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Being a Plain History of Life and Mankind 

H. G. WELLS/ ' 













All Rights Reserved 


CoPYniGHT, 1920 AND 1921, 


COPYRIGHT, 1920 AND 1921, 

Set up and clcctrotyped. Published November, 1920. 
Third Edition revised and rearranged September, 1921. 


"A philosophy of the history of the human race, worthy 
of its name, must ~begin with the heavens and descend to 
the earth, must be charged with the conviction that all 
existence is one a single conception sustained from be- 
ginning to end upon one identical law" 


THIS Outline of History, of which this is a third edition, 
freshly revised and rearranged, is an attempt to tell, 
truly and clearly, in one continuous narrative, the whole 
story of life and mankind so far as it is known to-day. It is 
written plainly for the general reader, but its aim goes beyond 
its use as merely interesting reading matter. There is a feeling 
abroad that the teaching of history considered as a part of gen- 
eral education is in an unsatisfactory condition, and particu- 
larly that the ordinary treatment of this "subject" by the class 
and teacher and examiner is too partial and narrow. But the 
desire to extend the general range of historical ideas is con- 
fronted by the argument that the available time for instruction 
is already consumed by that partial and narrow treatment, and 
that therefore, however desirable this extension of range may 
be, it is in practice impossible. If an Englishman, for example, 
has found the history of England quite enough for his powers 
of assimilation, then it seems hopeless to expect his sons and 
daughters to master universal history, if that is to consist of 
the history of England, plus the history of France, plus the 
history of Germany, plus the history of Russia, and so on. To 
which the only possible answer is that universal history is at 
once something more and something less than the aggregate 
of the national histories to which we are accustomed, that it 
must be approached in a different spirit and dealt with in a 
different manner. This book seeks to justify that answer. It 
has been written primarily to show that history as one whole 
is amenable to a more broad and comprehensive handling than 
is the history of special nations and periods, a broader handling 

' 961.669 


that will bring it within the normal limitations of time and 
energy set to the reading and education of an ordinary citizen. 
This outline deals with ages and races and nations, where the 
ordinary history deals with reigns and pedigrees and campaigns ; 
but it will not be found to be more crowded with names and 
dates, nor more difficult to follow and understand. History is 
no exception amongst the sciences ; as the gaps fill in, the out- 
line simplifies ; as the outlook broadens, the clustering multitude 
of details dissolves into general laws. And many topics of quite 
primary interest to mankind, the first appearance and the growth 
of scientific knowledge for example, and its effects upon human 
life, the elaboration of the ideas of money and credit, or the 
story of the origins and spread and influence of Christianity, 
which must be treated fragmentarily or by elaborate digressions 
in any partial history, arise and flow completely and naturally 
in one general record of the world in which we live. 

The need for a common knowledge of the general facts of 
human history throughout the world has become very evident 
during the tragic happenings of the last few years. Swifter 
means of communication have brought all men closer to one 
another for good or for evil. War becomes a universal disaster, 
blind and monstrously destructive; it bombs the baby in its 
cradle and sinks the food-ships that cater for the non-combatant 
and the neutral. There can be no peace now, we realize, but a 
common peace in all the world; no prosperity but a general 
prosperity. But there can "be no common peace and prosperity 
without common historical ideas. Without such ideas to hold 
them together in harmonious co-operation, with nothing but nar- 
row, selfish, and conflicting nationalist traditions, races and 
peoples are bound to drift towards conflict and destruction. This 
truth, which was apparent to that great philosopher Kant a 
century or more ago it is the gist of his tract upon universal 
peace is now plain to the man in the street. Our internal 
policies and our economic and social ideas are profoundly 
vitiated at present by wrong and fantastic ideas of the origin 
and historical relationship of social classes. A sense of history 
as the common adventure of all mankind is as necessary for 
peace within as it is for peace between the nations. 

The writer will offer no apology for making this experiment. 
His disqualifications are manifest. But such work needs to be 
don& by as many people as possible, he was free to make his 


contribution, and he was greatly attracted by the task. He 
has read sedulously and made the utmost use of all the help 
he could obtain. There is not a chapter that has not been 
examined by some more competent person than himself and 
very carefully revised. He has particularly to thank his friends 
Sir E. Eay Lankester, Sir H. H. Johnston, Professor .Gilbert 
Murray, and Mr. Ernest Barker for much counsel and direc- 
tion and editorial help. Mr. Philip Guedalla has toiled most 
efficiently and kindly through all the proofs. Mr. A. Allison, 
Professor T. W. Arnold, Mr. Arnold Bennett, the Eev. A. H. 
Trevor Benson, Mr. Aodh de Blacam, Mr. Laurence Binyon, 
the Eev. G. W. Broomfield, Sir William Bull, Mr. L. Cranmer 
Byng, Mr. A. J. D. Campbell, Mr. A. Y. Campbell, Mr. L. Y. 
Chen, Mr. A. E. Cowan, Mr. O. G. S. Crawford, Dr. W. S. 
Culbertson, Mr. E. Langton Cole, Mr. B. G. Collins, Mr. 
J. J. L. Duyvendak, Mr. O. W. Ellis, Mr. G. S. Eerrier, Mr. 
David Ereeman, Mr. S. !N". Eu, Mr. G. B. Gloyne, Sir Eichard 
Gregory, Mr. E. H. Hayward, Mr. Sydney Herbert, Dr. Er. 
Krupicka, Mr. H. Lang Jones, Mr. C. H. B. Laughton, Mr. 
B. I. Macalpin, Mr. G. H. Mair, Mr. E. S. Marvin, Mr. J. S. 
Mayhew, Mr. B. Stafford Morse, Professor J. L. Myres, the 
Hon. W. Ormsby-Gore, Sir Sydney Olivier, Mr. E. I. Pocock, 
Mr. J. Pr ingle, Mr. W. H. E. Eivers, Sir Denison Eoss, Dr. 
E. J. Eussell, Dr. Charles Singer, Mr. A. St. George Sanford, 
Dr. C. O. Stallybrass, Mr. G. H. Walsh, Mr. G. P. Wells, Miss 
Eebecca West, and Mr. George Whale have all to be thanked for 
help, either by reading parts of the MS. or by pointing out 
errors in the published parts, making suggestions, answering 
questions or giving advice. Numerous other helpful corre- 
spondents have pointed out printer's errors and minor slips in 
the serial publication which preceded the book edition, and 
they have added many useful items of information, and to those 
writers also the warmest thanks are due. Mr. C. M. Anton 
Belaiew, Mr. Henry Coates, Mr. J. A. Corry, Mr. Archibald 
Craig, Mr. W. V. Cruden, Mr. A. H. Dodd, Mr. T. B. Gold- 
smith, Mr. E. E. Green, Mr. E. S. Hare, Mr. Homer B. Hul- 
bert, Mr. Walter Ingleby, Mr. J. H. Leviton, Mr. H. Comyn 
Maitland, Mr. Karsten" Meyer, Mr. William Platt, Mr. E. 
Gordon Eoe, Mr. Alden Sampson, Mr. Neville H. Smith, Mr. 
M. Timur, Mr. W. H. Thompson, Mr. A. J. Vogan, Mr. W. A. 
Voss, Mr. G. E. Wates, and one or two correspondents with 


illegible signatures, have made valuable suggestions since the 
publication of the second edition. Pamphlets against, the Out- 
line by Mr. Gomme and Dr. Downey have also been useful in 
this later revision. But of course none of these helpers are to 
be held responsible for the judgments, tone, arrangement or 
writing of this Outline. In the relative importance of the 
parts, in the moral and political implications of the story, the 
final decision has necessarily fallen to the writer. The problem 
of illustrations was a very difficult one for him, for he had 
had no previous experience in the production of an illustrated 
book. In Mr. J. F. Horrabin he has had the good fortune to 
find not only an illustrator but a collaborator. Mr. Horrabin 
has spared no pains to make this work informative and exact. 
His maps and drawings are a part of the text, the most vital 
and decorative part. Some of them represent the reading and 
inquiry of many laborious days. 

The index to this edition is the work of Mr. Strickland Gib- 
son of Oxford. Several correspondents have asked for a pro- 
nouncing index and accordingly this has been provided. 

The writer owes a word of thanks to that living index of 
printed books, Mr. J. F. Cox of the London Library. He 
would also like to acknowledge here the help he has received 
from Mrs. Wells. Without her labour in typing and re-typing 
the drafts of the various chapters as they have been revised and 
amended, in checking references, finding suitable quotations, 
hunting up illustrations, and keeping in order the whole mass 
of material for this history, and without her constant help and 
watchful criticism, its completion would have been impossible. 






1. The first living things .5 

2. How old is the world? 10 



1. Life and water 19 

2. The earliest animals 21 


1. The age of lowland life 25 

2. Flying dragons 29 

3. The first birds 30 

4. An age of hardship and death ..... .32 

5. The first appearance of fur and feathers . . .34 


1. A new age of life . . . . . . . . .37 

2. Tradition comes into the world .38 

3. An age of brain growth ...... .42 

4. The world grows hard again 44 


1. Man descended from a walking ape .... .40 
2. First traces of man-like creatures . . . 51 

3. The Heidelberg sub-man 52 

4. The Piltdown sub-man 53 


1. The world 50,000 years ago 55 

2. The daily life of the first men .59 


1. The coming of men like ourselves ...... 65 

2. Hunters give place to herdsmen ..... .74 

3. No sub-men in America 75 





1. The age of cultivation begins 77 

2. Where did the Neolithic culture arise? .... 81 

3. Everyday Neolithic life 81 

4. Primitive trade 37 

5. The flooding of the Mediterranean valley .... 88 


1. Primitive philosophy ....... 92 

2. The Old Man in religion 94 

3. Fear and hope in religion . . . . . .96 

4. Stars and seasons 97 

5. Story-telling and myth-making 99 

6. Complex origins of religion 100 


1. Is mankind still differentiating ? 106 

2. The main races of mankind 110 

3. The Heliolithic culture of the Brunct peoples . . .111 


1. No one primitive language 117 

2. The Aryan languages 118 

3. The Semitic languages 120 

4. The Hamitic languages 121 

5. The Ural-Altaic languages 123 

6. The Chinese languages 123 

7. Other language groups ....... 124 

8. A possible primitive language group .... 127 

9. Some isolated languages 129 


1. Early cities and early nomads 131 

2A. The Sumerians 135 

2e. The empire of Sargon the First 137 

2c. The empire of Hammurabi 137 

2o. The Assyrians and their empire ,138 

2E. The Chaldean empire .140 

3. The early history of Egypt 141 

4. The early civilization of India 147 

5. The early history of China .147 

6. While the civilizations were growing . . . . . 152 


1. The earliest ships and sailors . . . . . . 155 

2. The ^Egean cities before history 158 



3. The first voyages of exploration ...... 162 

4. Early traders 164 

5. Early travellers 166 


1. Picture writing 168 

2. Syllable writing 171 

3. Alphabet writing 172 

4. The place of writing in human life 173 


1. The priest conies into history ...... 177 

2. Priests and the stars 181 

3. Priests and the dawn of learning 184 

4. King against priests ....... 185 

5. How Bel-Marduk struggled against the kings . . . 188 

6. The god-kings of Egypt 191 

7. Shi Hwang-ti destroys the books 195 


1. The common man in ancient times 196 

2. The earliest slaves 198 

3. The first "independent" persons 201 

4. Social classes three thousand years ago .... 204 

5. Classes hardening into castes . . . . . . 207 

6. Caste in India ......... 210 

7. The system of the Mandarins . . . . . .212 

8. A summary of five thousand years ..... 214 


1. The place of the Israelites in history ..... 217 

2. Saul, David, and Solomon 225 

3. The Jews a people of mixed origin 230 

4. The importance of the Hebrew prophets .... 232 


1. The spreading of the Aryan-speakers ..... 236 

2. Primitive Aryan life 240 

3. Early Aryan daily life 245 


1. The Hellenic peoples . .252 

2. Distinctive features of the Hellenic civilization . . . 255 

3. Monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy in Greece . . 258 

4. The kingdom of Lydia 265 

5. The rise of the Persians in the East . . . . .266 

6. The story of Croesus , , . 270 


7. Darius invades Russia 274 

8. The battle of Marathon 280 

9. Thermopylae and Sal amis ....... 282 

10. Platsea and Mycale . 288 


1. The Athens of Pericles 291 

2. Socrates .298 

P3. Plato and the Academy 299 

4. Aristotle and the Lyceum . . . . . .301 

5. Philosophy becomes unworldly ...... 303 

6. The quality and limitations of Greek thought . . . 304 


1. Philip of Macedonia 310 

2. The murder of King Philip 315 

3. Alexander's first conquests 319 

4. The wanderings of Alexander 327 

5. Was Alexander indeed gr^at? 331 

6. The successors of Alexander 337 

7. Pergamum a refuge of culture 338 

8. Alexander as a portent of w r orld unity ..... 340 


1. The science of Alexandria 342 

2. Philosophy of Alexandria 349 

3. Alexandria as a factory of religions 349 


1. The story of Gautama 354 

2. Teaching and legend in criiflrt 3S9 

3. The gospel of Gautama Buddha 361 

4. Buddhism and Asoka 365 

5. Two great Chinese teachers . . . . . . .371 

6. The corruptions of Buddhism 376 

7. The present range of Buddhism 378 


1. The beginnings of the Latins 380 

2. A new sort of state 388 

3. The Carthaginian republic of rich men .... 399 

4. The First Punic War 400 

5. Cato the Elder and the spirit of Cato 404 

6. The Second Punic War 407 

7. The Third Punic War 412 

8. How the Punic War undermined Roman liberty . . . 417 

9. Comparison of the Roman republic with a modern state . 418 





1. The science of thwarting the common man .... 424 

2. Finance in the Roman state 427 

3. The last years of republican politics ..... 429 

4. The era of the adventurer generals 435 

5. The end of the republic 439 

6. The coming of the Princeps 443 

7. Why the Roman republic failed 446 


1. A short catalogue of emperors 451 

2. Roman civilization at its zenith ...... 458 

3. Limitations of the Roman mind 467 

4. The stir of the great plains 469 

5. The Western (true Roman) Empire crumples up . . 480 

6. The Eastern (revived Hellenic) Empire .... 487 



1. Judea at the Christian era ....... 493 

2. The teachings of Jesus of Nazareth 496 

3. The universal religions ....... 505 

4. The crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth 507 

5. Doctrines added to the teachings of Jesus .... 509 

6. The struggles and persecutions of Christianity . . . 516 

7. Constantine the Great ........ 520 

8. The establishment of official Christianity . . . .522 

9. The map of Europe, A.D. 500 526 

10. The salvation of learning by Christianity .... 530 

A.D. 650) 

1. Justinian the Great 535 

2. The Sassanid empire in Persia . . . . . . 537 

3. The decay of Syria under the Sassanids .... 540 

4. The first message from Islam 544 

5. Zoroaster and Mani 545 

6. Hunnish peoples in central Asia and India . . . 547 

7. The great age of China 550 

8. Intellectual fetters of China 555 

9. The travels of Yuan Chwang . . . . . .561 


1. Arabia before Muhammad 567 

2. Life of Muhammad to the Hegira ...... 570 

3. Muhammad becomes a fighting prophet . . . . 574 



4. The teachings of Islam 579 

5. The caliphs Abu Bekr and Omar . . . . .582 

6. The great days of the Omayyads 588 

7. The decay of Islam under the Abbasids .... 596 

8. The intellectual life of Arab Islam 599 


1. The Western world at its lowest ebb 605 

2. The feudal system 607 

3. The Frankish kingdom of the Merovingians . . .610 

4. The Christianization of the western barbarians . . . 613 

5. Charlemagne becomes emperor of the West .... 619 

6. The personality of Charlemagne 623 

7. The French and the Germans become distinct . . . 626 

8. The Normans, the Saracens, the Hungarians, and the Seljuk 

Turks 628 

9. How Constantinople appealed to Rome .... 637 

10. The Crusades 640 

11. The Crusades a test of Christianity 648 

12. The Emperor Frederick II 650 

13. Defects and limitations of the papacy .... 654 

14. A list of leading popes 660 


SUCCESSORS (The Age of the Land Ways) 
1. Asia at the end of the twelfth century . . . .666 

2. The rise and victories of the Mongols 669 

3. The travels of Marco Polo 675 

4. The Ottoman Turks and Constantinople . . . .681 

5. Why the Mongols were not Christianized .... 687 

5A. Kublai Khan founds the Yuan dynasty .... 688 

SB. The Mongols revert to tribalism 688 

5c. The Kipchak empire and the Tsar of Muscovy . . . 688 

5o. Timurlajie . . 690 

OE. The Mongol empire of India 693 

SF. The Mongols and the Gipsies 697 

(Land Ways Give Place to Sea Ways) 

1. Christianity and popular education 699 

2. Europe begins to think for itself 707 

3. The Great Plague and the dawn of communism . . .712 
4. How paper liberated the human mind . . . . .717 
5. Protestantism of the princes and Protestantism of the 

peoples 719 

6. The reawakening of science ....... 725 



7. The new growth of European towns 734 

8. America comes into history . . . . . . . 740 

9. What Machiavelli thought of the world . . . .749 

10. The republic of Switzerland . . . . . .753 

HA. The life of the Emperor Charles V . . . . . .754 

1 IB. Protestants if the prince wills it 765 

llc. The intellectual under-tow .765 


1. Princes and foreign policy 767 

2. The Dutch republic 769 

3. The English republic . . . . . . . .773 

4. The break-up and disorder of Germany . . . . 783 

5. The splendours of Grand Monarchy in Europe . . . 786 

6. The growth of the idea of Great Powers .... 793 

7. The crowned* republic of Poland and its fate . . . 798 

8. The first scramble for empire overseas 801 

9. Britain dominates India 805 

10. Russia's ride to the Pacific 809 

11. What Gibbon thought of the world in 1780 . . . . 811 

12. The social truce draws to an end ..... 818 



1. Inconveniences of the Great Power system .... 826 

2. The thirteen colonies before their revolt . . . .828 

3. Civil war is forced upon the colonies . . . . . 833 

4. The War of Independence 838 

5. The constitution of the United States 840 

6. Primitive features of the United States constitution . . 847 

7. Revolutionary ideas in France ...... 853 

8. The Revolution of the year 1789 856 

9. The French "crowned republic" of '89-'91 .... 859 

10. The Revolution of the Jacobins 866 

11. The Jacobin republic, 1792-94 876 

'12. The Directory 881 

13. The pause in reconstruction and the dawn of modern 

Socialism 883 


1. The Bonaparte family in Corsica ...... 892 

2. Bonaparte as a republican general ..... 893 

3. Napoleon First Consul, 1799-1804 898 

4. Napoleon I Emperor, 1804-14 903 

5. The Hundred Days 911 

6. The map of Europe in 1815 916 




1. The mechanical revolution 922 

2. Relation of the mechanical to the industrial revolution . 931 

3. The fermentation of ideas, 1848 936 

4. The development of the idea of Socialism . . . .938 

5. Shortcomings of Socialism as a scheme of human society . 946 

6. How Darwinism affected religious and political ideas . 951 

7. The idea of Nationalism 959 

8. Europe between 1848 and 1878 963 

9. The (second) scramble for overseas empires . . . 977 

10. The Indian precedent in Asia 987 

11. The history of Japan 991 

12. Close of the period of overseas expansion . . . ' . 996 

13. The British Empire in 1914 997 


1. The armed peace before the Great War .... 1000 

2. Imperial Germany 1002 

3. The spirit of Imperialism in Britain and Ireland . . 1011 

4. Imperialism in France, Italy, and the Balkan* . . . 1023 

5. Russia still a Grand Monarchy in 1914 .... 1025 

6. The United States and the Imperial idea .... 1027 

7. The immediate causes of the Great War .... 1031 

8. A summary of the Great War up to 1917 .... 1036 

9. The Great War from the Russian collapse to the armistice 1046 

10. The political, economic, and social disorganization caused 

by the Great War 1053 

11. President Wilson and the problems of Versailles . . . 1061 

12. Summary of the first Covenant of the League of Nations 1072 

13. A general outline of the treaties of 1919 and 1920 . . 1076 

14. A forecast of the next war 1081 


1. The possible unification of men's wills in political matters 1086 

2. How a Federal World Government may come about . . 1090 

3. Some fundamental characteristics of a modern world state 1092 

4. What this world might be were it under one law and justice 1094 

A CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE FROM 800 B.C. TO 1920 ..... 1102 


A.D. 1920 1122 

INDEX . 1127 



Life in the Early Palaeozoic 9 

Time Chart from earliest life to present age 11 

Life in the Later Palaeozoic Age ....... .16 

Australian Lung Fish 22 

Some Reptiles of the Later Palaeozoic Age .23 

Some Mesozoic Reptiles 27 

Later Mesozoic Reptiles ......... 30 

Pterodactyls and Archaeopteryx 31 

Hesperornis ........... .35 

Some Oligocene Mammals ......... 39 

Miocene Mammals .......... 41 

Time Diagram of the Glacial Ages ....... 47 

Early Pleistocene Animals, contemporary with Earliest Man . . 48 

The Sub-Man Pithecanthropus . . 49 

Map of Europe and Western Asia 50,000 Years Ago .... 56 

Neanderthal Man ........... 58 

Early Stone Implements ......... 60 

Australia and the Western Pacific in the Glacial Age . . . 62 

Cro-magnon Man 66 

Europe and Western Asia in the Later Palaeolithic Age ... 68 

Reindeer Age Articles . .69 

A Reindeer Age Masterpiece ........ 72 

Reindeer Age Engravings and Carvings 73 

Neolithic Implements 79 

Pottery from Lake Dwellings .82 

Hut Urns 86 

A Menhir of the Neolithic Period . 98 

Bronze Age Implements ......... 101 

Diagram showing the Duration of the Neolithic Period . . . 103 

Heads of Australoid Types 109 

Bushwoman Ill 

Negro Types 112 

Mongolian Types 113 

Caucasian Types 113 

Map of Europe, Asia, Africa 15:000 Years Ago 114 

The Swastika 115 

Relationship of Human Races (Diagrammatic Summary) . . . 116 




Possible Relationship of Languages ....... 122 

Racial Types (after Champollion ) 128 

The Cradle of Western Civilization 133 

Sumerian Warriors in Phalanx 136 

Assyrian Warrior (temp. Sargon II) 139 

Time Chart 6000 B.C. to A.D . . . . . 142 

Egyptian Hippopotamus Goddess 143 

The Cradle of Chinese Civilization (Map) . . . .* .149 

Boats on Nile, 2500 B.C 157 

Egyptian Ship on Red Sea, 1250 B.C .158 

JSgean Civilization (Map) . . . 160 

A Votary of the Snake Goddess 161 

American Indian Picture-Writing . . . . . . .171 

Egyptian Gods Set, Anubis, Typlion, Bes ...... 179 

Egyptian Gels Thoth-lunus, Hathor, Chnemu 182 

An Assyrian King and his Chief Minister ..... 186 

Pharaoh Chephren 190 

Pharaoh Rameses III as Osiris (Sarcophagus relief) . . . 192 

Pharaoh Akhnaton 194 

Egyptian Peasants (Pyramid Age) ....... 199 

Brawl among Egyptian Boatmen (Pyramid Age) .... 201 

Egyptian Social Types (from Tombs) 203 

The Land of the Hebrews 219 

Aryan-speaking Peoples 1000-500 B.C. (Map) 237 

Combat between Menelaus and Hector 246 

Archaic Horses and Chariots ........ 247 

Hellenic Races 1000-800 B.C. (Map) 253 

Greek Sea Fight, 550 B.C. 254 

Athenian Warship, 400 B.C 257 

Scythian Types 269 

Median and Second Babylonian Empires (in Nebuchadnezzar's Reign) 270 

The Empire of Darius 276 

Wars of the Greeks and Persians (Map) 280 

Athenian Foot-soldier 282 

Persian Body-guard (from Frieze at Susa) 286 

The World according to Herodotus 287 

Athene of the Parthenon 296 

Philip of Macedon . . . . . . . . .311 

Growth of Macedonia under Philip 313 

Macedonian Warrior (Bas-relief from Pella) ..... 316 

Campaigns of Alexander the Great 323 

Alexander the Great .......... 333 

Break-up of Alexander's Empire 335 

Seleucus I 336 



Later State of Alexander's Empire ....... 339 

The World according to Eratosthenes, 200 B.C 344 

The Known World, 250 B.C ,346 

Isis and Horus . .351 

Serapis . 352 

The Rise of Buddhism . . . .358 

Hariti . . 360 

Chinese Image of Kuan-yin . . . . . . . . . 369 

The Spread of Buddhism 370 

Indian Gods Vishnu, Brahma, Siva ....... 374 

Indian Gods Krishna, Kali, Ganesa 377 

The Western Mediterranean, 800-600 B.C 381 

Early Latium 382 

Burning the Dead: Etruscan Ceremony 384 

Statuette of a Gaul 385 

Roman Power after the Samnite Wars 386 

Italy after 275 B.C . . .387 

Roman Coin Celebrating the Victory over Pyrrhus .... 389 

Mercury . . 391 

Carthaginian Coins .......... 400 

Roman As 404 

Rome and its Alliances, 150 B.C. ........ 414 

Gladiators 421 

Roman Power, 50 B.C 438 

Julius Caesar ... ........ 442 

Roman Empire at Death of Augustus ...... 448 

Roman Empire in Time of Trajan 153 

Asia and Europe: Life of the Period (Map) . . . . .471 

Central Asia, 200-100 B.C . .477 

Tracks of Migrating and Raiding Peoples, A.D. 1-700 . . . . 483 

Eastern Roman Empire 488 

Constantinople (Map to show value of its position) .... 490 

Galilee 495 

Map of Europe, A.D. 500 . 529 

The Eastern Empire and the Sassanids . . . . . .541 

Asia Minor, Syria and Mesopotamia 543 

Ephthalite Coin 549 

Chinese Empire, Tang Dynasty .552 

Yuan Chwang's Route from China to India . . . . . 582 

Arabia and Adjacent Countries 569 

The Beginnings of Moslem Power . 583 

The Growth of Moslem Power in 25 Years 587 

The Moslem Empire, A.D. 750 590 

Europe, A.D, 500 609 



Frankisii Dominions in the Time of Charles Martel . . . .611 

England, A.D. 640 615 

England, A.D. 878 617 

Europe at the Death of Charlemagne 620 

France at the Close of 10th Century . 629 

Empire of Otto the Great 633 

The Coming of the Seljuka (Map) 634 

The First Crusade (Map) 641 

Europe and Asia, 1200 G68 

Empire of Jengis Khan, 1227 671 

Travels of Marco Polo . . . 676 

Ottoman Empire, 1453 684 

Ottoman Empire, 1566 686 

Empire of Timurlane 692 

Europe at the Fall of Constantinople 701 

"We have the payne . . ." John Ball's Speech 714 

Ignatius of Loyola 722 

European Trade Routes in the 14th Century 738 

The Chief Voyages of Exploration up to 1522 745 

Mexico and Peru ........... 748 

Switzerland 753 

Europe in the Time of Charles V 756 

Martin Luther 757 

Francis I 759 

Henry VIII 760 

Charles V .761 

Central Europe, 1648 784 

Louis XIV 787 

Europe in 1714 790 

The Partitions of Poland 800 

Britain, France and Spain in America, 1750 804 

Chief Foreign Settlements in India, 17th Century .... 807 

India in 1750 810 

American Colonies, 1760 . . .830 

Boston in 1775 837 

U.S.A. in 1790 841 

The U.S.A., showing Dates of the Chief Territorial Extensions . . 845 

Benjamin Franklin ......*... . 849 

George Washington 850 

The Flight to Varennes (Map) 867 

North Eastern Frontier of France, 1792 . . . . ' . . 874 

Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign 897 

Napoleon as Emperor 904 

Tsar Alexander I ... 906 



Napoleon's Empire, 1810 908 

Trail of Napoleon 912 

Europe after the Congress of Vienna 918 

The Natural Political Map of Europe 921 

Tribal gods of the 19th Century 961 

Map of Europe, 1848-1871 966 

Italy, 1861 967 

Bismarck 970 

The Balkans, 1878 974 

Comparative Maps of Asia under different projections . . . 976 

The British Empire in 1815 978 

Africa in the Middle of 19th Century 985 

Africa, 1914 ' 986 

Japan and the East Coast of Asia ....... 995 

Overseas Empires of European Powers, 1914 ..... 999 

Emperor William II 1006 

Ireland 1016 

The Balkan States, 1913 1024 

The Original German Plan, 1914 1035 

The Western Front, 1915-18 1039 

Time Chart of the Great War, 1914-18 1052-53 

President Wilson 1066 

M. Clemenceau 1067 

Mr. Lloyd George 1068 

Germany after the Peace Treaty, 1919 1075 

The Turkish Treaty, 1920 . 1077 

The Break-up of Austria-Hungary 1079 

Time Chart 1000 B.C.-300 B.C 1122 

400 B.C.-A.D. 300 1123 

A.D. 200-A.D. 900 1124 

A.D. 800-A.D. 1500 1125 

" " A.D. 1220-A.. 1920 . 1126 




THE earth on which we live is a spinning globe. Vast 
though it seems to us, it is a mere speck of matter in 
the greater vastness of space. 

