held together this agglomeration of 
peoples till the strong Dietrich of Berne came to set them free? Whence did those men of 
the chaos derive their thoughts and their religion? Not from themselves, but only from 
Jews and Hellenes. And so all that held them together, all upon which their very 
existence depended, was drawn from the inheritance of noble races. Take any of the 
greatest men of the chaotic period, for example the venerable Augustine, distinguished 
alike by temperament and ability. To be unbiased, let us leave our own purely religious 
standpoint and ask ourselves whether there was not a hopeless chaos in the brain of this 
eminent man? In the world of his imagination we find the Jewish belief in Jehovah, the 
mythology of Greece, Alexandrine Neoplatonism, Romish priestcraft, the Pauline 
conception of God, and the contemplation of the Crucified Lord, all jumbled together in 
heterogeneous confusion. Augustine has to reject, in deference to Hebraic materialism, 
many incomparably loftier religious thoughts — loftier because pure and genuinely racial 
thoughts — which Origenes held, but at the same time he introduces into theology as 
predestination the ancient Aryan conception of necessity, whereby the old dogma of all 
Judaism, the unconditional arbitrariness of will, goes to the wall. * 

* Augustine is indeed extremely cautious; he says, for example, of the prescience of 
God and the contradictory view, the free will of man: "We embrace both convictions, we 
confess to both, truly and honestly; to the one that we may believe rightly, to the other 
that we may live rightly" (illud, ut bene credamus; hoc, ut bene vivamus); cf. De Civ. Dei, 
V. 10. With this is closely connected that further question, whether God himself is free or 
stands under the law; the intellect inclines clearly in the case of Augustine to 


He spends twelve years writing a book against the heathen gods, but himself believes in 
their existence in so tangible and fetichist a sense as no cultured Greek for a thousand 
years before him; he looks upon them in fact as daemons and therefore creations of God; 
but one must not, he thinks, regard them as creators ("immundos spiritus esse et perniciosa 
daemonia, vel certe creaturas non Creatorem, Veritas Christiana convincit"). In his chief 
work, De Civitate Dei, Augustine disputes in chapter after chapter with his countryman 
Apuleius regarding the nature of the daemons and other good and bad spirits, 
endeavouring, if not to deny their existence, at least to reduce them to an unimportant and 
uninfluential element and thus to replace crass superstition by genuine religion; 
nevertheless, he inclines in all earnest to the belief that Apuleius himself was changed by 
the unguent of the Thessalian witch into an ass, and this is all the more comical to us, 
because Apuleius, although he wrote a great deal about daemons, never thought of 
representing this transformation as an actual occurrence when he wrote his novel. The 
Metamorphoses or the Golden Ass. * I cannot of course enter more fully into this matter 
here, that would take me too far; it would deserve a whole book to itself; and yet the 
detailed characterisation of the intellectual condition of the noble among these sons of the 
chaos would be the right complement to the sketch of the frivolous Lucian. t We should 

the latter view, his dogmatic creed to the former. Is an action bad because God has 
forbidden it, or had he to forbid it because it is bad? In his Contra Mendacium, chap, xv., 
Augustine takes the second alternative; in other writings the former. 

* This story seems to have been in vogue at the time; for Lucian too has a Lucius or 
the Enchanted Ass, which looks indeed as if it were translated from fragments of the 
Apuleian one. Augustine says of the transformation "aut finxit, aut indicavit," but he clearly 
inclines to the latter view. 

t The irreconcilable contradictions in the religious thought and feeling of Augustine are 
fully discussed in the seventh chapter (vol. ii.) and the gap here left is thus to some extent 


that everywhere the equilibrium is disturbed. In Lucian the unfettered intellect is 
uppermost and lack of moral strength ruins the finest qualities; in Augustine, character 
wrestles with intellect in a tussle of doubtful issue, and does not rest until intellect is 
thrown and put in fetters. 

Such were the men who handed down to us the legacy of antiquity. "We are like 
shipwrecked sailors thrown on the shore by the wild breakers," Ambrosius exclaims in 
pain. Philosophy and law, ideas of State, freedom, human dignity passed through their 
hands; it was they who raised to the dignity of acknowledged dogmas the superstition 
(belief in daemons, witchcraft, &c.) which formerly was found only among the most 
ignorant scum of the population; it was they who forged a new religion out of the most 
incompatible elements, who gave to the world the gift of the Roman Church, a kind of 
changeling born of the Roman imperial idea; at the same time it was they who with the 
fanaticism of the weak destroyed everything beautiful belonging to the past on which 
they could lay their hands, every memory of great generations. Hatred and disdain of 
every great achievement of the pure races were taught; a Lucian scoffs at the great 
thinkers, an Augustine reviles the heroes of Rome's heroic age, a TertuUian calls Homer "a 
liar." As soon as the orthodox emperors — Constantius, Theodosius, and others — ascend the 
throne (without exceptions mongrels in race, the great Diocletian being the last Emperor 
of pure blood *) the systematic destruction of all the monuments of antiquity begins. At 
the same time is introduced the deliberate lie that is supposed to further truth: such 
eminent Church fathers as Hieronymus and Chrysostomus encourage the pia fraus, the 
pious deception; immediately upon this follows the foundation of the might and right of 
the Roman see, not by courage and conquest, but by the colossal forgery of documents. 

* Cf. also what is said on p. 129 f. 


Even so respectable an historian as Eusebius has the simplicity worthy of a better cause 
to confess that he remodels history wherever he sees the opportunity of furthering "the 
good cause." In very truth this chaos which arose out of race fusion and the universal craze 
for anti-nationalism is an appalling spectacle! 


Perhaps the fact has never yet been pointed out — I at least know of no book where it is — 
that the epidemic of asceticism which broke out at that time was directly connected with 
the feeling of disgust for that frightful condition of the world; some would fain see in it 
an unexampled religious awakening, others a religious disease; but that is interpreting the 
facts allegorically, for religion and asceticism are not necessarily connected. Nothing in 
the example of Christ could encourage asceticism; the early Christians knew it not; two 
hundred years after Christ TertuUian still wrote: "We Christians are not like the Brahmans 
and Gymnosophists of India, we do not live in forests or in banishment from the society 
of men: we feel that we owe God the Lord and Creator thanks for everything and we 
forbid the enjoyment of none of his works; we only practise moderation in order that we 
may not enjoy these things more than is good for us or make a bad use of them" 
(Apologeticus, chap. xlii.). Why now did un-Christian asceticism all at once enter into 
Christianity? I for my part believe that we have here to deal with physical reasons. Even 
before the birth of Christ asceticism had taken its rise in the altogether bastardised Syria 

and Egypt; wherever blood was most mixed, it had taken a firm hold. Pachomius, the 
founder of the first Christian cloister, the author of the first monkish rule, is a servant of 
Serapis from Upper Egypt, who transferred to Christianity 


what he had learned in the societies of the fasting and self-chastising ascetics of Serapis. 
* Any one who still possessed a spark of noble impulse in that world of the unnational 
chaos was bound in fact to be disgusted with himself. Nowhere, where sound conditions 
prevailed, has unconditional asceticism been preached; on the contrary, the ancient 
peoples — Aryans, Semites, Mongolians — led by a marvellous instinct, are at one in 
regarding the begetting of children as one of the most sacred duties; whoever died 
without a son was laden with a curse. In Ancient India, of course, there were ascetics; but 
they might not disappear into the solitude of the forest till the son of their son was born; 
here the intention and fundamental idea are almost diametrically opposed to the 
asceticism of the Syrian Christians. To-day we understand this; for we see that only one 
thing contributes to the ennobling of man: the begetting of pure races, the founding of 
definite nations. To beget sons, sons of the right kind, is without question the most sacred 
duty of the individual towards society; whatever else he may achieve, nothing will have 
such a lasting and indelible influence as the contribution to the increasing ennoblement of 
the race. From the limited, false standpoint of Gobineau it certainly does not much 
matter, for we can only decline and fall sooner or later; still less correct are they who 
appear to contradict him, but adopt the same hypothetical acceptation of aboriginal pure 
nations; but any one who understands how noble races are in reality produced, knows that 
they can arise again at any moment; that depends on us; here nature has clearly pointed 
out to us a great duty. Those men of the chaos therefore, who considered begetting a sin, 
and complete abstinence therefrom the highest of all virtues, committed a crime against 
the most sacred law of nature; they tried to prevent all good, noble men 

* Cf. Otto Zockler Askese und Monchtum, 1897, i. 193 ff. 


and women from leaving descendants, thus promoting the increase of the evil only, which 
meant of course that they did their best to bring about the deterioration of the human race. 
A Schopenhauer may joyfully collect from the Church fathers their pronouncements 
against marriage and see therein a confirmation of his pessimism; for me the connection 
is quite different: this sudden horror of the most natural impulses of man, their 
transformation from the most sacred duty to the most disgraceful sin, has a deeper 
foundation in those incomprehensible sources of our existence, where the physical and 
the metaphysical are not yet separated. After wars and pestilences, statistics tell us, births 
increase to an abnormal degree — nature helps herself; in that chaos which threatened all 
culture with eternal destruction, the births had to be retarded as much as possible; with 
horror the noble turned away from that world of sin, buried themselves in the deserts or 
in the caves of the hills, perched themselves on high pillars, chastised themselves and did 
penance. Childless they passed away. * Even where human society is in a state of 

disintegration, we see in fact a great connection; what each man by himself thinks and 
does always admits of a double interpretation — the subjective or individual, and the 
objective interpretation in relation to the world at large. 

* In the fourth century the Roman Empire numbered hundreds of thousands of monks 
and nuns. It was not unusual for an abbot to have 10,000 monks in one cloister and in the 
year 373 the one single Egyptian town Oxyrynchus had 20,000 nuns and 10,000 monks! 
Now consider the total numbers of the population of that time, and it will be clear what a 
great influence this ascetic epidemic must have had upon the non-multiplication of the 
bastard races. (See further details in Lecky's History of European Morals, 1 1th ed. ii. 105 



Here we touch upon a deep scientific fact; we are touching upon the revelation of the 
most important secret of all human history. Every one comprehends that man can in the 
true sense of the word only become "man" in connection with others. Many, too, have 
grasped the meaning of Jean Paul's profound remark, which I prefixed as motto to a 
former chapter, that "only through man does man enter into the light of day"; few, however, 
have realised the fact that this attainment of manhood — this entry into the light of life — 
depends in degree upon definite organic conditions, conditions which in old days were 
observed instinctively and unconsciously, but which, now that owing to the increase of 
knowledge and the development of thought the impulses of instinct have lost their power, 
it becomes our duty consciously to recognise and respect. This study of the Roman Chaos 
of Peoples teaches us that race, and nationality which renders possible the formation of 
race, possess a significance which is not only physical and intellectual but also moral. 
Here there is before us something which we can characterise as a sacred law, the sacred 
law in accordance with which we enter upon the rights and duties of manhood: a "law," 
since it is found everywhere in nature, "sacred," in so far as it is left to our free will to 
ennoble ourselves or to degenerate as we please. This law teaches us to look upon the 
physical constitution as the basis of all that ennobles. For what is the moral apart from the 
physical? What would a soul be without body? I do not know. If our breast conceals 
something that is immortal, if we men reach with our thoughts to something transcendent, 
which we, like the blind, touch with longing hands without ever being able to see it, 


if our heart is the battlefield between the finite and the infinite, then the constitution of 
this body — breast, brain, heart — must be of immeasurable consequence. "However the great 
dark background of things may in truth be constituted, the entrance to it is open to us only 
in this poor life of ours, and so even our ephemeral actions contain this earnest, deep, and 
inevitable significance," says Solon in the beautiful dialogue of Heinrich von Stein. * "Only 
in this life!" But wherewith do we live if not with our body? Indeed, we do not need to 
look forth into any world beyond (which will appear problematic to many people), as 

Solon does in the passage quoted; the entrance even to this earthly life is solely and only 
open to us through our body and this life will be for us poor or rich, ugly or beautiful, 
insipid or precious, according to the constitution of this our one, all-embracing organ of 
life. I have already shown from examples taken from methodical animal breeding and 
from human history how race arises and is gradually ennobled, also how it degenerates; 
what then is this race if not a collective term for a number of individual bodies? It is no 
arbitrary idea, no abstraction; these individualities are linked with one another by an 
invisible but absolutely real power resting upon material facts. Of course the race consists 
of individuals; but the individual himself can only attain to the full and noblest 
development of his qualities within definite conditions which are embraced in the word 
"race." This is based upon a simple law, but it points simultaneously in two directions. All 
organic nature, vegetable as well as animal, proves that the choice of the two parents is of 
decisive influence upon the individual that is born; but besides this it proves that the 
principle prevailing here is a collective and progressive one, because in the first place a 
common parent-stock must gradually be formed, from 

* Helden und Welt: dramatische Bilder (Chemnitz, 1883). 


which then, similarly step by step, are produced individuals who are on an average 
superior to those outside such a union, and among these again numerous individuals with 
really transcendent qualities. That is a fact of nature, just in the same sense as any other, 
but here, as in all phenomena of life, we are far from being able to analyse and explain it. 
Now what must not be lost sight of in the case of the human race is the circumstance that 
the moral and intellectual qualities are of preponderating importance. That is why in men 
any want of organic racial consistency, or fitness in the parent stock, means above all 
things a lack of all moral and intellectual coherence. The man who starts from nowhence 
reaches nowhither. The individual life is too short to be able to fix the eye on a goal and 
to reach it. The life of a whole people, too, would be too short if unity of race did not 
stamp it with a definite, limited character, if the transcendent splendour of many-sided 
and varying gifts were not concentrated by unity of stem, which permits a gradual 
ripening, a gradual development in definite directions, and finally enables the most gifted 
individual to live for a super-individual purpose. 

Race, as it arises and maintains itself in space and time, might be compared to the so- 
called range of power of a magnet. If a magnet be brought near to a heap of iron filings, 
they assume definite directions, so that a figure is formed with a clearly marked centre, 
from which lines radiate in all directions; the nearer we bring the magnet the more 
distinct and more mathematical does the figure become; very few pieces have placed 
themselves in exactly the same direction, but all have united into a practical and at the 
same time ideal unity by the possession of a common centre, and by the fact that the 
relative position of each individual to all the others is not arbitrary but obedient to a fixed 
law. It has ceased to be a heap, it has become a form. In the same way a human 


race, a genuine nation, is distinguished from a mere congeries of men. The character of 
the race becoming more and more pronounced by pure breeding is like the approach of 
the magnet. The individual members of the nation may have ever so different qualities, 
the direction of their activities may be utterly divergent, yet together they form a moulded 
unity, and the power — or let us say rather the importance — of every individual is multiplied 
a thousandfold by his organic connection with countless others. 

I have shown above how Lucian with all his gifts absolutely squandered his life; I have 
shown Augustine helplessly swaying to and fro like a pendulum between the loftiest 
thoughts and the crassest and silliest superstition: such men as these, cut off from all 
racial belongings, mongrels among mongrels, are in a position almost as unnatural as a 
hapless ant, carried and set down ten miles from its own nest. The ant, however, would 
suffer at least only through outward circumstances, but these men are by their own inner 
constitution barred from all genuine community of life. 

The consideration of these facts teaches us that whatever may be our opinion as to the 
causa finalis of existence, man cannot fulfill his highest destiny as an isolated individual, 
as a mere exchangeable pawn, but only as a portion of an organic whole, as a member of 
a specific race. * 


There is no doubt about it! The raceless and nationless chaos of the late Roman Empire 
was a pernicious and fatal condition, a sin against nature. Only one ray of light shone 
over that degenerate world. It came from the north. Ex septentrione Lux! If we take up a 
map, the Europe of the fourth century certainly seems at the 

* "The individuals and the whole are identical," the Indian thinkers had taught (see 
Garbe's Samkhya-Philosophie, p. 158). 


first glance to be more or less in a state of chaos even north of the Imperial boundary; we 
see quite a number of races established side by side, incessantly forcing their way in 
different directions: the Alemanni, the Marcomanni, the Saxons, the Franks, the 
Burgundians, the Goths, the Vandals, the Slavs, the Huns and many others. But it is only 
the political relations that are chaotic there; the nations are genuine, pure-bred races, men 
who carry with them their nobility as their only possession wherever destiny drives them. 
In one of the next chapters I shall have to speak of them. In the meantime I should like 
merely to warn those whose reading is less wide, against the idea that the "barbarians" 
suddenly "broke into" the highly civilised Roman Empire. This view, which is widespread 
among the superficially educated, is just as little in accordance with the facts as the 
further view that the "night of the Middle Ages" came down upon men because of this 
inroad of the barbarians. 

It is this historical lie which veils the annihilating influence of that nationless time, and 
which turns into a destroyer the deliverer, the slayer of the laidly worm. For centuries the 
Teutons had been forcing their way into the Roman Empire, and though they often came 
as foes, they ended by becoming the sole principle of life and of might. Their gradual 

penetration into the Imperium, their gradual rise to a decisive power had taken place little 
by little just as their gradual civilisation had done; * already in the fourth century one 
could count numerous colonies of soldiers from entirely different Teutonic tribes 
(Batavians, Franks, Suevians, &c.) in the whole European extent of the 

* Hermann is a Roman cavalier, speaks Latin fluently and has thoroughly studied the 
Roman art of administration. So, too, most of the Teutonic princes. Their troops, too, 
were at home in the whole Roman empire and so acquainted with the customs of so- 
called civilised men, long before they immigrated with all their goods and chattels into 
these lands. 