Space is, for the most part, emptiness. At great intervals 
there are in this emptiness flaring centres of heat and light, 
the "fixed stars." They are all moving about in space, not- 
withstanding that they are called fixed stars, but for a long 
time men did not realize their motion. They are so vast and 
at such tremendous distances that their motion is not per- 
ceived. Only in the course of many thousands of years is it 
appreciable. These fixed stars are so far off that, for all their 
immensity, they seem to be, even when we look at them through 
the most powerful telescopes, mere points of light, brighter 
or less bright. A few, however, when we turn a telescope upon 
them, are seen to be whirls and clouds of shining vapour 
which we call nebula. They are so far off that a movement of 
millions of miles would be imperceptible. 

One star, however, is so near to us that it is like a great ball 
of flame. This one is the sun. The sun is itself in its nature 
like a fixed star, but it differs from the other fixed stars in 
appearance because it is beyond comparison nearer than they 
are ; and because it is nearer men have been able to learn some- 
thing of its nature. Its mean distance from the earth is 
ninety-three million miles. It is a mass of flaming matter, hav- 
ing a diameter of 866,000 miles. Its bulk is a million and 
a quarter times the bulk of our earth. 

These are difficult figures for the imagination. If a bullet 
fired -from a Maxim gun at the sun kept its muzzle velocity 
unimpaired, it would take seven years to reach the sun. And 



lje ssitt-Ss near, measured by the scale of the stars. 
If the earth were a small ball, one inch in diameter, the sun 
would be a globe of nine feet diameter; it would fill a small 
bedroom. It is spinning round on its axis, but since it is an in- 
candescent fluid, its polar regions do not travel with the same 
velocity as its equator, the surface of which rotates in about 
twenty-five days. The surface visible to us consists of clouds 
of incandescent metallic vapour. At what lies below we can 
only guess. So hot is the sun's atmosphere that iron, nickel, 
copper, and tin are present in it in a gaseous state. About 
it at great distances circle not only our earth, but certain 
kindred bodies called the planets. These shine in the sky 
because they reflect the light of the sun; they are near enough 
for us to note their movements quite easily. Night by night 
their positions change with regard to the fixed stars. 

It is well to understand how empty is space. If, as we have 
said, the sun were a ball nine feet across, our earth would, in 
proportion, be the size of a one-inch ball, and at a distance 
of 323 yards from the sun. The moon would be a speck the 
size of a small pea, thirty inches from the earth. Nearer 
to the sun than the earth would be two other very similar specks, 
the planets Mercury and Venus, at a distance of 125 and 250 
yards respectively. Beyond the earth would come the planets 
Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, at distances of 
500, 1,680, 3,000, 6,000, and 9,500 yards respectively. There 
would also be a certain number of very much smaller specks, 
flying about amongst these planets, more particularly a num- 
ber called the asteroids circling between Mars and Jupiter, 
and occasionally a little puff of more or less luminous vapour 
and dust would drift into the system from the almost limit- 
less emptiness beyond. Such a puff is what we call a comet. 
All the rest of the space about us and around us and for un- 
fathomable distances beyond is cold, lifeless, and void. The 
nearest fixed star to us, on this minute scale, be it remem- 
bered the earth as a one-inch ball, and the moon a little pea 
would be over 40,000 miles away. Most of the fixed stars we 
see would still be scores and hundreds of millions of miles away. 
The science that tells of these things and how men have 
come to know about them is Astronomy, and to books of 
astronomy the reader must go to learn more about the sun and 


stars. The science and description of the world on which we 
live are called respectively Geology and Geography. 

The diameter of our world is a little under 8,000 miles. Its 
surface is rough, the more projecting parts of the roughness 
are mountains, and in the hollows of its surface there is a 
film of water, the oceans and seas. This film of water is about 
five miles thick at its deepest part that is to say, the deepest 
oceans have a depth of five miles. This is very little in com- 
parison with the bulk of the world. 

About this sphere is a thin covering of air, the atmosphere. 
As we ascend in a balloon or go up a mountain from the level 
of the sea-shore the air is continually less dense, until at last it 
becomes so thin that it cannot support life. At a height of 
twenty miles there is scarcely any air at all not one hun- 
dredth part of the density of air at the surface of the sea. The 
highest point to which a bird can fly is about four miles up 
the condor, it is said, can struggle up to that; but most small 
birds and insects which are carried up by aeroplanes or bal- 
loons drop off insensible at a much lower level, and the greatest 
height to which any mountaineer has ever climbed is under 
five miles. Men have flown in aeroplanes to a height of over 
four miles, and balloons with men in them have reached very 
nearly seven miles, but at the cost of considerable physical 
suffering. Small experimental balloons, containing not men, 
but recording instruments, have gone as high as twenty-two 

It is in the uppter few hundred feet of the crust of the earth, 
in the sea, and in the lower levels of the air below four miles 
that life is found. We do not know of any life at all except in 
these films of air and water upon our planet. So far as we 
know, all the rest of space is as yet without life. Scientific 
men have discussed the possibility of life, or of some process 
of a similar kind, occurring upon such kindred bodies as the 
planets Venus and Mars. But they point merely to question- 
able possibilities. 

Astronomers and geologists and those who study physics 
have been able to tell us something' of the origin and history 
of the earth. They consider that, vast ages ago, the sun was a 
spinning, flaring mass of matter, not yet concentrated into a 
compast centre of heat and light, considerably larger than it is 
now, and spinning very much faster, and that as it whirled, 


a series of fragments detached themselves from it, which be- 
came the planets. Our earth is one of these planets. The 
flaring mass that was the material of the earth broke into two 
masses as it spun; a larger, the earth itself, and a smaller, 
which is now the dead, still moon. Astronomers give us con- 
vincing reasons for supposing that sun and earth and moon 
and all that system were then whirling about at a speed much 
greater than the speed at which they are moving to-day, and 
that at first our earth was a flaming thing upon which no 
life could live. The way in which they have reached these 
conclusions is by a very beautiful and interesting series of 
observations and reasoning, too long and elaborate for us to 
deal with here. But they oblige us to believe that the sun, 
incandescent though it is, is now much cooler than it was, 
and that it .spins more slowly now than it did, and that it 
continues to cool and slow down. Arid they also show that 
the rate at which the earth spins is diminishing and con- 
tinues to diminish that is to say, that our day is growing 
longer and longer, and that the heat at the centre of the earth 
wastes slowly. There was a time when the day was not a half 
and not a third of what it is to-day; when a blazing hot sun, 
much greater than it is now, must have moved visibly had 
there been an eye to mark it from its rise to its setting 
across the skies. There will be a time when the day will be 
as long as a year is now, and the cooling sun, shorn of its beams, 
will hang motionless in the heavens. 

It must have been in days of a much hotter sun, a far 
swifter day and night, high tides, great heat, tremendous 
storms and earthquakes, that life, of which we are a part, began 
upon the world. The moon also was nearer and brighter in 
those days and had a changing face. 

g 1. The First Living Things. 2. How Old Is the World? 

WE do not know how life began upon the earth. 1 
Biologists, that is to say, students of life, have 
made guesses about these beginnings, but we will 
not discuss them here. Let us only note that they all agree 
that life began where the tides of those swift days spread and 
receded over the steaming beaches of mud and sand. 

The atmosphere was much denser then, usually great cloud 
masses obscured the sun, frequent storms darkened the heavens. 
The land of those days, upheaved by violent volcanic forces, 
was a barren land, without vegetation, without soil. The 
almost incessant rain-storms swept down upon it, and rivers 
and torrents carried great loads of sediment out to sea, to 
become muds that hardened later into slates and shales, and 
sands that became sandstones. The geologists have studied 
the whole accumulation of these sediments as it remains to- 
day, from those of the earliest ages to the most recent. Of 
course the oldest deposits are the most distorted and changed 
and worn, and in them there is now no certain trace to be 
found of life at all. Probably the earliest forms of life were 
small and soft, leaving no evidence of their existence behind 

1 Here in thJs history of life we are doing our best to give only known 
and established facts in the broadest way, and to reduce to a minimum 
the speculative element that must necessarily enter into our account. The 
reader who is curious upon this question of life's beginning will find a very 
good summary of current suggestions done by Professor L. L. Woodruff 
in President Lull's excellent compilation The Evolution of the Earth (Yale 
University "Press). Professor H. F. Osborn's Origin and Evolution of Life 
is also a very vigorous and suggestive book upon this subject, but it de- 
mands a fair knowledge of physics and chemistry. Two very stimulating 
essays for the student are A. H. Church's Botanical Memoirs. No. 183, 
Ox. Univ. Press. 


them. It was only when some of these living things developed 
skeletons and shells of lime and such-like hard material that 
they left fossil vestiges after they died, and so put themselves 
on record for examination. 

The literature of geology is very largely an account of the 
fossils that are found in the rocks, and of the order in which 
layers after layers of rocks lie one on another. The very 
oldest rocks must have been formed before there was any sea 
at all, when the earth was too hot for a sea, to exist, and when 
the water that is now sea was an atmosphere of steam mixed with 
the air. Its higher levels were dense with clouds, from which 
a hot rain fell towards the rocks below, to be converted again 
into steam long before it reached their incandescence. Be- 
low this steam atmosphere the molten world-stuff solidified as 
the first rocks. These first rocks must have solidified as a 
cake over glowing liquid material beneath, much as cooling 
lava does. They must have appeared first aa crusts and 
clinkers. They must have been constantly remelted and re- 
crystallized before any thickness of them became permanently 
solid. The name of Fundamental Gneiss is given to a great 
underlying system of crystalline rocks which probably formed 
age by age as this hot youth of the world drew to its close. 
The scenery of the world in the days when the Fundamental 
Gneiss was formed must have been more like the interior of a 
furnace than anything else to be found upon earth at the pres- 
ent time. 

After long ages the steam in the atmosphere began also to 
condense and fall right down to earth, pouring at last over 
these warm primordial rocks in rivulets of hot water and 
gathering in depressions as pools and lakes and the first seas. 
Into those seas the streams that poured over the rocks brought 
with them dust and particles to form a sediment, and this sedi- 
ment accumulated in layers, or as geologists call them, strata, 
and formed the first Sedimentary Rocks. Those earliest sedi- 
mentary rocks sank into depressions and were covered by 
others; they were bent, tilted up, and torn by great volcanic 
disturbances and by tidal strains that swept through the rocky 
crust of the earth. We find these first sedimentary rocks still 
coming to the surface of the land here and there, either not 
covered by later strata or exposed after vast ages of conceal- 
ment by the wearing off of the rock that covered them later 


there are great surfaces of them in Canada especially; they 
are cleft and bent, partially remelted, recrystallized, hardened 
and compressed, but recognizable for what they are. And 
they contain no single certain trace of life at all. They are 
frequently called Azoic (lifeless) Rocks. But since in some 
of these earliest sedimentary rocks a substance called graphite 
(black lead) occurs, and also red and black oxide of iron, and 
since it is asserted that these substances need the activity of 
living things for their production, which may or may not be 
the case, some geologists prefer to call these earliest sedi- 
mentary rocks Archceozoic (primordial life). They suppose 
that the first life was soft living matter that had no shells or 
skeletons or any such structure that could remain as a recog- 
nizable fossil after its death, and that its chemical influence 
caused the deposition of graphite and iron oxide. This is pure 
guessing, of course, and there is at least an equal probability 
that in the time of formation of the Azoic Rocks, life had 
not yet begun. 

Overlying or overlapping these Azoic or Archseozoic rocks 
come others, manifestly also very ancient and worn, which do 
contain traces of life. These first remains are of the simplest 
description ; they are the vestiges of simple plants called algse, 
or marks like the tracks made by worms in the sea mud. There 
are also the skeletons of the microscopic creatures called Radio- 
laria. This second series of rocks is called the Proterozoic (be- 
ginning of life) series, and marks a long age in the world's 
history. Lying over and above the Proterozoic rocks is a third 
series, which is found to contain a considerable number and 
variety of traces of living things. First comes the evidence 
of a diversity of shellfish, crabs, and such-like crawling 
things, worms, seaweeds, and the like ; then of a multitude of 
fishes and of the beginnings of land plants and land creatures. 
These rocks are called the Palaeozoic (ancient life) rocks. 
They mark a vast era, during which life was slowly spreading, 
increasing, and developing in the seas of our world. Through 
long ages, through the earliest Palaeozoic time, it was no more 
than a proliferation of such swimming and creeping things 
in the water. There were creatures called trilobites ; they were 
crawling things like big sea woodlice that were probably re- 
lated to the American king-crab of to-day. There were also 
sea scorpions, the prefects of that ear'y world. The individuals 


of .certain species of these were nine feet long. These were 
the very highest sorts of life. There were abundant different 
sorts of an order of shellfish called brachiopods. There were 
plant animals, rooted and joined together like plants, and loose 
weeds that waved in the waters. 

It was not a display of life to excite our imaginations. There 
was nothing that ran or flew or even swam swiftly or skilfully. 
Except for the size of some of the creatures, it was not very 
different from, and rather less various than, the kind of lifi 
a student would gather from any summer-time ditch nowadays 
for microscopic examination. Such was the life of the shallow 
seas through a hundred million years or more in the early 
Palaeozoic period. The land during that time was apparently 
absolutely barren. We find no trace nor hint of land life. 
Everything that lived in those days lived under water for most 
or all of its life. 

Between the formation of these Lower Palaeozoic rocks in 
which the sea scorpion and trilobite ruled, and our own time, 
there have intervened almost immeasurable ages, represented 
by layers and masses of sedimentary rocks. There are first 
the Upper Palaeozoic rocks, and above these the geologists dis- 
tinguish two great divisions. Next above the Palaeozoic come 
the Mesozoic (middle life) rocks, a second vast system of fossil- 
bearing rocks, representing perhaps a hundred millions of 
swift years, and containing a \vonderful array of fossil re- 
mains, bones of giant reptiles and the like, which we will pres- 
ently describe; and above these again are the Cainozoic (recent 
life) rocks, a third great volume in the history of life, an un- 
finished volume of which the sand and mud that was carried 
out to sea yesterday by the rivers of the world, to bury the bones 
and scales and bodies and tracks that will become at last fossils of 
the things of to-day, constitute the last written leaf. 

These markings and fossils in the rocks and the rocks them- 
selves are our first historical documents. The history of life 
that men have puzzled out and are still puzzling out from them 
is called the Record of the Rocks. By studying this record 
men are slowly piecing together a story of life's beginnings, 
and of the beginnings of our kind, of which our ancestors a 
century or so ago had no suspicion. But when we call these 
rocks and the fossils a record and a history, it must not be 
supiposed that there is any sign of an orderly keeping of a 



record. It is merely that whatever happens leaves some trace, 
if only we are intelligent enough to detect the meaning of that 
trace. Nor are the rocks of the world in orderly layers one 
above the other, convenient for men to read. They are not 
like the books and pages of a library. They are torn, dis- 
rupted, interrupted, flung about, defaced, like a carelessly ar- 
ranged office after it has experienced in succession a bombard- 
ment, a hostile military occupation, looting, an earthquake, 
riots, and a fire. And so it is that for countless generations 
this Eecord of the Kocks lay unsuspected beneath the feet 
of men. Fossils were known to the Ionian Greeks in the sixth 
century B.C., they were discussed at Alexandria by Eratos- 
thenes and others in the third century B.C., a discussion which 
is summarised in Strabo's Geography ( ?20-10 B.C.). They 
were known to the Latin poet Ovid, but he did not understand 
their nature. He thought they were the first rude efforts of 
creative power. They were noted by Arabic writers in the 
tenth century. Leonardo da Vinci, who lived so recently as 
the opening of the sixteenth century (1452-1519), was one 
of the first Europeans to grasp the real significance of fossils, 
and it has been only within the last century and a half that 
man has begun the serious and sustained deciphering of these 
long-neglected early pages of his world's history. 


Speculations about geological time vary enormously. Esti- 
mates of the age of the oldest rocks by geologists and 
astronomers starting from different standpoints have varied 
between 1,600,000,000, and 25,000,000. That the period of 
time has been vast, that it is to be counted by scores and pos- 
sibly by hundreds of millions of years, is the utmost that can 
be said" with certainty in the matter. It is quite open to the 
reader to divide every number in the appended time diagram 
by ten or multiply it by two; no one can gainsay him. Of 
the relative amount of time as between one age and another 
we have, however, stronger evidence; if the reader cuts down 
the 800,000,000 we have given here to 400,000,000, then he 
must reduce the 40,000,000 of the Cainozoic to 20,000,000. 
And be it noted that whatever the total sum may be, most 
geologists are in agreement that half or more than half of the 



whole of geological time had passed before life had developed 
to the Later Palaeozoic level. The reader reading quickly 
through these opening chapters may be apt to think of them 

years oao 



> Azote or Arckaeozotc 

Possibly vntnout lx& at all 


"Without' visible traces of Zivrruj 

ur<2. JICLC- or j^niztialcxJU. 
Green Scutn. and tke- I2cc 

a*iy "Palaeozoic 

"Before, the appearance, o^Tany 
animals ^flg& of Sea Scorpions & Tnlobvbzs. 

\AX&T Palaeozoic 

of 'Fishes, 

anci Swaznp 

-, (jrmss, 


as a mere swift prelude of preparation to the apparently much 
longer history that follows, but in reality that subsequent his- 
tory is longer only because it is more detailed and more in- 
teresting to us. It looms larger in perspective. For ages 
that stagger the imagination this earth spun hot and lifeless, 


and again for ages of equal vastness it held no life above the 
level of the animalculse in a drop of ditch-water. 

Not only is Space from the point of view of life and human- 
ity empty, but Time is empty also. Life is like a little glow, 
scarcely kindled yet, in these void immensities. 



NOW here it will be well to put plainly certain general 
facts about this new thing, life, that was creeping in 
the shallow waters and intertidal muds of the early 
Palaeozoic period, and which is perhaps confined to our planet 
alone in all the immensity of space. 

Life differs from all things whatever that are without life 
in certain general aspects. There are the most wonderful dif- 
ferences among living things to-day, but all living things past 
and present agree in possessing a certain power of growth, all 
living things take nourishment, all living things move about 
as they feed and grow, though the movement be no more 
than the spread of roots through the soil, or of branches in the 
air. Moreover, living things reproduce; they give rise to 
other living things, either by growing and then dividing or 
by means of seeds or spores or eggs or other ways of producing 
young. Reproduction is a characteristic of life. 

No living thing goes on living for ever. There seems to 
be a- limit of growth for every kind of living thing. Among 
very small and simple living things, such as that microscopic 
blob of living matter the Amoeba, an individual may grow and 
then divide completely into two new individuals, which again 
may divide in their turn. Many other microscopic creatures 
live actively for a time, grow, and then become quiet and 
inactive, enclose themselves in an outer covering and break 
up wholly into a number of still smaller things, spores, which 
are released and scattered and again grow into the likeness 
of their parent. Among more complex creatures the reproduc- 
tion is not usually such simple division, though division does 
occur even in the case of many creatures big enough to be 
visible to the unassisted eye. But the rule with almost all 



larger beings is that the individual grows up to a certain limit 
of size. Then, before it becomes unwieldy, its growth declines 
and stops. As it reaches its full size it matures, it begins to 
produce young, which are either born alive or hatched from 
eggs. But all of its body does not produce young. Only a 
special part does that. After the individual has lived and 
produced offspring for some time, it ages and dies. It does 
so by a sort of necessity. There is a practical limit to its 
life as well as to its growth. These things are as true of plants 
as they are of animals. And they are not true of things that 
do not live. Non-living things, such as crystals, grow, but 
they have no set limits of growth or size, they do not move of 
their own accord and there is no stir within them. Crystals 
once formed may last unchanged for millions of years. There 
is no reproduction for any non-living thing. 

This growth and dying and reproduction of living things 
leads to some very wonderful consequences. The young which 
a living thing produces are either directly, or after some inter- 
mediate stages and changes (such as the changes of a cater- 
pillar and butterfly), like the parent living thing. But they 
are never exactly like it or like each other. There is always 
a slight difference, which we speak of as individuality. A 
thousand butterflies this year may produce two or three thou- 
sand next year; these latter will look to us almost exactly 
like their predecessors, but each one will have just that slight 
difference. It is hard for us to see individuality in butter- 
flies because we do not observe them very closely, but it is easy 
for us to see it in men. All the men and women in the world 
now are descended from the men and women of A.D. 1800, but 
not one of us now is exactly the same as one of that vanished 
generation. And what is true of men and butterflies is true 
of every sort of living thing, of plants as of animals. Every 
species changes all its individualities in each generation. That 
is true of all the minute creatures that swarmed and repro- 
duced and died in the Archseozoic and Proterozoic seas, as it is 
of men to-day. 

Every species of living things is continually dying and 
being born again, as a multitude of fresh individuals. 

Consider, then, what must happen to a new-born generation 
of living things of any species. Some of the individuals will 
be stronger or sturdier or better suited to succeed in life in 


some way than the rest, many individuals will be weaker or 
less suited. In particular single cases any sort of luck or 
accident may occur, but on the whole the better equipped in- 
dividuals will live and grow up and reproduce themselves and 
the weaker will as a rule go under. The latter will be less able 
to get food, to fight their enemies and pull through. So that 
in each generation there is as it were a picking over of a 
species, a picking out of most of the weak or unsuitable and 
a preference for the strong and suitable. This process is called 
Natural Selection or the Survival of the Fittest. 1 

It follows, therefore, from the fact that living things grow 
and breed and die, that every species, so long as the conditions 
under which it lives remain the same, becomes more and more 
perfectly fitted to those conditions in every generation. 

But now suppose those conditions change, then the sort of 
individual that used to succeed may now fail to succeed and a 
sort of individual that could not get on at all under the old 
conditions may now find its opportunity. These species will 
change, therefore, generation by generation; the old sort of 
individual that used to prosper and dominate will fail and die 
out and the new sort of individual will become the rule, 
until the general character of the species changes. 

Suppose, for example, there is some little furry whitey- 
brown animal living in a bitterly cold land which is usually 
under snow. Such individuals as have the thickest, whitest 
fur will be least hurt by the cold, less seen by their enemies, 
and less conspicuous as they seek their prey. The fur of this 
species will thicken and its whiteness increase with every gen- 
eration, until there is no advantage in carrying any more fur. 

Imagine now a change of climate that brings warmth into 
the land, sweeps away the snows, makes white creatures glar- 
ingly visible during the greater part of the year and thick 
fur an encumbrance. Then every individual with a touch of 
brown in its colouring and a thinner fur will find itself at 
an advantage, and very white and heavy fur will be a handi- 
cap. There will be a weeding out of the white in favour of 
the brown in each generation. If this change of climate 
come about too quickly, it may of course exterminate the 
species altogether ; but if it come about .gradually, the species, 
although it may have a hard time, may yet be able to change 

1 It might be called with more exactness the Survival of the Fitter, 




itself and adapt itself generation by generation. This change 
and adaptation is called the Modification of Species. 

Perhaps this change of climate does not occur all over the 
lands inhabited by the species ; maybe it occurs only on one side 
of some great arm of the sea or some great mountain range 
or such-like divide, and not on the other. A warm ocean cur- 
rent like the Gulf Stream may be deflected, and flow so as 
to warm one side of the barrier, leaving the other still cold. 
Then on the cold side this species will still be going on to its 
utmost possible furriness and whiteness and on the other side 
it will be modifying towards brownness and a thinner coat. 
At the same time there will probably be other changes going 
on; a difference in the paws perhaps, because one half 
of the species will be frequently scratching through snow for 
its food, while the other will be scampering over brown earth. 
Probably also the difference of climate will mean differences in 
the sort of food available, and that may produce differences 
in the teeth and the digestive organs. And there may be 
changes in the sweat and oil glands of the skin due to the 
changes in the fur, and these will affect the excretory organs 
and all the internal chemistry of the body. And so through 
all the structure of the creature. A time will come when 
the two separated varieties of this formerly single species will 
become so unlike each other as to be recognizably different 
species. Such a splitting up of a species in the course of gen- 
erations into two or more species is called the Differentiation 
of Species. 

And it should be clear to the reader that given these ele 
mental facts of life, given growth and death and reproduction 
with individual variation in a world that changes, life must 
change in this way, modification and differentiation must 
occur, old species must disappear, and new ones appear. We 
have chosen for our instance here a familiar sort of animal, 
but what is true of furry beasts in snow and ice is true of 
all life, and equally true of the soft jellies and simple be- 
ginnings that flowed and crawled for hundreds of millions of 
years between the tidal levels and in the shallow, warm waters 
of the Proterozoic seas. 

The early life of the early world, when the blazing sun 
rose and set in only a quarter of the time it now takes, when 
the warm seas poured in great tides over the sandy and 


muddy shores of the rocky lands and the air was full of 
clouds and steam, must have been modified and varied and 
species must have developed at a great pace. Life was prob- 
ably as swift and short as the days and years ; the generations, 
which natural selection picked over, followed one another in 
rapid succession. 

Natural selection is a slower process with man than with 
any other creature. It takes twenty years or more before an 
ordinary human being in western Europe grows up and re- 
produces. In the case of most animals the new generation 
is on trial in a year or less. With such simple and lowly be- 
ings, however, as first appeared in the primordial seas, growth 
and reproduction was probably a matter of a few brief hours 
or even of a few brief minutes. Modification and differentia- 
tion of species must accordingly have been extremely rapid, 
and life had already developed a great variety of widely con- 
trasted forms before it began to leave traces in the rocks. 
The Record of the Rocks does not begin, therefore, with any 
group of closely related forms from which all subsequent and 
existing creatures are descended. It begins in the midst of 
the game, with nearly every main division of the animal 
kingdom already represented. Plants are already plants, and 
animals animals. The curtain rises on a drama in the sea 
that has already begun, and has been going on for some time. 
The brachiopods are discovered already in their shells, accept- 
ing and consuming much the same sort of food that oysters 
and mussels do now; the great water scorpions crawl among 
the seaweeds, the trilobites roll up into balls and unroll and 
scuttle away. In that ancient mud and among those early 
weeds there was probably as rich and abundant and active 
a life of infusoria and the like as one finds in a drop of ditch- 
water to-day. In the ocean waters, too, down to the utmost 
downward limit to which light could filter, then as now, there 
was an abundance of minute and translucent, and in many 
cases phosphorescent, beings. 

But though the ocean and intertidal waters already swarmed 
with life, the land above the high-tide line was still, so far as 
we can guess, a stony wilderness without a trace of life. 


1. Life and Water. 2. The Earliest Animals. 

WHEREVER the shore line ran there was life, and 
that life went on in and by and with water as its 
home, its medium, and its fundamental necessity. 

The first jelly-like beginnings of life must have perished 
whenever they got out of the water, as jelly-fish dry up and 
perish on our beaches to-day. Drying up was the fatal thing 
for life in those days, against which at first it had no protec- 
tion. But in a world of rain-pools and shallow seas and tides, 
any variation that enabled a living thing to hold out and keep 
its moisture during hours of low tide or drought met with 
every encouragement in the circumstances of the time. There 
must have been a constant risk of stranding. And, on the 
other hand, life had to keep rather near the shore and beaches 
in the shallows because it had need of air (dissolved of course 
in the water) and light. 

No creature can breathe, no creature can digest its food, 
without water. We talk of breathing air, but what all living 
things really do is to breathe oxygen dissolved in water. The 
air we ourselves breathe must first be dissolved in the moisture 
in our lungs; and all our food must be liquefied before it 
can be assimilated. Water-living creatures which are always 
under water, wave the freely exposed gills by which they 
breathe in that water, and extract the air dissolved in it. But 
a creature that is to be exposed for any time out of the water 
must have its body and its breathing apparatus protected from 
drying up. Before the seaweeds could creep up out of the 
Early Palaeozoic seas into the intertidal line of the beach, they 
had to develop a tougher outer skin to hold their moisture. 



Before the ancestor of the sea scorpion could survive being 
left by the tide it had to develop its casing and armour. The 
trilobites probably developed their tough covering and rolled 
up into balls, far less as a protection against each other and 
any other enemies they may have possessed, than as a precau- 
tion against drying. And when presently, as we ascend the 
Paleozoic rocks, the fish appear, first of all the back-boned 
or vertebrated animals, it is evident that a number of them 
are already adapted by the protection of their gills with gill 
covers and by a sort of primitive lung swimming-bladder, to 
face the same risk of temporary stranding. 

Now the weeds and plants that were adapting themselves 
to intertidal conditions were 'also bringing themselves into a 
region of brighter light, and light is very necessary and 
precious to all plants. Any development of structure that 
would stiffen them and hold them up to the light, so that in- 
stead of crumping and flopping when the waters receded, they 
would stand up outspread, was a great advantage. And so 
we find them developing fibre and support, and the beginning 
of woody fibre in them. The early plants reproduced by soft 
spores, or half-animal "gametes," that were released in water, 
were distributed by water and could only germinate under 
water. The early plants were tied, and most lowly plants to- 
day are tied, by the conditions of their life cycle, to water. 
But here again there was a great advantage to be got by the 
development of some protection of the spores from drought 
that would enable reproduction to occur without submergence. 
So soon as a species could do that, it could live and reproduce 
and spread above the high-water mark, bathed in light and 
out of reach of the beating and distress of the waves. The 
main classificatory divisions of the larger plants mark stages 
in the release of plant life from the necessity of submergence 
by the development of woody support and of a method of 
reproduction that is more and more defiant of drying up. The 
lower plants are still the prisoner attendants of water. The 
lower mosses must live in damp, and even the development of 
the spore of the ferns demands at certain stages extreme wet- 
ness. The highest plants have carried freedom from water 
so far that they can live and reproduce if only there is some 
moisture in the soil below them. They have solved their 
problem of living out of water altogether. 


The essentials of that problem were worked out through 
the vast aeons of the Proterozoic Age and the early Palaeozoic 
Age by nature's method of experiment and trial. Then slowly, 
but in great abundance, a variety of new plants began to 
swarm away from the sea and over the lower lands, still keep- 
ing to swamp and lagoon and water-course as they spread. 


And after the plants came the animal life. 

There is no sort of land animal in the world, as there is 
no sort of land plant, whose structure is not primarily that of 
a water-inhabiting being which has been adapted through 
the modification and differentiation of species to life out of the 
water. This adaptation is attained in various ways. In the 
case of the land scorpion the gill-plates of the primitive sea 
scorpion are sunken into the body so as to make the lung- 
books secure from rapid evaporation. The gills of crustaceans, 
such as the crabs which run about in the air, are protected 
by the gill-cover extensions of the back shell or carapace. The 
ancestors of the insects developed a system of air pouches 
and air tubes, the tracheal tubes, which carry the air all over 
the body before it is dissolved. In the case of the vertebrated 
land animals, the gills of the ancestral fish were first supple- 
mented and then replaced by a bag-like growth from the throat, 
the primitive lung swimming-bladder. To this day there sur- 
vive certain mudfish which enable us to understand very clearly 
the method by which the vertebrated land animals worked 
their way out of the water. These creatures (e.g. the African 
lung fish) are found in tropical regions in which there is a 
rainy full season and a dry season, during which the rivers 
become mere ditches of baked mud. During the rainy season 
these fish swim about and breathe by gills like any other, fish. 
As the waters of the river evaporate, these fish bury them- 
selves in the mud, their gills go out of action, and the creature 
keeps itself alive until the waters return by swallowing air, 
which passes into its swimming-bladder. The Australian lung 
fish, when it is caught by the drying up of the river in stagnant 
pools, and the water has become deaerated and foul, rises to 
the surface and gulps air. A newt in a pond does exactly 
the same thing. These creatures still remain at the transition 



stage, the stage at which the ancestors of the higher vertebrated 
animals were released from their restriction to an under-water 

The amphibia (frogs, newts, tritons, etc.) still show in their 
life history all the stages in the process of this liberation. 
They are still dependent on water for their reproduction ; their 
eggs must be laid in sunlit water, and there they must develop. 
The young tadpole has branching external gills that wave in 

the water; then a 
gill cover grows 
back over them and 
forms a gill cham- 
ber. Then as the 
creature's legs ap- 
pear and its tail is 
absorbed, it begins 
to use its lungs, and 
its gills dwindle 
and vanish. The 
adult frog can live all the rest of its days in the air, but 
it can be drowned if it is kept steadfastly below water. When 
we come to the reptile, however, we find an egg which is pro- 
tected from evaporation by a tough egg case, and this egg 
produces young which breathe by lungs from the very moment 
of hatching. The reptile is on all fours with the seeding plant 
in its freedom from the necessity to pass any stage of its life 
cycle in water. 

The later Palaeozoic Rocks of the northern hemisphere give 
us the materials for a series of pictures of this slow spreading 
of life over the land. Geographically, all round the northern 
half of the world it was an age of lagoons and shallow seas 
very favourable to this invasion. The new plants, now that 
they had acquired the power to live this new aerial life, de- 
veloped with an extraordinary richness and variety. 

There were as yet no true flowering plants, 1 no grasses nor 
trees that shed their leaves in winter ; 2 the first "flora" con- 
sisted of great tree ferns, gigantic equisetums, cycad ferns, 
and kindred vegetation. Many of these plants took the form 
of huge-stemmed trees, of which great multitudes of trunks 
survive fossilized to this day. Some of these trees were over 
1 Phanerogams. a Deciduous trees. 



a hundred feet high, of orders and classes now vanished from 
the world. They stood with their stems in the water, in which 
no doubt there was a thick tangle of soft mosses and green 

slime and fungoid growths that left few plain vestiges behind 
them. The abundant remains of these first swamp forests 
constitute the main coal measures of the world to-day. 

Amidst this luxuriant primitive vegetation crawled ,and 
glided and flew the first insects. They were rigid-winged, four- 
winged creatures, often very big, some of them having wings 


measuring a foot in length. There were numerous dragon flies 
one found in the Belgian coal-measures had a wing span 
of twenty-nine inches! There were also a great variety of 
flying cockroaches. Scorpions abounded, and a number of 
early spiders, which, however, had no spinnerets for web mak- 
ing. Land snails appeared. So, too, did the first-known step 
of our own ancestry upon land, the amphibia. As we ascend 
the higher levels of the Later Pabeozoic record, we find the 
process of air adaptation has gone as far as the appearance of 
true reptiles amidst the abundant and various amphibia. 

The land life of the Upper Palaeozoic Age was the life of 
a green swamp forest without flowers or birds or the noises 
cf modern insects. There were no big land beasts at all ; wal- 
lowing amphibia and primitive reptiles were the very highest 
creatures that life had so far produced. Whatever land lay 
away from the water or high above the water was still alto- 
gether barren and lifeless. But steadfastly, generation by 
generation, life was creeping away from the shallow sea-water 
of its beginning. 


1. The Age of Lowland Life. 2. Flying Dragons. 
3. The First Birds. 4. An age of Hardship and 
Death. 5. The first appearance of Fur and Feathers. 

WE know that for hundreds of thousands of years the 
wetness and warmth, the shallow lagoon conditions 
that made possible the vast accumulations of vegetable 
matter which, compressed and mummified, 1 are now coal, pre- 
vailed over most of the world. There were some cold intervals, 
it is true; but they did not last long enough to destroy the 
growths. Then that long age of luxuriant low-grade vegetation 
drew to its end, and for a time life on the earth seems to have 
undergone a period of world-wide bleakness. 

We cannot discuss fully here the changes that have gone 
on and are going on in the climate of the earth. A great variety 
of causes, astronomical movements, changes in the sun and 
changes upon and within the earth, combine to produce a cease- 
less fluctuation of the 1 conditions under which life exists. As 
these conditions change, life, too, must change or perish. 

When the story resumes again after this arrest at the end 
of the Paleozoic period we find life entering upon a fresh 
phase of richness and expansion. Vegetation has made great 
advances in the art of living out of water. While the Paleozoic 
plants of the coal measures probably grew with swamp water 
flowing over their roots, the Mesozoic flora from its very out- 
set included palm-like cycads and low-grown conifers that were 
distinctly land plants growing on soil above the water level. 

1 Dr. Marie Stopes, Monograph on the Constitution of Coal. 



The lower levels of the Mesozoic land were no doubt covered 
by great fern brakes and shrubby bush and a kind of jungle 
growth of trees. But there existed as yet no grass, no small 
flowering plants, no turf nor greensward. Probably the Mes- 
ozoic was not an age of very brightly coloured vegetation. It 
must have had a flora green in the wet season and brown and 
purple in the dry. There were no gay flowers, no bright autumn 
tints before the fall of the leaf, because there was as yet no 
fall of the leaf. And beyond the lower levels the world was 
still barren, still unclothed, still exposed without any mitigation 
to the wear and tear of the wind and rain. 

When one speaks of conifers in the Mesozoic the reader 
must not think of the pines and firs that clothe the high moun- 
tain slopes of our time. He must think of low-growing ever- 
greens. The mountains were still as bare and lifeless as ever. 
The only colour effects among the mountains were the colour 
effects of naked rock, such colours as make the landscape of 
Colorado so marvellous to-day. 

Amidst this spreading vegetation of the lower plains the 
reptiles were increasing mightily in multitude and variety. 
They were now in many cases absolutely land animals. There 
are numerous anatomical points of distinction between a reptile 
and an amphibian; they held good between such reptiles and 
amphibians as prevailed in the carboniferous time of the Upper 
Paleozoic; but the fundamental difference between reptiles 
and amphibia which matters in this history is that the am- 
phibian must go back to the water to lay its eggs, and that in 
the early stages of its life it must live in and under water. 
The reptile, on the other hand, has cut out all the tadpole stages 
from its life cycle, or, to be more exact, its tadpole stages are 
got through before the young leave the egg case. The reptile 
has come out of the water altogether. Some had gone back to 
it again, just as the hippopotamus and the otter among mam- 
mals have gone back, but that is a further extension of the 
story to which we cannot give much attention in this Outline. 

In the Palaeozoic period, as we have said, life had not spread 
beyond the swampy river valleys and the borders of sea lagoons 
and the like; but in the Mesozoic, life was growing ever more 
accustomed to the thinner medium of the air, was sweeping 
boldly up over the plains and towards the hill-sides. It is well 
for the student of human history and the human future to 



note that. If a disembodied intelligence with no knowledge 
of the future had come to earth and studied life during the early 
Paleozoic age, he might very reasonably have concluded that 
life was absolutely confined to the water, and that it could never 
spread over the land. It found a way. In the Later Palae- 
ozoic Period that visitant might have been equally sure that 
life could not go beyond the edge of a swamp. The Mesozoic 
Period would still have found him setting bounds to life far 
more limited than the bounds that are set to-day. And so 
to-day, though we mark how life and man are still limited to 
five miles of air and a depth of perhaps a mile or so of sea, 
we must not conclude from that present limitation that life, 
through man, may not presently spread out and up and down 
to a range of living as yet inconceivable. 

The earliest known reptiles were beasts with great bellies 
and not very powerful legs, very like their kindred amphibia, 
wallowing as the crocodile wallows to this day; but in the 
Mesozoic they soon began to stand up and go stoutly on all 
fours, and several great sections of them began to balance them- 
selves on tail and hind-legs, rather as the kangaroos do now, 
in order to release the fore limbs for grasping food. The bones 
of one notable division of reptiles which retained a quadrupedal 
habit, a division of which many remains have been found in 
South African and Russian Early Mesozoic deposits, display 
a number of characters which approach those of the mammalian 
skeleton, and because of this resemblance to the mammals 
(beasts) this division is called the Theriomorpha (beastlike). 
Another division was the crocodile branch, and another devel- 
oped towards the tortoises and turtles. The Plesiosaurs and 
Ichthyosaurs were two groups which have left no living repre- 
sentatives; they were huge reptiles returning to a whale-like 
life in the sea. Pliosaurus, one of the largest plesiosaurs, 
measured thirty feet from snout to tail tip of which half was 
neck. The Mosasaurs were a third group of great porpoise-like 
marine lizards. But the largest and most diversified group of 
these Mesozoic reptiles was the group we have spoken of as 
kangaroo-like, the Dinosaurs, many of which attained enor- 
mous proportions. In bigness these greater Dinosaurs have 
never been exceeded, although the sea can still show in the 
whales creatures as great. Some of these, and the largest 
among them, were herbivorous animals; they browsed on the 


rushy vegetation and among the ferns and bushes, or they stood 
up and grasped trees with their fore-legs while they devoured 
the foliage. Among the browsers, for example, were the 
Diplodocus camegii, which measured eighty-four feet in length, 
and the Atlantosaurus. The Giganiosawrus, disinterred by a 
German expedition in 1912 from rocks in East Africa, was 
still more colossal. It measured well over a hundred feet! 
These greater monsters had legs, and they are usually figured 
as standing up on them ; but it is very doubtful if they could 
have supported their weight in this way, out of water. Buoyed 
up by water or mud, they may have got along. Another note- 
worthy type we have figured is the Triceratops. There were 
also a number of great flesh-eaters who preyed upon these 
herbivores. Of these, Tyrannosaurus seems almost the last 
word in "frightfulness" among living things. Some species of 
this genus measured forty feet from snout to tail. Appar- 
ently it carried this vast body kangaroo fashion on its tail and 
hindlegs. Probably it reared itself up. Some authorities 
even suppose that it leapt through the air. If so, it pos- 
sessed muscles of a quite miraculous quality. A leaping 
elephant would be a far less astounding idea. Much more 
probably it waded half submerged in pursuit of the herbivorous 
river saurians. 


One special development of the dinosaurian type of repitile 
was a light, hopping, climbing group of creatures which de- 
veloped a bat-like web between the fifth finger and the side 
of the body, which was used in gliding from tree to tree after 
the fashion of the flying squirrels. These bat-lizards were the 
Pterodactyls. They are often described as flying reptiles, and 
pictures are drawn of Mesozoic scenery in which they are 
seen soaring and swooping about. But their breastbone has 
no keel such as the breastbone of a bird has for the attachment 
of muscles strong enough for long sustained flying. They 
must have flitted about like bats. They must have had a 
grotesque resemblance to heraldic dragons, and they played the 
part of bat-like birds in the Mesozoic jungles. But bird-like 
though they were, they were not birds nor the ancestors of 
birds. The structure of their wings was altogether different 
from that of birds. The structure of their wings was that of 


a hand with one long finger and a web; the wing of a bird 
is like an arm with feathers projecting from its hind edge. 
And these Pterodactyls had no feathers. 


Six -foot? man. 


Far less prevalent at this time were certain other truly bird- 
like creatures, of which the earlier sorts also hopped and 



clambered and the later sorts skimmed and flew. These were 
at first by all the standards of classification Reptiles. They 
developed into true birds as they developed wings and as their 

Wing of Pterodactyl 
tihowizur elongated fifth, -finger 

reptilian scales became long and complicated, fronds rather 
than scales, and so at last, by much spreading and splitting, 
feathers. Feathers are the distinctive covering of birds, and 
they give a power of resisting heat and cold far greater than 


that of any other integumentary covering except perhaps the 
thickest fur. At a very early stage this novel covering of 
feathers, this new heat-proof contrivance that life had chanced 
upon, enabled many species of birds to invade a province for 
which the pterodactyl was ill equipped. They took to sea fish- 
ing if indeed they did not begin with it and spread to the 
north and south polewards beyond the temperature limits set 
to the true reptiles. The earliest birds seem to have been car- 
nivorous divers and water birds. To this day some of the 
most primitive bird forms are found among the sea birds of 
the Arctic and Antarctic seas, and it is among these sea biids 
that zoologists still find lingering traces of teeth ? which have 
otherwise vanished completely from the beak of the bird. 

The earliest known bird (the Archoeopteryx) had no beak; 
it had a row of teeth in a jaw like a reptile's. It had three 
claws at the forward corner of its wing. Its tail, too, was pe- 
culiar. All modern birds liavt their tail feathers set in a 
short compact bony rump; the Arcliceopieryx had a long bony 
tail with a row of feathers along each side. 


This great period of Mesozoic life, this second volume of 
the book of life, is indeed an amazing story of reptilian life 
proliferating and developing. But the most striking thing of 
all the story remains to be told. Right up to the latest Meso- 
zoic Rocks we find all these reptilian orders we have enumerated 
still flourishing unchallenged. There is no hint of an enemy 
or competitor to them in the relics we find of their world. 
Then the record is broken. We do not know how long a time 
the break represents; many pages may be missing here, pages 
that may represent some great cataclysmal climatic change. 
When next we find abundant traces of the land plants and the 
land animals of the earth, this great multitude of reptile species 
had gone. For the most part they have left no descendants. 
They have been "wiped out." The pterodactyls have gone ab- 
solutely, of the plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs none is alive; the 
mosasaurs have gone; of the lizards a few remain, the moni- 
tors of the Dutch East Indies are the largest ; all the multitude 
and diversity of the dinosaurs have vanished. Only the croco- 
diles and the turtles and tortoises carry on in any quantity into 


Cainozoic times. The place of all these types in the picture that 
the Cainozoic fossils presently unfold to us is taken by other 
animals not closely related to the Mesozoic reptiles and cer- 
tainly not descended from any of their ruling types. A new 
kind of life is in possession of the world. 

This apparently abrupt ending up of the reptiles is, beyond 
all question, the most striking revolution in the whole history 
of the earth before the coming of mankind. It is probably 
connected with the close of a vast period of equable warm 
conditions and the onset of a new austerer age, in which the 
winters were bitterer and the summers brief but hot. The 
Mesozoic life, animal and vegetable alike, was adapted to warm 
conditions and capable of little resistance to cold. The new 
life, on the other hand, was before all things capable 'of re- 
sisting great changes of temperature. 

Whatever it was that led to the extinction of the Mesozoic 
reptiles, it was probably some very far-reaching change indeed, 
for the life of the seas did at the same time undergo a similar 
catastrophic alteration. The crescendo and ending of the 
Reptiles on land was paralleled by the crescendo and ending 
of the Ammonites, a division of creatures like squids with coiled 
shells which swarmed in those ancient seas. All though the 
rocky record of this Mesozoic period there is a vast multitude 
and variety of these coiled shells ; there are hundreds of species, 
and towards the end of the Mesozoic period they increased in 
diversity and produced exaggerated types. When the record 
resumes these, too, have gone. So far as the reptiles are con- 
cerned, people may perhaps be inclined to argue that they were 
exterminated because the Mammals that replaced them, com- 
peted with them, and were more fitted to survive; but nothing 
of the sort can be true of the Ammonites, because to this day 
their place has not been taken. Simply they are gone. Un- 
known conditions made it possible for them to live in the 
Mesozoic seas, and then some unknown change made life im- 
possible for them. !No genus of Ammonite survives to-day 
of all that vast variety, but there still exists one isolated genus 
very closely related to the Ammonites, the Pearly Nautilus. It 
is found, it is to be noted, in the warm waters of the Indian 
and Pacific oceans. 

And as for the Mammals competing with and ousting the 
less fit reptiles, a struggle of which people talk at times, there 


is not a scrap of evidence of any such direct competition. To 
judge by the Record of the Rocks as we know it to-day, there 
is much more reason for believing that first the reptiles in 
some inexplicable way perished, and then that later on, after a 
very hard time for all life upon the earth, the mammals, as 
conditions became more genial again, developed and spread 
tc fill the vacant world. 


Were there mammals in the Mesozoic period? 

This is a question not yet to be answered precisely. Pa- 
tiently and steadily the geologists gather fresh evidence and 
reason out completer conclusions. At any time some new 
deposit may reveal fossils that will illuminate this question. 
Certainly either mammals, or the ancestors of the mammals, 
must have lived throughout the Mesozoic period. In the very 
opening chapter of the Mesozoic volume of the Record there 
were those Theriomorphous Reptiles to which we have already 
alluded, and in the later Mesozoic a number of small jaw- 
bones are found, entirely mammalian in character. But there 
is not a scrap, not a bone, to suggest that there lived any 
Mesozoic Mammal which could look a dinosaur in the face. 
The Mesozoic mammals or mammal-like reptiles for we do not 
know clearly which they were seem to have been all obscure 
little beasts of the size of mice and rats, more like a down- 
trodden order of reptiles than a distinct class; probably they 
still laid eggs and were developing only slowly their distinctive 
covering of hair. They lived away from big waters, and per- 
haps in the desolate uplands, as marmots do now ; probably they 
lived there beyond the pursuit of the carnivorous dinosaurs. 
Some perhaps went on all fours, some chiefly went on their 
hind-legs and clambered with their fore limbs. They became 
fossils only so occasionally that chance has not yet revealed 
a single complete skeleton in the whole vast record of the 
Mesozoic rocks by which to check these guesses. 