Roman Empire; * in Spain, in Gaul, in Italy, in Thrace, indeed often even in Asia Minor, 
it is Teutons in the main that finally fight against Teutons. It was Teutonic peoples that so 
often heroically warded off the Asiatic peril from the Eastern Empire; it was Teutonic 
people that on the Catalaunian fields saved the Western Empire from being laid waste by 
the Huns. Early in the third century a bold Gothic shepherd had been already proclaimed 
Emperor. One need only look at the map of the end of the fifth century to see at once 
what a uniquely beneficent moulding power had here begun to assert itself. Very 
noteworthy too is the difference which reveals itself here in a hundred ways, between the 
innate decency, taste and intuition of rough but pure, noble races and the mental 
barbarism of civilised mestizos. Theodosius, his tools (the Christian fanatics) and his 
successors had done their best to destroy the monuments of art; on the other hand, the 
first care of Theodoric, the Eastern Goth, was to take strong measures for the protection 
and restoration of the Roman monuments. This man could not write, to sign his name he 
had to use a metal stencil, but the Beautiful, which the bastard souls in their "Culture," in 
their hunting after offices and distinctions, in their greed of gold had passed by unheeded, 
the Beautiful, which to the nobler souls among the Chaos of Peoples was a hateful work 
of the devil, the Goth at once knew how to appreciate; the sculptures of Rome excited his 
admiration to such a degree that he appointed a special official to protect them. Religious 
toleration, too, appeared for a time wherever the still unspoiled Teuton became master. 
Soon also there came upon the scene the great Christian missionaries from the highlands 
of the north, men who convinced not by means of "pious lies" but by the purity of their 

It is nothing but a false conception of the Middle Ages, 

* See Gobineau: Inequality of the Human races, Bk. VI. chap. iv. 


in conjunction with ignorance as to the significance of race, which is responsible for the 
regrettable delusion that the entry upon the scene of the rough Teutons meant the falling 
of a pall of night over Europe. It is inconceivable that such hallucinations should be so 
long-lived. If we wish to know to what lengths the bastard culture of the Empire might 
have led, wo must study the history, the science and the literature of the later Byzantium, 

a study to which our historians are devoting themselves to-day with a patience worthy of 
a better subject. It is a sorry spectacle. The capture of the Western Roman Empire by the 
Barbarians, on the contrary, works like the command of the Bible, "Let there be Light." It is 
admitted that its influence was mainly in the direction of politics rather than of 
civilisation; and a difficult task it was — one that is even now not wholly accomplished. 
But was it a small matter? Whence does Europe draw its physiognomy and its 
significance — whence its intellectual and moral preponderance, if not from the foundation 
and development of Nations? This work was in very truth the redemption from chaos. If 
we are something to-day — if we may hope perhaps some day to become something more — 
we owe it in the first instance to that political upheaval which, after long preparation, 
began in the fifth century, and from which were born in the fulness of time new noble 
races, new beautiful languages, and a new culture entitling us to nourish the keenest 
hopes for the future. Dietrich of Berne, the strong wise man, the unlearned friend of art 
and science, the tolerant representative of Freedom of Conscience in the midst of a world 
in which Christians were tearing one another to pieces like hyenas, was as it were a 
pledge that Day might once more break upon this poor earth. In the time of wild struggle 
that followed, during that fever by means of which alone European humanity could 
recover and awaken from the hideous 


dream of the degenerate curse-laden centuries of a chaos with a veneer of order to a fresh, 
healthy, stormily pulsing national life — in such a time learning and art and the tinsel of a 
so-called civilisation might well be almost forgotten, but this, we may swear, did not 
mean Night, but the breaking of a new Day. It is hard to say what authority the scribblers 
have for honouring only their own weapons. Our European world is first and foremost the 
work not of philosophers and book-writers and painters, but of the great Teuton Princes, 
the work of warriors and statesmen. The progress of development — obviously the political 
development out of which our modern nations have sprung — is the one fundamental and 
decisive matter. We must not, however, overlook the fact that to these true and noble men 
we equally owe everything else that is worth possessing. Every one of those centuries, the 
seventh, the eighth, the ninth, produced great scholars; but the men who protected and 
encouraged them were the Princes. It is the fashion to say that it was the Church that was 
the saviour of science and of culture; that is only true in a restricted sense. As I shall 
show in the next division of the first part of this book, we must not look upon the Early 
Christian Church as a simple, uniform organism, not even within the limits of the Roman 
union in Western Europe; the centralisation and obedience to Rome which we have lived 
to see to-day, were in earlier centuries absolutely unknown. We must admit that almost 
all learning and art were the property of the Church; her cloisters and schools were the 
retreats and nurseries in which in those rough times peaceful intellectual work sought 
refuge; but the entry into the Church as monk or secular priest meant little more than 
being accepted into a privileged and specially protected class, which imposed upon the 
favoured individual hardly any return in the way of special duties. Until the thirteenth 
century every educated 


man, every teacher and student, every physician and professor of jurisprudence belonged 
to the clergy: but this was a matter of pure formality, founded exclusively upon certain 
legal conditions; and it was out of this very class, that is, out of the men who best knew 
the Church, that every revolution against her arose — it was the Universities that became 
the high-schools of national emancipation. The Princes protected the Church, the learned 
clerics on the contrary attacked her. That is the reason why the Church waged unceasing 
war against the great intellects which, that they might work in peace, had sought refuge 
with her; had she had her way, science and culture would never again have been fledged. 
But the same Princes who protected the Church also protected the scholars whom she 
persecuted. No later than the ninth century there arose in the far north (out of the schools 
of England, which even in those early days were rich in important men) the great Scotus 
Erigena: the Church did all that she could to extinguish this brilliant light, but Charles the 
Bald, the same man who was supposed to have sent great tribute to the Pope of Rome, 
stretched his princely hand over Scotus; when this became insufficient, Alfred bade him 
to England where he raised the school of Oxford to a pinnacle of success, till he was 
stabbed to death by monks at the bidding of the central government of the Church. From 
the ninth century to the nineteenth, from the murder of Scotus to the issue of the Syllabus, 
it has been the same story. A final judgment shows the intellectual renaissance to be the 
work of Race in opposition to the universal Church which knows no Race, the work of 
the Teuton's thirst for knowledge, of the Teuton's national struggle for freedom. Great men 
in uninterrupted succession have arisen from the bosom of the Catholic Church; men to 
whom, as we must acknowledge, the peculiar catholic order of thought with its all- 


greatness, its harmonious structure, its symbolical wealth and beauty has given birth, 
making them greater than they could have become without it; but the Church of Rome, 
purely as such, that is to say, as an organised secular theocracy, has always behaved as 
the daughter of the fallen Empire, as the last representative of the universal, anti-national 
Principle. Charlemagne by himself did more for the diffusion of education and 
knowledge than all the monks in the world. He caused a complete collection to be made 
of the national poetry of the Teutons. The Church destroyed it. I spoke a little while ago 
of Alfred. What Prince of the Church, what schoolman, ever did so much for the 
awakening of new intellectual powers, for the clearing up of living idioms, for the 
encouragement of national consciousness (so necessary at that time), as this one Prince? 
The most important recent historian of England has summed up the personality of this 
great Teuton in the one sentence: "Alfred was in truth an artist." * 'Where, in the Chaos of 
Peoples, was the man of whom the same could be said? In those so-called dark centuries 
the farther we travel northward, that is to say, the farther from the focus of a baleful 
"culture," and the purer the races with which we meet, the more activity do we find in the 
intellectual life. A literature of the noblest character, side by side with a freedom and 
order worthy of the dignity of man, develops itself from the ninth to the thirteenth century 
in the far-away republic of Iceland; in the same way, in remote England, during the 
seventh, eighth and ninth centuries we find a true popular poetry flourishing as it seldom 

has done since, t The passionate love of music which then came to light touches us as 
though we heard the beating of the wings of a guardian angel sent down from heaven, an 
angel heralding the 

* Green: History of the English People, Bk. I. c. iii. 

t Olive F. Emerson: History of the English Language, p. 54. 


future. When we hear King Alfred taking part in the songs of his chosen choir — when a 
century later we see the passionate scholar and statesman Dunstan never, whether on 
horseback or in the Council Chamber, parted from his harp: then we call to mind the old 
Grecian legend that Harmonia was the daughter of Ares the God of War. Fighting, in lieu 
of a sham order, was what our wild ancestors brought with them, but at the same time 
they brought creative power instead of dreary barrenness. And as a matter of fact in all 
the more important Princes of that time we find a specially developed power of 
imagination: they were essentially fashioners. We should be perfectly justified were we 
to compare what Charlemagne was and did at the end of the eighth and beginning of the 
ninth centuries, with what Goethe did at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the 
nineteenth centuries. Both rode a tilt against the Powers of Chaos, both were artists; both 
"avowed themselves as belonging to the race which out of darkness is striving to reach the 

No! and a thousand times no! The annihilation of that monstrosity, a State without a 
nation, of that empty form, of that soulless congeries of humanity, that union of mongrels 
bound together only by a community of taxes and superstitions, not by a common origin 
and a common heart-beat, of that crime against the race of mankind which we have 
summed up in the definition "Chaos of Peoples" — that does not mean the falling darkness of 
night, but the salvation of a great inheritance from unworthy hands, the dawn of a new 

Yet even to this hour we have not succeeded in purging our blood of all the poisons of 
that Chaos. In wide domains the Chaos ended by retaining the upper hand. Wherever the 
Teuton had not a sufficient majority physically to dominate the rest of the inhabitants by 
assimilation, as, for instance, in the south, there the 


chaotic element asserted itself more and more. We have but to look at our present 
position to see where power exists and where it is wanting, and how this depends upon 
the composition of races. I am not aware whether any one has already observed with what 
peculiar exactitude the modern boundary of the universal Church of Rome corresponds 
with what I have pointed out as the general boundary of the Roman Imperium, and 
consequently of the chaotic mongreldom. To the east I admit that the line does not hold 
good, because here in Servia, Bosnia, &c., the Slavonic invaders of the eighth century 
and the Bulgarians annihilated everything foreign; in few districts of modern Europe is 
Race so uncontaminated, and the pure Slavs have never accepted the Church of Rome. In 
other places too there have been encroachments on both sides of the old boundary-line. 

but these have been unimportant, and moreover easily explained by political relations. On 
the whole the agreement is sufficiently striking to give rise to serious thought: Spain, 
Italy, Gaul, the Rhenish provinces, and the countries south of the Danube! It is still 
morning, and the powers of darkness are ever stretching out their polypus arms, clinging 
to us with their powers of suction in a hundred places, and trying to drag us back into the 
Night out of which we were striving to escape. We can arrive at a judgment upon these 
apparently confused, but really transparent, conditions, not so much by poring over the 
details of chronicles, as by obtaining a clear insight into the fundamental historical facts 
which I have set out in this chapter. 




"Let us forget whence we spring. No more talk of 'German,' or of 'Portuguese' Jews. Though 
scattered over the earth we are nevertheless a single people — RABBI SALOMON 
LIPMANN-CERFBERR in the opening speech delivered on July 26, 1806, at the meeting 
preparatory to the Synedrium of 1 807 which Napoleon called together. 


HAD I been writing a hundred years ago, I should hardly have felt compelled at this point 
to devote a special chapter to the entrance of the Jews into Western history. Of course the 
share they had in the rise of Christianity, on account of the peculiar and absolutely un- 
Aryan spirit which they instilled into it, would have deserved our full attention, as well as 
also the economic part which they played in all Christian countries; but an occasional 
mention of these things would have sufficed; anything more would have been 
superfluous. Herder wrote at that time: "Jewish history takes up more room in our history 
and more attention than it probably deserves in itself." * In the meantime, however, a great 
change has taken place: the Jews play in Europe, and wherever European influence 
extends, a different part to-day from that which they played a hundred years ago; as 
Viktor Hehn expresses it, we live 

* Von den deutsch-orientalischen Dichtern, Div. 2. 


to-day in a "Jewish age"; * we may think what we like about the past history of the Jews, 
their present history actually takes up so much room in our own history that we cannot 
possibly refuse to notice them. Herder in spite of his outspoken humanism had expressed 
the opinion that "the Jewish people is and remains in Europe an Asiatic people alien to our 
part of the world, bound to that old law which it received in a distant climate, and which 
according to its own confession it cannot do away with." t Quite correct. But this alien 

people, everlastingly alien, because — as Herder well remarks — it is indissolubly bound to 
an alien law that is hostile to all other peoples — this alien people has become precisely in 
the course of the nineteenth century a disproportionately important and in many spheres 
actually dominant constituent of our life. Even a hundred years ago that same witness had 
sadly to confess that the "ruder nations of Europe" were "willing slaves of Jewish usury"; to- 
day he could say the same of by far the greatest part of the civilised world. The 
possession of money in itself is, however, of least account; our governments, our law, our 
science, our commerce, our literature, our art... practically all branches of our life have 
become more or less willing slaves of the Jews, and drag the feudal fetter il not yet on 
two, at least on one leg. In the meantime the "alien" element emphasised by Herder has 
become more and more prominent; a hundred years ago it was rather indistinctly and 
vaguely felt; now it has asserted and proved itself, and so forced itself on the attention of 
even the most inattentive. The Indo-European, moved by ideal motives, opened the gates 

* Gedanken liber Goethe, 3rd ed. p. 40. The passage as it stands reads, "From the day of 
Goethe's death, the 22nd March, 1832, Borne dated the freedom of Germany. In reality, 
however, one epoch was with that day closed and the Jewish age in which we live began." 

t Bekehrung der Juden. Abschnitt 7 of the Untersuchungen des vergangenen 
Jahrhunderts zur Beforderung eines geistigen Reiches. 


friendship: the Jew rushed in like an enemy, stormed all positions and planted the flag of 
his, to us, alien nature — I will not say on the ruins, but on the breaches of our genuine 

Are we for that reason to revile the Jews? That would be as ignoble as it is unworthy 
and senseless. The Jews deserve admiration, for they have acted with absolute 
consistency according to the logic and truth of their own individuality, and never for a 
moment have they allowed themselves to forget the sacredness of physical laws because 
of foolish humanitarian day-dreams which they shared only when such a policy was to 
their advantage. Consider with what mastery they use the law of blood to extend their 
power: the principal stem remains spotless, not a drop of strange blood comes in; as it 
stands in the Thora, "A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to 
his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord" (Deuteronomy 
xxiii. 2); in the meantime, however, thousands of side branches are cut off and employed 
to infect the Indo-Europeans with Jewish blood. If that were to go on for a few centuries, 
there would be in Europe only one single people of pure race, that of the Jews, all the rest 
would be a herd of pseudo-Hebraic mestizos, a people beyond all doubt degenerate 
physically, mentally and morally. For even the great friend of the Jews, Ernest Renan, 
admits, "Je suis le premier a reconnaitre que la race semitique, comparee a la race indo- 
europeenne, represente reellement une combinaison inferieure de la nature humaine." * 
And in one of his best but unfortunately little-known writings he says again, 
"L'epouvantable simplicite de 1 'esprit semitique retrecit le cerveau humain, le ferme a toute 
idee delicate, a tout sentiment fin, a toute 

* Histoire generale et systeme compare des langues semitiques, 5e ed. p. 4. It will 
make little difference to this view when I show, as I shall do immediately, that the Jews 
are not pure Semites but half Syrians. 


recherche rationelle, pour le mettre en face d'une eternelle tautologie: Dieu est Dieu"; * 
and he demonstrates that culture could have no future unless Christian religion should 
move farther away from the spirit of Judaism and the "Indo-European genius" assert itself 
more and more in every domain. That mixture then undoubtedly signifies a degeneration: 
degeneration of the Jew, whose character is much too alien, firm and strong to be 
quickened and ennobled by Teutonic blood, degeneration of the European who can 
naturally only lose by crossing with an "inferior type" — or, as I should prefer to say, with so 
different a type. While the mixture is taking place, the great chief stem of the pure 
unmixed Jews remains unimpaired. When Napoleon, at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century, dissatisfied that the Jews, in spite of their emancipation, should remain in proud 
isolation, angry with them for continuing to devour with their shameful usury the whole 
of his Alsace, although every career was now open to them, sent an ultimatum to the 
council of their elders demanding the unreserved fusion of the Jews with the rest of the 
nation — the delegates of the French Jews adopted all the articles prescribed but one, 
namely, that which aimed at absolute freedom of marriage with Christians. Their 
daughters might marry outside the Israelite people, but not their sons; the dictator of 
Europe had to yield, t This is the admirable law by which real Judaism was founded. 
Indeed, the law in its strictest form forbids marriage altogether between Jews and non- 
Jews; in Deuteronomy vii. 3, we read, "Thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son nor 
his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son"; but, as a rule, emphasis is laid only on the last 
clause; for example, in Exodus 

* De la Part des peuples semitiques dans I'histoire de la civilisation, p. 39. 

t In the second book I shall find it necessary to give more details concerning this 
famous synedrium and its casuistic distinction between religious and civil law — a 
distinction which neither Talmud nor Thora recognises. 


xxxiv. 16, the sons alone are forbidden to take strange daughters, not the daughters to 
take strange sons, and in Nehemiah xiii., after both sides have been forbidden to marry 
outside the race, only the marriage of a son with a foreign wife is described as a "sin 
against God." That is also a perfectly correct view. By the marriage of a daughter with a 
Goy, the purity of the Jewish stem is in no way altered, while this stem thereby gets a 
footing in the strange camp; on the other hand, the marriage of a son with a Goya "makes 
the holy seed common" as the book of Ezra ix. 2, drastically expresses it. * The possible 
conversion of the Goya to Judaism would not help matters: the idea of such a conversion 
was rightly quite strange to the older law — for the question is one of physical conditions of 
descent — but the newer law says, with enviable discernment: "Proselytes are as injurious to 
Judaism as ulcers to a sound body." t Thus was the Jewish race kept pure in the past and it 

is still kept so: daughters of the house of Rothschild have married barons, counts, dukes, 
princes, they submit to baptism without demur; no son has ever married a European; if he 
did so he would have to leave the house of his fathers and the community of his people, t 

* In the new literal translation of Professor Louis Segond the passage reads, "the sacred 
race defiled by mixture with strange peoples"; in the translation of De Wette it is, "they 
have mingled the holy seed with the peoples of the earth." 

t From the Talmud, according to DoUinger, Vortrage i. 237. In another place the 
Talmud calls the proselytes a "burden." (See the Jew Philippson: Israelitische 
Religionslehre, 1861, ii. 189.) 

t How pure the Jewish race still is, has been shown by Virchow's great anthropological 
examination of all the school children of Germany; Ranke gives details in his book, Der 
Mensch, 2nd ed. ii 293: "The purer the race, the smaller is the number of mixed forms. In 
this connection it is certainly a very important fact that the smallest number of mixed 
forms was found among the Jews, whereby their decided isolation as a race from the 
Teutonic peoples, among which they live, is shown most clearly." — Measurements in 
America have, according to the American Anthropologist, vol. iv., in the meantime led to 
the conviction that there too the Jewish race "has kept itself absolutely pure." (Quoted from 
the Politisch-anthropologische Revue, 1904, March, p. 1003.) 


These details are somewhat premature; they really belong to a later portion of the 
book; but my object has been at once and by the shortest way to meet the objection — 
which unfortunately is still to be expected from many sides — that there is no "Jewish 
question," from which would follow that the entrance of the Jews into our history had no 
significance. Others, again, talk of religion: it is a question, they say, of religious 
differences only. Whoever says this overlooks the fact that there would be no Jewish 
religion if there were no Jewish nation. But there is one. The Jewish nomocracy (that is, 
rule of the law) unites the Jews, no matter how scattered they may be over all the lands of 
the world, into a firm, uniform and absolutely political organism, in which community of 
blood testifies to a common past and gives a guarantee for a common future. Though it 
has many elements not purely Jewish in the narrower sense of the word, yet the power of 
this blood, united with the incomparable power of the Jewish idea, is so great that these 
alien elements have long ago been assimilated; for nearly two thousand years have passed 
since the time when the Jews gave up their temporary inclination to proselytising. Of 
course, I must, as I showed in the preceding chapter, distinguish between Jews of noble 
and of less noble birth; but what binds together the incompatible parts is (apart from 
gradual fusing) the tenacity of life which their national idea possesses. This national idea 
culminates in the unshakable confidence in the universal empire of the Jews, which 
Jehovah promised. "Simple people who have been born Christians" (as Auerbach expresses 
it in his sketch of Spinoza's life) fancy that the Jews have given up that hope, but they are 
very wrong; for "the existence of Judaism depends upon the clinging to the Messianic 
hope," as one of the very moderate and liberal Jews lately wrote. * The whole Jewish 
religion is in fact founded on 

* Skreinka: Entwickelungsgeschichte der jiidischen Dogmen, p. 75. 


this hope. The Jewish faith in God, that which can and may be called "religion" in their 
case, for it has become since the source of a fine morality, is a part of this national idea, 
not vice versa. To assert that there is a Jewish religion but no Jewish nation is simply 
nonsense. * 

The entry of the Jews into the history of the West signifies therefore beyond doubt the 
entrance of a definite element, quite different from and in a way opposed to all European 
races, an element which remained essentially the same, while the nations of Europe went 
through the most various phases; in the course of a hard and often cruel history it never 
had the weakness to entertain proposals of fraternity, but, possessed as it was of its 
national idea, its national past, and its national future, felt and still feels all contact with 
others as a pollution; thanks also to the certainty of its instinct, which springs from strict 
uniformity of national feeling, it has always been able to 

* At the Jewish congress held in Basle in 1898, Dr. Mandelstam, Professor in the 
University of Kiev, said in the chief speech of the sitting of August 29, "The Jews 
energetically reject the idea of fusion with the other nationalities and cling firmly to their 
historical hope, i.e., of world empire" (from a report of one who took part in the congress 
in Le Temps, Sept. 2, 1898). The Vienna newspapers of July 30 and 31, 1901, report a 
speech on Zionism which the Vienna Rabbi, Dr. Leopold Kahn, delivered in a room of 
the orthodox Jewish school in Pressburg. In this speech Dr. Kahn made the following 
admission: "the Jew will never be able to assimilate himself; he will never adopt the 
customs and ways of other peoples. The Jew remains Jew under all circumstances. Every 
assimilation is purely exterior." Words well worth laying to heart! In the Festschrift zum 
70. Geburtstage A. Berliner's, 1903, Dr. B. Felsenthal publishes a series of Jewish Theses 
in which he supports with all his energy the thesis that Jewry is a people, not a religion, 
"Judaism is a special stem, and every Jew is born into this stem." This stem is, according to 
him, "one of the ethnically purest peoples that exist." Felsenthal reckons that from 
Theodosius to the year 1800, "perhaps not quite 300 non Semites were adopted into the 
Jewish race," and it is characteristic that he denies proselytes the right of looking upon 
themselves as full-blooded Jews. "The Jewish people, the Jewish stem is the given fact, 
the constant thing, the necessary substratum, the substantial kernel. The Jewish religion is 
something attached to this kernel, a quality — an accident, as it is called in the language of 
the philosophical schools." I quote from the special impression, made by Itzkowski, 


exercise a powerful influence upon others, while the Jews themselves have been 
influenced but skin-deep by our intellectual and cultural development. To characterise 
this most peculiar situation from the standpoint of the European, we must repeat the 
words of Herder: the Jewish people is and remains alien to our part of the world; from the 
standpoint of the Jew the same fact is formulated somewhat differently; we know from a 

former chapter how the great free-thinking philosopher Philo put it: "only the Israelites are 
men in the true sense of the word." * What the Jew here says in the intolerant tone of 
racial pride was more politely expressed by Goethe, when he disputed the community of 
descent of Jews and Indo-Europeans, no matter how far back the origin was put: "We will 
not dispute with the chosen people the honour of its descent from Adam. We others, 
however, have certainly had other ancestors as well." t 


These considerations make it our right and our duty to look upon the Jew in our midst 
as a peculiar and, in fact, alien element. Outwardly his inheritance was the same as ours; 
inwardly it was not so: he inherited quite a different spirit. One single trait is all that is 
necessary to reveal in an almost alarming manner to our consciousness the yawning gulf 
which here separates soul from soul: the revelation of Christ has no significance for the 
Jew! I do not here speak of pious orthodoxy at all. But read, for example, in Diderot, the 
notorious free-thinker, the wonderful words on the Crucified One, see how Diderot 
represents man in his greatest sorrow turning to the 

* See p. 217. 

t Conversations with Eckermann, October 7, 1828. Giordano Bruno made a similar 
assertion, viz., that only the Jews were descended from Adam and Eve, the rest of 
mankind were of much older origin. (See Lo spaccio della bestia trionfante.) 


Divine One, and makes us feel that the Christian religion is the only religion in the world. 
„Quelle profonde sagesse il y a dans ce que I'aveugle philosophic appelle la folic de la 
croix! Dans I'etat oti j'etais, de quoi m'aurait servi I'image d'un legislateur heureux et 
comble de gloire? Je voyais I'innocent, le flanc perce, le front couronne d'epines, les mains 
et les pieds perces de clous, et expirant dans les souffrances; et je me disais: Voila mon 
Dieu, et j'ose me plaindre!" I have searched through a whole library of Jewish books in the 
expectation of finding similar words — naturally not belief in the divinity of Christ, nor the 
idea of redemption, but the purely human feeling for the greatness of a suffering saviour — 
but in vain. A Jew who feels that is in fact no longer a Jew, but a denier of Judaism. And 
while we find even in Mohammed's Koran at least a vague conception of the importance 
of Christ and profound reverence for His personality, a cultured, leading Jew of the 
nineteenth century calls Christ "the new birth with the deathmask," which inflicted new and 
painful wounds upon the Jewish people; he cannot see anything else in Him. * In view of 
the cross he assures us that "the Jews do not require this convulsive emotion for their 
spiritual improvement," and adds, "particularly not among the middle classes of the 
inhabitants of the cities." His comprehension goes no further. In a book, republished in 
1880 (!), by a Spanish Jew (Mose de Leon) Jesus Christ is called a "dead dog" that lies 
"buried in a dunghill." Besides, the Jews have taken care to issue in the latter part of the 
nineteenth century several editions (naturally in Hebrew) of the so-called "censured 
passages" from the Talmud, those passages usually omitted in which Christ is exposed to 

our scorn and hatred as a "fool," "sorcerer," "profane person," "idolater," "dog," "bastard," "child of 
lust," &c.; so, too, his sublime 

* Graetz: Volkstiimliche Geschichte der Juden, i, 591. 


mother. * We certainly do the Jews no injustice when we say that the revelation of Christ 
is simply something incomprehensible and hateful to them. Although he apparently 
sprang from their midst, he embodies nevertheless the negation of their whole nature — a 
matter in which the Jews are far more sensitive than we. This clear demonstration of the 
deep cleft that separates us Europeans from the Jew is by no means given in order to let 
religious prejudice with its dangerous bias settle the matter, but because I think that the 
perception of two so fundamentally different natures reveals a real gulf; it is well to look 
once into this gulf, so that on other occasions, where the two sides seem likely to unite 
each other, we may not be blind to the deep abyss which separates them. 

When we understand what a chasm there is between us we are forced to a further 
conclusion. The Jew does not understand us, that is certain; can we hope to understand 
him, to do him justice? Perhaps, if we are really intellectually and morally superior to 
him, as Renan insisted in the passage quoted above, and as other perhaps more reliable 
scholars have likewise said, t But we should 

* See Laible: Jesus Christus im Talmud, p. 2 ff. (Schriften des Institutum Judaicum in 
Berlin, No. 10; in the supplement the original Hebrew texts are given.) This absolutely 
impartial scholar, who is, moreover, a friend of the Jews, says: "The hatred and scorn of 
the Jews was always directed in the first place against the person of Jesus" (p. 25). "The 
Jesus-hatred of the Jews is a firmly established fact, but they want to show it as little as 
possible" (p. 3). Hatred of Christ is described by the same scholar as the "most national trait 
of Judaism" (p. 86); he says, "at the approach of Christianity the Jews were seized ever and 
again with a fury and hatred that were akin to madness" (p. 72). Even to-day no orthodox 
Jew may use the name of Christ either in speech or in writing (pp. 3 and 32); the most 
common cryptonyms are "the bastard," "the hanged," often, too, "Bileam." 

t See especially the famous passage in Lassen's Indische Altertumskunde, where the 
great Orientalist proves in detail his view that the Indo-European race is "more highly and 
more fully gifted," that in it alone there is "perfect symmetry of all mental powers." (See i. 
414, of the 1847 edition.) 


then have to judge him from the lofty heights of our superiority, not from the low depths 
of hatred and superstition, and still less from the swampy shallows of misunderstanding 
in which our religious teachers have been wading for the last two thousand years. It is 
surely an evident injustice to ascribe to the Jew thoughts which he never had, to glorify 
him as the possessor of the most sublime religious intuitions, which were perhaps more 
alien to him than to any one else in the world, and at best are to be found only in the 
hearts of a few scattered individuals as a cry of revolt against the special hardness of 

heart of this people — and then to condemn him for being to-day quite different from what 
he should be according to such fictitious conceptions. It is not only unfair, but as regards 
public feeling, regrettably misleading; for through his connection with our religious life — a 
connection which is entirely fictitious — his head seems enveloped in a kind of nimbus, and 
then we are greatly incensed when we find no holy person under this sham halo. We 
expect more of the Jews than of ourselves, who are merely the children of the heathen. 
But the Jewish testimony is very different and more correct; it leads us to expect so little 
that every noble trait discovered later and every explanation found for Jewish failings 
gives us genuine pleasure. Jehovah, for instance, is never tired of explaining, "I have seen 
this people and behold it is a stiff-necked people," * and Jeremiah gives such a 
characterisation of the moral constitution of the Jews that Monsieur Edouard Drumont 
could not wish it to be more richly coloured, "And they will deceive every one his 
neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and 
weary themselves to commit iniquity." t Little wonder, after this description, that Jeremiah 
calls the Jews "an 

* Exodus xxxii. 9, xxxiv. 9; Deuteronomy ix. 13, &c. 

t ix. 5. 


assembly of treacherous men," and knows only one desire, "Oh that I had in the wilderness 
a lodging-place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people and go from them." For 
our incredible ignorance of the Jewish nature we are ourselves solely to blame; never did 
a people give so comprehensive and honest a picture of its own personality as the Hebrew 
has done in his Bible, a picture which (so far as I can judge from fragments) is made 
more complete by the Talmud, though in faded colours. Without, therefore, denying that 
it must be very difficult for us who are "descended from other ancestors" to form a correct 
judgment of the "alien Asiatic people," we must clearly see that the Jews from time 
immemorial have done their best to inform the unprejudiced about themselves, a 
circumstance which entitles us to hope that we may gain a thorough knowledge of their 
nature. As a matter of fact, the events which take place before our eyes should be 
sufficient for that. Is it possible to read the daily papers without becoming acquainted 
with Jewish ways of thinking, Jewish taste, Jewish morals, Jewish aims? A few annual 
volumes of the Archives Israelites teach us in fact more than a whole anti-Semitic library, 
and indeed not only about the less admirable, but also about the excellent qualities of the 
Jewish character. But here, in this chapter, I shall leave the present out of account. If we 
are to form a practical and true judgment concerning the significance of the Jew as joint- 
heir and fellow-worker in the nineteenth century, we must above all become clear as to 
what he is. From what a man is by nature follows of strict necessity what he will do under 
certain conditions; the philosopher says: operari sequitur esse; an old German proverb 
expresses the same thing in a more homely way, "Only what a man is, can one get out of 



Pure history in this case does not bring us either quickly or surely to our goal, and 
besides it is not my task to furnish a history of the Jews. As in other chapters, so here too 
I have a horror of copying what has been written before. Every one, of course, knows 
how and when the Jews entered into Western history: first by the Diaspora, then by being 
scattered. Their changing fortunes in various lands and times are likewise no secret to us, 
although, indeed, much that we know is absolutely untrue, and of much that we ought to 
know we are entirely ignorant. But I do not need to tell any one that throughout the 
Christian centuries the Jews played an important though at times circumscribed role. 
Even in the earliest Western Gothic times they understood how to acquire influence and 
power as slave-dealers and financial agents. Though they were not everywhere, as they 
were among the Spanish Moors, powerful Ministers of State, who, following the example 
of Mardochai, filled the most lucrative posts with "their many brothers," though they did 
not attain everywhere, as they did in Catholic Spain, to the rank of Bishop and 
Archbishop, * yet their influence was always and everywhere great. The Babenberg 
princes as early as the thirteenth century set their successors the example of letting Jews 
manage the finances of their States and honouring these administrators with titles of 
distinction; t the great Pope Innocent HI. gave important posts at his Court to Jews; t the 
knights of France had to pledge their 

* See the book of the Jew, David Mocatta, The Jews in Spain and Portugal, where a 
detailed account is given of how there were in Spain "generations and generations of 
secret Jews who mingled with all classes of society and were in possession of every post 
in the State and especially in the Church!" 

t Graetz, ii. 503. 

t Israel Abrahams: Jewish Life in the Middle Ages. 


goods with the Jews, in order to be able to take part in the Crusades; * Rudolf von 
Habsburg favoured the Jews in every way; he vindicated them "as servants of his imperial 
exchequer," and by freeing them from being subject to ordinary justice he made it very 
difficult indeed for any action brought against them to be carried through; t in short, what 
I call the entrance of the Jews into Western history has never ceased to make itself felt at 
all times and places. If any one were qualified to study history for the sole purpose of 
disentangling the question of Jewish influence, he would, I think, bring to light some 
unexpected facts. Without this detailed study the fact of this influence can only be 
established clearly and beyond doubt where the Jews were in considerable numbers. In 
the second century, for example, the Jews on the island of Cyprus are more numerous 
than the other inhabitants; they resolve to found a national State and with this intent 
follow the procedure known from the Old Testament: they slay in one day all the other 
inhabitants, 240,000 in number; and in order that this island State may not be without 
support on the mainland, they at the same time slay the 220,000 non-Jewish inhabitants 
of Cyrene. rj: In Spain they pursue the same policy with greater caution and astonishing 
perseverance. Under the rule of that thoroughly Western Gothic king, who had showered 

benefits on them, they invite their kinsmen, the Arabs, to come over from Africa, and, not 
out of any ill-feeling, but simply because they hope to profit thereby, they betray their 
noble protector; under the Kalifs they then acquire gradually an even larger share in the 
government; "they concentrated," their great supporter the historian Heman writes, "the 
intellectual and the material powers al- 