These little Theriomorphs, these ancestral mammals, de- 
veloped hair. Hairs, like feathers, are long and elaborately 
specialized scales. Hair is perhaps the clue to the salvation 
of the early mammals. Leading lives upon the margin of ex- 
isterice, away from the marshes and the warmth, they developed 



an outer covering only second in its warmth-holding (or heat- 
resisting) powers to the down and feathers of the Arctic sea- 
birds. And so they held out through the age of hardship be- 

tween the Mesozoic and Cainozoic ages, to which most of the 
true reptiles succumbed. 

All the main characteristics of this flora and sea and land 
fauna that came to an end with the end of the Mesozoic age 
were such as were adapted to an equable climate and to shallow 


and swampy regions. But in the case of their Cainozoic suc- 
cessors, both hair and feathers gave a power of resistance to 
variable temperatures such as no reptile possessed, and with it 
they gave a range far greater than any animal had hitherto 

The range of life of the Lower Palaeozoic Period was con- 
fined to warm water. 

The range of life of the Upper Paleozoic Period was con- 
fined to warm water or to warm swamps and wet ground. 

The range of life of the Mesozoic Period as we know it 
was confined to water and fairly low-lying valley regions under 
equable conditions. 

Meanwhile in each of these periods there were types in- 
voluntarily extending the range of life beyond the limits pre- 
vailing in that period; and when ages of extreme conditions 
prevailed, it was these marginal types which survived to in- 
herit the depopulated world. 

That perhaps is the most general statement we can make 
about the story of the geological record ; it is a story of widen- 
ing range. Classes, genera, and species of animals appear and 
disappear, but the range widens. It widens always. Life 
has never had so great a range as it has to-day. Life to-day, 
in the form of man, goes higher in the air than it has ever 
done before; man's geographical range is from pole to pole, 
he goes under the water in submarines, he sounds the cold, 
lifeless darkness of the deepest seas, he burrows into virgin 
levels of the rocks, and in thought and knowledge he pierces 
to the centre of the earth and reaches out to the uttermost star. 
Yet in all the relics of the Mesozoic time we find no certain 
memorials of his ancestry. His ancestors, like the ancestors 
of all the kindred mammals, must have been creatures so rare, 
so obscure, and so remote that they have left scarcely a trace 
amidst the abundant vestiges of the monsters that wallowed 
rejoicing in the steamy air and lush vegetation of the Meso- 
zoic lagoons, or crawled or hopped or fluttered over the great 
river plains of that time. 



1. A New Age of Life. 2. Tradition Comes into the 
World. 3. An Age of Brain Growth. 4. The World 
Grows Hard Again. 

THE third great division of the geological record, the 
Cainozoic, opens with a world already physically very 
like the world we live in to-day. Probably the day 
was at first still perceptibly shorter, but the scenery had be- 
come very modern in its character. Climate was, of course, 
undergoing, age by age, its incessant and irregular variations ; 
lands that are temperate to-day have passed, since the Cainozoic 
age began, through phases of great warmth, intense cold, and 
extreme dryness; but the landscape, if it altered, altered to 
nothing that cannot still be paralleled to-day in some part of 
the world or other. In the place of the cycads, sequoias, and 
strange conifers of the Mesozoic, the plant names that now 
appear in the lists of fossils include birch, beech, holly, tulip 
trees, ivy, sweet gum, bread-fruit trees. Flowers had developed 
concurrently with bees and butterflies. Palms were now very 
important. Such plants had already been in evidence in the 
later levels of the (American Cretaceous) Mesozoic, but now 
they dominated the scene altogether. Grass was becoming a 
great fact in the world. Certain grasses, too, had appeared in 
the later Mesozoic, but only with the Cainozoic period came 
grass plains and turf spreading wide over a world that was 
once barren stone. 

The period opened with a long phase of considerable warmth ; 
then the world cooled. And in the opening of this third part 
of the record, this Cainozoic period, a gigantic crumpling of 



the earth's crust and an upheaval of mountain ranges was in 
progress. The Alps, the Andes, the Himalayas, are all Cain- 
ozoic mountain ranges; the background of an early Cainozoic 
scene to be typical should display an active volcano or so. It 
must have been an age of great earthquakes. 

Geologists make certain main divisions of the Cainozoic 
period, and it will be convenient to name them here and to 
indicate their climate. First comes the Eocene (dawn of re- 
cent life), an age of exceptional warmth in the world's his- 
tory, subdivided into an older and newer Eocene; then the 
Oligocene (but little of recent life), in which the climate was 
still equable. The Miocene (with living species still in a 
minority) was the great age of mountain building, and the 
general temperature was falling. In the Pliocene (more living 
than extinct species), climate was very much as its present 
phase; but with the Pleistocene (a great majority of living 
species) there set in a long period of extreme conditions it 
was the Great Ice Age. Glaciers spread from the poles towards 
the equator, until England to the Thames was covered in ice. 
Thereafter to our own time came a period of partial recovery. 
We may be moving now towards a warmer phase. Half a mil- 
lion years hence this may be a much sunnier and pleasanter 
world to live in than it is to-day. 


In the forests and following the grass over the Eocene plains 
there appeared for the first time a variety and abundance of 
mammals. Before we proceed to any description of these mam- 
mals, it may be well to note in general terms what a mammal is. 

From the appearance of the vertebrated animals in the Lower 
Palaeozoic Age, when the fish first swarmed out into the sea, 
there has been a steady progressive development of vertebrated 
creatures. A fish is a vertebrated animal that breathes by 
gills and can live only in water. An amphibian may be de- 
scribed as a fish that has added to its gill-breathing the power 
of breathing air with its swimming-bladder in adult life, and 
that has also developed limbs with five toes to them in place 
of the fins of a fish. A tadpole is for a time a fish, it becomes 
a land creature as it develops. A reptile is a further stage in 
this detachment from water; it is an amphibian that is no 


longer amphibious; it passes through its tadpole stage its fish 
stage that is in an egg. From the beginning it must breathe 
in air; it can never breathe under water as a tadpole can do. 

Stoc-joot mazi 

drawn to 
S3axi& scale 

Now a modern mammal is really a sort of reptile that has de- 
veloped a peculiarly effective protective covering, hair; and 
that also retains its eggs in the body until they hatch so that 


it brings forth living young (viviparous), and even after 
birth it cares for them and feeds them by its mammae for a 
longer or shorter period. Some reptiles, some vipers for ex- 
ample, are viviparous, but none stand by their young as the real 
mammals do. Both the birds and the mammals, which escaped 
whatever destructive forces made an end to the Mesozoic rep- 
tiles, and which survived to dominate the Cainozoic world, 
have these two things in common ; first, a far more effective 
protection against changes of temperature than any other 
variation of the reptile type ever produced, and, secondly, a 
peculiar care for their eggs, the bird by incubation and the 
mammal by retention, and a disposition to look after the young 
for a certain period after hatching or birth. There is by com- 
parison the greatest carelessness about offspring in the reptile. 

Hair was evidently the earliest distinction of the mammals 
from the rest of the reptiles. It is doubtful if the particular 
Theriodont reptiles who were developing hair in the early 
Mesozoic were viviparous. Two mammals survive to this day 
which not only do not suckle their young, 1 but which lay eggs, 
the OrnitJiorhynchus and the Echidna, and in the Eocene there 
were a number of allied forms. They are the survivors of 
what was probably a much larger number and variety of small 
egg-laying hairy creatures, hairy reptiles, hoppers, climbers, 
and runners, which included the Mesozoic ancestors of all ex- 
isting mammals up to and including man. 

Now we may put the essential facts about mammalian re- 
production in another way. The mammal is a family animal. 
And the family habit involved the possibility of a new sort of 
continuity of experience in the world. Compare the com- 
pletely closed-in life of an individual lizard with the life of 
even a quite lowly mammal of almost any kind. The former 
has no mental continuity with anything beyond itself; it is a 
little self-contained globe of experience that serves its purpose 
and ends; but the latter "picks up" from its mother, and 
"hands on" to its offspring. All the mammals, except for the 
two genera we have named, had already before the lower Eocene 
age arrived at this stage of pre-adult dependence and imitation. 

ir rhey secrete a nutritive fluid on which the young feeds from glands 
scattered over the skin. But the glands are not gathered together into 
mammae with nipples for suckling. The stuff oozes out, the mother lies 
on her back, and the young browse upon her moist skin. 



They were all more or less imitative in youth and capable of a 
certain modicum of education; they all, as a part of their de- 

Six- foot* man 

same scale, 

(lotxa- j 

velopment, received a certain amount of care and example and 
even direction from their mother. This is as true of the hyaena 
and rhinoceros as it is of the dog or man; the difference of 


educability is enormous, but the fact of protection and educa- 
bility in the young stage is undeniable. So far as the verte- 
brated animals go, these new mammals, with their viviparous, 
young-protecting disposition, and these new birds, with their 
incubating, young-protecting disposition, introduce at the open- 
ing of the Cainozoic period a fresh thing into the expanding 
story of life, namely, social association, the addition to hard 
and inflexible instinct of tradition, and the nervous organisa- 
tion necessary to receive tradition. 

All the innovations that come into the history of life begin 
very humbly. The supply of blood-vessels in the swimming- 
bladder of the mudfish in the lower Palaeozoic torrent-river, 
that enabled it to pull through a season of drought, would 
have seemed at that time to that bodiless visitant to our planet 
we have already imagined, a very unimportant side fact in 
that ancient world of great sharks and plated fishes, sea 
scorpions, and coral reefs and seaweed; but it opened the nar- 
row way by which the land vertebrates arose to predominance. 
The mudfish would have seemed then a poor refugee from the 
too crowded and aggressive life of the sea. But once lungs 
were launched into the world, every line of descent that had 
lungs went on improving them. So, too, in the upper Palaeozoic, 
the fact that some of the Amphibia were losing their "amphibi- 
ousness" by a retardation of hatching of their eggs, would have 
appeared a mere response to the distressful dangers that threat- 
ened the young tadpole. Yet that prepared the conquest of 
the dry land for the triumphant multitude of the Mesozoic 
reptiles. It opened a new direction towards a free and vigor- 
ous land-life along which all the reptilian animals moved. And 
this viviparous, young-tending training that the ancestral mam- 
malia underwent during that age of inferiority and hardship 
for them, set going in the world a new continuity of percep- 
tion, of which even man to-day only begins to appreciate the 


A number of types of mammal already appear in the Eocene. 
Some are differentiating in one direction, and some in another, 
some are perfecting themselves as herbivorous quadrupeds, 
some leap and climb among the trees, some turn back to the 
water to swim, but all types are unconsciously exploiting and 


developing the brain which is the instrument of this new power 
of acquisition and educability. In the Eocene rocks are found 
small early predecessors of the horse (Eohippus), tiny camels, 
pigs, early tapirs, early hedgehogs, monkeys and lemurs, 
opossums and carnivores. Now, all these were more or less 
ancestral to living forms, and all have brains relatively much 
smaller than their living representatives. There is, for in- 
stance, an early rhinoceros-like beast, Titanotherium, with a 
brain not one tenth the size of that of the existing rhinoceros. 
The latter is by no means a perfect type of the attentive and 
submissive student, but even so it is ten times more observant 
and teachable than its predecessor. This sort of thing is true 
of all the orders and families that survive until to-day. All 
the Cainozoic mammals were doing this one thing in common 
under the urgency of a common necessity; they were all grow- 
ing brain. It was a parallel advance. In the same order or 
family to-day, the brain is usually from six to ten times what 
it was in the Eocene ancestor. 

The Eocene period displayed a series of herbivorous brutes 
of which no representative survives to-day. Such were the 
Uintatheres and the Titanotheres. They were ousted by more 
specialized graminivorous forms as grass spread over the world. 
In pursuit of such beasts came great swarms of primitive dogs 
some as big as bears, and the first cats, one in particular (Smi~ 
lodon), a small fierce-looking creature with big knife-like 
canines, the first sabre-toothed tiger, which was to develop into 
greater things. American deposits in the Miocene display a 
great variety of camels, giraffe camels with long necks, gazelle 
camels, llamas, and true camels. North America, throughout 
most of the Cainozoic period, appears to have been in open and 
easy continuation with Asia, and when at last the glaciers of 
the Great Ice Age, and then the Bering Strait, came to separate 
the two great continental regions, the last camels were left in the 
old world and the llamas in the new. 

In the Eocene the first ancestors of the elephants appear in 
northern Africa as snouted creatures ; the elephant's trunk 
dawned on the world in the Miocene. 

One group of creatures is of peculiar interest in a history that 
is mainly to be the story of mankind. We find fossils in the 
Eocene of monkeys and lemurs, but of one particular creature 
we have as yet not a single bone. It must have been a creature 


half ape, half monkey; it clamhered about the trees and ran, 
and probably ran well, on its hind-legs upon the ground. It 
was small-brained by our present standards, but it had clever 
hands with which it handled fruits and beat nuts upon the 
rocks and caught up sticks and stones to smite its fellows. 
Spite of the lack of material evidence, tho facts of biological 
science almost compel us to believe that such a creature existed, 
the common ancestor of the anthropoid apes and the two species 
of men we will describe in the next chapter. 


Through millions of simian generations the spinning world 
circled about the sun; slowly its orbit, which may have been 
nearly circular during the equable days of the early Eocene, 
was drawn by the attraction of the circling outer planets into 
a more elliptical form. Its axis of rotation, which had always 
heeled over to the plane of its orbit, as the mast of a yacht under 
sail heels over to the level of the water, heeled over by imper- 
ceptible degrees a little more and a little more. And each year 
its summer point shifted a little further from perihelion round 
its path. These were small changes to happen to a one-inch ball, 
circling at a distance of 330 yards from a flaming sun nine feet 
across, in the course of a few million years. They were changes 
an immortal astronomer in Neptune, watching the earth from 
age to age, would have found almost imperceptible. But from 
the point of view of the surviving mammalian life of the 
Miocene, they mattered profoundly. Age by age the winters 
grew on the whole colder and harder and a few hours longer 
relatively to the summers in a thousand years; age by age 
the summers grew briefer. On an average the winter snow 
lay a little later in the spring in each century, and the glaciers 
in the northern mountains gained an inch this year, receded 
half an inch next, came on again a few inches. . . . 

The Record of the Rocks tells of the increasing chill. The 
Pliocene was a temperate time, and many of the warmth-loving 
plants and animals had gone. Then, rather less deliberately, 
some feet or some inches every year, the ice came on. 

An arctic fauna, musk ox, woolly mammoth, woolly rhino- 
ceros, lemming, ushers in the Pleistocene. Over North Amer- 
ica, and Europe and Asia alike, the ice advanced. For thou- 


sands of years it advanced, and then for thousands of years it 
receded, to advance again. Europe down to the Baltic shores, 
Britain down to the Thames, North America down to New 
England, and more centrally as far south as Ohio, lay for ages 
under the glaciers. Enormous volumes of water were with- 
drawn from the ocean and locked up in those stupendous ice 
caps so as to cause a world-wide change in the relative levels 
of land and sea. Vast areas were exposed that are now again 
sea bottom. 

The world to-day is still coming slowly out of the last of four 
great waves of cold. It is not growing warmer steadily. There 
have been fluctuations. Remains of bog oaks, for example, 
which grew two or three thousand years ago, are found in Scot- 
land at latitudes in which not even a stunted oak will grow at 
the present time. And it is amidst this crescendo and diminu- 
endo of frost and snow that we first recognize forms that are 
like the forms of men. The Age of Mammals culminated in ice 
and hardship and man. 



1. Man Descended from a Walking Ape. 2. First Traces 
of Manlike Creatures. 3. The Heidelberg Sub-Man. 4. 
The Piltdown Sub-Man. 5. The Riddle of the Piltdown 

THE origin of man is still very obscure. It is commonly 
asserted that he is "descended" from some man-like ape 
such as the chimpanzee, the orang-utang, or the gorilla, 
but that of course is as reasonable as saying that I am "de- 
scended" from some Hottentot or Esquimau as young or 
younger than myself. Others, alive to this objection, say that 
man is descended from the common ancestor of the chimpanzee, 
the orang-utang, and the gorilla. Some "anthropologists" have 
even indulged in a speculation whether mankind may not have 
a double or treble origin ; the negro being descended from a 
gorilla-like ancestor, the Chinese from a chimpanzee-like an- 
cestor, and so on. These are very fanciful ideas, to be men- 
tioned only to be dismissed. It was formerly assumed that the 
human ancestor was "probably arboreal," but the current idea 
among those who are qualified to form an opinion seems to be 
that he was a "ground ape," and that the existing apes have 
developed in the arboreal direction. 

Of course if one puts the skeleton of a man and the skeleton 
of a gorilla side by side, their general resemblance is so great 
that it is easy to jump to the conclusion that the former is 
derived from such a type as the latter by a process of brain 
growth and general refinement. But if one examines closely 
into one or two differences, the gap widens. Particular stress 
has recently been laid upon the tread of the foot. Man walks 










B s? e 

w -T" . =: 

EH S -5 

^ ^^ g^ 

g ID ^ 3 

< cs OQ >i 

I B-S^ 

Q rt u 2 

g &o 2 

~ CO CO Si 




on his toe and his heel ; his great toe is his chief lever in walk- 
ing, as the reader may see for himself if he examines his own 
footprints on the bathroom floor and notes where the pressure 

with e&rUcst: 


Sakr<r- tooth. 


falls as the footprints become fainter. His great toe is the 
king of his toes. 

Among all the apes and monkeys, the only group that have 



their great toes developed on anything like the same fashion 
as man are some of the lemurs. The baboon walks on a flat foot 
and all his toes, using his middle toe as his chief throw-off, 
much as the bear does. And the three great apes all walk on 
the outer side of the foot in a very different manner from the 
walking of man. 

The great apes are forest dwellers; their walking even now 
is incidental ; they 
are at their happiest 
among trees. They 
have very distinctive 
methods of climb- 
ing; they swing by 
the arms much more 
than the monkeys do, 
and do not, like the 
latter, take off with 
a spring from the 
feet. They have a 
specially developed 
climbing style of 
their own. But man 
walks so well and 
runs so swiftly as to 
suggest a very long 
ancestry upon the 



The face, jaws, and teeth are mere guess-work 

(see text). The creature may have been much 

less human-looking than this. 

ground. Also, he 
does not climb well 
now; he climbs with 
caution and hesita- 
tion. His ancestors may have been running creatures for 
4ong ages. Moreover, it is to be noted that he does riot 
swim naturally; he has to learn to swim, and that seems to 
point to a long-standing separation from rivers and lakes and 
the sea. Almost certainly that ancestor was a smaller and 
slighter creature than its human descendants. Conceivably the 
human ancestor at the opening of the Cainozoic period was a 
running ape living chiefly on the ground, hiding among rocks 
rather than .trees. It could still climb trees well and hold things 
between its great toe and its second toe (as the Japanese can 
to this day), but it was already coming down to the ground 


again from a still remoter, a Mesozoic arboreal ancestry. It is 
quite understandable that such a creature would very rarely die 
in water in such circumstances as to leave bones to become 

It must always be borne in mind that among its many other 
imperfections the Geological Record necessarily contains abun- 
dant traces only of water or marsh creatures or of creatures 
easily and frequently drowned. The same reasons that make 
any traces of the ancestors of the mammals rare and relatively 
unprocurable in the Mesozoic rocks, probably make the traces 
of possible human ancestors rare and relatively unprocurable 
in the Cainozoic rocks. Such knowledge as we have of the 
earliest men, for example, is almost entirely got from a few 
caves, into which they went and in which they left their traces. 
Until the hard Pleistocene times they lived and died in the 
open, and their bodies were consumed or decayed altogether. 

But it is well to bear in mind also that the record of the rocks 
has still to be thoroughly examined. It has been studied only 
for a few generations, and by only a few men in each genera- 
tion. Most men have been too busy making war, making profits 
out of their neighbours, toiling at work that machinery could 
do for them in a tenth of the time, or simply playing about, 
to give any attention to these more interesting things. There 
may be, there probably are, thousands of deposits still untouched 
containing countless fragments and vestiges of man and his 
progenitors. In Asia particularly, in India or the East Indies, 
there may be hidden the most illuminating clues. What we 
know to-day of early men is the merest scrap of what will 
presently be known. 

The apes and monkeys already appear to have been differen- 
tiated at the beginning of the Cainozoic Age, and there are a 
number of Oligocene and Miocene apes whose relations to one 
another and to the human line have still to be made out. Among 
these we may mention Dryopithecus of the Miocene Age, with 
a very human-looking jaw. In the Siwalik Hills of northern 
India remains of some very interesting apes have been found, 
of which Sivapithecus and Palceopithecus were possibly related 
closely to the human ancestor. Possibly these animals already 
used implements. Charles Darwin represents baboons as open- 
ing nuts by breaking them with stones, using stakes to prise 
up rocks in the hunt for insects, and striking blows with sticks 


and stones. The chimpanzee makes itself a sort of tree hut 
by intertwining branches. Stones apparently chipped for use 
have been found in strata of Oligocene Age at Boncelles in 
Belgium. Possibly the implement-using disposition was al- 
ready present in the Mesozoic ancestry from which we are 


Among the earliest evidences of some creature, either human 
or at least more manlike than any living ape upon earth, are a 
number of flints and stones very roughly chipped and shaped 
so as to be held in the hand. These were probably used as hand- 
axes. These early implements ("Eoliths") are often so crude 
and simple that there was for a long time a controversy whether 
they were to be regarded as natural or artificial productions. 
The date of the earliest of them is put by geologists as 
Pliocene that is to say, before the First Glacial Age. They 
occur also throughout the First Interglacial period. We know 
of no bones or other remains in Europe or America of the quasi- 
human beings of half a million years ago, who made and used 
these implements. They used them to hammer with, perhaps 
they used them to fight with, and perhaps they used bits of 
wood for similar purposes. 1 

But at Trinil, in Java, in strata which are said to correspond 
either to the later Pliocene or to the American and European 
First Ice Age, there have been found some scattered bones of 
a creature, such as the makers of these early implements may 
have been. The top of a skull, some teeth, and a thigh-bone 
have been found. The skull shows a brain-case about half-way 
in size between that of the chimpanzee and man, but the thigh- 
bone is that of a creature as well adapted to standing and run- 
ning as a man, and as free, therefore, to use its hands. The 
creature was not a man, nor was it an arboreal ape like the 
chimpanzee. It was a walking ape. It has been named by 
naturalists Pithecanthropus erecius (the walking ape-man). 
We cannot say that it is a direct human ancestor, but we may 
guess that the creatures who scattered these first stone tools 

1 Some writers suppose that a Wood and Shell Age preceded the earliest 
Stone Age. South Sea Islanders, Negroes, and Bushmen still make use 
of wood and the sharp-edged shells of land and water molluscs as im- 


over the world must have been closely similar and kindred, and 
that our ancestor was a heast of like kind. This little trayful 
of bony fragments from Trinil is, at present, apart from stone 
implements, the oldest relic of early humanity, or of the close 
blood relations cf early humanity, that is known. 

While these early men or "sub-men" were running about 
Europe four or five hundred thousand years ago, there were 
mammoths, rhinoceroses, a huge hippopotamus, a giant beaver, 
and a bison and wild cattle in their world. There were also 
wild horses, and the sabre-toothed tiger still abounded. There 
are no traces of lions or true tigers at that time in Europe, but 
there were bears, otters, wolves, and a wild boar. It may be 
that the early sub-man sometimes played jackal to the sabre- 
toothed tiger, and finished up the bodies on which the latter 
had gorged itself. 


After this first glimpse of something at least sub-human in the 
record of geology, there is not another fragment of human or 
man-like bone yet known from that record for an interval of 
hundreds of thousands of years. It is not until we reach de- 
posits which are stated to be of the Second Interglacial period, 
200,000 years later, 200,000 or 250,000 years ago, that another 
little scrap of bone comes to hand. Then we find a jaw-bone. 

This jaw-bone was found in a sand-pit near Heidelberg, at a 
depth of eighty feet from the surface, and it is not the jaw- 
bone of a man as we understand man, but it is man-like in 
every respect, except that it has absolutely no trace of a chin ; 
it is more massive than a man's, and its narrowness behind 
could not, it is thought, have given the tongue sufficient play 
for articulate speech. It is not an ape's jaw-bone; the teeth 
are human. The owner of this jaw-bone has been variously 
named Homo Heidelbcrgensis and P alee oantlir opus Ileidelber- 
gensis, according to the estimate formed of his humanity or 
sub-humanity by various authorities. He lived in a world not 
remotely unlike the world of the still earlier sub-man of the 
first implements; the deposits in which it is found show that 
there were elephants, horses, rhinoceroses, bison, a moose, and 
so forth with it in the world, but the sabre-toothed tiger was 
declining and the lion was spreading over Europe. The imple- 
ments of this period (known as the Chellean period) are a very 


considerable advance upon those of the Pliocene Age. They 
are well made but very much bigger than any truly human 
implements. The Heidelberg man may have had a very big 
body and large fore limbs. He may have been a woolly, strange- 
looking creature. 

N 4 

We must turn over the Record for, it may be, another 100,000 
years for the next remains of anything human or sub-human. 
Then in a deposit ascribed to the Third Interglacial period, 
which may have begun 100,000 years ago and lasted 50,000 
years, the smashed pieces of a whole skull turn up. The de- 
posit is a gravel which may have been derived from the washing 
out of still earlier gravel strata, and this skull fragment may 
be in reality as old as the First Glacial Period. The bony re- 
mains discovered at Piltdown in Sussex display a creature still 
ascending only very gradually from the sub-human. 