* Andre Reville: Les payans au Moyen-Age, 1896, p. 3. 

t See among others Realis: Die Juden und die Judenstadt in Wien, 1846, p. 18, &c. 
t Mommsen: Romische Geschichte, v, 543. 


together in their own hands"; the prosperous Moorish State was, it is true, thereby 
intellectually and materially ruined: but this was a matter of indifference to the Jews, as 
they had already obtained as firm a footing in the Christian State of the Spaniards which 
was destined to take the place of the Moorish one. "The movable wealth of the land was 
here absolutely in their power; the heritable property they made gradually theirs by usury 
and the purchase of mortgaged estates of nobles. From the offices of Secretary of State 
and Minister of Finance downwards all the offices which had to do with taxes and money 
were in Jewish hands. Through usury almost all Aragon was mortgaged to them. In the 
cities they formed the majority of the wealthy population." * But here, as elsewhere, they 
were not always shrewd; they had employed their power to obtain all kinds of privileges; 
for example, the oath of a single Jew sufficed to prove debt claims against Christians (the 
same was the case in the Archduchy of Austria and in many places), while the testimony 
of a Christian against a Jew had no weight before a tribunal, and so on; these privileges 
they abused so outrageously that the people finally revolted. The same would probably 
have happened in Germany if the Church and intelligent statesmen had not put a stop to 
the evil in time. Charlemagne had written to Italy for Jews to manage his finances; soon, 
as farmers of taxes, they secured for themselves wealth and influence in every direction, 
and used these to get important concessions for their people, such as commercial 
privileges, less severe punishment for crime and the like; the whole population was even 
forced to make Sunday their market day, as Saturday, the customary market day, did not 
suit the Jews because it was 

* Heman: Die historische Weltstellung der Juden, 1882, p. 24 ff. For a somewhat 
differently tinged account which, however, in actual facts is entirely at one with this, see 
Graetz Volksth. Gesch. d. Juden, ii. 344 ff. 


their Sabbath; it was at that time fashionable for courtiers to visit the synagogues! But the 
reaction set in soon and strongly, and not only, as the historians are wont to represent it, 
as the result of priestly agitation — such things belong to the shell, not to the kernel of 
history — but in the first place because the Teuton is in fact just as much a bom merchant 
and industrialist as he is a born warrior, and because, as soon as the growth of cities 
awakened these instincts in him, he saw the game of his unfair rival, and, full of violent 

indignation, demanded his removal. And so, if such were the purpose of this chapter, we 
could trace the ebb and flow of Jewish influence to the present day, when all the wars of 
the nineteenth century are so peculiarly connected with Jewish financial operations, from 
Napoleon's Russian campaign and Nathan Rothschild's role of spectator at the Battle of 
Waterloo to the consulting of the Bleichroders on the German side and of Alphonse 
Rothschild on the French side at the peace transactions of the year 1871, and to the 
"Commune," which from the beginning was looked upon by all intelligent people as a 
Jewish-Napoleonic machination. 


Now this political and social influence of the Jews has been very variously judged, but 
the greatest politicians of all times have regarded it as pernicious. Cicero, for example (no 
great politician but an experienced statesman), displays a genuine fear of the Jews; where 
a legal transaction encroaches on their interest, he speaks so low that only the judges hear 
him, for he is well aware, as he says, that all the Jews hold together and that they know 
how to ruin the one who opposes them; while he thunders the most vehement charges 
against Greeks, against Romans, against the most powerful men of his time, he advises 
caution in dealing with the Jews; they are to him an 


uncanny power and he passes with tlie greatest haste over that city of "suspicion and 
slander," Jerusalem: such was the opinion of a Cicero during the consulate of a Julius 
Caesar! * Even before the destruction of Jerusalem the Emperor Tiberius, who was, 
according to many historians, the best ruler that the Roman Imperium ever possessed, 
recognised a national danger in the immigration of the Jews. Even Frederick the Second, 
the Hohenstauffen, certainly one of the most brilliant men that ever wore a crown or 
carried a sword, a more freethinking man than any monarch of the nineteenth century, an 
enthusiastic admirer of the East and a generous supporter of Hebrew scholars, 
nevertheless held it to be his duty, contrary to the custom of his contemporaries, to debar 
the Jews from all public offices, and pointed warningly to the fact that wherever the Jews 
are admitted to power, they abuse it; the very same doctrine was taught by the other great 
Frederick the Second, the HohenzoUern, who gave universal freedom, but not to the 
Jews; similar were the words of Bismarck, while he still could speak openly, in the 
Landtag (1847) and the great historian Mommsen speaks of Judaism as of a "State inside 
the State." — As regards the social influence in particular, I will only quote two wise and fair 
authorities, whose judgment cannot be suspected even by the Jews, namely. Herder and 
Goethe. The former says, "A ministry, in which the Jew is supreme, a household, in which 
a Jew has the key of the wardrobe and the management of the finances, a department or 
commissariat, in which Jews do the principal business ... are Pontine marshes that cannot 
be drained"; and he expresses the opinion that the presence of an indefinite number of 
Jews is so pernicious to the welfare of a European State, that we "dare not be influenced 
by general humane principles"; it is a national question, 

* See the Defence of Lucius Flaccus, xxviii. 


and it is the duty of every State to decide "how many of this alien people can be tolerated 
without injury to the true citizens?" * Goethe goes still deeper: "How should we let the 
Jews share in our highest culture, when they deny its origin and source?" And he became 
"violently enraged" when the law of 1823 permitted marriage between Jews and Germans, 
prophesying the "worst and most frightful consequences," particularly the "undermining of 
all moral feelings" and declaring that the bribery of the "all-powerful Rothschild" must be 
the cause of this "folly." t Goethe and Herder have exactly the same opinion as the great 
Hohenstauffen, the great HohenzoUern, and all great men before and after them: without 
superstitiously reproaching the Jews with their peculiar individuality, they consider them 
an actual danger to our civilisation and our culture; they would not give them an active 
part in our life. We cannot proceed with our discussion and simply pass over such a 
consensus ingeniorum. For to these well-weighed, serious judgments derived from the 
fulness of experience and the insight of the greatest intellects we have nothing to oppose 
but the empty phrases of the droits de I'homme — a parliamentary clap-trap, t 

* Adrastea: Bekehrung der Juden. 

t Wilhelm Meister's Wanderjahre, iii. 11, and the conversation with von Miiller on 
September 23, 1823. 

1 1 have intentionally limited my quotations. But I cannot refrain from defending in a 
note the great Voltaire against the almost established myth that he was altogether 
favourable and as superficial in his humanitarian judgment of the influence of the Jews 
upon our culture, as is the modern fashion. Even Jews of such broad culture as James 
Darmesteter (Peuple Juif, 2e ed. p. 17) print the name Voltaire in thick type and represent 
him as one of the intellectual originators of their emancipation. The opposite is true; more 
than once Voltaire advises that the Jews be sent back to Palestine. Voltaire is one of the 
authors whom I know best, because I prefer interesting books to wearisome ones, and I 
think I could easily collect a hundred quotations of a most aggressive nature against the 
Jews. In the essay of the Dictionnaire Philosophique (end of Section 1) he says: "Vous ne 
trouverez dans les Juifs qu'un peuple ignorant et barbare, qui joint depuis longtemps la 
plus sordide avarice a la plus detestable superstition et a la plus invincible haine pour 



On the other hand, it is certain and must be carefully observed that, if the Jews are 
responsible for many a shocking historical development, for the fall of many heroic, 
powerful peoples, still greater is the responsibility of those Europeans who have always 
from the most base motives encouraged, protected and fostered the disintegrating activity 
of the Jews, and these are primarily the Princes and the nobility — and that too from the 
first century of our era to the present day. Open the history of any European nation you 
like wherever the Jews are numerous and begin to realise their strength, you will always 
hear bitter complaints against them from the people, from the commercial classes, from 

the circles of the learned and the poets; everywhere and at all times it is the Princes and 
the nobility that protect them: the Princes because they need money for their wars, the 
nobility because they live extravagantly. 

tous les peuples qui les tolerent et qui les enrichissent." In Dieu et les hommes (chap, x.) 
he calls the Jews "La plus haissable et la plus honteuse des petites nations." Enough has 
surely been said to make his attitude clear! But this opinion should have all the more 
force, since Voltaire himself in many long treatises has made a thorough study of Jewish 
history and the Jewish character (so thorough that he who has been decried as a 
"superficial dilettante" is occasionally quoted to-day by a scholar of the first rank like 
Wellhausen). And so it is noteworthy when he writes (Essai sur les Moeurs, chap, xlii.): 
"La nation juive ose etaler une haine irreconciliable contre toutes les nations, elle se 
revoke contre tous ses maitres; toujours superstitieuse, toujours avide du bien d'autrui, 
toujours barbare — rampante dans le malheur, et insolente dans la prosperite." His judgment 
of their mental qualities is brief and apodeictic, "Les Juifs n'ont jamais rien invente" (La 
defense de mon oncle, chap, vii.), and in the Essai sur les Moeurs he shows in several 
chapters that the Jews had always learned from other nations but had never taught others 
anything; even their music, which is generally praised, Voltaire cannot endure: "Retournez 
en Judee le plus tot que vous pourrez ... vous y executeriez a plaisir dans votre detestable 
jargon votre detestable musique" (6me lettre du Dictionnaire). He explains elsewhere this 
remarkable mental sterility of the Jews by their inordinate lust for money; "L'argent fut 
I'objet de leur conduite dans tous 


Edmund Burke * tells us, for example, of William the Conqueror that, as the income from 
"talliage" and all kinds of other oppressive taxes did not satisfy him, he from time to time 
either confiscated the notes of hand of the Jews or forced them to hand them over for next 
to nothing, and, as almost the whole Anglo-Norman nobility of the eleventh century was 
under the thumb of Jewish usury, the King himself became the pitiless creditor of his 
most illustrious subjects. In the meantime he protected the Jews and gave them privileges 
of various kinds. This one example may stand for thousands and thousands, f If then 

les temps" (Dieu et les hommes, xxix.). Voltaire scoffs at the Jews in a hundred places; for 
instance, in Zadig (chap, x.), where the Jew utters a solemn prayer of thankfulness to God 
for a successful piece of fraud; the most biting satire against the Jews that exists is 
beyond doubt the treatise Un Chretien contre six Juifs. And yet in all these utterances 
there was a certain reserve, as they were destined for publication; on the other hand, in a 
letter to the Chevalier de Lisle on December 15, 1773 (that is, at the end of his life, not in 
the heat of youth), he could speak his opinion freely: "Que ces deprepuce d'Israel se disent 
de la tribu de Naphthali ou d'Issachar, cela est fort peu important; ils n'en sont pas moins 
les plus grand gueux qui aient jamais souille la face du globe." Evidently this fiery 
Frenchman had just the same to say of the Jews as any fanatical Bishop; he differs at 
most in the addition which he occasionally makes to his bitterest attacks, "H ne faut 
pourtant pas les bruler." There is a further difference in the fact that it is a humane, 
tolerant and learned man that utters this very sharp judgment. But how, in a man of such 

open mind, can we explain the existence of a view so pitilessly one-sided and so 
ruthlessly intolerant, a view which in its utter lack of moderation compares very 
unfavourably with the words of the German sages quoted above? Our age could learn 
much here, if it wished to! For we see that the Gallic love of equality and freedom is not 
based upon love of justice nor respect for the individual; and we may draw the further 
conclusion; understanding is not got from principles, and universal humanity does not 
ensure the possibility of living together in dignified peace, it is only the frank recognition 
of what separates our own kind and our own interests from those of others that can make 
us just towards an alien nature and alien interests. 

* An Abridgment of English History, iii. 2. 

t The famous economist Dr. W. Cunningham, in his book The Growth of English 
Industry and Commerce during the Early and Middle Ages (3rd ed., 1896, p. 201), 
compares the activity of the Jews in England from the tenth century onward to a sponge, 
which sucks up all the wealth of the land and thereby hinders all economic development. 


the Jews have exercised a great and historically baneful influence, it is to no small degree 
due to the complicity of these Princes and nobles who so shamefully persecuted and at 
the same time utilised the Jews. And in fact this lasts until the nineteenth century: Count 
Mirabeau was in closest touch with the Jews even before the Revolution, * Count 
Talleyrand, in opposition to the delegates from the middle classes, supported in the 
Constituante their unconditional emancipation; Napoleon protected them, when after such 
a short time bitter complaints and entreaties for protection against them were sent in to 
the Government from all France, and he did so although he himself had exclaimed in the 
Council of State, "These Jews are locusts and caterpillars, they devour my France!" — he 
needed their money. Prince Dalberg sold to the Frankfort Jews, in defiance of the united 
citizens, the full civic rights for half a million Gulden (1811), the Hardenbergs and 
Metternichs at the Vienna Congress fell into the snare of the Rothschild bank, and, in 
opposition to the votes of all the representatives of the Bund, they supported the interests 
of the Jews to the disadvantage of the Germans and finally gained their point, in fact, the 
two most conservative States which they represented were the first to raise to hereditary 
nobility — an honour which was never conferred on honest and deserving Jews — those 
members of the 

too, is the proof that even at this early period the Government did everything in its power 
to make the Jews take up decent trades and honest work and thereby at the same time 
amalgamate with the rest of the population, but all to no purpose. 

* With regard to Mirabeau's being influenced by "the shrewd women of the Jews" (as 
Gentz says) and his connection with essentially Jewish secret societies, see besides 
Graetz, Volks. Geschichte der Juden (iii. 600, 610 ff.), particularly L'Abbe Lemann, 
L'entree des Israelites dans la societe fran^aise, iii. chap. 7; as converted Jew this author 
understands what others do not, and at the same time he tells what Jewish authors keep 
secret. The important thing in Mirabeau's case was probably that from youth he was 
deeply in debt to the Jews (Carlyle: Essay on Mirabeau). 


"alien Asiatic people" who, in the years of general suffering and misery, had by the vilest 
means acquired immense wealth. * If then the Jews were for us pernicious neighbours, 
justice requires us to admit that they acted according to the nature of their instincts and 
gifts, and showed at the same time a really admirable example of loyalty to self, to their 
own nation and to the faith of their fathers; the tempters and the traitors were not the Jews 
but we ourselves. We were the criminal abettors of the Jews, and it is so to-day, as it was 
in the past; and we were false to that which the lowest inhabitant of the Ghetto considered 
sacred, the purity of inherited blood; that, too, was formerly the case, and to-day it is 
more so than ever. The Christian Church alone of all the great powers seems to have 
acted on the whole justly and wisely (of course we must discount the Bishops who were 
really secular Princes, as well as some of the Popes). The Church has kept the Jews in 
check, treated them as aliens, but at the same time protected them from persecution. 
Every seemingly "ecclesiastical" persecution has its source really in economic conditions 
that have become unbearable; we see that nowhere more clearly than in Spain. To-day, 
when public opinion is so fearfully misled by the active, irreconcilable antagonism of the 
Jews, especially to every manifestation of the Christian faith, it may be well to remind the 
reader that the last act of the preparatory meeting to the first Synedrium summoned in our 
times, that of 1807, was a spontaneous utterance of thanks to the ministers of the various 
Christian Churches for the protection extended to them throughout the centuries, t 

* This is, of course, an old custom of Princes, by which not only the Jews but others 
also profit; Martin Luther even had to write: "The Princes have thieves hanged, who have 
stolen a Gulden or half a one, and yet make transactions with those who rob everybody 
and steal more than all others" (Von Kaufhandlung und Wucher). 

t Diogene Tama: Collection des actes de I'Assemblee des Israelites de France et du 
royaume d'ltalie (Paris, 1807, pp. 327, 328; the author is a 



Here we must end these hastily sketched historical fragments. They show that "the 
entrance of the Jews" has exercised a large, and in many ways an undoubtedly fatal, 
influence upon the course of European history since the first century. But that tells us 
little about the Jew himself; the fact that the North American Indian dies out from contact 
with the Indo-European does not prove that the latter is evil and pernicious; that the Jew 
injures or benefits us is a judgment which is conditional in too many ways to permit of 
our forming a true estimate of his nature. In fact, for nineteen centuries the Jew has had 
not merely an outer relationship with our culture as a more or less welcome guest, but 
also an inner contact. As Kant rightly says, the preservation of Judaism is primarily the 
work of Christianity. * From its midst — if not from its stem and its spirit — Jesus Christ and 
the earliest members of the Christian Church arose. Jewish history, Jewish conceptions, 
Jewish thought and poetry became important elements in our mental life. It cannot be 

right to separate the outward friction entirely from the inner penetration. If we had not 
ceremoniously adopted the Jew into our family circle, he would no more have found a 

Jew and was Secretary of the Jewish deputy of Bouches-du-Rhone, M. Constantini). 
After a detailed proof the document closes with the following: "Les deputes Israelites 
arretent: Que I'expression de ces sentiments sera consignee dans le proces-verbal de ce 
jour pour qu'elle demeure a jamais comme un temoignage authentique de la gratitude des 
Israelites de cette Assemblee pour les bienfaits que les generations qui les ont precedes 
ont re^us des ecclesiastiques des divers pays d'Europe." The proposal was moved by Mr. 
Isaac Samuel Avigdor, representative of the Jews of the Alpes-Mari times. Tama adds that 
the speech of Avigdor was received with applause and its insertion in the minutes in 
extenso adopted. — The Jewish historians of to-day do not say a word concerning this 
important event. Not only Graetz passes it over in silence, but Bedarride also in his Les 
Juifs en France, 1859, although he seems as if he were reporting in full from the minutes. 
* Die Religion, general note to third chapter. 


among us than the Saracen or the other wrecks of half-Semitic peoples who saved their 
existence — but not their individuality — by unconditional amalgamation with the nations of 
South Europe. The Jew, however, was proof against this; though now and then one of 
them might be dragged to the stake, the very fact that they had crucified Jesus Christ 
surrounded them with a solemn, awe-inspiring nimbus. And while the people were thus 
fascinated, the scholars and holy men spent their days and nights in studying the books of 
the Hebrews: struck down by the commands of Jewish shepherds like Amos and Micah, 
the monuments of an art, whose like the world has never since seen, fell to the ground; 
through the scorn of Jewish priests science sank into contempt; Olympus and Walhalla 
became depopulated, because the Jews so wished it; Jehovah, who had said to the 
Israelites, "Ye are my people and I am your God," now became the God of the Indo- 
Europeans; from the Jews we adopted the fatal doctrine of unconditional religious 
intolerance. But at the same time we adopted very great and sublime spiritual impulses; 
we were taught by prophets, who preached such strict and pure morals as could have been 
found nowhere else save on the distant shores of India; we became acquainted with such 
a living and life-moulding faith in a higher divine power that it inevitably changed our 
spirit and gave it a new direction. Though Christ was the master-builder, we got the 
architecture from the Jews. Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Psalmists became, and still are, living 
powers in our spiritual life. 


And now, when this inner contact is beginning to grow weaker, while the outer friction 
referred to above is being daily more felt, now, when he cannot any longer 


rid ourselves of the presence of Jews, it is not sufficient for us to know that almost all 
pre-eminent and free men, from Tiberius to Bismarck, have looked upon the presence of 
the Jew in our midst as a social and political danger, we must be in a position to form 
definite judgments on the basis of adequate knowledge of facts and to act accordingly. 
There have been published Anti-Semitic catechisms, in which opinions of well-known 
men have been collected in hundreds; but apart from the fact that many a remark when 
taken apart from the context does not give quite fairly the intention of the writer, and that 
out of many others it is merely ignorant blind prejudice that speaks, a single opinion of 
our own is manifestly worth more than two hundred quotations. Moreover I do not know 
how we can form a competent judgment, if we do not learn to take a higher standpoint 
than that of political considerations, and I do not know how we can arrive at this 
standpoint except through history, not, however, modern history — for there we should be 
judge and suitor at the same time — but through the history of the growth of the Jewish 
people. There is no lack of documents; in the nineteenth century especially they have 
been tested, critically sifted and historically classified by the devoted work of learned 
men, mostly Germans, but also distinguished Frenchmen, Dutchmen and Englishmen; 
much remains to be done, but enough has already been accomplished to enable us to 
survey clearly and surely in its general features one of the most remarkable pages of 
human history. This Jew, who appears so eternally unchangeable, so constant, as Goethe 
says, really grew into what he is, grew slowly, even artificially. And of a surety he will 
pass away like all that has grown. This fact already brings him nearer to us as a human 
being. What a "Semite" is, no one can tell. A hundred years ago science thought it knew 
what it meant; Semites 


were the sons of Shem; now the answer becomes more and more vague; it was thought 
that the criterion of language was decisive: a very great error! The idea "Semite" indeed 
remains indispensable because it embraces collectively a many-sided complex of 
historical phenomena; but there is absolutely no sure boundary-line; at the periphery this 
ethnographical conception merges into others. Finally "Semite" remains as the name of an 
original race, like "Aryan," one of those counters without which one could not make 
oneself understood, but which one must beware of accepting as good coin. The real 
genuine coins are those empirically given, historically developed national individualities, 
of which I have spoken in the former chapter, such individualities as the Jews for 
example. Race is not an original phenomenon, it is produced; physiologically by 
characteristic mixture of blood, followed by inbreeding; psychically by the influence 
which long-lasting historical and geographical conditions exercise upon that special, 
specific, physiological foundation. * If we wish then (and I think that must be the 
principal task of this chapter) to ask the Jew: Who art thou? we must first try to discover 
whether there was not a definite mixture of blood underlying the fact of this so clearly 
marked race, and then — if the answer is in the affirmative — trace how the peculiar soul, 
which thus was produced, differentiated itself more and more. Nowhere can we trace this 
process as we can in the Jew: for the whole national history of the Jews is like a 
continuous process of elimination; the character of the Jewish people ever becomes more 

individual, more outspoken, more simple; finally there remains in a way nothing of the 
whole being but the central skeleton; the slowly ripened fruit is robbed of its downy, 
fresh-coloured covering and of its juicy flesh, for these 

* Cf. p. 288. For the Semites, see also p. 361. 


might become spotted and worm-eaten; the stony kernel alone remains, shrivelled and 
dry, it is true, but defying time. However, as I have pointed out, this was not always the 
case. That which has been transferred from the sacred books of the Hebrews to the 
Christian religion does not come down from the senility of real Judaism, but partly from 
the youth of the much wider and more imaginative "Israelite" people, partly from the 
mature years of the Judean, just after he had separated from Israel and when he had not 
yet proudly isolated himself from the other nations of the earth. The Jew whom we now 
know and see at work has become Jew gradually; not, however, as pseudo-history would 
have us believe, in the course of the Christian Middle Ages, but on his national soil, in 
the course of his independent history; the Jew moulded his own destiny; in Jerusalem 
stood the first Ghetto, the high wall which separated the orthodox and the pure-born from 
the Goyim, and prevented the latter from entering the real city. Neither Jacob, nor 
Solomon, nor Isaiah would recognise his posterity in Rabbi Akiba (the great scribe of the 
Talmud) much less in Baron Hirsch or the diamond king Bamato. * 

Let us therefore try by the shortest way, i.e., by the greatest possible simplification, to 
make plain the essential features of this peculiar national soul, as it gradually became 
more clearly and one-sidedly developed. This needs no great learning; for to the question: 

* For the Messianic period the dream of the later Jews (in contrast to the more free- 
thinking Israelites of former centuries) was to keep strangers out of Jerusalem altogether: 
read Joel iii. 2; and as this very late prophet — from the Hellenic period — says at the same 
time that God will always dwell in Jerusalem and only in Jerusalem, this command 
means the banishment of all peoples from God's presence. Such was the tolerance of the 
Jews ! — It is only logical that most of the Rabbis excluded all non-Jews from a future 
world, while others endured them there as a despised throng (see Tractate Gittin, fol. 57a 
of the Babylonian Talmud, and Weber, System der altsynagogalen palastinischen 
Theologie, p. 372, from Laible); the comical thing is the assertion of the Jews to-day that 
their religion is the "religion of humanity!" 


art thou? the Jew himself, as I have said, and his ancestor the Israelite have given from 
the first the clearest of answers: then we have the mass of scientific work, from Ewald to 
Wellhausen and Ramsay, from De Wette and Reuss to Duhm and Cheyne; we have only 
to make out the sum total, as the practical man needs it, who, in the midst of the stormy 
bustle of the world, wishes to be able to base his judgment upon definite ascertained 

I have only two more remarks to make, about method pure and simple. Having already, 
particularly in the chapter on the Revelation of Christ, discussed the Jew in detail and as 
this theme will probably come up again, I may here confine myself to the central question 
and refer the reader for much information on other points to what has been said or will be 
said elsewhere in my book. As regards the authors consulted, I could not help using, in 
addition to the Bible and some thoroughly competent modern Jewish writers, also some 
scholars who are not Jews; this was quite necessary for our knowledge of the prophets 
and the correct interpretation of historical events; but these scholars, even the most free- 
thinking of them, are all men who display great — perhaps exaggerated — admiration of the 
Jewish nation, at least in its earlier form, and who are all inclined to look upon this 
people as in some sense a "chosen" one, so far as religion is concerned. I have, however, in 
the interests of the exposition entirely disregarded those writers who are avowedly Anti- 


There is one point — in my opinion a very important one — upon which the science of the 
last years has shed a good deal of light, namely, the anthropogeny of the 


Israelites, that is, the history of the physical development of this special national race. Of 
course here, as everywhere, there is a past which is closed to our knowledge, and beyond 
doubt much that daring archaeologists have felt and guessed with the feelers of their 
wonderfully trained instinct rather than seen with their own eyes, will yet be essentially 
corrected by newer investigations and discoveries. But that makes no difference to us 
here. The important thing — the great, solid achievement of history — is, first, the fact that 
the Israelite people represents the product of manifold mixing, and that, too, not between 
related races (as the ancient Greeks, or the English of to-day) but between types that 
morally and physically are absolutely distinct; and secondly, the fact that genuine Semitic 
blood (if this makeshift word is to have a sense at all) makes up, I suppose, hardly the 
half of this mixture. These are certain results of exact anatomical anthropology and of 
historical investigation, two branches of knowledge which here extend to each other a 
helping hand. A third point completes those just named; for it we are indebted to the 
critical endeavours of Biblical archaeology, which has at last thrown light upon the very 
complicated chronology of the books of the Old Testament, which belong to entirely 
different centuries and were put together quite arbitrarily, though not without a plan: 
these teach us that the real Jew is not to be identified with the Israelite in the wider sense 
of the word, that the house of Judah, even at the time of its settling in Palestine, was 
through blood-mixture and character distinct in several points from the house of Joseph 
(which embraced the other tribes): the Judean stood in fact in a kind of intellectual 
dependence upon the Josephite, and only at a relatively late time, after the violent 
separation from his brothers, did he begin to go his own way, the way that led to Judaism, 
and which very soon afterwards by the elevation 


of inbreeding to a religious principle isolated him from the whole world. The Jew can be 
called an Israelite in so far as he is an offshoot of that family; the Israelites, on the other 
hand, even those of the tribe of Judah, were not Jews; the Jew began to develop only after 
the more powerful tribes of the North had been destroyed by the Assyrians. In order to 
ascertain who the Jew is, we have therefore first of all to establish who the Israelite was 
and then to ask how the Israelite of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin became a Jew. And 
here we must be careful how we use our sources of information. For it was only after the 
Babylonian captivity that the specifically Jewish character was artificially brought into 
the Bible, by whole books being invented and ascribed to Moses and frequently by the 
introduction in verse after verse of interpolations and corrections which obliterated the 
wider views of old Israel and replaced them by the narrow Jerusalemic cult of Jehovah, 
giving the impression that this cult had existed from time immemorial and had been 
directly ordained by God. This has long prevented us from clearly understanding the 
gradual and perfectly human historical development of the Jewish national character. 
Now at last light has been thrown on this sphere too. Here also we can say: we hold in 
our hand a sure and lasting result of scientific investigation. Whether later investigations 
prove this or that sentence of the Hexateuch, which to-day is ascribed to the "jahvistic" text, 
to belong to the "elohistic," or to have been inserted by the later "editor," whether a definite 
utterance was made by Isaiah himself or by the so-called second Isaiah — all these are 
certainly important questions, but their solution will never in any way alter the 
established fact that real Judaism, with the special Jehovah faith and the exclusive 
predominance of priestly law, is due to a demonstrable and very peculiar historical 
sequence of events and to 


the active intervention of certain far-sighted and clear-headed men. 

These three facts form the essential basis of all knowledge of the Jewish character; 
they must not remain the possession of a learned minority but must be incorporated in the 
consciousness of all educated people. I repeat them in preciser form: 

(1) The Israelite people has arisen from the crossing of quite different human types; 

(2) The Semitic element may well have been the stronger morally, but physically it 
contributed scarcely one-half to the composition of the new ethnological, individuality; it 
is therefore wrong shortly to call the Israelites "Semites," for the part played by the various 
human types in the formation of the Israelite race demands a quantitative and qualitative 

(3) The real Jew only developed in the course of centuries by gradual physical 
separation from the rest of the Israelite family, as also by progressive development of 
certain mental qualities and systematic starving of others; he is not the result of a normal 
national life, but in a way an artificial product, produced by a priestly caste, which 
forced, with the help of alien rulers, a priestly legislation and a priestly faith upon a 
people that did not want them. 

This furnishes us with the arrangement of the following discussion. I shall first of all 
consult history and anthropology, in order that we may learn from what races the new 

Israelite race (as the foundation of the Jewish) was descended; then the part played by 
these various human types must be analysed with regard to their physical and particularly 
their moral significance, and here our attention must be directed especially to their 
religious views: for the basis of Judaism is the faith which it teaches and we cannot judge 
the Jew correctly either in history or in our midst, if we are not quite clear about 


his religion; last of all I shall try to show how under the influence of remarkable historical 
events specific Judaism was established and stamped for ever with its peculiar and 
incomparable individuality. In this way we shall perhaps attain the object of this chapter, 
as I have defined it; for the Jewish race — though later at certain times it adopted not a few 
alien elements — remained on the whole purer than any other, and the Jewish nation has 
been from the first an essentially "ideal" one, that is, one resting on faith in a definite 
national idea, not on the possession of a free State of its own, nor on communal life and 
work on the soil of that State: and this idea is the same to-day as it was two thousand 
years ago. Now race and ideal make up the personality of the human being; they answer 
the question: Who art thou? 


The Israelites * sprang from the crossing of three (perhaps even four) different human 
types: the Semitic, the Syrian (or, more correctly, Hittite) and the Indo-European. 
Possibly Turanian blood, or, as it is more frequently called in Germany, Sumero- 
Accadian blood, also flowed in the veins of the original ancestors. 

In order that the reader may clearly understand how this crossing took place, I must 
first give a brief historical sketch. It will freshen the memory in regard to familiar facts 
and help to make the history of the origin of the Jewish race comprehensible. 

Although the term "Semite," as applied to a pure autonomous race existing since the 
beginning of time, 

* And not they only but also their relatives, the Ammonites, the Moabites and the 
Edomites. These four make up the family of the "Hebrews," a name usually — but wrongly — 
applied to the Israelites alone or sometimes even to the Jews. See Wellhausen: 
Israelitische und jiidische Geschichte, 3rd ed. p. 7. To the same family belong likewise 
the Midianites and the Ishmaelites (Maspero: Histoire ancienne, 1895, ii. 65.) 


a special creation of God, so to speak, is certainly a mere abstraction, yet it is not so 
hazardous as the word "Aryan": for there still exists to-day a people which is supposed to 
represent the pure, untarnished type of the primeval Semite, viz., the Bedouin of the 
Arabian desert. * Let us discard the hazy Semite and confine ourselves to the Bedouin of 
flesh and blood. It is supposed, and there are good grounds for the supposition, that some 
thousands of years before Christ, human beings, very closely resembling the Bedouins of 

to-day, migrated from Arabia in an almost unbroken stream to east and north into the land 
of the two rivers. Arabia is healthy, so its population increases; its soil is extremely poor, 
so a portion of its inhabitants must seek sustenance elsewhere. It seems that sometimes 
great migratory hordes composed of armed men had thus wandered forth; in such cases 
the surplus population had been cast out with irresistible force from their home, and left 
as conquerors upon the neighbouring countries; in other cases single families with their 
herds wandered peacefully over the indefinitely marked boundary from one grazing-place 
to another: if they did not at once turn off to the west, as many of them did, it might 
happen that they advanced as far as the Euphrates and so, following the stream, worked 
their way into the north. In historical times (under the Romans and subsequent to 
Mohammed) we have memorable instances of this summary manner of getting rid of 
superfluous population; t in the great civilised States between 

* This seems to be unanimously asserted by all writers. I have quoted Burckhardt in 
the course of this chapter. Here I shall only refer to a more modern, universally 
recognised authority — W. Robertson Smith. In his Religion of the Semites (1894, p. 8) he 
says: "It can be taken for granted that the Arabs of the desert have from time immemorial 
been an unmixed race." The same author points out that it is inadmissible to put the 
Babylonians, Phoenicians, &c., down as "Semites": the only established fact is the 
relationship of the languages, and all these so-called "Semitic" nations have sprung from a 
decided mixture of blood. 

t The last example was in the end of the nineteenth century, when the 


the Tigris and the Euphrates, Semitisation was also the work of great, though more 
peaceful, masses. Wherever, in fact, as in Babylonian Accadia, the Semites came into 
contact with a ripe, strong, self-reliant culture, they prevailed over it by fusion with the 
people — a process which in the case of the Babylonians we can now trace almost step by 
step. * The Beni Israel, on the other hand, emigrated as simple shepherds in small groups 
and had, in order to secure the safety of their cattle, to avoid all warlike operations, of 
which their small number would have rendered them incapable in any case, t The Bible 
narrative naturally gives us only the faint reflection of primeval oral traditions concerning 
the earliest wanderings of this Bedouin family; they are in addition much falsified by the 
misconceptions, theories and purposes of late-born scribes; still there is no reason to 
doubt the correctness of the general details given, all the less so as they contain nothing 
that is improbable. Everything is indeed much abbreviated: whole families have dwindled 
into a single person (a universal Semitic custom, "such as we find only in the case of the 
Semites," says Wellhausen); other pretended ancestors are simply the names of the places 
in the neighbourhood of which the Israelites had long stayed; movements which required 
several generations to accomplish are accredited to a 

Arabs, who from time immemorial had migrated not only to north and east, but also to 
west and south, completely devastated a great part of Central Africa. Immense kingdoms, 
which in the year 1880 were densely populated and entirely under cultivation, have since 
become a desert. Stanley tells us of a single Arab chieftain who laid waste a region of two 

thousand square miles! (See the books of Stanley, Wissman, Hinde, &c., and the short 
summary in Ratzel: Volkerkunde, 2nd ed. ii. 430.) Cf. also p. 115, note. 