The first scraps of this skull were found in an excavation 
for road gravel in Sussex. Bit by bit other fragments of this 
skull were hunted out from the quarry heaps until most of it 
could be pieced together. It is a thick skull, thicker than that 
of any living race of men, and it has a brain capacity inter- 
mediate between that of Pithecanthropus and man. This crea- 
ture has been named Eoanihropus, the dawn man. In the 
same gravel-pits were found teeth of rhinoceros, hippopotamus, 
and the leg-bone of a deer with marks upon it that may be cuts. 
A curious bat-shaped instrument of elephant bone has also been 

There was moreover a jaw-bone among these scattered re- 
mains, which was at first assumed naturally enough to belong to 
EoanthropuSj, but which it was afterwards suggested was prob- 
ably that of a chimpanzee. It is extraordinarily like that of a 
chimpanzee, but Dr. Keith, one of the greatest authorities in 
these questions, assigns it, after an exhaustive analysis in his 
Antiquity of Man (1915), to the skull with which it is found. 
It is, as a jaw-bone, far less human in character than the jaw 
of the much more ancient Homo Heidelbergensis, but the teeth 
are in some respects more like those of living men. 

Dr. Keith, swayed by the jaw-bone, does not think that 
Eoantliropus, in spite of its name, is a creature in the direct 
ancestry of man. Much less is it an intermediate form between 


the Heidelberg man and the Neanderthal man we shall pres- 
ently describe. It was only related to the true ancestor of man 
as the orang is related to the chimpanzee. It was one of a 
number of sub-human running apes of more than ape-like in- 
telligence, and if it was not on the line royal, it was at any 
rate a very close collateral. 

After this glimpse of a skull, the Record for very many 
centuries gives nothing but flint implements, which improve 
steadily in quality. A very characteristic form is shaped like a 
sole, with one flat side stricken off at one blow and the other 
side worked. The archa3ologists, as the Record continues, are 
presently able to distinguish scrapers, borers, knives, darts, 
throwing stones, and the like. Progress is now more rapid; 
in a few centuries the shape of the hand-axe shows distinct 
and recognizable improvements. And then comes quite a num- 
ber of remains. The Fourth Glacial Age is rising towards its 
maximum. Man is taking to caves and leaving vestiges there; 
at Krapina in Croatia, at Neanderthal near Diisseldorf, at 
Spy, human remains have been found, skulls and bones, of a 
creature that is certainly a man. Somewhen about 50,000 
years ago, if not earlier, appeared Homo Neanderthalensis 
(also called Homo antiquus and Homo primigenius), a quite 
passable human being. His thumb was not quite equal in flexi- 
bility and usefulness to a human thumb, he stooped forward 
and could not hold his head erect, as all living men do, he was 
chinless and perhaps incapable of speech, there were curious 
differences about the enamel and the roots of his teeth from 
those of all living men, he was very thick-set, he was, indeed, 
not quite of the human species; but there is no dispute about 
his attribution to the genus Homo. He was certainly not de- 
scended from Eoanthropus, but his jaw-bone is so like the 
Heidelberg jaw-bone, as to make it possible that the clumsier 
and heavier Homo Heidelbergensis, a thousand centuries before 
him, was of his blood and race. 


(The Early Paleolithic Age l ) 

1. The World 50 } 000 Years Ago. 2. The Daily Life of 
the First Men. 3. The Last Palwolithic Men. 

IN the time of the Third Interglacial period the outline of 
Europe and Western Asia was very different from what it 
is to-day. Vast areas to the west and north-west which 
are now under the Atlantic waters were then dry land; the 
Irish Sea and the North Sea were river valleys. Over these 
northern areas there spread and receded and spread again a 
great ice cap such as covers central Greenland to-day (see Map 
on p. 56). This vast ice cap, which covered both polar regions 
of the earth, withdrew huge masses of water from the ocean, 
and the sea-level consequently fell, exposing great areas of land 
that are now submerged again. The Mediterranean area was 
probably a great valley below the general sea-level, containing 
two inland seas cut off from the general ocean. The climate 
of this Mediterranean basin was perhaps cold temperate, and 
the region of the Sahara, to the south was not then a desert of 
baked rock and blown sand, but a well-watered and fertile coun- 
try. Between the ice sheets to the north and the Alps and 
Mediterranean valley to the south stretched a bleak wilderness 

1 Three phases of human history before the knowledge and use of metals 
are often distinguished. First there is the so-called Eolithic Age (dawn 
of stone implements), then the Palaeolithic Age (old stone implements), 
and finally an age in which the implements are skilfully made and fre- 
quently well finished and polished (Neolithic Age). The Palaeolithic 
Period is further divided into an earlier (sub-human) and a later (fully 
hunian) period. We shall comment on these divisions later, 


w S 


whose climate changed from harshness to a mild kindliness 
and then hardened again for the Fourth Glacial Age. 

Across this wilderness, which is now the great plain of 
Europe, wandered a various fauna. At first there were hippo- 
potami, rhinoceroses, mammoths, and elephants. The sabre- 
toothed tiger was diminishing towards extinction. Then, as 
the air chilled, the hippopotamus, and then other warmth-loving 
creatures, ceased to come so far north, and the sabre-toothed 
tiger disappeared altogether. The woolly mammoth, the woolly 
rhinoceros, the musk ox, the bison, the aurochs, and the reindeer 
became prevalent, and the temperate vegetation gave place to 
plants of a more arctic type. The glaciers spread southward to 
the maximum of the Fourth Glacial Age (about 50,000 years 
ago), and then receded again. In the earlier phase, the Third 
Interglacial period, a certain number of small family groups 
of men (Homo Neanderthalensis) and probably of sub-men 
(Eoantliropus) wandered over the land, leaving nothing but 
their flint implements to witness to their presence. They prob- 
ably used a multitude and variety of wooden implements also; 
they had probably learnt much about the shapes of objects and 
the use of different shapes from wood, knowledge which they 
afterwards applied to stone; but none of this wooden material 
has survived; we can only speculate about its forms and uses. 
As the weather hardened to its maximum of severity, the 
Neanderthal men, already it would seem acquainted with the 
use of fire, began to seek shelter under rock ledges and in caves 
and so leave remains behind them. Hitherto they had been 
accustomed to squat in the open about the fire, and near their 
water supply. But they were sufficiently intelligent to adapt 
themselves to the new and harder conditions. (As for the sub- 
men, they seem to have succumbed to the stresses of this Fourth 
Glacial Age altogether. At any rate, the rudest type of Paleo- 
lithic implements presently disappears.) 

Not merely man was taking to the caves. This period also 
had a cave lion, a cave bear, and a cave hyaena. These creatures 
had to be driven out of the caves and kept out of the caves in 
which these early men wanted to squat and hide ; and ro doubt 
fire was an effective method of eviction and protection. Prob- 
ably early men did not go deeply into the caves, because they 
had no means of lighting their recesses. They got in far 
enough to be out of the weather, and stored wood and food in odd 



corners. Perhaps they barricaded the cave mouths. Their 
only available light for going deeply into the caverns would be 

What did these Neanderthal men hunt ? Their only possible 
weapons for killing such giant creatures as the mammoth or 
the cave bear, or even the reindeer, were spears of wood, wooden 
clubs, and those big pieces of flint they left behind them, the 
"Chellean" and "Mousterian" implements ; l and probably their 
usual quarry was smaller game. But they did certainly eat 
the flesh of the big beasts when they had a chance, and perhaps 

they followed them 
when sick or when, 
wounded by combats, 
or took advantage of 
them when they were 
bogged or in trouble 
with ice or water. 
(The Labrador Indi- 
ans still kill the cari- 
bou with spears at 
awkward river cross- 
ings.) At Dewlish, 
in Dorset, an artifi- 
cial trench has been 
found which is sup- 
posed to have been a 
Palaeolithic trap for 

elephants. 2 We know 
that the !N"eanderthalers partly ate their kill where it fell ; but 
they brought back the big narrow bones to the cave to crack and 
eat at leisure, because few ribs and vertebrae are found in the 
caves, but great quantities of cracked and split long bones. 
They used skins to wrap about them, and the women probably 
dressed the skins. 

We know also that they were right-handed like modern men, 
because the left side of the brain (which serves the right side 
of the body) is bigger than the right. But while the back parts 
of the brain which deal with sight and touch and the energy 
of the body are well developed, the front parts, whic 1 - are con- 

J From Chelles and Le Moustier in France. 

8 Osmond Fisher, quoted jn Wright's Quaternary Ice 


nected with thought and speech, are comparatively small. It 
was as big a brain as ours, but different. This species of Homo 
had certainly a very different mentality from ours; its indi- 
viduals were not merely simpler and lower than we are, they 
were on another line. It may be they did not speak at all, 
or very sparingly. They had nothing that we should call a 

In Worthington Smith's Man the Primeval Savage there is 
a very vividly written description of early Palaeolithic life, 
from which much of the following account is borrowed. In 
the original, Mr. Worthington Smith assumes a more extensive 
social life, a larger community, and a more definite division of 
labour among its members than is altogether justifiable in the 
face of such subsequent writings as J. J. Atkinson's memorable 
essay on Primal Law. 1 For the little tribe Mr. Worthington 
Smith described, there has been substituted, therefore, a family 
group under the leadership of one Old Man, and the suggestions 
of Mr. Atkinson as to the behaviour of the Old Man have been 
worked into the sketch. 

Mr. Worthington Smith describes a squatting-place near a 
stream, because primitive man, having no pots or other vessels, 
must needs have kept close to a water supply, and with some 
chalk cliffs adjacent from which flints could be got to work. 
The air was bleak, and the fire was of great importance, be- 
cause fires once out were not easily relit in those days. When 
not required to blaze it was probably banked down with ashes. 
The most probable way in which fires were started was by 
hacking a bit of iron pyrites with a flint amidst dry dead leaves ; 
concretions of iron pyrites and flints are found together in 
England where the gault and chalk approach each other. 2 The 
little group of people would be squatting about amidst a litter 
of fern, moss, and such-like dry material. Some of the women 
and children would need to be continually gathering fuel to 
keep up the fires. It would be a tradition that had grown up. 

1 Social Origins, by Andrew Lang, and Primal Law, by J. J. Atkinson. 
(Longmans, 1903.) 

2 This first origin of fire was suggested by Sir John Lubbock (Prehistoric 
Times), and Ludwig Hopf, in The Human Species, says that "Flints and 
pieces of pyrites are found in close proximity in palaeolithic settlements 
near the remains of mammoths." 



tliic Stone Implement; 

Call roughly to 
seal* of hand 

Three views < a. TOStro- 

cartnate (earliest period) 


[N.B.Thi* us 

a modem. not a. Neander- 
thal- Hand.] 


<J. F! H 


The Mousterian Age implements, and all above it, are those of 
Neanderthal men or, possibly in the case of the rostro-carinates, of 
sub-men. The lower row (Reindeer Age) are the work of true men. 
The student should compare this diagram with the time diagram 
attached to Chapter VII, 1, and he should note the relatively large 
size of the pre-human implements. 


The young would imitate their elders in this task. Perhaps 
there would be rude wind shelters of boughs on one side of 
the encampment. 

The Old Man, the father and master of the group, would 
perhaps be engaged in hammering flints beside the fire. The 
children would imitate him and learn to use the sharpened 
fragments. Probably some of the women would hunt good 
flints; they would fish them out of the chalk with sticks and 
bring them to the squatting-place. 

There would be skins about. It seems probable that at a 
very early time primitive men took to using skins. Probably 
they were wrapped about the children, and used to lie upon 
when the ground was damp and cold. A woman would perhaps 
be preparing a skin. The inside of the skin would be well 
scraped free of superfluous flesh with trimmed flints, and then 
strained and pulled and pegged out flat on the grass, and dried 
in the rays of the sun. 

Away from the fire other members of the family group prowl 
in search of food, but at night they all gather closely round 
the fire and build it up, for it is their protection against the 
wandering bear and such-like beasts of prey. The Old Man 
is the only fully adult male in the little group. There are 
women, boys and girls, but so soon as the boys are big enough 
to rouse the Old Man's jealousy, he will fall foul of them and 
either drive them off or kill them. Some girls may perhaps go 
off with these exiles, or two or three of these youths may keep 
together for a time, wandering until they come upon some other 
group, from which they may try to steal a mate. Then they 
would probably fall out among themselves. Some day, when 
he is forty years old perhaps or even older, and his teeth are 
worn down and his energy abating, some younger male will 
stand up to the Old Man and kill him and reign in his stead. 
There is probably short shrift for the old at the squatting- 
place. So soon as they grow weak and bad-tempered, trouble 
and death come upon them. 

What did they eat at the squatting-place ? 

"Primeval man is commonly described as a hunter of the 
great hairy mammoth, of the bear, and the lion, but it is in the 
highest degree improbable that the human savage ever hunted 
animals much larger than the hare, the rabbit, and the rat. 
Man was probably the hunted rather than the hunter. 





Glacial Acre 

"The primeval savage was both herbivorous and carnivorous. 
He had for food hazel-nuts, beech-nuts, sweet chestnuts, earth- 
nuts, and acorns. He had crab-apples, wild pears, wild cherries, 
wild gooseberries, bullaces, sorbs, sloes, blackberries, yewberries, 
hips and haws, watercress, fungi, the larger and softer leaf- 
buds, Nostoc (the vegetable substance called 'fallen stars' by 
countryfolk), the fleshy, juicy, asparagus-like rhizomes or sub- 
terranean stems of the Labiatce and like plants, as well as other 
delicacies of the vegetable kingdom. He had birds' eggs, young 

birds, and the honey 
and honeycomb of 
wild bees. He had 
newts, snails, and 
frogs the two latter 
delicacies are still 
highly esteemed in 
Normandy and Brit- 
tany. He had fish, 
dead and alive, and 
fresh-water mussels; 
he could easily catch 
fish with his hands 
and paddle and dive 
for and trap them. 
By the seaside he 
would have fish, mol- 
lusca, and seaweed. 
He would have many 
of the larger birds 
and smaller mam- 
mals, which he could easily secure by throwing stones and sticks, 
or by setting simple snares. He would have the snake, the 
slow worm, and the crayfish. He would have various grubs 
and insects, the large Iarva3 of beetles and Various cater- 
pillars. The taste for caterpillars still survives in China, where 
they are sold in dried bundles in the markets. A chief and 
highly nourishing object of food would doubtlessly be bones 
smashed up into a stiff and gritty paste. 

"A fact of great importance is this primeval man would 
not be particular about having his flesh food over-fresh. He 
would constantly find it in a dead state, and, if semi-putrid, he 


would relish it none the less the taste for high or half-putrid 
game still survives. If driven by hunger and hard pressed, he 
would perhaps sometimes eat his weaker companions or un- 
heahhy children who happened to be feeble or unsightly or 
burthensome. The larger animals in a weak and dying state 
would no doubt be much sought for ; when these were not forth- 
coming, dead and half -rotten examples would be made to suffice. 
An unpleasant odour would not be objected to; it is not ob- 
jected to now in many continental hotels. 

"The savages sat huddled close together round their fire, 
with fruits, bones, and half-putrid flesh. We can imagine 
the old man and his women twitching the skin of their shoul- 
ders, brows, and muzzles as they were annoyed or bitten by 
flies or other insects. We can imagine the large human nostrils, 
indicative of keen scent, giving rapidly repeated sniffs at the 
foul meat before it was consumed ; the bad odour of the meat, 
and the various other disgusting odours belonging to a haunt 
of savages, being not in the least disapproved. 

"Man at that time was not a degraded animal, for he had 
never been higher; he was therefore an exalted animal, and, 
low as we esteem him now, he yet represented the highest 
stage of development of the animal kingdom of his time." 

That is at least an acceptable sketch of a Neanderthal squat- 
ting-place. But before extinction overtook them, even the Nean- 
derthalers learnt much and went far. 

Whatever the older Palaeolithic men did with their dead, there 
is reason to suppose that the later Homo N eanderthalensis 
buried some individuals at least with respect and ceremony. 
One of the best-known Neanderthal skeletons is that of a youth 
who apparently had been deliberately interred. He had been 
placed in a sleeping posture, head on the right fore-arm. The 
head lay on a number of flint fragments carefully piled to- 
gether "pillow fashion." A big hand-axe lay near his head, 
and around him were numerous charred and split ox bones, 
as though there had been a feast or an offering. 

To this appearance of burial during the later Neanderthal 
age we shall return when we are considering the ideas that were 
inside the heads of primitive men. 

This sort of men may have wandered, squatted about their 
fires, and died in Europe for a period extending over 100,000 
years, if we assume, that is, that the Heidelberg jaw-bone 


belongs to a member of the species, a period so vast that all the 
subsequent history of our race becomes a thing of yesterday. 
Along its own line this species of men was accumulating a dim 
tradition, and working out its limited possibilities. Its thick 
skull imprisoned its brain, and to the end it was low-browed 
and brutish. 



(Later Palaeolithic Age) 

1. The Coming of Men Like Ourselves. 2. Hunters Give 
Place to Herdsmen. 3. No Sub-Men in America. 

THE Neanderthal type of man prevailed in Europe at 
least for tens of thousands of years. For ages that make 
all history seem a thing of yesterday, these nearly human 
creatures prevailed. If the Heidelberg jaw was that of a 
Neanderthaler, and if there is no error in the estimate of the 
age of that jaw, then the Neanderthal Race lasted out for more 
than 200,000 years! Finally, between 40,000 and 25,000 
years ago, as the Fourth Glacial Age softened towards more 
temperate conditions (see Map on p. 68), a different human 
type came upon the scene, and, it would seem, exterminated 
Homo Neanderthalensis. 1 This new type was probably de- 
veloped in South Asia or North Africa, or in lands now sub- 

ir lhe opinion that the Neanderthal race (Homo Neanderthalensis) is 
an extinct species which did not interbreed with the true men (Homo 
sapiens) is held by Professor Osborn, and it is the view to which the 
writer inclines and to which he has pointed in the treatment of this 
section; but it is only fair to the reader to note that many writers do not 
share this view. They write and speak of living "Neanderthalers" in 
contemporary populations. One observer has written in the past of such 
types in the west of Ireland; another has observed them in Greece. These 
so-called "living Neanderthalers" have neither the peculiarities of neck, 
thumb, nor teeth that distinguish the Neanderthal race of pre-men. The 
cheek teeth of true men, for instance, have what we call fangs, long fangs; 
the Neanderthaler's cheek tooth is a more complicated and specialized 
cheek tooth, a long tooth with short fangs, and his canine teeth were less 
marked, less like dog-teeth, than ours. Nothing could show more clearly 
that he was on a different line of development. We must remember that 
so far only western Europe has been properly explored for Palaeolithic 




merged in the Mediterranean basin, and, as more remains are 
collected and evidence accumulates, men will learn more of 
their early stages. At present we can only guess where and 
how, through the slow ages, parallel with the Neanderthal 
cousin, these first true men arose out of some more ape-like 
progenitor. For hundreds of centuries they were acquiring 
skill of hand and limb, and power and bulk of brain, in that 
still unknown environment. They were already far above the 
Neanderthal level of achievement and intelligence, when first 

they come into our 
ken, and they had al- 
ready split into two 
or more very distinc- 
tive races. 

These newcomers 
did not migrate into 
Europe in the strict 
sense of the word, 
but rather, as cen- 
tury by century the 
climate ameliorated, 
they followed the 
food and plants to 
which they were ac- 
customed, as those 
spread into the new 
realms that opened 
to them. The ice was receding, vegetation was increasing, 
big game of all sorts was becoming more abundant. Steppe- 
like conditions, conditions of pasture and shrub, were bringing 
with them vast herds of wild horse. Ethnologists (students of 
race) class these new human races in one same species as our- 
selves, and with all human races subsequent to them, under one 

remains, and that practically all we know of the Neanderthal species 
comes from that area (see Map, p. 56). No doubt the ancestor of 
Homo sapiens (which species includes the Tasmanians) was a very similar 
and parallel creature to Homo neanderthalensis. And we are not so 
far from that ancestor as to have eliminated not indeed "Neanderthal," 
but "JS'eanderthaloid" types. The existence of such types no more proves 
that the Neanderthal species, the makers of the Chellean and Mousterian 
implements, interbred with Homo sapiens in the European area than do 
monkey-faced people testify to an interbreeding with monkeys; or people 
with faces like horses, that there is an equine strain in our population. 


common specific name of Homo sapiens. They had quite human 
brain-cases and hands. Their teeth and their necks were 
anatomically as ours are. 

We know of two distinct sorts of skeletal remains in this 
period, the first of these known as the Cro-Magnon race, and 
the second the Grimaldi race ; but the great bulk of the human 
traces and appliances we find are either without human bones 
or with insufficient bones for us to define their associated phys- 
ical type. There may have been many more distinct races than 
these two. There may have been intermediate types. In the 
grotto of Cro-Magnon it was that complete skeletons of one 
main type of these Newer Paleolithic men, these true men, 
were first found, and so it is that they are spoken of as Cro- 

These Cro-Magnards were a tall people with very broad faces, 
prominent noses, and, all things considered, astonishingly big 
brains. The brain capacity of the woman in the Cro-Magnon 
cave exceeded that of the average male to-day. Her head had 
been smashed by a heavy blow. There were also in the same 
cave with her the complete skeleton of an older man, nearly six 
feet high, the fragments of a child's skeleton, and the skeletons 
of two young men. There were also flint implements and 
perforated sea-shells, used no doubt as ornaments. Such is one 
sample of the earliest true men. But at the Grimaldi cave, 
near Mentone, were discovered two' skeletons also of the later 
Paleolithic Period, but of a widely contrasted type, with, 
negroid characteristics that point rather to the negroid type. 
There can be no doubt that we have to deal in this period with 
at least two, and probably more, highly divergent races of true 
men. They may have overlapped in time, or Cro-Magnards 
may have followed the Grimaldi race, and either or both may 
have been contemporary with the late Neanderthal men. Vari- 
ous authorities have very strong opinions upon these points, 
but they are, at most, opinions. 

The appearance of these truly human postglacial Paleolithic 
peoples was certainly an enormous leap forward in the history 
of mankind. Both of these main races had a human fore- 
brain, a human hand, an intelligence very like our own. They 
dispossessed Homo NcandertJialensis from his caverns and his 
stone quarries. And they agreed with modern ethnologists, it 
would seem, in regarding him as a different species. Unlike 





most savage conquerors, who take the women of the defeated 
side for their own and interbreed with them, it would seem that 
the true men would have nothing to do with the Neanderthal 

"Sane points 

Australian nahx&s* 
method of using 
th^cwing-stick or 

(reindeer horn) 

race, women or men. There is no trace of any intermixture 
between the races, in spite of the fact that the newcomers, being 
also flint users, were establishing themselves in the very same 
spots that their predecessors had occupied. We know nothing 


of the appearance of the Neanderthal man, but this absence of 
intermixture seems to suggest an extreme hairiness, an ugliness, 
or a repulsive strangeness in his appearance over and above his 
low forehead, his beetle brows, his ape neek, and his inferior 
stature. Or he and she may have been too fierce to tame. 
Says Sir Harry Johnston, in a survey of the rise of modern 
man in his Views and Reviews: "The dim racial remembrance 
of such gorilla-like monsters, with cunning brains, shambling 
gait, hairy bodies, strong teeth, and possibly cannibalistic tend- 
encies, may be the germ of the ogre in folklore. . . ." 

These true men of the Paleolithic Age, who replaced the 
Neanderthalers, were coming into a milder climate, and al- 
though they used the caves and shelters of their predecessors, 
they lived largely in the open. They were hunting peoples, 
and some or all of them appear to have hunted the mammoth 
and the wild horse as well as the reindeer, bison, and aurochs. 
They ate much horse. At a great open-air camp at Solutre, 
where they seem to have had annual gatherings for many cen- 
turies, it is estimated that there are the bones of 100,000 horses, 
besides reindeer, mammoth, and bison bones. They probably 
followed herds of horses, the little bearded ponies of that age, 
as these moved after pasture. They hung about on the flanks 
of the herd, and became very wise about its habits and disposi- 
tions. A large part of these men's lives must have been spent 
in watching animals. 

Whether they tamed and domesticated the horse is still an 
open question. Perhaps they learnt to do so by degrees as the 
centuries passed. At any rate, we find late Paleolithic draw- 
ings of horses with marks about the heads that are strongly 
suggestive of bridles, and there exists a carving of a horse's 
head showing what is perhaps a rope of twisted skin or tendon. 
But even if they tamed the horse, it is still more doubtful 
whether they rode it or had much use for it when it was tamed. 
The horse they knew was a wild pony with a beard under its 
chin, not up to carrying a man for any distance. It is improb- 
able that these men had yet learnt the rather unnatural use of 
animal's milk as food. If they tamed the horse at last, it 
was the only animal they seem to have tamed. They had no 
dogs, and they had little to do with any sort of domesticated 
sheep or cattle. 

It greatly aids us to realize their common humanity that 


these earliest true men could draw. Both races, it would seem, 
drew astonishingly well. They were by all standards savages, 
but they were artistic savages. They drew better than any of 
their successors down to the beginnings of history. They drew 
and painted on the cliffs and cave walls th#t they had wrested 
from the Neanderthal men. And the surviving drawings come 
to the ethnologist, puzzling over bones and scraps, with the 
effect of a plain message shining through guesswork and dark- 
ness. They drew on bones and antlers; they carved little 

These later Palaeolithic people not only drew remarkably well 
for our information, and with an increasing skill as the cen- 
turies passed, but they have also left us other information about 
their lives in their graves. They buried. They buried their 
dead, often with ornaments, weapons, and food; they used a 
lot of colour in the burial, and evidently painted the body. 
From that one may infer that they painted their bodies during 
life. Paint was a big fact in their lives. They were inveterate 
painters; they used black, brown, red, yellow, and white pig- 
ments, and the pigments they used endure to this day in the 
caves of France and Spain. Of all modern races, none have 
shown so pictorial a disposition ; the nearest approach to it has 
been among the American Indians. 