* See Hummel, Sayce, Budge and Maspero with regard to the lost race of the 
Accadians or Sumerians, the creators of the magnificent Babylonian culture, and their 
gradual Semitisation. 

t To complete and correct what follows, see the interesting and excellent book of Carl 
Steuernagel: Die Einwanderung der israelitischen Stamme in Kanaan. Berlin, 1901. 


single individual. This need of simplifying the complex, of pressing together what lies far 
apart, is just as natural to this people as it is to the poet who consciously creates. Thus, 
for example, the Bible represents Abraham, when already a married man, as emigrating 
from the district of Ur, on the lower course of the Euphrates, to northern Mesopotamia, at 
the foot of the Armenian mountain range, to that Paddan-Aram, of which the book of 
Genesis so often speaks and which lies beyond the Euphrates, between it and the tributary 
Khabur, in a straight line about 375 miles, but following the valley and the line of 
grazing-tracts at least 937 miles from Ur (cf. the map on p. 365); but more than that, this 
same Abraham is said to have moved later from Paddan-Aram towards the south-west, to 
the land of Canaan, from there to Egypt and finally (for I leave his shorter journeys out of 
account) from Egypt to Canaan again and all this accompanied by so numerous herds of 
cattle that he was forced, in order to find sufficient grazing land for them, to separate 
from his nearest relatives (Genesis xiii.). In spite of this compression the old Hebrew 
tradition contains all we require to know, particularly in places where the oldest tradition 
is before us in almost unfalsified form, and Biblical criticism already gives us full 
information with regard to it. * From this tradition we learn that the Bedouin family in 
question first of all wandered into the valley of the southern Euphrates and stayed a 
considerable time in the neighbourhood of the city of Ur. This city lay to the south of the 
great river and formed the farthest outpost of Chaldea. Here for the first time the nomads 
came into touch with civilisation. The shepherds could not indeed enter into this district 
itself, since magnificent cities and a highly developed agriculture required every inch of 
ground available, but here they 

* Cf.especially Gunkel's Handkommentar zur Genesis, 1901 (now published in a 
second improved edition). 


received imperishable impressions and instruction (to which I shall refer later); it was 
here too that they first became acquainted with such names as Abraham and Sarah, which 
their love of punning make them translate later into Hebrew (Genesis xvii. 1-6). They 
could not stay long in the vicinity of such high culture, or perhaps they were pushed 
forward by sons of the desert who were pressing on behind. And thus we see them 
moving ever farther and farther towards the north, * to the then sparsely populated 
Paddan-Aram, t where they must have stayed for a long time — at the very least for several 

centuries. When, however, the pasture of Mesopotamia was no longer sufficient for the 
increased number of human beings and cattle, a portion of them moved from that north- 
eastern corner of Syria, Paddan-Aram, to the south-western corner nearest Egypt, to 
Canaan, where they were hospitably received by a settled agricultural people and 
received permission to pasture their herds on the mountains. But Paddan-Aram lived long 
in the memory of the descendants of Abraham as their genuine home. Jehovah himself 
calls Paddan-Aram Abraham's "country" (Genesis xii. 1), and the mythical Abraham still 
speaks, long after he has settled in Canaan, with longing of his distant "country" and sends 
messengers to his "land" (Genesis xxiv. 4 and 7), in order to get in touch again with the 
relatives who had remained 

* The direction was marked out for them; from Ur they could choose no other course; 
for the wilderness runs for several hundred miles parallel to the Euphrates, only a small 
stretch of watered land separating the two; but suddenly, exactly at the 35th degree, the 
wilderness ceases and the land of Syria opens up to west, south and north. Syria stretches 
southwards to Egypt, westwards to the Mediterranean Sea, northwards to the Taurus, in 
the east it is bounded to-day by the Euphrates, but according to former conditions and 
ideas it embraced Mesopotamia, which lies beyond the middle Euphrates, and here the 
children of Abraham had their home for centuries. 

t At a later time Mesopotamia was for long an artificially watered and consequently 
richly-cultivated region; in former times, however, it was, as it is to-day, a poor land, 
where only nomadic shepherds could find a living (cf. Maspero: Histoire ancienne, i. 


there. And thus the sons of Abraham, although already settled in Canaan, remained half 
Mesopotamians during all the long years which have been compressed and represented 
under the pseudo-mythical names Isaac 


and Jacob; it is a perpetual coming and going; the southern branch feeling that it belongs 
to one principal northern stem. * But the moment came when they had to move farther 
towards the south; in dry years the pastures of Canaan were no longer sufficient, and 

* This period, during which "Father Jacob developed into the people of Israel," 
Wellhausen describes as an interval of several centuries' duration (Israelitische und 
jiidische Geschichte, p. 11). 


too the Canaanites felt the burden of their increasing numbers; so at the time when the 
friendly half-Semitic Hyksos were in power, they wandered away to the land of Goshen, 
belonging to Egypt. It was this long stay in Egypt * that first broke off all connection 

between them and their kinsmen, so that, when the Israelites once more returned to 
Palestine, they still recognised the Moabites, Edomites and the other Hebrews as distant 
blood-relations, but felt for them no longer love but hatred and contempt, a state of 
feeling which received a refreshingly artless expression in the genealogies of the Bible, 
according to which some of these races owe their origin to incest, while others are 
descended from harlots. 

We can only speak of Israelites in the historical sense of the word from the moment 
when, as a not very numerous, but yet firmly united people, they forcibly took possession 
of Canaan on their flight from Egypt, and founded there a State that experienced many 
different but mostly very sad strokes of fortune, but which, in spite of the fact that it lay 
(like the rest of Syria) between hammer and anvil, that is, between warring "great Powers," 
continued to stand as an independent kingdom for almost seven hundred years. We must 
emphasise the fact that these Israelites were not very numerous; it is important from an 
historical as well as from an anthropological point of view; for to this circumstance we 
must ascribe the fact that the former and really domiciled inhabitants of Canaan (a 
mixture of 

* According to Genesis xv. four hundred years, which is naturally not to be taken 
literally but simply as an expression for an almost unthinkably long time. The number 
forty was among the Hebrews the expression for an indefinitely large number, four 
hundred a fortiori. Renan is of opinion that the stay of the Israelites in Egypt did not last 
more than one hundred years and that only the Josephites (probably only very distant 
relations with a strong mixture of Egyptian blood) were settled there for very long 
(Histoire du peuple d'Israel, 13e ed. i. pp. 112, 141, 142). 


Hittites and Indo-European Amorites) were never destroyed and always formed and even 
still form the stock of the population. * The mingling of races, of which I shall 
immediately speak, and which had begun as soon as the Israelites entered Syrian 
territory, continued in the autonomous State of Israel, that is, in Palestine, and came to a 
sudden stop only after the Babylonian exile, and that in Judea alone, by the introduction 
of a new law. The fact that the Jews at a later time separated as an ethnological unity 
from the rest of the Israelites is purely and simply due to this, that the inhabitants of 
Judea by energetic enactments at last put a stop to the continual fusion (see Ezra ix. and 


The reader who would like further information on this matter may supplement the 
knowledge he has derived from this hasty sketch by consulting Wellhausen's concise 
Israelitische und jiidische Geschichte, Stade's Geschichte des Volkes Israel, Renan's 
detailed and yet lightly written Histoire du peuple d'Israel, and Maspero's comprehensive 
and luminous Histoire ancienne des peuples de I'Orient classique; t in the meantime my 
sketch may suffice to show the origin of the Israelites in broad outline and to impress 
upon the memory in the simplest form the seemingly complicated facts of the case. I shall 
now attempt to show how the original, purely Semitic 

* Sayce: The Races of the Old Testament, 2nd ed. pp.76, 113. "The Roman drove the 
Jew out of the land that his fathers had conquered; the Jews, on the other hand, had never 
succeeded in driving out the genuine possessors of Canaan.... The Jew held Jerusalem 
and Hebron, as well as the surrounding cities and villages, otherwise (even in Judea 
itself) he formed only a fraction of the population. As soon as the Jew was removed, for 
example, at the time of the Babylonian exile or after the destruction of Jerusalem by the 
Romans, the original population, freed from the pressure, increased ... and the Jewish 
colonies in Palestine are to-day just as much foreigners as the German colonies there." 

1 1 name only the latest, most important and most reliable books, written by real 
scholars but accessible to the unlearned. Of the older ones Duncker's Geschichte des 
Altertums also remains unsurpassed in many respects for the history of Israel. 


emigrant became by crossing first of all a Hebrew and then an Israelite. 


The preceding historical sketch shows us a Bedouin family as the starting-point. * Let 
us first of all establish the one fact: this pure Semite, the original emigrant from the 
deserts of Arabia, is and remains the impelling power, the principle of life, the soul of the 
new ethnical unity of the Israelites which arose out of manifold crossing. No matter how 
much, in consequence not only of their destiny but above all of crossing with absolutely 
different human types, his descendants might differ in course of time morally and 
physically from the original Bedouin, yet in many points, good as well as bad, he 
remained their spiritus rector. Of the two or three souls which had their home in the 
breast of the later Israelites, this was the most obtrusive and long-lived. However, we can 
only congratulate this Bedouin family on their crossing, for any change in the manner of 
living is said to have a very bad effect on the high qualities of the genuine and purely 
Semitic nomads. The learned Sayce, one of the greatest advocates of the Jews at the 
present day, writes: "If the Bedouin of the desert chooses a settled life, he, as a rule, unites 
in himself all the vices of the nomad and of the 

* As a matter of fact the current opinion is that the Semite and even that purest 
Bedouin type are the most absolute mongrels imaginable, the product of a cross between 
negro and white man! Gobineau preached this doctrine fifty years ago, and was laughed 
at; to-day his opinion is the orthodox one; Ranke defines it thus in his Volkerkunde (ii. 
399): "The Semites belong to the mulatto class, a transition stage between black and white." 
But I think that caution is here necessary. What is taking place before our eyes is not 
warranted to strengthen the belief that from mulattoes there could spring a firm, 
unchangeable type that would survive the storms of time: quicksand is not more fickle 
and changeable than this half-caste; here, then, in defiance of all experience we should 
have to suppose that the unthinkable, the unexampled had taken place in the case of the 
Bedouins. (Cf., too, August Ford's remarks, 1900). 


peasant. Lazy, deceitful, crael, greedy, cowardly, he is rightly regarded by all nations as 
the scum of mankind." * But long before they settled down, this Bedouin family, the Beni 
Israel, had fortunately escaped such a cruel fate by manifold crossing with non-Semites. 

We saw that the original Bedouin family first stayed for a considerable time on the 
Southern Euphrates in the neighbourhood of the city of Ur: did crossing take place at this 
stage? It has been asserted that it did. And since fairly genuine Sumero-Accadians 
presumably formed the basis of the population of the Babylonian Empire at that time — for 
the Semites had merely annexed this State and its high civilisation without performing 
either the mental work or the manual t — it is assumed that the stock of Abraham was 
quickened by Sumero-Accadian blood. The occurrence of such strange names as 
Abraham (this was the name of the first legendary founder and king of Ur among the 
Sumerians) has given weight to this view, as also the fragments of half-understood 
Turanian rj: wisdom and mythology, of which the first chapters of Genesis are composed. 
But such assumptions are purely hypothetical and hence, to begin with, hardly merit 
serious consideration. Not even probability speaks for this view. The poor shepherds had 
hardly touched the hem of civilisation, what people then would have entered into family 
relations with them? And as regards the adoption of such meagre cosmogonic 
conceptions as we find in the Bible, intercourse with other Hebrews is sufficient to 
explain that; for the mythology, the science and the culture of the Sumerians (in which 
we still share, thanks 

* The Races of the Old Testament, p. 106. 

t See especially Sayce: Assyria, p. 24 ff., and Social Life among the Assyrians and 
Babylonians; also Winckler: Die Volker Vorderasiens (1900), p. 8. 

t The word "Turanian" has escaped my pen, because many authors regard the Sumero- 
Accadians as Turanians. See Hommel: Gesch. Babyloniens und Assyriens, pp. 125, 244 f. 


to the idea of creation and of the fall of man, the division of the week and the year, the 
foundation of geometry, and the invention of writing) had spread far and wide; Egypt was 
their pupil, * and the Semite, incapable of such deep intuition as the Egyptian, had long 
ago, before the Beni Israel began their wanderings, adopted as much of Egyptian culture 
as seemed advantageous and practical and had, as active mediators, spread it wherever 
they went. The crossing with Sumero-Accadians is therefore just as improbable as it is 

We are, however, on sure ground, as soon as the emigrants move to north and west. 
For now they are in the heart of Syria and they never again leave it (except at the time of 
their short stay on the borders of Egypt). Here, in Syria, our purely Semitic Bedouin 
family has been changed by crossing, here its members became Hebrews by mingling 
with an absolutely different type, the Syrian — as so many a Bedouin colony before and 
after them. At a later period part of the family was forced to emigrate from Mesopotamia, 
which lay in the north-east corner, to Canaan, in the extreme south-west, where similar 
race-moulding influences, to which quite new ones were also added, asserted themselves 

in a still more definite way. It was only here, in Canaan, that the Abrahamide Hebrews 
changed gradually into genuine Israelites. To this very Canaan the Israelites, now 
increased in numbers, returned as conquerors, after their sojourn in Egypt; and here they 
received, in addition to alien blood, a new culture, which transformed them from nomads 
into settled farmers and city-dwellers. 

We can, therefore, without making any mistake, distinguish two anthropogenetic 
spheres of influence, which successively came into prominence, a more general one, 
provided by the entrance into Syria and in particular 

* See Hommel: Der babylonische Ursprung der agyptischen Kultur (1892). 


by the long stay in Mesopotamia, in regard to which we have no very definite historical 
dates, but which we may and must deduce from the known ethnological facts; in the 
second place, a more particular Canaanite influence, which we can prove from the 
detailed testimony of the Bible. Let us discuss first the more general sphere of influence 
and then the more particular one. 


If we turn up a text-book of geography or an encyclopaedia, we shall find it stated that 
the present population of Syria is "to the greatest extent Semitic." This is false; just as false 
as the statement we find in the same sources, that the Armenians are "Aryans." Here again 
we see the widespread confusion of language and race; we should, on the same footing, 
logically have to maintain that the negroes of the United States were Anglo-Saxons. 
Scientific anthropology has in recent years, by thorough investigation of an enormous 
amount of material, irrefutably proved that from the most remote times to which 
prehistoric discoveries reach back, the main population of Syria has been formed from a 
type which is absolutely different, physically and morally, from the Semitic, as it is from 
everything which we are wont to comprise under the term "Aryan"; and this applies not to 
the population of Syria alone, but also to that of all Asia Minor and the extensive region 
which we call Armenia at the present day. There are races which have an inborn tendency 
to restless wandering (e.g., the Bedouin, the Laplander, &c.), others which possess a rare 
power of expansion (e.g., the Teutonic races); but this inhabitant of Syria and Asia Minor 
seems to have been distinguished and still to be distinguished by his obstinate attachment 
to his native soil and the invincible power of his physical constancy. His original home 
was the 


trysting-place of nations, he himself almost always being vanquished, and the great 
battles of the world being fought over him — yet he survived them all and his blood 
asserted itself to such an extent that the Syrian Semite of to-day should be called Semite 
in language rather than in race, and the so-called Aryan Armenian, of Phrygian origin. 

has perhaps not 10 per cent, of Indo-European blood in his veins. On the other hand, the 
so-called "Syrian" of to-day, the Jew and the Armenian can hardly be distinguished from 
one another, and this is easily explained, since the primal race which unites all three 
makes them daily more and more like each other. We may most appropriately apply a 
quotation from Schiller's Braut von Messina to this Syrian stem: 

Die fremden Eroberer kommen und gehen; 
Wir gehorchen, aber wir bleiben stehen. 

Now the people which enters history at a later time under the name of Israelites was 
subject to this powerful ethnical influence for many centuries, at least for over ten 
centuries. That is what I called the general sphere of influence by which our genuine 
Semitic Bedouin family became a group of the so-called "Hebrews." Hebrews are, in fact, a 
cross between Semite and Syrian. It must not be thought that the nomad shepherds 
immediately crossed with the strange race, the process was rather as follows: on the one 
hand they found a considerable number of half and quarter Hebrews, who formed the 
point of connection; on the other hand they doubtless subdued the original inhabitants (as 
the predominance of the Semitic languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, &c., proves) and begot 
sons and daughters with their Syrian slaves; later (in half-historical times) we see them 
voluntarily intermarrying with the independent families of the alien people, and this had 
beyond doubt been for centuries the custom. However, no matter what theories we 


may hold about the process of fusion, certain it is that it did take place. 

To be able to speak of that other Syrian type it would be convenient to have a name for 
him. Hommel, the well-known Munich scholar, calls him the Alarodian; * he thinks he 
may ascribe to him considerable expansion even over Southern Europe and finds him in 
the Iberians and Basques of to-day. But the layman must be very discreet in his use of 
such hypotheses; before this book is printed, the Alarodians may have been thrown 
among the scrap-iron of science. The example of the French zoologist and anthropologist, 
G. de Lapouge, is worthy of imitation; he does not trouble himself about history and 
origin, but gives names to the various physical types according to the Linnean method, 
such as Homo europaeus. Homo Afer, Homo contractus, &c. So far as formation of skull 
is concerned, this type from Asia Minor would correspond pretty exactly to Lapouge's 
Homo alpinus; t but here we may safely and simply call him Homo syriacus, the primeval 
inhabitant of Syria. And just as we found a point of support for the Semitic type in the 
Bedouin, so we find in the Hittite tribe a peculiarly characteristic representative of the 
Syrian type, and moreover the one with which the Israelites in Palestine were closely 
connected; it no longer, of course, exists among us as a national individuality, but it is 
daily becoming better known from history and from manifold surviving representations, t 
This Syrian type is distinguished by the prevalence of a particular anatomical 

* He takes the name from a tribe mentioned by Herodotus as living at the foot of 
Mount Ararat. 

t Lapouge: La depopulation de la France, Revue d'Anthropologie, 1888, p. 79. F. von 
Luschan has definitely pointed out the resemblance of the Syrian to the Savoyard. 

t A summary of our knowledge of the Hittites will be found in Winckler's Die Volker 
Vorderasiens, 1900, p. 18 ff. The expression "Hittite" in this book signifies the same to me 
as the X to a mathematician in a properly stated but not yet numerically solved equation 


he is round-headed, or, as the natural scientists say, "brachycephalous," that is, with a short 
skull, the breadth of which is nearly equal to the length. * The Bedouin, on the other 
hand, and also every Semite whose blood is not strongly mixed with foreign elements, is 
decidedly "dolichocephalic." "Long, narrow heads," writes von Luschan, "are a 


SHORT SKULL (brachycephalous) 


LONG SKULL (dolichocephalous) 

(After de Mortillet) 

striking characteristic of the Bedouin to-day, and we should have to claim the same for 
the oldest Arabs were it not proved from numerous illustrations on the old Egyptian 
monuments fortunately preserved." t Naturally there is more than this one anatomical 
criterion; corresponding to the round head there is the thick-set body; 

* The skull is regarded as particularly long when the relation of breadth to length is not 
over 75 to 100, particularly short when it is 80 or more. When I studied anthropology 
with Carl Vogt, all the students were measured craniometrically; in the case of one the 
rare relation of 92 to 100 was established, that is, his head was almost quite round; he 
was an Armenian, a typical representative of the Syrian type of skull. 

t F. V. Luschan: Die anthropologische Stellung der Juden (Lecture delivered in the 
General Meeting of the German Anthropological Society of the year 1 892). This lecture 
is to be found in the Correspondenzblatt of the Society for 1892, Nos. 9 and 10. It 
summarises extensive researches and I shall often quote from it further on. 


it is the expression of a complete and peculiar physiological character. But the skull is the 
most convenient part of the skeleton for making comparative studies regarding extinct 
races, and it is also the most expressive, and no matter how endless the variation in the 
individuals, it maintains the typical forms with great constancy. But the Hittite had 
another and much more striking anatomical distinguishing feature, a very 

Typical Hittite, relief on an Egyptian monument 

Typical Hittite, relief on an Egyptian monument 


ephemeral one, it is trae, since cartilage and not bone went to form it, but it has been 
splendidly preserved in pictures and so is well known to us to-day — the nose. The so- 
called "Jewish nose" is a Hittite legacy. The genuine Arab, the pure Bedouin, has usually "a 
short, small nose little bent" (I quote von Luschan and refer to the illustrations given) and 
even when the nose is more of the eagle type, it never possesses an "extinguisher" (as 
Philip von Zesen, the language-reformer, called it) of the specific, unmistakable Jewish 
and Armenian form. Now by continuous crossing with the round-headed type of the alien 
people the Israelite has gradually lost his narrow, long Bedouin head, receiving as 
compensation the so-called Jewish nose. Certainly the long head still occurred, 
maintaining itself especially among the nobler families; even among the Jews of to-day 
we find a small percentage of genuine long heads; but the long head disappeared more 
and more. The 


nose alone is no reliable proof of Jewish descent; the reason is clear; this Syrian legacy is 
common to all peoples who have Syrian blood in their veins. In the case of this 
anthropological discovery we have to do with no hypothetical assertions, such as too 
frequently occur in theological and critical or historical works; it is the sure result of 
thorough scientific investigation of a sufficiently large material; * this material 



extends from a very ancient time down to the present, and is excellently supported by the 
numerous representations found in Egypt and Syria, and gradually assigned to their 
proper period. We can in a way trace the process by which the Israelite "became Jew" by 
the Egyptian monuments, although, in fact, even in the oldest of them (which do not go 
far back into Israelite history, since it was only in Solomon's time that the Jewish people 
became known beyond their borders) there is little of the genuine Semitic type revealed. 
Genuine Hittites and half-Hittites are here represented as Israelite soldiers; only the 
leaders (see, for instance, the so-called portrait of 

* Von Luschan's Mitteilungen of the year 1892 have 60,000 measurements to support 

t From a photograph in Ratzel's Volkerkunde. The other typical pictures are from well- 
known reliefs on Egyptian monuments. 


King Rehoboam, Solomon's son) remind us of Bedouin types, but even they sometimes 
rather resemble good European countenances. 

With these last remarks we pass from the general prehistoric sphere of influence to that 
of Canaan, which likewise continued for over a thousand years and provides us with 
plenty of sure facts to go upon. For before the Hebrew Israelites had the honour of 

Amoritish Israelite, son of Solomon 

AMORITISH ISRAELITE (portrait of a son of Solomon) 

being immortalised by the art of Egyptian painters, they had moved from Mesopotamia to 
Canaan. We must distinguish between their first appearance in Canaan and their second: 
in the former case they remained there as nomadic shepherds on the best terms with the 
rightful inhabitants of the cities and the owners of the tracts under cultivation; in the 
second case they entered the country as conquerors. In the former case, in fact, they were 
not numerous, in the second they were a whole nation. However uncertain and disputed 
many historical details still may be, one fact is certain: when they entered the land first 
the Israelites found the Hittites living there, those Hittites who formed a most important 
stem of the Homo syriacus. Abraham says to the inhabitants of Hebron, to the "children of 
Heth," as he expressly calls them: "I am a stranger and a sojourner 


with you" (Genesis xxiii. 4) and he begs, as only a stranger on suffrance could beg, a 
"burying-place" for his wife Sarah. Isaac's eldest son, Esau, has only daughters of Heth as 
his wives (Genesis xxvi. 34); the younger son, Jacob, is sent to distant Mesopotamia, that 
he may take a Hebrew woman as his wife, and from this we must conclude that there was 
none in Palestine, no Hebrew girl at least, who would as regards wealth have been a 
suitable match for him. Isaac would not have insisted upon it, a well-to-do Hittite would 
have pleased him, but Rebecca, his Mesopotamian wife, had no love for her Hittite 
daughters-in-law, the wives of Esau, and said she would rather die than let any more such 
come into the house (Genesis xxvii. 46). Among the sons of Jacob it is again specially 
mentioned of Judah that he married Hittite wives (i Chronicles ii. 3). These popular tales 
are a source of historical information; we see that the Israelites had a clear recollection of 
having, as a very limited number of shepherds, lived among a strange, cultured and 
friendly people that dwelt in cities; the rich elders of the race could indulge in the luxury 
of sending for wives for their sons from their former home; but these sons themselves 
like to follow their direct inclination rather than the principle of exclusiveness; they 
married the maidens whom they saw around them — unless they were such heartless 
mercenary match-makers as Jacob; the poorer classes, of course, selected wives where 
they found them. In addition there was the begetting of children with slave girls. Of 
Jacob's twelve sons, for instance, four are the sons of slave girls and they enjoy the same 
rights as the others. — All this refers to the earliest contact with the Hittites of Canaan 
which the Bible mentions. Now there followed, according to legend, the long stay on the 
borders of Egypt, in the land of Goshen. But here, too, the Israelites were surrounded by 
Hittites. For the Hittites extended to the 


borders of Egypt, where at that time their kinsmen, the Hyksos, held the sceptre; the city 
of Tanis, which was the rallying-point for the Israelites in Goshen, was essentially a 
Hittite city; from the earliest times it had been in the closest contact with Hebron; when 
the Israelites moved with their flocks from Hebron to the district of Tanis, they 
accordingly remained in the same ethnical surroundings. * And when they afterwards 
returned to Canaan as conquerors, they, indeed, gradually overthrew the Canaanites, who 
consisted mostly of Hittites, but they also, for the first time, entered into close intercourse 
with them. For, as I insisted above, the Canaanite did not disappear. We need only read 
the first chapter of the Book of Judges to see what Wellhausen too attests: "The Israelites 
did not conquer the former population systematically, but made their way among them ... 
it is impossible to speak of a complete conquest of the land of Palestine." And with regard 
to the manner in which this alien non-Semitic blood permeated the Hebrew blood more 
and more, the same author says, "The most important event in the period of Judges took 
place fairly quietly, namely, the fusion of the new Israelite population of the land with the 
old population. The Israelites of the time of the Kings had a strong Canaanite admixture 
in their blood; they were by no means pure descendants of those who once had 
immigrated from Egypt.... If the Israelites had destroyed the old settled inhabitants, they 
would have made a desert of the land and robbed themselves of the prize of victory. By 
sparing them and, as it were, grafting themselves upon them, they grew into their culture. 
They made themselves at home in houses which they had not built, in fields and gardens 
which they had not laid out and cultivated. Everywhere, like lucky heirs, they reaped the 
fruits of 

* Cf. Renan: Israel i. chap. 10. 


the labour of their predecessors. Thus they themselves underwent an inner transformation 
fraught with many consequences; they grew quickly into a cultured people." * At an 
earlier time, in Hebron or Tanis, the Israelites had learned from the Hittites the art of 
writing; t now they learned from them how to cultivate crops and vines, how to build and 
to manage cities — in short, through them they became a civilised people; and through them 
also they became for the first time a State. Never could the various tribes, living as they 
did in constant jealousy, in suspicious isolation, have formed themselves into a unity but 
for the Canaanite element, the cement of the State. And what is more, their religious 
conceptions, too, received their special colouring and organisation from the Canaanites: 
Baal, the God of agriculture and of peaceful work, coalesced with Jehovah, the God of 
armies and of raids. We see how much Baal was honoured among the Israelites (in spite 
of later corrections on the part of the Jews) from facts such as this, that the first Israelite 
hero on the soil of Palestine is called Jerubbaal, 'I and, moreover, takes to wife a Hittite: 
that the first King, Saul, calls one of his sons Ishbaal, David one of his Baaliada, Jonathan 
his only son Meribbaal, &c. The Israelite borrowed from the Canaanite the whole 
tradition of Prophets, as also the whole outward cult and the tradition of the sacred 
places. § I need not discuss in detail what every one can find in the Bible (sometimes 
certainly obscured by so many strange-sounding names that one needs an expert guide). 

namely, the great part played by the Hittites and by their relatives the Philistines in the 
history of Israel. Till the fusion 

* Israelitische und judische Geschichte, 3rd ed. pp. 37, 46 and 48. 

t Renan: Israel i. 136. 

t A fact which the later edition of the Bible sought to conceal (Judges vi. 32) while the 
older editors thought nothing of it (1 Samuel xii. 11). 

§ Cf. Wellhausen, as above, pp. 45 f., 102 f; concerning the sacred places see his 
Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels, 4th ed. p. 18 f. 


was far advanced and the difference in names had disappeared, we find them everywhere, 
particularly among the best soldiers; and how many details in this connection must have 
disappeared after the later editing of the Bible by the Jews, who endeavoured to cut out 
all that was alien to them and to introduce the fiction of a pure descent from Abraham! 
David's bodyguard is composed if not wholly yet to a great extent of men who do not 
belong to Israel; Hittites and Gittites hold important posts as officers; the bulk of the 
soldiers were Cerethites and Pelethites, Philistines and all other kinds of aliens, partly 
Syrian, partly almost purely European, some of Hellenic race. * David, in fact, won the 
throne only by the help of the Philistines — and probably as their vassal; t he even did 
everything in his power to encourage the fusion of the Israelites with their neighbours, 
and himself set the example by marrying women of Syrian and Indo-European descent. 


Since the word "Indo-European" has slipped from my pen I must here dwell upon a fact 
which I have as yet scarcely mentioned. The Canaanites consisted principally, but not 
solely, of Hittites; the Amorites lived in close connection with them, but they were often 
settled in separate districts, and thus kept their race relatively pure. These Amorites were 
tall, fair, blue-eyed men of ruddy complexion; they were "from the north," that is, from 
Europe; the Egyptians, therefore, called 

* There were also Arabs, Hebrews from non-Israelite stems, Arameans and all kinds of 
pseudo-Semitic aliens. As there are said to have been 1,300,000 men in Israel and Judah 
capable of bearing arms according to the (certainly very false) popular account (2 Samuel 
xxiv.), we get the impression that the Israelites themselves were not very warlike. See 
especially Renan: Israel ii. livre 3, chap. i. 

t Wellhausen: Israelitische und judische Geschichte (3 Ausg.), p. 58. 


them Tamehu, the "North men," and moreover they seem, though this is of course 
problematic, not to have reached Palestine very long before the return of the Israelites 
from Egypt. * To the east of the Jordan they had founded mighty kingdoms with which 

the Israelites later had to wage many wars; another portion had entered Palestine and 
lived there in the closest friendship with the Hittites; t others had joined the Philistines, 
and that in such large numbers, increased perhaps by direct immigration from the purely 
Hellenic West, that many historians have regarded the Philistines as predominantly 
Aryan-European, t These, our own kinsfolk, are those children of Anak, the "men of great 
stature" who inspired the Israelites with such terror, when the latter first secretly entered 
Southern Palestine on a scouting expedition (Numbers xiii.); to them belonged the brave 
Goliath, who challenges the Israelites to a knightly combat but is killed by the 
treacherously slung stone; § to them belong those "Rephaims" who carry gigantic spears 
and heavy mail of iron (1 Samuel xvii. 5 ff., 2 Samuel xxi. 16 ff.)- And while the Bible 
relates in 

* The fact that the book of Genesis (xiv. 13) represents Abraham as already living in 
peaceful alliance with three Amorites in the plain of Hebron has naturally no claim to 
historical validity. 

t See especially Sayce: The Races of the Old Testament, p. 110 ff. 

t Cf. Renan: Israel ii. livre 3, chap. 3. For the Hellenic origin of a considerable 
proportion of the Philistines and the introduction of a number of Greek words through 
them into Hebrew, see Renan: Israel, i. p. 157 note, and Maspero, ii. p. 698. As a matter 
of fact the question of the origin of the Philistines and Amorites is still very hotly 
debated; we can calmly leave the dispute to historians and theologians; the 
anthropological results are results of exact science, and philology must follow them, not 
vice versa. Certain it is that the Amorites and at least a portion of the Philistines were tall, 
fair, blue-eyed dolichocephali: thus they belong to the type homo europaeus. That is 
sufficient for us laymen. 

§ The legend which ascribes this cowardly act to David is a late interpretation; the 
original account is given in 2 Samuel xxi. 19 (cf. Stade: Geschichte des Volkes Israel i. 
225 ff.). It is important to know this when forming an estimate of David's characters. See 
p. 385. 


great detail the heroic deeds of the Israelites against these tall fair men, it could not, on 
the other hand, conceal the fact that it was from them (the still very savage pure Indo- 
European tribe of the Gittites) that David drew his best and most reliable soldiers. It was 
only by the Philistines that the Philistines were conquered, only by the Amorites the 
Amorites. The Gittites, for example, were not conquered by David, but followed him of 
their own accord (2 Samuel xv. 19 ff.) from their love of war; 



their leader, Ittai, was appointed commander of a third of the Israelite army (2 Samuel 
xviii. 2). Of this "Aryan corps," as he calls it, Renan says: "It was as brave as the Arabian 
but excelled it in reliability; to establish anything permanently its support was 

necessary.... It was this that frastrated the treacherous plans of Absalom, of Sebah, of 
Adonijah; it was this that saved the threatened throne of Solomon ... it supplied the 
cement of the Israelite kingdom." * But these men were not only brave and faithful 
soldiers, but also builders of cities; their cities were the best built and the strongest 
(Deuteronomy i. 28); t one of them in particular became 

* Renan: Israel ii 30-32. 

t Sayce (Races of the Old Testament, p. 112) gives an account of Flinders Petrie's recent 
excavations of Amorite cities with walls 21/2 metres thick. 


world-famous: not far from Hebron, the chief city of their Hittite friends, the Amorites 
founded a new city, Jerusalem. The King of Jerusalem who marches against Joshua is an 
Amorite (Joshua x. 5), and even though the narrative says that he was defeated and slain 
with all the other kings, one must take that and the whole book of Joshua cum grano sails; 
for the conquest of Palestine in reality cost the Israelites a great deal of trouble, and was 
accomplished only very slowly and by the help of foreigners; * at any rate the city of 
Jerusalem was till David's time an Amorite city, mixed with much Hittite blood, a mixed 
population which the Bible calls Jebusites, but it remained free from Israelites; it was 
only in the eighth year of his reign that David with his alien mercenaries won this fortress 
and, because of its strength, chose it as his residence. But the Amorite-Hittite population 
continued to be of importance by reason of their numbers and position; t David has to buy 
ground from a well-to-do Amorite, to erect an altar thereon (2 Samuel xxiv. 18 ff.), and it 
is with a Gittite, one of his most trusted leaders, that he deposits the sacred ark of the 
covenant, after he has transferred it to Jerusalem (2 Samuel iv. 10). t Thus, too, the 
prophet Ezekiel represents God as calling to the city of Jerusalem: "Thy birth and thy 
nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite!" 
(Ezekiel xvi. 3). And then he reproaches the Israelite inhabitants with mixing with these 
alien elements: "Thou playedst the harlot and pouredst out thy fornications on every one 
that passed by" (Ezekiel 

* See especially Wellhausen's Prolegomena, in many passages. 

t In Joshua xv. 63 we read: "As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the 
children of Judah could not drive them out; the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah 
at Jerusalem unto this day." 

t Wellhausen proves (Prolegomena, p. 43) that Obededom was really, as the passage 
quoted says, a Gittite and not a Levite, as the later version gives it (1 Chronicles xvi. 18). 


xvi. 15) — apiece of simplicity on the part of the pious Jew, since the great men of his race 
had not been sparing with the example, and he himself, as a Jerusalemite, was the child of 
this threefold crossing; Ezekiel, the real inventor of specific Judaism, had already before 
his mind that paradoxical idea of a Jew of pure race, which is a contradictio in adjecto. 
The Judean, in fact, had adopted more Amorite blood than any other Israelite, and that for 

the simple reason that the Amorites were pretty numerous in the south of Palestine, the 
districts of Simeon, Judah and Benjamin, whereas they were less numerous in the north. 
The Egyptian monuments, on which the various peoples are most characteristically 
represented, prove incontestably that at the time of Solomon and his successors the 
inhabitants of Southern Israel, especially the leaders of the army, were distinguished by 
the predominance of the clearly marked Amorite, that is Indo-European, type. 