These drawings and paintings of the later Palaeolithic people 
went on through a long period of time, and present wide fluctua- 
tions in artistic merit. We give here some early sketches, from 
which we learn of the interest taken by these early men in the 
bison, horse, ibex, cave bear, and reindeer. In its early stages 
the drawing is often primitive like the drawing of clever chil- 
dren; quadrupeds are usually drawn with one hind-leg and 
one fore-leg, as children draw them to this day. The legs on 
the other side were too much for the artist's technique. Possi- 
bly the first drawings began as children's drawings begin, out 
of idle scratchings. The savage scratched with a flint on a 
smooth rock surface, and was reminded of some line or gesture. 
But their solid carvings are at least as old as their first pic- 
tures. The earlier drawings betray a complete incapacity to 
group animals. As the centuries progressed, more skilful artists 
appeared. The representation of beasts became at last astonish- 
ingly vivid and like. But even at the crest of their artistic 
time they still drew in profile as children do; perspective and 


the fore-shortening needed for back and front views were too 
much for them. 1 They rarely drew themselves. The vast 
majority of their drawings represent animals. The mammoth 
and the horse are among the commonest themes. Some of the 
people, whether Grimaldi people or Cro-Magnon people, also 
made little ivory and soapstone statuettes, and among these are 
some very fat female figures. These latter suggest the physique 
of Grimaldi rather than of Cro-Magnon artists. They are like 


*Paiirhna in -four colours (Gave ofAJtamirvL , Spain) 

Bushmen women. The human sculpture of the earlier times 
inclined to caricature, and generally such human figures as 
they represent are far below the animal studies in vigour and 

Later on there was more grace and less coarseness in the 
human representations. One little ivory head discovered is 
that of a girl with an elaborate coiffure. These people at a 
later stage also scratched and engraved designs on ivory and 
bone. Some of the most interesting groups of figures are 

1 R. I. Pocock. 


carved very curiously round bone, and especially round rods 
of deer bone, so that it is impossible to see the entire design 

Stag and salmon. 
gruxmvcd- on 

u o 

^- Snorraved 

"Head, of A woman, carved in- 

altogether. Figures have also been found modelled in clay, 
although no Palaeolithic people made any use of pottery. 

Many of the paintings are found in the depths of unlit 
caves. They are often difficult of access. The artists must 


have employed lamps to do their work, and shallow soapstone 
lamps in which fat could have been burnt have been found. 
Whether the seeing of these cavern paintings was in some way 
ceremonial or under what circumstances they were seen, we 
are now altogether at a loss to imagine. 

At last it would seem that circumstances began to turn alto- 
gether against these hunting Newer Palaeolithic people who had 
flourished for so long in Europe. They disappeared. New 
kinds of men appeared in Europe, replacing them. These 
latter seem to have brought in bow and arrows; they had do- 
mesticated animals and cultivated the soil. A new way of 
living, the Neolithic way of living, spread over the European 
area ; and the life of the Reindeer Age and of the races of Rein- 
deer men, the Later Palaeolithic men, after a reign vastly greater 
than the time between ourselves and the very earliest begin- 
nings of recorded history, passed off the European stage. 

It was about 12,000 or fewer years ago that, with the spread 
of forests and a great change of the fauna, the long prevalence 
of the hunting life in Europe drew to its end. Reindeer van- 
ished. Changing conditions frequently bring with them new 
diseases. There may have been prehistoric pestilences. For 
many centuries there may have been no men in Britain or 
Central Europe (Wright). For a time there were in Southern 
Europe drifting communities of some little known people who 
are called the Azilians. 1 They may have been transition gen- 
erations; they may have been a different race. We do not 
know. Some authorities incline to the view that the Azilians 
were the first wave of a race which, as we shall see later, has 
played a great part in populating Europe, the dark-white or 
Mediterranean or Iberian race. These Azilian people have 
left behind them a multitude of pebbles, roughly daubed with 
markings of an unknown purport (see illus. p. 73). The use or 
significance of these Azilian pebbles is still a profound mystery. 
Was this some sort of token writing? Were they counters in 
some game ? Did the Azilians play with these pebbles or tell a 
story with them, as imaginative children will do with bits of 

1 From the cavq of Mas d'Azil. 


wood and stone nowadays ? At present we are unable to cope 
with any of these questions. 

We will not deal here with the other various peoples who 
left their scanty traces in the world during the close of the 
New Palaeolithic period, the spread of the forests where for- 
merly there had been steppes, and the wane of the hunters, 
some 10,000 or 12,000 years ago. We will go on to describe 
the new sort of human community that was now spreading over 
the northern hemisphere, whose appearance marks what is called 
the Neolithic Age. The map of the world was assuming some- 
thing like its present outlines, the landscape and the flora and 
fauna were taking on their existing characteristics. The pre- 
vailing animals in the spreading woods of Europe were the royal 
stag, the great ox, and the bison ; the mammoth and the musk 
ox had gone. The great ox, or aurochs, is now extinct, but it 
survived in the German forests up to the time of the Roman 
Empire. It was never domesticated. 1 It stood eleven feet 
high at the shoulder, as high as an elephant. There were still 
lions in the Balkan peninsula, and they remained there until 
about 1,000 or 1,200 B.C. The lions of Wiirtemberg and South 
Germany in those days were twice the size of the modern lion. 
South Russia and Central Asia were thickly wooded then, and 
there were elephants in Mesopotamia and Syria, and a fauna 
in Algeria that was tropical African in character. 

Hitherto men in Europe had never gone farther north than 
the Baltic Sea or the British Isles, but now the Scandinavian 
peninsula and perhaps Great Russia were becoming possible 
regions for human occupation. There are no Paleolithic re 
mains in Sweden or Norway. Man, when he entered these 
countries, was apparently already at the Neolithic stage of 
social development. 


Nor is there any convincing evidence of man in America 
before the end of the Pleistocene. 2 The same relaxation of the 

1 But our domestic cattle are derived from some form of aurochs 
probably from some lesser Central Asiatic variety. H. H. J. 

2 "The various finds of human remains in North America for which 
the geological antiquity has been claimed have been thus briefly passed 
under review. In every instance where enough of the bones is preserved 
for comparison, the evidence bears witness against the geological antiquity 
of the remains and for their close affinity to or identity with the modern 


climate that permitted the retreat of the reindeer hunters into 
Russia and Siberia, as the Neolithic tribes advanced, may have 
allowed them to wander across the land that is now cut by 
Bering Strait, and so reach the American continent. They 
spread thence southward, age by age. When they reached 
South America, they found the giant sloth (the Megatherium), 
the glyptodon, and many other extinct creatures, still flourish- 
ing. The glyptodon was a monstrous South American arma- 
dillo, and a human skeleton has been found by Roth buried 
beneath its huge tortoise-like shell. 1 

All the human remains in America, even the earliest, it is 
to be noted, are of an Amer-Indian character. In America 
there does not seem to have been any preceding races of sub- 
men. Man was fully man when he entered America. The old 
world was the nursery of the sub-races of mankind. 

Indian." (Smithsonian Institute, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bul- 
letin 33. Dr. Hrdlicka.) 

But J. Deniker quotes evidence to show that eoliths and early palseoliths 
have been found in America. See his compact but full summary of the 
evidence and views for and against in his Races* of Man, pp. 510, 511. 

* "Questioned by some authorities," says J. Deniker in The Races of Man. 



1. The Age of Cultivation Begins. 2. Where Did the 
Neolithic Culture Arise? 3. Everyday Neolithic Life. 
4. Primitive Trade. 5. The Flooding of the Medi- 
terranean Valley. 

THE Neolithic phase of human affairs began in Europe 
about 10,000 or 12,000 years ago. But probably men 
had reached the Neolithic stage elsewhere some thou- 
sands of years earlier. Neolithic men came slowly into Europe 
from the south or south-east as the reindeer and the open 
steppes gave way to forest and modern European conditions. 

The Neolithic stage in culture is characterized by: (1) the 
presence of polished stone implements, and in particular the 
stone axe, which was perforated so as to be the more effectually 
fastened to a wooden handle, and which was probably used 
rather for working wood than in conflict. There are also abun- 
dant arrow-heads. The fact that some implements are polished 
does not preclude the presence of great quantities of implements 
of unpolished stone. But there are differences in the make 
between even the unpolished tools of the Neolithic and of the 
Palaeolithic Period. (2) The beginning of a sort of agricul- 
ture, and the use of plants and seeds. But at first there are 
abundant evidences that hunting was still of great importance 
in the Neolithic Age. Neolithic man did not at first sit down 
to his agriculture. He took snatch crops. He settled later. 

(3) Pottery and proper cooking. The horse is no longer eaten. 

(4) Domesticated animals. The dog appears very early. The 
Neolithic man had domesticated cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs. 



lie was a huntsman turned herdsman of the herds he once 
hunted. (5) Plaiting and weaving. 

These Neolithic people probably "migrated" into Europe, 
in the same way that the Reindeer Men had migrated before 
them; that is to say, generation by generation and century by 
century, as the climate changed, they spread after their accus- 
tomed food. They were not "nomads." Nomadism, like civili- 
zation, had still to be developed. At present we are quite un- 
able to estimate how far the Neolithic peoples were new-comers 
and how far their arts were developed or acquired by the de- 
scendants of some of the hunters and fishers of the Later 
Paleolithic Age. 

Whatever our conclusions in that matter, this much we may 
say with certainty ; there is no great break, no further sweeping 
away of one kind of man and replacement by another kind be- 
tween the appearance of the Neolithic way of living and our 
own time. There are invasions, conquests, extensive emigra- 
tions and intermixtures, but the races as a whole carry on and 
continue to adapt themselves to the areas into which they began 
to settle in the opening of the Neolithic Age. The Neolithic 
men of Europe were white men ancestral to the modern Euro- 
peans. They may have been of a darker complexion than many 
of their descendants; of that we cannot speak with certainty. 
But there is no real break in culture from their time onward 
until we reach the age of coal, steam, and power-driven ma- 
chinery that began in the eighteenth century. 

After a long time gold, the first known of the metals, appears 
among the bone ornaments with jet and amber. Irish Neolithic 
remains are particularly rich in gold. Then, perhaps 6,000 
or 7,000 years ago in Europe, Neolithic people began to use 
copper in certain centres, making out of it implements of much 
the same pattern as their stone ones. They cast the copper in 
moulds made to the shape of the stone implements. Possibly 
they first found native copper and hammered it into shape. 1 
Later we will not venture upon figures men had found out 
how to get copper from its ore. Perhaps, as Lord Avebury sug- 
gested, they discovered the secret of smelting by the chance put- 
ting of lumps of copper ore among the ordinary stones with 
which they built the fire pits they used for cooking. In China, 

1 Native copper is still found to-day in Italy, Hungary, Cornwall, and 
many other places. 



Hungary, Cornwall, and elsewhere copper ore and tinstone 
occur in the same veins ; it is a very common association, and 
so, rather through dirtiness than skill, the ancient smelters, it 


(drawn to 


cff* polished stone. 

may be, hit upon the harder and better bronze, which is an 
alloy of copper and tin. Bronze is not only harder than copper, 
but the mixture of tin and copper is more fusible and easier to 
reduce. The so-called "pure-copiper" implements usually con- 


tain a small proportion of tin, and there are no tin implements 
known, nor very much evidence to show that early men knew 
of tin as a separate metal. 1 2 The plant of a prehistoric copper 
smelter has been found in Spain, and the material of bronze 
foundries in various localities. The method of smelting re- 
vealed by these finds carries out Lord Avebury's suggestion. 
In India, where zinc and copper ore occur together, brass 
(which is an alloy of the two metals) was similarly hit upon. 

So slight was the change in fashions and methods produced 
by the appearance of bronze, that for a long time such bronze 
axes and so forth as were made were cast in moulds to the shape 
of the stone implements they were superseding. 

Finally, perhaps as early as 3,000 years ago in Europe, and 
even earlier in Asia Minor, men began to smelt iron. Once 
smelting was known to men, there is no great marvel in the 
finding of iron. They smelted iron by blowing up a charcoal 
fire, and wrought it by heating and hammering. They produced 
it at first in comparatively small pieces ; 3 its appearance 
worked a gradual revolution in weapons and implements; but it 
did not suffice to change the general character of men's sur- 
roundings. Much the same daily life that was being led by 
the more settled Neolithic men 10,000 years ago, was being led 
by peasants in out-of-the-way places all over Europe at the be- 
ginning of the eighteenth century. 

People talk of the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron 
Age in Europe, but it is misleading to put these ages as if they 
were of equal importance in history. Much truer is it to say 
that there was: 

(1) An Early Palaeolithic Age, of vast duration; (2) a 
Later Palceolithic Age, that lasted not a tithe of the time; and 

*Ridgeway (Early Age of Greece) says a lump of tin has been found 
in the Swiss pile-dwelling deposits. 

3 Tin was known as a foreign import in Egypt under the XVIIIth 
Dynasty; there is (rare) Mycenaan tin, and there are (probably later, 
but not clearly dated) tin objects in the Caucasus. But it is very diffi- 
cult to distinguish tin from antimony. There is a good deal of Cyprus 
bronze which contains antimony; a good deal which seems to be tin is 
antimony the ancients trying to get tin, but actually getting antimony 
and thinking it was tin. J. L. M. 

a ln connection with iron, note the distinction of ornamental and useful 
iron. Ornamental iron, a rarity, perhaps meteoric, as jewellery or magical 
stuff, occurs in east Europe sporadically in the time of the XVIIIth 
Dynasty. This must be distinguished from the copious useful iron 
which appears in Greece much later from the North. J. \*. M, 


(3) the Age of Cultivation, the age of the white men in Europe, 
which began 10,000 or at most 12,000 years ago, of which the 
Neolithic Period was the beginning, and which is still going on. 


We do not know yet the region in which the ancestors of the 
brownish Neolithic peoples worked their way up from the 
Palaeolithic stage of human development. Probably it was some- 
where about south-western Asia, or in some region now sub- 
merged beneath the Mediterranean Sea or the Indian Ocean, 
that, while the Neanderthal men still lived their hard lives in 
the bleak climate of a glaciated Europe, the ancestors of the 
white men developed the rude arts of their Later Palaeolithic 
period. But they do not seem to have developed the artistic 
skill of their more northerly kindred, the European Later 
Palaeolithic races. And through the hundred centuries or so 
while Reindeer men were living under comparatively unprogres- 
sive conditions upon the steppes of France, Germany, and 
Spain, these more favoured and progressive people to the south 
were mastering agriculture, learning to develop 1 their appli- 
ances, taming the dog, domesticating cattle, and, as the climate 
to the north mitigated and the equatorial climate grew more 
tropical, spreading northward. All these early chapters of 
our story have yet to be disinterred. They will probably be 
found in Asia Minor, Persia, Arabia, India, or north Africa, 
or they lie beneath the Mediterranean waters. Twelve thou- 
sand years ago, or thereabouts we are still too early for any- 
thing but the roughest chronology Neolithic peoples were scat- 
tered all over Europe, north Africa, and Asia. They were 
peoples at about the level of many of the Polynesian islanders 
of the last century, and they were the most advanced peoples 
in the world. 


It will be of interest here to give a brief account of the life 
of the European Neolithic people before the appearance of 
metals. We get our light upon that life from various sources. 
They scattered their refuse about, and in some places (e.g. on 
the Danish coast) it accumulated in great heaps, known as the 
kitchen-middens. They buried some of their people, but not 



the common herd, with great care and distinction, and made 
huge heaps of earth over their sepulchres; these heaps are the 
barrows or dolmens which contribute a feature to the Euro- 
pean, Indian, and American scenery in many districts to this 
day. In connection with these mounds, or independently of 
them, they set up great stones (megaliths), either singly or 
in groups, of which Stonehenge in Wiltshire and Carnac in 
Brittany are among the best-known examples. In various 
places their villages are still traceable. 

One fruitful source of knowledge about Neolithic life comes 
from Switzerland, and was first revealed by the very dry winter 
of 1854, when the water level of one of the lakes, sinking to 
an unheard-of lowness, revealed the foundations of prehistoric 

Petbartr from Lake 

pile dwellings of the Neolithic and early Bronze Ages, built 
out over the water after the fashion of similar homes that exist 
to-day in Celebes and elsewhere. Not only were the timbers 
of those ancient platforms preserved, but a great multitude of 
wooden, bone, stone, and earthenware utensils and ornaments, 
remains of food and the like, were found in the peaty accumu- 
lations below them. Even pieces of net and garments have 
been recovered. Similar lake dwellings existed in Scotland, 
Ireland, and elsewhere there are well-known remains at Glas- 
tonbury in Somersetshire; in Ireland lake dwellings were in- 
habited from prehistoric times up to the days when O'Neil of 
Tyrone was fighting against the English before the plantation 
of Scotch colonists to replace the Irish in Ulster in the reign 
of James I of England. These lake villages had considerable 
defensive value, and there was a sanitary advantage in living 
over flowing water. 


Probably these Neolithic Swiss pile dwellings did not shelter 
the largest comrmmities that existed in those days. They were 
the homes of small patriarchal groups. Elsewhere upon fertile 
plains and in more open country there were probably already 
much larger assemblies of homes than in those mountain valleys. 
There are traces of such a large community of families in Wilt- 
shire in England, for example; the remains of the stone circle 
of Avebury near Silbury mound were once the "finest mega- 
lithic ruin in Europe." It consisted of two circles of stones 
surrounded by a larger circle and a ditch, and covering alto- 
gether twenty-eight and a half acres. From it two avenues of 
stones, each a mile and a half long, ran west and south on either 
side of Silbury Hill. Silbury Hill is the largest prehistoric 
artificial mound in England. The dimensions of this centre of 
a faith and a social life now forgotten altogether by men indi- 
cate the concerted efforts and interests of a very large number 
of people, widely scattered though they may have been over 
the west and south and centre of England. Possibly they as- 
sembled at some particular season of the year in a primitive 
sort of fair. The whole community "lent a hand" in building 
the mounds and hauling the stones. The Swiss pile dwellers, 
on the contrary, seem to have lived in practically self-contained 

These lake-village people were considerably more advanced 
in methods and knowledge, and probably much later in time 
than the early Neolithic people who accumulated the shell 
mounds, known as kitchen-middens, on the Danish and Scotch 
coasts. These kitchen-midden folk may have been as early as 
10,000 B.C. or earlier; the lake dwellings were probably occu- 
pied continuously from 5,000 or 4,000 B.C. down almost to his- 
toric times. Those early kitchen-midden people were among 
the most barbaric of Neolithic peoples, their stone axes were 
rough, and they had no domesticated animal except the dog. 
The lake dwellers, on the other hand, had, in addition to the 
dog, which was of a medium-sized breed, oxen, goats, and sheep. 
Later on, as they were approaching the Bronze Age, they got 
swine. The remains of cattle and goats prevail in their debris, 
and, having regard to the climate and country about them, it 
seems probable that these beasts were sheltered in the buildings 
upon the piles in winter, and that fodder was stored for them. 
Probably the beasts lived in the same houses with the people, 


as the men and beasts do now in Swiss chalets. The people 
in the houses possibly milked the cows and goats, and milk per- 
haps played as important a part in their economy as it does 
in that of the mountain Swiss of to-day. But of that we are 
not sure at present. Milk is not a natural food for adults; it 
must have seemed queer stuff to take at first ; and it may have 
been only after much breeding that a continuous supply of 
milk was secured from cows and goats. Some people think that 
the use of milk, cheese, butter, and other milk products came 
later into human life when men became nomadic. The writer 
is, however, disposed to give the Neolithic men credit for hav- 
ing discovered milking. The milk, if they did use it (and, 
no doubt, in that case sour curdled milk also, but not well- 
made cheese and butter), they must have kept in earthenware 
pots, for they had pottery, though it was roughly hand-made 
pottery and not the shapely product of the potter's wheel. They 
eked out this food supply by hunting. They killed and ate 
red deer and roe deer, bison and wild boar. And they ate the 
fox, a rather high-flavoured meat, and not what any one would 
eat in a world of plenty. Oddly enough, they do not seem to 
have eaten the hare, although it was available as food. 
They are supposed to have avoided eating it, as some savages 
are said to avoid eating it to this day, because they feared that 
the flesh of so timid a creature might make them, by a sort of 
infection, cowardly. 1 

Of their agricultural methods we know very little. No 
ploughs and no hoes have been found. They were of wood and 
have perished. Neolithic men cultivated and ate wheat, barley, 
and millet, but they knew nothing of oats or rye. Their grain 
they roasted, ground between stones and stored in pots, to be 
eaten when needed. And they made exceedingly solid and heavy 
bread, because round flat slabs of it have been got out of these 
deposits. Apparently they had no yeast. If they had no yeast, 
then they had no fermented drink. One sort of barley that 
they had is the sort that was cultivated by the ancient Greeks, 
Romans, and Egyptians, and they also had an Egyptian variety 
of wheat, showing that their ancestors had brought or derived 
this cultivation from the south-east. The centre of diffusion of 
wheat was somewhere in the eastern Mediterranean region. A 

Caesar do Bella Gallico says the Britons tabooed hare, fowl, and 
goose. G. Wh. 


wild form is still found in the neighbourhood of Mt. Hermon 
(see Footnote to Chap. XIV, 1). When the lake dwellers 
sowed their little patches of wheat in Switzerland, they were 
already following the immemorial practice of mankind. The 
seed must have been brought age by age from that distant centre 
of diffusion. In the ancestral lands of the south-east men had 
already been sowing wheat perhaps for thousands of years. 1 
Those lake dwellers also ate peas, and crab-apples the only 
apples that then existed in the world. Cultivation and selection 
had not yet produced the apple of to-day. 

They dressed chiefly in skins, but they also made a rough 
cloth of flax. Fragments of that flaxen cloth have been dis- 
covered. Their nets were made of flax; they had as yet no 
knowledge of hemp and hempen rope. With the coming of 
bronze, their pins and ornaments increased in number. There 
is reason to believe they set great store upon their hair, 
wearing it in large shocks with pins of bone and afterwards 
6f metal. To judge from the absence of realistic carvings or 
engravings or paintings, they either did not decorate their gar- 
ments or decorated them with plaids, spots, interlacing designs, 
or similar conventional ornament. Before the coming of bronze 
there is no evidence of stools or tables; the Neolithic people 
probably squatted on their clay floors. There were no cats in 
these lake dwellings; no mice or rats had yet adapted them- 
selves to human dwellings ; the cluck of the hen was not as yet 
added to the sounds of human life, nor the domestic egg to its 
diet. 2 

The chief tool and weapon of Neolithic man was his axe; 
his next the bow and arrow. His arrow-heads were of flint, 

Old World peoples who had entered upon the Neolithic stage grew 
and ate wheat, but the American Indians must have developed agriculture 
independently in America after their separation from the Old World 
populations. They never had wheat. Their cultivation was maize, In- 
dian corn, a New World grain. 

a Poultry and hens' eggs were late additions to the human cuisine, in 
spite of the large part they now play in our dietary. The hen is not 
mentioned in the Old Testament (but note the allusion to an egg, Job 
vi, 6) nor by Homer. Up to about 1,500 B.C. the only fowls in the world 
were jungle denizens in India and Burmah. The crowing of jungle cocks 
is noted by Glasfurd in his admirable accounts of tiger shooting as the 
invariable preliminary of dawn in the Indian jungle. Probably poultry 
were first domesticated in Burmah. They got to China, according to the 
records, only about 1,100 B.C. They reached Greece via Persia before the 
time of Socrates. In the New Testament the crowning of the cock re- 
proaches Peter for his desertion of the Master. 


beautifully made, and he lashed them tightly to their shafts. 
Probably he prepared the ground for his sowing with a pole, 
or a pole upon which he had stuck a stag's horn. Fish he 
hooked or harpooned. These implements no doubt stood about 
in the interior of the house, from the walls of which hung his 
fowling-nets. On the floor, which was of clay or trodden cow- 
dung (after the fashion of hut floors in India to-day), stood 
pots and jars and woven baskets containing grain, milk, and 
such-like food. Some of the pots and pans hung by rope loops 
to the walls. At one end of the room, and helping to keep it 
warm in winter by their animal heat, stabled the beasts. The 

urns, the first probably representing a lake.- dutelluLcr 

children took the cows and goats out to graze, and brought them 
in at night before the wolves and bears came prowling. 

Since Neolithic man had the bow, he probably also had 
stringed instruments, for the rhythmic twanging of a bow- 
string seems almost inevitably to lead to that. He also had 
earthenware drums across which skins were stretched ; perhaps 
also he made drums by stretching skins over hollow tree stems. 1 
We do not know when man began to sing, but evidently he was 
making music, and since he had words, songs were no doubt 
being made. To begin with, perhaps, he just let his voice loose 
as one may hear Italian peasants now behind their ploughs 
singing songs without words. After dark in the winter he sat 
in his house and talked and sang and made implements by 

1 Later Palaeolithic bone whistles are known. One may guess that reed 
pipes were an early invention. 


touch rather than sight. His lighting must have been poor, 
and chiefly firelight, but there was probably always some fire 
in the village, summer or winter. Fire was too troublesome to 
make for men to be willing to let it out readily. Sometimes a 
great disaster happened to those pile villages, the fire got free, 
and they were burnt out. The Swiss deposits contain clear 
evidence of such catastrophes. 

All this we gather from the remains of the Swiss pile dwell- 
ings, and such was the character of the human life that spread 
over Europe, coming from the south and from the east with 
the forests as, 10,000 or 12,000 years ago, the reindeer and 
the Reindeer men passed away. It is evident that we have here 
a way of life already separated by a great gap of thousands of 
years of invention from its original Palaeolithic stage. The 
steps by which it rose from that condition we can only guess 
at. From being a hunter hovering upon the outskirts of flocks 
and herds of wild cattle and sheep, and from being a co-hunter 
with the dog, man by insensible degrees may have developed a 
sense of proprietorship in the beasts and struck up a friendship 
with his canine competitor. ITe learnt to turn the cattle when 
they wandered too far; he brought his better brain to bear to 
guide them to fresh pasture. He hemmed the beasts into 
valleys and enclosures where he could be sure to find them again. 
He fed them when they starved, and so slowly he tamed them. 
Perhaps his agriculture began with the storage of fodder. He 
reaped, no doubt, before he sowed. The Paleolithic ancestor 
away in that unknown land of origin to the south-east first sup- 
plemented the precarious meat supply of the hunter by eating 
roots and fruits and wild grains. Man storing graminiferous 
grasses for his cattle might easily come to beat out the grain 
for himself. 

All these early beginnings must have taken place far back 
in time, and in regions of the world that have still to be effec- 
tively explored by the archaeologists. They were probably going 
on in Asia or Africa, in what is now the bed of the Mediter- 
ranean, or in the region of the Indian Ocean, while the Rein- 
deer man was developing his art in Europe. The Neolithic 
men who drifted over Europe and Western Asia 12,000 or 
10,000 years ago were long past these beginnings; they were 


already close, a few thousand years, to the dawn of written 
tradition and the remembered history of mankind. Without 
any very great shock or break, bronze came at last into human 
life, giving a great advantage in warfare to those tribes who 
first obtained it. Written history had already begun before 
weapons of iron came into Europe to supersede bronze. 

Already in those days a sort of primitive trade had sprung 
up. Bronze and bronze weapons, and such rare and hard stones 
as jade, gold because of its plastic and ornamental possibilities, 
and skins and flax-net and cloth, were being swapped and stolen 
and passed from hand to hand over great stretches of country. 
Salt also was probably being traded. On a meat dietary men 
can live without salt, but grain-consuming people need it just 
as herbivorous animals need it. Hopf says that bitter tribal wars 
have been carried on by the desert tribes of the Soudan in re- 
cent years for the possession of the salt deposits between Fezzan 
and Murzuk. To begin with, barter, blackmail, tribute, and 
robbery by violence passed into each other by insensible de- 
grees. Men got what they wanted by such means as they could. 


So far we have been telling of a history without events, a 
history of ages and periods and stages in development. But be- 
fore we conclude this portion of the human story, we must 
record what was probably an event of primary importance and 
at first perhaps of tragic importance to developing mankind, 
and that was the breaking in of the Atlantic waters to the great 
Mediterranean valley. 

The reader must keep in mind that we are endeavouring to 
give him plain statements that he can take hold of comfortably. 
But both in the matter of our time charts and the three maps 
we have given of prehistoric geography there is necessarily much 
speculative matter. We have dated the last Glacial Age and 
the appearance of the true men as about 40,000 or 35,000 years 
ago. Please bear that "about" in mind. The truth may be 
60,000 or 20,000. But it is no good saying "a very long time" 
or "ages" ago, because then the reader will not know whether 
we mean centuries or millions of years. And similarly in these 
maps we give, they represent not the truth, but something like 
the truth. The outline of the land was "some such outline." 


There were such seas and such land masses. But both Mr. 
Horrabin, who has drawn these maps, and I, who have incited 
him to do so, have preferred to err on the timid side. We are 
not geologists enough to launch out into original research in 
these matters, and so we have stuck to the 40-fathom line and 
the recent deposits as our guides for our postglacial map and 
for the map of 12,000 to 10,000 B.C. But in one matter we 
have gone beyond these guides. It is practically certain that 
at the end of the last Glacial Age the Mediterranean was a 
couple of land-locked sea basins, not connected or only con- 
nected by a torrential overflow river. The eastern basin was 
the fresher; it was fed by the Nile, the "Adriatic' river, the 
"Red-Sea" river, and perhaps by a river that poured down 
amidst the mountains that are now the Greek Archipelago 
from the very much bigger Sea of Central Asia that then existed. 
Almost certainly human beings, and possibly even Neolithic 
men, wandered over that now lost Mediterranean valley. 

The reasons for believing this are very good and plain. To 
this day the Mediterranean is a sea of evaporation. The rivers 
that flow into it do not make up for the evaporation from its 
surface. There is a constant current of water pouring into 
the Mediterranean from the Atlantic, and another current 
streaming in from the Bosporus' and Black Sea. For the 
Black Sea gets more water than it needs from the big rivers 
that flow into it; it is an overflowing sea, while the Mediter- 
ranean is a thirsty sea. From which it must be plain that when 
the Mediterranean was cut off both from the Atlantic Ocean 
and the Black Sea it must have been a shrinking sea with its wa- 
ters sinking to a much lower level than those of the ocean out- 
side. This is the case of the Caspian Sea to-day. Still more 
so is it the case with the Dead Sea. 

But if this reasoning is sound, then where to-day roll the 
blue waters of the Mediterranean there must once have been 
great areas of land, and land with a very agreeable climate. 
This was probably the case during the last Glacial Age, and 
we do not know how near it was to our time when the change 
occurred that brought back the ocean waters into the Mediter- 
ranean basin. Certainly there must have been Grimaldi peo- 
ple, and perhaps even Azilian and Neolithic people going about 
in the valleys and forests of these regions that are now sub- 
merged. The Neolithic Dark Whites, the people of the Mediter- 


ranean race, may have gone far towards the beginnings of settle- 
ment and civilization in that great lost Mediterranean valley. 

Mr. W. B. Wright l gives us some very stimulating sugges- 
tions here. He suggests that in the Mediterranean basin there 
were two lakes, "one a fresh-water lake, in the eastern depres- 
sion, which drained into the other in the western depression. It 
is interesting to think what must have happened when the 
ocean level rose once more as a result of the dissipation of the 
ice-sheets, and its waters began to pour over into the Mediter- 
ranean area. The inflow, small at first, must have ultimately 
increased to enormous dimensions, as the channel was slowly 
lowered by erosion and the ocean level slowly rose. If there 
were any unconsolidated materials on the sill of the Strait, 
the result must have been a genuine debacle, and if we consider 
the length of time which even an enormous torrent would take 
to fill such a basin as that of the Mediterranean, we must con- 
clude that this result was likely to have been attained in any 
case. Now, this may seem all the wildest speculation, but it 
is not entirely so, for if we examine a submarine contour map 
of the Straits of Gibraltar, we find there is an enormous valley 
running up from the Mediterranean deep, right through the 
Straits, and trenching some distance out on to the Atlantic 
shelf. This valley or gorge is probably the work of the inflow- 
ing waters of the ocean at the termination of the period of 
interior drainage." 

This refilling of the Mediterranean, which by the rough 
chronology we are employing in this book may have happened 
somewhen between 30,000 and 10,000 B.C., must have been one 
of the greatest single events in the pre-history of our race. If 
the later date is the truer, then, as the reader will see plainly 
enough after reading the next two chapters, the crude be- 
ginnings of civilization, the first lake dwellings and the first 
cultivation, were probably round that eastern Levantine Lake 
into which there flowed not only the Nile, but the two great 
rivers that are now the Adriatic and the Red Sea. Suddenly 
the ocean waters began to break through over the westward hills 
and to pour in upon these primitive peoples the lake that 
had been their home and friend became their enemy ; its waters 
rose and never abated; their settlements were submerged; the 
waters pursued them in their flight. Day by day and year by 
*The Quaternary Ice Age. 


year the waters spread up the valleys and drove mankind be- 
fore them. Many must have been surrounded and caught by 
the continually rising salt flood. It knew no check; it came 
faster and faster ; it rose over the tree-tops, over the hills, until 
it had filled the whole basin of the present Mediterranean and 
until it lapped the mountain cliffs of Arabia and Africa. Far 
away, long before the dawn of history, this catastrophe occurred. 



1. Primitive Philosophy. 2. The Old Man in Religion. 
3. Fear and Hope in Religion. 4. Stars and Seasons. 
5. Story-telling and Myths-making. 6. Complex Ori- 
gins of Religion. 

BEFORE we go on to tell how 6,000 or 7,000 years ago 
men began to gather into the first towns and to develop 
something more than the loose-knit tribes that had 
hitherto been their highest political association, something must 
be said about the things that were going on inside these brains 
of which we have traced the growth and development through 
a period of 500,000 years from the ape-man stage. 

What was man thinking about himself and about the world 
in those remote days ? 

At first he thought very little about anything but immedi- 
ate things. At first he was busy thinking such things as : "Here 
is a bear; what shall I do?" Or "There is a squirrel; how 
can I get it V Until language had developed to some extent 
there could have been little thinking beyond the range of actual 
experience, for language is the instrument of thought as book- 
keeping is the instrument of business. It records and fixes and 
enables thought to get on to more and more complex ideas. It 
is the hand of the mind to hold and keep. Primordial man, be- 
fore he could talk, probably saw very vividly, mimicked very 
cleverly, gestured, laughed, danced, and lived, without much 
speculation about whence he came or why he lived. Hb feared 
the dark, no doubt, and thunderstorms and big animals and 
queer things and whatever he dreamt about, and no doubt he did 
things to propitiate what he feared or to change his luck and 



please the imaginary powers in rock and beast and river. He 
made no clear distinction between animate and inanimate 
things ; if a stick hurt him, he kicked it ; if the river foamed 
and flooded, he thought it was hostile. His thought was prob- 
ably very much at the level of a bright little contemporary 
boy of four or five. He had the same subtle unreasonableness 
of transition and the same limitations. But since he had little 
or no speech he would do little to pass on the fancies that came 
to him, and develop any tradition or concerted acts about them. 
The drawings even of Late Palaeolithic man do not suggest 
that he paid any attention to sun or moon or stars or trees. He 
was preoccupied only with animals and men. Probably he 
took day and night, sun and stars, trees and mountains, as 
being in the nature of things as a child takes its meal times 
and its nursery staircase for granted. So far as we can judge, 
he drew no fantasies, no ghosts or anything of that sort. The 
Reindeer men's drawings are fearless familiar things, with no 
hint about them of any religious or occult feelings. There is 
scarcely anything that we can suppose to be a religious or mysti- 
cal symbol at all in his productions. ~No doubt he had a cer- 
tain amount of what is called fetishism in his life ; he did things 
we should now think unreasonable to produce desired ends, for 
that is all fetishism amounts to; it is only incorrect science 
based on guess-work or false analogy, and entirely different in 
its 'nature from religion. No doubt he was excited by his 
dreams, and his dreams mixed up at times in his mind with his 
waking impressions and puzzled him. Since he buried his dead, 
and since even the later Neanderthal men seem to have buried 
their dead, and apparently with food and weapons, it has been 
argued that he had a belief in a future life. But it is just as 
reasonable to suppose that early men buried their dead with f opd 
and weapons because they doubted if they were dead, which is 
not the same thing as believing them to have immortal spirits, 
and that their belief in their continuing vitality was reinforced 
by dreams of the departed. They may have ascribed a sort of 
were-wolf existence to the dead, and wished to propitiate them. 
The Reindeer man, we feel, was too intelligent and too like 
ourselves not to have had some speech, but quite probably it 
was not very serviceable for anything beyond direct statement 
or matter-of-fact narrative. He lived in a larger community 
than the Neanderthaler, but how large we do not know. Ex- 


cept when game is swarming, hunting communities must not 
keep together in large bodies or they will starve. The Indians 
who depend upon the caribou in Labrador must be living under 
circumstances rather like those of the Reindeer men. They 
scatter in small family groups, as the caribou scatter in search 
of food; but when the deer collect for the seasonal migration, 
the Indians also collect. That is the time for trade and feasts 
and marriages. The simplest American Indian is 10,000 years 
more sophisticated than the Reindeer man, but probably that 
sort of gathering and dispersal was also the way of Reindeer 
men. At Solutre in France there are traces of v great camping 
and feasting place. There was no doubt an exchange of news 
there, but one may doubt if there was anything like an exchange 
of ideas. One sees no scope in such a life for theology or philos- 
ophy or superstition or speculation. Fears, yes; but unsystem- 
atic fears ; fancies and freaks of the imagination, but personal 
and transitory freaks and fancies. 

Perhaps there was a certain power of suggestion in these en- 
counters. A fear really felt needs few words for its transmis- 
sion ; a value set upon something may be very simply conveyed. 

In these questions of primitive thought and religion, we 
must remember that the lowly and savage peoples of to-day prob- 
ably throw very little light on the mental state of men before 
the days of fully developed language. Primordial man could 
have had little or no tradition before the development of speech. 
All savage and primitive peoples of to-day, on the contrary, are 
soaked in tradition the tradition of thousands of generations. 
They may have weapons like their remote ancestors and methods 
like them, but what were slight and shallow impressions on 
the minds of their predecessors are now deep and intricate 
grooves worn throughout the intervening centuries generation 
by generation. 


Certain very fundamental things there may have been in 
men's minds long before the coming of speech. Chief among 
these must have been fear of the Old Man of the tribe. The 
young of the primitive squatt ing-place grew up under that fear. 
Objects associated with him were probably forbidden. Every 
one was forbidden to touch his spear or to sit in his place, just 


as to-day little boys must not touch father's pipe or sit in his 
chair. He was probably the master of all the women. The 
youths of the little community had to remember that. The idea 
of something forbidden , the idea of things being, as it is called, 
tabu, not to be touched, not to be looked at, may thus have got 
well into the human mind at a very early stage indeed. J. J. 
Atkinson, in his Primal Law, an ingenious analysis of these 
primitive tabus which are found among savage peoples all over 
the world, the tabus that separate brother and sister, the tabus 
that make a man run and hide from his stepHnother, traces them 
to such a fundamental cause as this. Only by respecting this 
primal law could the young male hope to escape the Old Man's 
wrath. And the Old Man must have been an actor in many 
a primordial nightmare. A disposition to propitiate him even 
after he was dead is quite understandable. One was not sure 
that he was dead. He might only be asleep or shamming. 
Long after an Old Man was dead, when there was nothing to 
represent him but a mound and a megalith, the women would 
convey to their children how awful and wonderful he was. And 
being still a terror to his own little tribe, it was easy to go on 
to hoping that he would be a terror to other and hostile people. 
In his life he had fought for his tribe, even if he had bullied 
it. Why not when he was dead ? One sees that the Old Man 
idea was an idea very natural to the primitive mind and capable 
of great development. And opposed to the Old Man, more 
human and kindlier, was the Mother, who helped and sheltered 
ad advised. The psycho-analysis of Freud and Jung has done 
much to help us to realize how great a part Father fear and 
Mother love still play in the adaptation of the human mind 
to social needs. They have made an exhaustive study of child- 
ish and youthful dreams and imaginations, a study which has 
done much to help in the imaginative reconstruction of the soul 
of primitive man. It was, as it were, the soul of a powerful 
child. He saw the universe in terms of the family herd. His 
fear of, his abjection before, the Old Man mingled with his 
fear of the dangerous animals about him. But the women god- 
desses were kindlier and more subtle. They helped, they pro- 
tected, they gratified and consoled. Yet at the same time there 
was something about them less comprehensible than the direct 
brutality of the Old Man, a greater mystery. So that the 
Woman also had her vestiture of fear for him. 



Another idea probably arose early out of the mysterious visita- 
tion of infectious diseases, and that was the idea of unclean- 
ness and of being accurst. From that, too, there may have 
come an idea of avoiding particular places and persons, and 
persons in particular phases of health. Here was the root of 
another set of tabus. Then man, from the very dawn of his 
mental life, may have had a feeling of the sinister about places 
and things. Animals who dread traps, have that feeling. A 
tiger will abandon its usual jungle route at the sight of a few 
threads of cotton. 1 Like most young animals, young human 
beings are easily made fearful of this or that by their nurses 
and seniors. Here is another set of ideas, ideas of repulsion and 
avoidance, that sprang up almost inevitably in men. 

As soon as speech began to develop, it must have got to work 
upon such fundamental feelings and begun to systematize them, 
and keep them in mind. By talking together men would re- 
inforce each other's fears, and establish a common tradition of 
tabus of things forbidden and of things unclean. With the 
idea of uncleanness would come ideas of cleansing and of re- 
moving a curse. The cleansing would be conducted through 
the advice and with the aid of wise old men or wise old women, 
and in such cleansing would lie the germ of the earliest priest- 
craft and witchcraft. 

Speech from the first would be a powerful supplement to 
the merely imitative education and to the education of cuffs and 
blows conducted by a speechless parent. Mothers would tell their 
young and scold their young. As speech developed, men would 
find they had experiences and persuasions that gave them or 
seemed to give them power. They would make secrets of these 
things. There is a double streak in the human mind, a streak of 
cunning secretiveness and a streak perhaps of later origin that 
makes us all anxious to tell and astonish and impress each other. 
Many people make secrets in order to have secrets to tell. These 
secrets of early men they would convey to younger, more im- 
pressionable people, more or less honestly and impressively in 
some process of initiation. Moreover, the pedagogic spirit 
overflows in the human mind; most people like "telling other 
people not to." Extensive arbitrary prohibitions for the boys, 
'Glasfurd's Rifle and Romance in the Indian Jungle, 1915. 


for the girls, for the women, also probably came very early into 
human history. 

Then the idea of the sinister has for its correlative the idea 
of the propitious, and from that to the idea of making things 
propitious by ceremonies is an easy step*. 

Out of such ideas and a jumble of kindred ones grew the 
first quasi-religious elements in human life. With every de- 
velopment of speech it became possible to intensify and de- 
velop the tradition of tabus and restraints and ceremonies. 
There is not a savage or barbaric race to-day that is not held 
in a net of such tradition. And with the coming of the primi- 
tive herdsman there would be a considerable broadening out 
of all this sort of practice. Things hitherto unheeded would 
be found of importance in human affairs. Neolithic man was 
nomadic in a different spirit from the mere daylight drift after 
food of the primordial hunter. He was a herdsman upon whose 
mind a sense of direction and the lie of the land had been 
forced. He watched his flock by night as well as by day. The 
sun by day and presently the stars by night helped to guide 
his migrations ; he began to find after many ages that the stars 
are steadier guides than the sun. He would begin to note 
particular stars and star groups, and to distinguish any in- 
dividual thing was, for primitive man, to believe it individu- 
alized and personal. He would begin to think of the chief 
stars as persons, very shining and dignified and trustworthy 
persons looking at him like bright eyes in the night. His primi- 
tive tillage strengthened his sense of the seasons. Particular 
stars ruled his heavens when seedtime was due. Up to a cer- 
tain p'oint, a mountain peak or what not, a bright star moved, 
night after night. It stopped there, and then night after night 
receded. Surely this was a sign, a silent, marvellous warning 
to the wise. The beginnings of agriculture, we must remember, 
were in the sub-tropical zone, or even nearer the equator, where 
stars of the first magnitude shine with a splendour unknown 
in more temperate latitudes. 

And Neolithic man was counting, and falling under the spell 
of numbers. There are savage languages that have no word 
for any number above five. Some peoples cannot go above 



two. But Neolithic man in the lands of his origin in Asia and 
Africa even more than in Europe was already counting his 
accumulating possessions. He was beginning to use tallies, 
and wondering at the triangularity of three and the squareness 
of four, and why some quantities like twelve were easy to 
divide in all sorts of ways, and ethers, like thirteen, impossible. 

Twelve became a 
aioble, generous, and 
familiar number to 
him, and thirteen 
rather an outcast and 
disreputable one. 

Probably man be- 
gan reckoning time 
by the clock of the 
full and new moons. 
Moonlight is an im- 
'portant thing to herds- 
men who no longer 
merely hunt their 
herds, but watch and 
guard them. Moon- 
light, too, was, per- 
haps, his time for 
love-making, as in- 
deed it may have been 
for primordial man 
and the ground ape 
ancestor before him. 
But from the phases 
of the moon, as his 
tillage increased, 
man's attitude would 
go on to the greater cycle of the seasons. Primordial man prob- 
ably only drifted before the winter as the days grew cold. Neo- 
lithic man knew surely that the winter would come, and stored 
his fodder and presently his grain. He had to fix a seedtime, 
a propitious seedtime, or his sowing was a failure. The earliest 
recorded reckoning is by moons and by generations of men. 
The former seems to be the case in the Book of Genesis, where, 
if one reads the great ages of the patriarchs who lived before 



the flood as lunar months instead of years, Methusaleh and the 
others are reduced to a credible length of life. But with agri- 
culture began the difficult task of squaring the lunar month 
with the solar year; a task which has left its scars on our 
calendar to-day. Easter shifts uneasily from year to year, to 
the great discomfort of holiday-makers; it is now inconveni- 
ently early and now late in the season because of this ancient 
reference of time to the moon. 

And when men began to move with set intention from place 
to place with their animal and other possessions, then they 
would begin to develop the idea of other places in which they 
were not, and to think of what might be in those other places. 
And in any valley where they lingered for a time, they would, 
remembering how they got there, ask, "How did this or that 
other thing get here ?" They would begin to wonder what was 
beyond the mountains, and where the sun went when it set, 
and what was above the clouds. 


The capacity for telling things increased with their vocabu- 
lary. The simple individual fancies, the unsystematic fetish 
tricks and fundamental tabus of Palaeolithic man began to be 
handed on and made into a more consistent system. Men be- 
gan to tell stories about themselves, about the tribe, about its 
tabus and why they had to be, about the world and the why 
for the world. A tribal mind came into existence, a tradition. 
Palaeolithic man was certainly more of a free individualist, 
more of an artist, as well as more of a savage than Neolithic 
man. Neolithic man was coming under prescription ; he could 
be trained from his youth and told to do things and not to do 
things; he was not so free to form independent ideas of his 
own about things. He had thoughts given to him ; he was under 
a new power of suggestion. And to have more words and to 
attend more to words is not simply to increase mental power; 
words themselves are powerful things and dangerous things. 
Palaeolithic man's words, perhaps, were chiefly just names. He 
used them for what they were. But Neolithic man was think- 
ing about these words, he was thinking about a number of things 
with a great deal of verbal confusion, and getting to some odd 
conclusions. In speech he had woven a net to bind his race 


together, but also it was a net about his feet. Man was bind- 
ing himself into new and larger and more efficient combina- 
tions indeed, but at a price. One of the most notable things 
about the Neolithic Age is the total absence of that free, direct 
artistic impulse which was the supreme quality of later Palaeo- 
lithic man. We find much industry, much skill, polished im- 
plements, pottery with conventional designs, co-operation upon 
all sorts of things, but no evidence of personal creativeness. 1 
Self-suppression is beginning for men. Man has entered upon 
the long and tortuous and difficult path towards a life for the 
common good, with all its sacrifice of personal impulse, which he 
is still treading to-day. 

Certain things appear in the mythology of mankind again 
and again. Neolithic man was enormously impressed by ser- 
pents and he no longer took the sun for granted. Nearly 
everywhere that Neolithic culture went, there went a disposition 
to associate the sun and the serpent in decoration and worship. 
This primitive serpent worship spread ultimately far beyond 
the regions where the snake is of serious practical importance in 
human life. 

With the beginnings of agriculture a fresh set of ideas arose 
in men's minds. We have already indicated how easily and 
naturally men may have come to associate the idea of sowing 
with a burial. Sir J. G. Frazer has pursued the development 
of this association in the human mind, linking up with it the 
conception of special sacrificial persons who are killed at seed- 
time, the conception of a specially purified class of people to 
kill these sacrifices, the first priests, and the conception of a 
sacrament, a ceremonial feast in which the tribe eats portions 
of the body of the victim in order to share in the sacrificial 

Out of all these factors, out of the Old Man tradition, out of 
the emotions that surround Women for men and Men for 

1 Ludwig Hopf, in The Human Species, calls the later Palaeolithic art 
"masculine" and the Neolithic "feminine." The pottery was made by 
women, he says, and that accounts for it. But the arrow-heads were made 
by men, and there was nothing to prevent Neolithic men from taking 
scraps of bone or slabs of rock and carving them had they dared. We 
suggest they did not dare to do so. 



women, out of the desire to escape infection? J >and 

out of the desire for power and success tnrough' magic/ but* bf 

the sacrificial tradition of seedtime, and out of a number of like 

'Bnnu&e Acu 


beliefs and mental experiments and misconceptions, a complex 
something was growing up in the lives of men which was be- 
ginning to bind them together mentally and emotionally in a 
common life and action. This something we may call religion 


(Lat. religw.e, to bino *). It was not a simple or logical some- 
tiling, 'it was a ; cangle of ideas about commanding beings and 
spirits, about gods, about all sorts of "musts" and "must-nots." 
Like all other human matters, religion has grown. It must 
be clear from what has gone before that primitive man much 
less his ancestral apes and his ancestral Mesozoic mammals 
could have had no idea of God or Religion; only very slowly 
did his brain and his powers of comprehension become capable 
of such general conceptions. Religion is something that has 
grown up with and through human association, and God has 
been and is still being discovered by man. 

This book is not a theological book, and it is not for us to 
embark upon theological discussion; but it is a part, a neces- 
sary and central part, of the history of man to describe the 
dawn and development of his religious ideas and their influ- 
ence upon his activities. All these factors we have noted must 
have contributed to this development, and various writers have 
laid most stress upon one or other of them. Sir J. G. Erazer 
has been the leading student of the derivation of sacraments 
from magic sacrifices. Grant Allen, following Herbert Spencer, 
in his Evolution of the Idea of God, laid stress chiefly on the 
posthumous worship of the "Old Man." Sir E. B. Tylor 
(Primitive Culture) gave his attention mainly to the disposi- 
tion of primitive man to ascribe a soul to every object animate 
and inanimate. Mr. A. E. Crawley, in The Tree of Life, has 
called attention to other centres of impulse and emotion, and 
particularly to sex as a source of deep excitement. The thing 
we have to bear in mind is that Neolithic man was still mentally 
undeveloped, he could be confused and illogical to a degree 
quite impossible to an educated modern person. Conflicting 
and contradictory ideas could lie in his mind without challeng- 
ing one another; now one thing ruled his thoughts intensely 
and vividly and now another; his fears, his acts, were still 
disconnected as children's are. 