Indeed it has been sometimes questioned whether David himself was not half or three- 
quarters Amorite. The Bible emphasises in several places his fairness, and, as Virchow 
has proved by countless statistics, "the skin with all that belongs to it is even more 
constant than the skull"; now fair complexion and light hair never occurred among the 
Hebrews and the members of the Syrian group, these characteristics of the European 
being first brought into the land by the Amorites and the Hellenes; that is why David's 
fairness was so striking. * In these circumstances it is probably not 

* Luther had translated the passages in question (2 Samuel xvi. 12, xvi. 42) by the 
word "brownish"; Genesius, on the other hand, in his dictionary translates the Hebrew word 
by "red," and while admitting that it usually refers to the hair, he takes great pains to prove 
that David must have been black-haired and that "red" here refers to the complexion (in the 
1899 edition this apologetic attempt is dropped); the best scientific translators to-day look 
upon the word as meaning "fair-haired," and it seems pretty certain that David was 
distinctly fair-haired. 


too daring to suppose that a shepherd born in Bethlehem (that is, in the district most 
thickly populated by Amorites) may have had an Amorite mother. His character, its great 
faults as well as its fascinating qualities, his daring, his spirit of adventure, his 
carelessness, his fanciful nature, distinguish David, it seems to me, from all the heroes of 
Israel; equally so his endeavour to organise the kingdom and to unite the scattered tribes 
into one whole, which drew upon him the hatred of the Israelites. His outspoken 
predilection for the Philistines, too, among whom he had gladly served as a soldier (see, 
for example, 2 Samuel xxi. 3), is a striking feature, as also the remarkable fact, pointed 
out by Renan (Israel, ii. 35), that he treated the Philistines generously in war, but the 
Hebrew peoples with frightful cruelty, as though they were repugnant to him. Should 
there be any truth in this supposition, Solomon could hardly be called an Israelite; for it is 
very unlikely that his mother Bathsheba, the wife of the Hittite Uriah, was an Israelite. * 
Thus we should have an explanation of the peculiar incompatibility between Solomon's 
nature and aims and the character of Israel and Judah. Renan says it openly: "Salomon 
n'entendait rien a la vraie vocation de sa race"; t he was a stranger with all a stranger's 
wishes and a stranger's aims in the midst of the people he thought to make great. And thus 
this short period of splendour in the history of the Israelite people — David, Solomon — 
would in reality be nothing else but an "episode" brought about by the exultant strength of 
an entirely different blood, but soon crushed by the unbending will of the Syro-Semite, 
who was not inclined to follow in those paths, nor indeed capable of doing so. 

* Renan; Israel ii. 97. 

t Ibid. ii. 174 



Concerning that which I previously termed the special sphere of influence, we possess, 
as can be seen, sufficient historical material. If my purpose were not limited to describing 
the origin of the Jews I might add a great deal more — for example, that the tribe of Joseph, 
the most gifted and energetic of all Israelites from whom are descended Joshua, Samuel, 
Jerubbaal, &c., and the great dynasty of the Omrides, were half- Egyptians, as Genesis xli. 
45 tells us with the brevity of such folklore, in that Joseph marries the daughter of a priest 
from Heliopolis, who bears him Ephraim and Manasseh... but this fact is of little or no 
importance in fixing the Jewish line of descent; for marriages between the different tribes 
of Israel were made almost impossible by law, and were particularly improbable owing to 
the persistent antipathy of the children of Joseph to those of Judah. It is just as 
unnecessary to speak of their contact with many other Hebrew families. The later 
admixture of negro blood with the Jewish in the Diaspora of Alexandria — of which many a 
man of Jewish persuasion at this day offers living proof — is also a matter of little 
importance. What I have said is detailed enough to enable every one to picture to himself 
the anthropogeny of the Jew in its broad outlines. We have seen that there cannot be the 
least doubt that the historical Israelite, from whom the real "Jew" later separated himself, is 
the product of a mixture. He even enters history as a half-caste, namely, as a Hebrew; this 
Hebrew then contracts marriages with alien non-Semitic women: first of all with the 
Hittites, a special stem of the widespread and clearly marked homo syriacus; in the 
second place with the tall, fair, blue-eyed Arnorites from the Indo-European group. Now 
this historical testimony is confirmed in an irrefutable manner by that of science. F. von 
Luschan thus sum- 


marises the evidence in the paper already quoted: "The Jews are descended, first from real 
Semites, secondly from Aryan Amorites, thirdly and chiefly from the descendants of the 
old Hittites. These are the three most important elements in the Jew, and in comparison 
other mixtures are of very little account." This diagnosis — let it be noted — refers to the Jews 
at the time when they were separated from Israel, and it is equally applicable to-day; the 
measurements have been made on old material and on the very newest, and that with the 
result that the various adoptions of aliens (Spaniards, Southern French, &c.) into Judaism, 
on which feuilletonists and unctuous moralists are wont to lay much emphasis, have 
remained absolutely without influence; a race so characteristically composed and then 
kept so strictly pure immediately absorbs such drops of water. 

The first point is thus settled: the Israelite people is descended from the crossing of 
absolutely different human types. The second point, in which the relation of the different 
races to each other has to be discussed, will require only one paragraph as far as pure 
statistics are concerned; but what would be the use of figures if they did not give us 
distinct conceptions? That would be purely and simply the x, y, z of elementary algebra; 

the problem is correctly solved, but does not mean anything, as all the figures are 
unknown; the quality of the different races will therefore detain our attention longer than 
the quantity. 

Now as far as the quantitative composition of the Israelite blood is concerned, we must 
not forget that even 60,000 measurements are little in comparison with the millions that 
have lived in the course of centuries; it would be wrong to apply them to the single 
individual; statistics of masses cannot lift even the hem of the veil which envelops the 
personality. Nevertheless, we should also remember that beyond the individuality of the 


there is the individuality of the whole people; and numbers can be much better applied to 
this more abstract personality. I cannot tell simply from the race of an individual what he 
will do in a definite case; but I can, for example, with great certainty prophesy how a 
large number of Italians, as a collective body, or an equal number of Norwegians will act 
in a definite case. For our knowledge of the character of a people anthropological figures 
are therefore of real value. Now these figures give the following results with regard to the 
Jews (of former times and to-day, in east and in west); 50 per cent, show clear evidence 
of belonging to the type homo syriacus (short heads, characteristic, so-called "Jewish" 
noses, inclination to stoutness, &c.); only 5 per cent, have the features and the anatomical 
structure of the genuine Semite (the Bedouin of the desert); in the case of 10 per cent, we 
find a colour of skin and hair, often too of complexion, which points to the Amorite of 
Indo-European descent; 35 per cent, represent indefinable mixed forms, something of the 
nature of Lombroso's "combined photographs," where countenances occur in which the one 
feature contradicts the other: skulls which are neither long like those of the genuine 
Semite, nor half-long like those of the Amorite, nor round like those of the Syrian, noses 
which are neither Hittite, nor Aryan, nor Semitic, or, again, the Syrian nose, but without 
the head that belongs to it, and so on ad infinitum. The chief result of this anatomical 
survey is that the Jewish race is in truth a permanent but at the same time a mongrel race 
which always retains this mongrel character. In the former chapter I have tried to make 
clear the difference between mixed and mongrel races. All historically great races and 
nations have been produced by mixing; but wherever the difference of type is too great to 
be bridged over, then we have mongrels. That is the case here. The crossing between 
Bedouin and Syrian 


was — from an anatomical point of view — probably worse than that between Spaniard and 
South American Indian. And to this was added later the ferment of a European-Aryan 


It is very proper to lay strong emphasis on this; for such a process, however 
unconsciously it may go on, is an incestuous crime against nature; it can only be followed 
by a miserable or a tragical fate. The rest of the Hebrews, and with them the Josephites, 
had a wretched end; like the families of the more important pseudo-Semitic mestizos (the 
Phoenicians, Babylonians, &c.) they disappeared and left no trace behind; the Jew, on the 
other hand, chose the tragic fate: that proves his greatness, and that is his greatness. I 
shall soon return to this theme, since this resolve on his part means the founding of 
Judaism; I shall only add one remark, for it is appropriate here and has never yet, so far as 
I know, been made, namely, that this deep consciousness of sin, which weighed upon * 
the Jewish nation in its heroic days, and which has found pathetic expression in the words 
of its chosen men, is rooted in these physical relations. Naturally the intelligence, and the 
vanity which is common to us all, explained it quite differently, but the instinct went 
deeper than the understanding, and as soon as the destruction of the Israelites and their 
own captivity had awakened the conscience of the Jew, his first act was to put an end to 
that incest (as I called it above, using the very word of Ezekiel) by the strict prohibition 
of every crossing, even with nearly related tribes. An inexplicable contradiction has been 
found in the fact that it was the Jews who brought into our 

* "Since the exile the consciousness of sin was (in the case of the Jews), so to say, 
permanent," says Wellhausen in his Prolegomena, 4th ed p. 431. 


bright world the ever-threatening conception of sin, and that they nevertheless understand 
by sin something quite different from us. Sin is for them a national thing, whereas the 
individual is "just" when he does not transgress the "law"; * redemption is not the moral 
redemption of the individual, but the redemption of the State; f that is difficult for us to 
understand. But there is something more: the sin unconsciously committed is the same to 
the Jew as a conscious sin; rj: "the notion of sin has for the Jew no necessary reference to the 
conscience of the sinner, it does not necessarily involve the conception of a moral 
badness, but points to a legal responsibility." § Montefiore also expressly declares that 
according to the view of the postexilic legislators "sin was looked upon not as a 
contamination of the individual soul, but as a pollution of the physical purity, a 
disturbance of that untroubled purity of the land and its inhabitants which is the one 
condition under which God can continue to dwell among His people and in His sanctuary" 
(p. 326). Wellhausen expresses himself thus: "In the case of the Jews ... there is no inner 
connection between the good man and that which is good; the action of the hands and the 
desire of the heart are severed." f I am, as I said, convinced that the key to this remarkable 
and contradictory conception is to be found in the history of the physical growth of this 
people: their existence is 

* See Matthew xix. 20. The Jew Graetz even to-day approves fully of the utterance of 
the rich man and shows that the demand "to repent of his sins" has no meaning for the Jew 
(Volkstiimliche Geschichte der Juden i. 577). 

t W. Robertson Smith: The Prophets of Israel and their Place in History, 1895, p. 247. 

t Ibid. p. 102; Montefiore: Religion of the Ancient Hebrews, 2nd ed. p. 558 
(supplement by Rabbi Schechter). 

§ W. Robertson Smith: The Prophets of Israel and their Place in History, p. 103. In 
another place he writes: "Sin is to the Hebrew every action that puts a man in the wrong 
with one who has the power to punish him for it." (p. 246). 

II Israelitische und judische Geschichte, 3rd ed. p. 380. 


sin, their existence is a crime against the holy laws of life; this, at any rate, is felt by the 
Jew himself in the moments when destiny knocks heavily at his door. Not the individual 
but the whole people had to be washed clean, and not of a conscious but of an 
unconscious crime; and that is impossible, "though thou wash thee with nitre, and take 
thee much soap," as Jeremiah (ii. 22) says to his people. And in order to wipe out the 
irretrievable past, in order to fuse that past with the present, in which wisdom and the 
power of will should set a limit to sin and make a place for purity — the whole Jewish 
history from the beginning had to be falsified, and the Jews represented as a people 
chosen above all other peoples by God and of stainlessly pure race, protected by 
Draconian laws against every crossing. Those who brought that about were not liars, as 
has probably been supposed, but men who acted under the pressure of that necessity 
which alone raises us above ourselves and makes us ignorant instruments of mighty 
dispensations of fate. * If anything is calculated to free us from the blindness of our times 
and the phrase-making of our authorities f 

* The words of Jeremiah, "The pen of the Scribes is in vain" (viii. 8), have been applied 
to the then recent introduction of Deuteronomy and to the recasting and extension of the 
so-called Law of Moses (of the existence of which none of the Prophets had known 
anything). This is the view of the orthodox Jew Montefiore (Religion of the Ancient 
Hebrews, 201, 202), and is probably correct. 

t Herr von Luschan also, as one can perceive from the conclusion of his work on the 
ethnographical position of the Jews which is so valuable from a statistical point of view, 
sees our salvation in the complete amalgamation and fusion of the various human races. 
One cannot believe one's eyes and ears when these men of the school of Virchow pass 
from facts to thoughts. The whole history of mankind shows us that progress is 
conditioned by differentiation and individualisation; we find life and activity only where 
clearly marked national personalities stand side by side opposed to each other (as in 
Europe to-day), the best qualities degenerate under the influence of uniformity of race (as 
in China), the crossing of incompatible types leads, as we see in all organic spheres, to 
sterility and monstrosity ... and yet "amalgamation" is to be our ideal! Do they not see that 
uniformity and chaos are the same? 

"Ich liebte mir dafiir das Ewigleere!" 


and to open our eyes to the law of nature, that great peoples result only from the 
ennoblement of the race and that this can only take place under definite conditions, the 
neglect of which brings in its train degeneration and sterility, it is the sight of this 
sublimely planned and desperate struggle of the Jews who had become conscious of their 
racial sin. 


If we now return to racial statistics, we find ourselves face to face with a difficult 
theme; we may measure skulls and count noses, but how do these results reveal 
themselves in the inner nature of the Jew? We hold the bone of the skull in the hand, it is 
what Carlyle calls "a hard fact." This skull, indeed, symbolises a whole world; any one with 
the skill to weigh the mass of it rightly, and to interpret its lines in their mutual relations, 
could tell us much about the individual: he would see possibilities of which the race in 
question becomes conscious only after generations, and recognise limitations which 
separate one man from the other from the very first. On looking at the two skulls on p. 
374, the long one and the round one, we seem to see two microcosms. But the power of 
interpretation is denied us; we judge men by their deeds, that is really indirectly and 
according to a fragmentary method, for these deeds are determined only by definite 
circumstances. Everything remains piecework here. Now the protoplasm of a one-celled 
alga is such an extremely complicated structure that the chemists do not yet know how 
many atoms they must suppose in the molecule, and how they can unite them under a 
symbolical formula that is at all acceptable; who would presume to find the formula for a 
human being or a whole people? The following characterisation of the Hittites, the 
Amorites and the Semites can only serve to give a very general conception. 


On the Egyptian pictures the Hittites look anything but intelligent. The exaggerated 
"Jewish" nose is continued upwards by a retreating brow and downwards by a still more 
retreating chin. * Perhaps the homo syriacus was not really distinguished by the 
possession of great and brilliant gifts; I cannot say that he has given any signs of it in 
modern times in places where he is supposed to predominate. But he unquestionably 
possessed good qualities. That his race predominated and still predominates in the 
various crossings shows great physical power. Moreover, he possessed corresponding 
endurance and diligence. To judge from the few pictures he must also have been shrewd, 
in fact extremely cunning (which of course has nothing to do with brilliant intellect, on 
the contrary). His history, too, shows him to be shrewd: he has known how to rule and 
how to submit to an alien power where the conditions were favourable. He put barren 
districts under cultivation, and when the population increased, he built cities and was 
such a capable merchant that in the Bible the same word served to denote merchant and 
Canaanite. That he could face death bravely is proved by the long struggle with Egypt t 
and the occurrence of such characters as Uriah. :]: A feature of kindliness is evident in all 
the otherwise very different portraits. We can form a vivid mental picture of how these 
men — equally remote 

* See especially the figures on a Hittite monument near Aintab (Sayce: Hittites, p. 62), 
and the types from Egyptian monuments on p. 375. 

t The Hittites seem for a long time to have ruled all Syria and probably all Asia Minor; 
their power was as great as that of Egypt in its splendour (see Wright: Empire of the 
Hittites, 1886; and