Confusedly under the stimulus of the need and possibility of 
co-operation and a combined life, Neolithic mankind was feel- 
ing out for guidance and knowledge. Men were becoming aware 
that personally they needed protection and direction, cleansing 

1 But Cicero says relegere, "to read over," and the "binding" by those 
who accept religare is often written of as being merely the binding of a 



from impurity, power beyond their own strength. Confusedly 
in response to that demand, bold men, wise men, shrewd and 
cunning men were arising to become magicians, priests, chiefs, 



15.000 Ee.- 

Men crttfcrtrux upon "NcolitkLc 



andxxc . 
Agcurulfoire bccnnruna 

rvcwixic^t* ttvcn 

15.000 - 

v 5$ 

.000 - 

\ forest (transitum) 


"Neolitklc m^n 
yr > i *y^ <\vnct vrvti? 
Eut-opc j^ 


8.000 -- 



oumcrt^m CT^VIXZ* 
3 atlon daxinvs' 

6.000 - - 

4.000 - 

First- TXrruLstii 

^. _ (7/ J7j 


"Mlopur & Et-ixlu 

Firart Sxurvcrtan 

2.000 - - 
1.000 - - 

^wcamng oF Aruazv 


TV I e x^k.t^<ie 
;^ J u,liuj 

f tke G t* c 

Oftntcoti. * 

& t- 

<? hristiAtt S r^ 

19*9 "- 




By this scale, the diagram on p. 47 of the period since the earliest 

subhuman traces would be 12 feet long, and the diagram of geological 

time (ch. ii, 2) somewhere between 1,500 feet and three miles. 

and kings. They are not to be thought of as cheats or usurpers 
of power, nor the rest of mankind as their dupes. All men 
are mixed in their motives; a hundred things move men to 


seek ascendancy over other men, but not all such motives are 
base or bad. The magicians usually believed more or less 
in their own magic, the priests in their ceremonies, the chiefs 
in their right. The history of mankind henceforth is a history 
of more or less blind endeavours to conceive a common purpose 
in relation to which all men may live happily, and to create and 
develop a common consciousness and a common stock of knowl- 
edge which may serve and illuminate that purpose. In a vast 
variety of forms this appearance of kings and priests and magic 
men was happening all over the world under Neolithic condi- 
tions. Everywhere mankind was seeking where knowledge and 
mastery and magic power might reside; everywhere individual 
men were willing, honestly or dishonestly, to rule, to direct, or to 
be the magic beings who would reconcile the confusions of the 
community. Another queer development of the later Paleo- 
lithic and Neolithic ages was the development of self -mutilation. 
Men began to cut themselves about, to excise noses, ears, fingers, 
teeth and the like, and to attach all sorts of superstitious ideas 
to these acts. Many children to-day pass through a similar 
phase in their mental development. There is a phase in the life 
of most little girls when they are not to be left alone with a pair 
of scissors for fear that they will cut off their hair. No ani- 
mal does anything of this sort. 

In many ways the simplicity, directness, and detachment of 
a later Palaeolithic rock-painter appeal more to modern sympa- 
thies than does the state of mind of these Neolithic men, full 
of the fear of some ancient Old Man who had developed into 
a tribal God obsessed by ideas of sacrificial propitiations, mutila- 
tions, and magic murder. No doubt the reindeer hunter was 
a ruthless hunter and a combative and passionate creature, but 
he killed for reasons we can still understand; Neolithic man, 
under the sway of talk and a confused thought process, killed 
on theory, he killed for monstrous and now incredible ideas, he 
killed those he loved through fear and under direction. Those 
Neolithic men not only made human sacrifices at seedtime; 
there is every reason to suppose they sacrificed wives and slaves 
at the burial of their chieftains; they killed men, women, and 
children whenever they were under adversity and thought the 
'rods were athirst. They practised infanticide. All these things 
passed on into the Bronze Age. 

Hitherto a social consciousness had been asleep and not even 


dreaming in human history. Before it awakened it produced 

Away beyond the dawn of history, 3,000 or 4,000 years ago, 
one thinks of the Wiltshire uplands in the twilight of a mid- 
summer day's morning. The torches pale in the growing light. 
One has a dim apprehension of a procession through the avenue 
of stone, of priests, perhaps fantastically dressed with skins 
and horns and horrible painted masks not the robed and 
bearded dignitaries our artists represent the Druids to have 
been of chiefs in skins adorned with necklaces of teeth and 
bearing spears and axes, their great heads of hair held up with 
pins of bone, of women in skins or flaxen robes, of a great 
peering crowd of shock-headed men and naked children. They 
have assembled from many distant places; the ground between 
the avenues and Silbury Hill is dotted with their encamp- 
ments. A certain festive cheerfulness prevails. And amidst 
the throng march the appointed human victims, submissive, 
helpless, staring towards the distant smoking altar at which 
they are to die that the harvests may be good and the tribe 
increase. ... To that had life progressed 3,000 or 4,000 years 
ago from its starting-place in the slime of the tidal beaches. 


1. 7s Mankind Still Differentiating? 2. The Main Races 
of Mankind. 3. The Brunei Peoples. 

IT is necessary now to discuss plainly what is meant by a 
phrase, used often very carelessly, "The Races of Man- 

It must be evident from what has already been explained 
in Chapter III that man, so widely spread and subjected there- 
fore to great differences of climate, consuming very different 
food in different regions, attacked by different enemies, must 
always have been undergoing considerable local modification 
and differentiation. Man, like every other species of living 
thing, has constantly been tending to differentiate into several 
species; wherever a body of men has been cut off, in islands 
or oceans or by deserts or mountains, from the rest of humanity, 
it must have begun very soon to develop special characteristics, 
specially adapted to the local conditions. But, on the other 
hand, man is usually a wandering and enterprising animal 
for whom there exist few insurmountable barriers. Men imi- 
tate men, fight and conquer them, interbreed, one people with 
another. Concurrently for thousands of years there have been 
two sets of forces at work, one tending to separate men into a 
multitude of local varieties, and another to remix and blend 
these varieties together before a separate series has been 

These two sets of forces may have fluctuated in this relative 
effect in the past. Palaeolithic man, for instance, may have 
been more of a wanderer, he may have drifted about over a 
much greater area, than later Neolithic man ; he was less fixed 
to any sort of home or lair, he was tied by fewer possessions. 
Being a hunter, he was obliged to follow the migrations of his 



ordinary quarry. A few bad seasons may have shifted him 
hundreds of miles. He may therefore have mixed very widely 
and developed few varieties over the greater part of the world. 

The appearance of agriculture tended to tie those com- 
munities of mankind that took it up to the region in which it 
was most conveniently carried on, and so to favour differentia- 
tion. Mixing or differentiation is not dependent upon a higher 
or lower stage of civilization; many savage tribes wander now 
for hundreds of miles ; many English villagers in the eighteenth 
century, on the other hand, had never been more than eight 
or ten miles from their villages, neither they nor their fathers 
nor grandfathers before them. Hunting peoples often have 
enormous range. The Labrador country, for instance, is in- 
habited by a few thousand Indians, who follow the one great 
herd of caribou as it wanders yearly north and then south 
again in pursuit of food. This mere handful of people covers 
a territory as large as France. Nomad peoples also range very 
widely. Some Kalmuck tribes are said to travel nearly a thou- 
sand miles between summer and winter pasture. 

It carries out this suggestion, that Palaeolithic man ranged 
widely and was distributed thinly indeed but uniformly, 
throughout the world, that the Palaeolithic remains we find are 
everywhere astonishingly uniform. To quote Sir John Evans, 
"The implements in distant lands are so identical in form and 
character with the British specimens that they might have been 
manufactured by the same hands. . . . On the banks of the 
Nile, many hundreds of feet above its present level, implements 
of the European types have been discovered; while in Soma- 
liland, in an ancient river-valley at a great elevation above the 
sea, Sir H. W. Seton-Karr has collected a large number of 
implements formed of flint and quartzite, which, judging from 
their form and character, might have been dug out of the drift- 
deposits of the Somme and the Seine, the Thames or the ancient 

Phases of spreading and intermixture have probably alter- 
nated with phases of settlement and specialization in the history 
of mankind. But up to a few hundred years ago it is probable 
that since the days of the Palaeolithic Age at least mankind has 
on the whole been differentiating. The species has differentiated 
in that period into a very great number of varieties, many of 
which have reblended with others, which have spread and under- 


gone further differentiation or become extinct. Wherever 
there has been a strongly marked local difference of condi- 
tions and a check upon intermixture, there one is almost obliged 
to assume a variety of mankind must have appeared. Of such 
local varieties there must have been a great multitude. 

In one remote corner of the world, Tasmania, a little cut- 
off population of people remained in the early Paleolithic 
stage until the discovery of that island by the Dutch in 1642. 
They are now, unhappily, extinct. The last Tasmanian died in 
1877. They may have been cut off from the rest of mankind 
for 15,000 or 20,000 or 25,000 years. 

But among the numerous obstacles and interruptions to in- 
termixture there have been certain main barriers, such as the 
Atlantic Ocean, the highlands, once higher, and the now van- 
ished seas of Central Asia and the like, which have cut off great 
groups of varieties from other great groups of varieties over 
long periods of time. These separated groups of varieties devel- 
oped very early certain broad resemblances and differences. 
Most of the varieties of men in eastern Asia and America, 
but not all, have now this in common, that they have yellowish 
buff skins, straight black hair, and often high cheek-bones. 
Most of the native peoples of Africa south of the Sahara, but not 
all, have black or blackish skins, flat noses, thick lips, and 
frizzy hair. In north and western Europe a great number of 
peoples have fair hair, blue eyes, and ruddy complexions; and 
about the Mediterranean there is a prevalence of white-skinned 
peoples with dark eyes and black hair. The black hair of many 
of these dark whites is straight, but never so strong and wave- 
less as the hair of the yellow peoples. It is straighter in 
the east than in the west. In southern India we find brownish 
and darker peoples with straight black hair, and these as we 
pass eastward give place to more distinctly yellow peoples. 
In scattered islands and in Papua and New Guinea we find 
another series of black and brownish peoples of a more lowly 
type with frizzy hair. 

But it must be borne in mind that these are very loose- 
fitting generalizations. Some of the areas and isolated pockets 
of mankind in the Asiatic area may have been under conditions 
more like those in the European area ; some of the African 
areas are of a more Asiatic and less distinctively African type. 
We find a wavy-haired, fairish, hairy-skinned race, the Ainu, 



in Japan. They are more like the Europeans in their facial 
type than the surrounding yellow Japanese. They may be 
a drifted patch of the whites or they may be a quite distinct 
people. We find primitive black people in the Andaman Islands 
far away from Australia and far away from Africa. There is 
a streak of very negroid blood traceable in south Persia and 
some parts of India. These are the "Asiatic" negroids. There 

is little or no proof that all black people, the Australians, the 
Asiatic negroids, and the negroes, derive from one origin, but 
only that they have lived for vast periods under similar con- 
ditions. We must not assume that human beings in the east- 
ern Asiatic area were all differentiating in one direction and 
all the human beings in Africa in another. There were great 
currents of tendency, it is true, but there were also backwaters, 
eddies, admixtures, readmixtures, and leakages from one main 
area to the other. A coloured map of the world to show the 
races would not present just four great areas of colour; it 
would have to be dabbed over with a multitude of tints and 
intermediate shades, simple here, mixed and overlapping there. 
In the early Neolithic Period in Europe it may be 10,000 
or 12,000 years ago or so man was differentiating all over the 
world, and he had already differentiated into a number of 
varieties, but he has never differentiated into different species. 
A "species," we must remember, in biological language is dis- 


tinguished from a "variety" by the fact that varieties can 
interbreed, while species either do not do so or produce off- 
spring which, like mules, are sterile. All mankind can inter- 
breed freely, can learn to understand the same speech, can 
adapt itself to co-operation. And in the present age, man is 
probably no longer undergoing differentiation at all. Re- 
admixture is now a far stronger force than differentiation. Men 
mingle more and more. Mankind from the view of a biologist 
is an animal species in a state of arrested differentiation and 
possible readmixture. 


It is only in the last fifty or sixty years that the varieties 
of men came to be regarded in this light, as a tangle of differ- 
entiations recently arrested or still in progress. Before that 
time students of mankind, influenced, consciously or uncon- 
sciously, by the story of Noah and the Ark and his three sons, 
Shem, Ham, and Japhet, were inclined to classify men into 
three or four great races and they were disposed to regard these 
races as having always been separate things, descended from 
originally separate ancestors. They ignored the great possi- 
bilities of blended races and of special local isolations and varia- 
tions. The classification has varied considerably, but there 
has been rather too much readiness to assume that mankind 
must be completely divisible into three or four main groups. 
Ethnologists (students of race) have fallen into grievous dis- 
putes about a multitude of minor peoples, as to whether they 
were of this or that primary race or "mixed," or strayed early 
forms, or what not. But all races are more or less mixed. There 
are, no doubt, four main groups, but each is a miscellany, and 
there are little groups that will not go into any of the four 
main divisions. 

Subject to these reservations, when it is clearly understood 
that when we speak of these main divisions we mean not simple 
and pure races, but groups of races, then they have a certain 
convenience in discussion. Over the European and Mediter- 
ranean area and western Asia there are, and have been for many 
thousand years, white peoples, usually called the CAUCASIANS, 
subdivided into two or three subdivisions, the northern blonds 
or Nordic race, an alleged intermediate race about which many 
authorities are doubtful, the so-called A 1 pi no raop. and the 



southern dark whites, the Mediterranean or Iberian race; over 
eastern Asia and America a second group of races prevails, the 
MONGOLIANS, generally with yellow skins, straight black hair, 
and sturdy bodies ; over Africa the NEGROES, and in the region 
of Australia and New Guinea the black, primitive Aus- 
TEALOIDS. These are convenient terms, provided the student 
bears in mind that they are not exactly defined terms. They 
represent only the common characteristics of certain main 
groups of races ; they leave out a number of little peoples who 
belong properly to none of these divisions, and they disregard 
the perpetual mixing where the main groups overlap. 


The Mediterranean or 
Iberian division of the 
Caucasian race had a 
wider range in early 
times, and was a less spe- 
cialized and distinctive 
type than the Nordic. It 
is very hard to define its 
southward boundaries 
from the Negro, or to 
mark off its early traces 
in Central Asia from 
those of early Mongolians. 
Wilfred Scawen Blunt 1 says that Huxley "had long suspected 
a common origin of the Egyptians and the Dravidians of India, 
perhaps a long belt of brown-skinned men from India to Spain 
in very early days." 

It is possible that this "belt" of Huxley's of dark-white and 
brown-skinned men, this race of brunet-brown folk, ultimately 
spread even farther than India ; that they reached to the shores 
of the Pacific, and that they were everywhere the original 
possessors of the Neolithic culture and the beginners of what 
we call civilization. It is possible that these Brunet peoples 
are so to speak the basic peoples of our modern world. The 
Nordic and the Mongolian peoples may have been but north- 
western and north-eastern branches from this more fundft- 
*My Diaries, under date of July 25, 1894, 



mental stem. Or the Nordic race may have been a branch, 
while the Mongolian, like the Negro, may have been another 
equal and distinct stem with which the brunet-browns met and 
mingled in South China. Or the Nordic peoples also may 
have developed separately from a paleolithic stage. 

At some period in human history (see Elliot Smith's Migra- 
tions of Early Culture) there seems to have been a special type 
of Neolithic culture widely distributed in the world which had 
a group of features so curious and so unlikely to have been 
independently developed in different Regions of the earth, 

as to compel us to believe that it was in effect one culture. It 
reached through all the regions inhabited by the brunet Medi- 
terranean race, and beyond through India, Further India, up 
the Pacific coast of China, and it spread at last across the 
Pacific and to Mexico and Peru. It was a coastal culture not 
reaching deeply inland. 

This peculiar development of the Neolithic culture, which 
Elliot Smith called the heliolithic 1 culture, included many or 
all of the following odd practices: (1) circumcision, (2) the 
very queer custom of sending the father to bed when a child 

1 "Sunstone" culture became of the sun worship and the megaliths. 
This is not a very happily chosen term. It suggests a division equivalent 
to paleolithic (old stone) and neolithic (new stone), whereas it is a sub- 
division of the neolithic culture. 



is born, known as the couvade, (3) the practice of massage, 
(4) the making of mummies, (5) megalithic monuments l (e.g. 
Stonehenge), (6) artificial deformation of the heads of the 



young by bandages, (7) tattooing, (8) religious association of 
the sun and the serpent, and (9) the use of the symbol known 
as the swastika (see figure) for good luck. This odd little 

(Jew of Algiers) 



symbol spins gaily round the world; it seems incredible that 
men would have invented and made a pet of it twice over. 
Elliot Smith traces these associated practices in a sort of 

1 Megalithic monuments have been made quite recently by primitive 
Indian peoples. 




constellation all over this great Mediterranean-India Ocean-Pa- 
cific area. Where one occurs, most of the others occur. They 
link Brittany with Borneo and Peru. But this constellation 
of practices does not crop up in the primitive homes of Nordic 
or Mongolian peoples, nor does it extend southward much be- 
yond equatorial Africa. 

For thousands of years, from 15,000 to 1,000 B.C., such a 
heliolithic Neolithic culture and its brownish possessors may 
have been oozing round the world through 
the warmer regions of the world, drifting by 
canoes often across wide stretches of sea. 
It was then the highest culture in the world ; 
it sustained the largest, most highly de- 
veloped communities. And its region of 
origin may have been, as Elliot Smith sug- 
gests, the Mediterranean and North African 
region. It migrated slowly age by age. It 
must have been spreading up the Pacific Coast and across the 
island stepping-stones to America, long after it had passed 
on into other developments in its areas of origin. Many of 
the peoples of the East Indies, Melanesia and Polynesia were 
etill in this heliolithic stage of development when they were 
discovered by European navigators in the eighteenth century. 
The first civilizations in Egypt and the Euphrates-Tigris val- 
ley probably developed directly out of this widespread culture. 
We will discuss later whether the Chinese civilization had a 
different origin. The Semitic nomads of the Arabian desert 
seem also to have had a heliolithic stage. 




1. No One Primitive Language. 2. The Aryan Lan- 
guages. 3. The Semitic Languages. 4. The Hamitic 
Languages. 5. The Ural-Altaic Languages. 6. The 
Chinese Languages. 7. Other Language Groups. 8. A 
Possible Primitive Language Group. 9. Some Isolated 

IT is improbable that there was ever such a thing as a com- 
mon human language. We know nothing of the language 
of Palaeolithic man ; we do not even know whether Palaeo- 
lithic man talked freely. 

We know that Paleolithic man had a keen sense of form 
and attitude, because of his drawings ; and it has been sug- 
gested that he communicated his ideas very largely by gesture. 
Probably such words as the earlier men used were mainly cries 
of alarm or passion or names for concrete things, and in many 
cases they were probably imitative sounds made by or associ- 
ated with the things named. 1 

The first languages were probably small collections of such 
words ; they consisted of interjections and nouns. Probably the 
nouns were said in different intonations to convey different 
meanings. If Palaeolithic man had a word for "horse" or 
"bear," he probably showed by tone or gesture whether he 
meant "bear is coming," "bear is going," "bear is to be hunted," 
"dead bear," "bear has been here," "bear did this," and so 
on. Only very slowly did the human mind develop methods 
of indicating action and relationship in a formal manner. 

*Sir Arthur Evans suggests that in America sign-language arose before 

speech, because the sign-language is common to all Indians in North 

America, whereas the languages are different. See his Anthropology and 
the Classics. G. M. 



Modern languages contain many thousands of words, but the 
earlier languages could have consisted only of a lew hundred. 
It is said that even modern European peasants can get along 
with something less than a thousand words, and it is quite 
conceivable that so late as the Early Neolithic Period that was 
the limit of the available vocabulary. Probably men did not 
indulge in those days in conversation or description. For nar- 
rative purposes they danced and acted rather than told. They 
had no method of counting beyond a method of indicating two 
by a dual number, and some way of expressing many. The 
growth of speech was at first a very slow process indeed, and 
grammatical forms and the expression of abstract ideas may 
have come very late in human history, perhaps only 400 or 
500 generations ago. 


The students of languages (philologists) tell us that they are 
unable to trace with certainty any common features in all the 
languages of mankind. They cannot even find any elements 
common to all the Caucasian languages. They find over great 
areas groups of languages which have similar root words and 
similar ways of expressing the same idea, but then they find 
in other areas languages which appear to be dissimilar down 
to their fundamental structure, which express action and rela- 
tion by entirely dissimilar devices, and have an altogether dif- 
ferent grammatical scheme. One great group of languages, 
for example, now covers nearly all Europe and stretches out to 
India; it includes English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, 
Greek, Russian, Armenian, Persian, and various Indian tongues. 
It is called the Indo-European or ARYAN family. The same 
fundamental roots, the same grammatical ideas, are traceable 
through all this family. Compare, for example, English father, 
mother, German vater, mutter, Latin pater, mater, Greek pater, 
meter, French pere, mere, Armenian hair, mair, Sanscrit pitar, 
matar, etc., etc. In a similar manner the Aryan languages ring 
the changes on a great number of fundamental words, / in the 
Germanic languages becoming p in Latin, and so on. They 
follow a law of variation called Grimm's Law. These languages 
are not different things, they are variations of one thing. The 
people who use these languages think in the same way. 


At one time in the remote past, in the Neolithic Age, that is 
to say 6,000 years or more ago, there may have been one simple 
original speech from which all these Aryan languages have 
differentiated. Somewhere between Central Europe and West- 
ern Asia there must have wandered a number of tribes suffi- 
ciently intermingled to develop and use one tongue. It is 
convenient here to call them the Aryan peoples. Sir H. H. 
Johnston has called them "Aryan Russians/ 5 They belonged 
mostly to the Caucasian group of races and to the blond 
and northern subdivision of the group, to the Nordic race 
that is. 

Here one must sound a note of warning. There was a time 
when the philologists were disposed to confuse languages and 
races, and to suppose that people who once all spoke the same 
tongue must be all of the same blood. That, however, is not 
the case, as the reader will understand if he will think of the 
negroes of the United States who now all speak English, or of 
the Irish, who except for purposes of political demonstration 
no longer speak the old Erse language but English, or of 
the Cornish people, who have lost their ancient Keltic speech. 
But what a common language does do, is to show that a com- 
mon intercourse has existed, and the possibility of intermix- 
ture; and if it does not point to a common origin, it points 
at least to a common future. 

But even this original Aryan language, which was a spoken 
speech perhaps 4,000 or 3,000 B.C., was by no means a 
primordial language or the language of a savage race. Its 
earliest speakers were in or past the Neolithic stage of civiliza- 
tion. It had grammatical forms and verbal devices of some com- 
plexity. The vanished methods of expression of the later Palaeo- 
lithic peoples, of the Azilians, or of the early Neolithic kitchen- 
midden people for instance, were probably much cruder than 
the most elementary form of Aryan. 

Probably the Aryan group of languages became distinct in 
a wide region of which the Danube, Dnieper, Don, and Volga 
were the main rivers, a region that extended eastward beyond 
the Ural mountains north of the Caspian Sea. The area over 
which the Aryan speakers roamed probably did not for a long 
time reach to the Atlantic or to the south of the Black Sea be- 
yond Asia Minor. There was no effectual separation of Europe 
from Asia then at the Bosporus. The Danube flowed east- 


ward to a great sea that extended across the Volga region of 
south-eastern Russia right into Turkestan, and included the 
Black, Caspian, and Aral Seas of to-day. Perhaps it sent out 
arms to the Arctic Ocean. It must have been a pretty effec- 
tive barrier between the Aryan speakers and the people in north- 
eastern Asia. South of this sea stretched a continuous shore 
from the Balkans to Afghanistan. North-west of it a region 
of swamps and lagoons reached to the Baltic. 


Next to Aryan, philologists distinguish another group of 
languages which seem to have been made quite separately from 
the Aryan languages, the Semitic. Hebrew and Arabic are 
kindred, but they seem to have even a different set of root 
words from the Aryan tongues ; they express their ideas of rela- 
tionship in a different way; the fundamental ideas of their 
grammars are generally different. They were in all probability 
made by human communities quite out of touch with the Aryans, 
separately and independently. Hebrew, Arabic, Abyssinian, 
ancient Assyrian, ancient Phoenician, and a number of associated 
tongues are put together, therefore, as being derived from a sec- 
ond primary language, which is called the SEMITIC. In the 
very beginnings of recorded history we find Aryan-speaking 
peoples and Semitic-speaking peoples carrying on the liveliest 
intercourse of war and trade round and about the eastern end 
of the Mediterranean, but the fundamental differences of the 
primary Aryan and primary Semitic languages oblige us to 
believe that in early Neolithic times, before the historical 
period, there must for thousands of years have been an almost 
complete separation of the Aryan-speaking and the Semitic- 
speaking peoples. The latter seem to have lived either in south 
Arabia or in north-east Africa. In the opening centuries of the 
Neolithic Age the original Aryan speakers and the original 
Semitic speakers were probably living, so to speak, in different 
worlds with a minimum of intercourse. Racially, it would 
seem, they had a remote common origin ; both Aryan speakers 
and Semites are classed as Caucasians,; but while the original 
Aryan speakers seem to have been of Nordic race, the original 
Semites were rather of the Mediterranean type. 


Philologists speak with less unanimity of a third group of 
languages, the HAMITIC, which some declare to be distinct from, 
and others allied to, the Semitic. The weight of opinion in- 
clines now towards the idea of some primordial connection of 
these two groups. The Hamitic group is certainly a much 
wider and more various language group than the Semitic or the 
Aryan, and the Semitic tongues are more of a family, have 
more of a common likeness, than the Aryan. The Semitic 
languages may have arisen as some specialized proto-Hamitic 
group, just as the birds arose from a special group of reptiles 
(Chap. IV). It is a tempting speculation, but one for which 
there is really no basis of justifying fact, to suppose that the 
rude primordial ancestor group of the Aryan tongues branched 
off from the proto-Hamitic speech forms at some still earlier 
date than the separation and specialization of Semitic. The 
Hamitic speakers to-day, like the Semitic speakers, are mainly 
of the Mediterranean Caucasian race. Among the Hamitic 
languages are the ancient Egyptian and Coptic, the Berber 
languages (of the mountain people of North Africa, the Masked 
Tuaregs, and other such peoples), and what are called the 
Ethiopic group of African languages in eastern Africa, includ- 
ing the speech of the Gallas and the Somalis. The general 
grouping of these various tongues suggests that they originated 
over some great area to the west, as the primitive Semitic may 
have arisen to the east, of the Red Sea divide. That divide was 
probably much more effective in Pleistocene times ; the sea ex- 
tended across to the west of the Isthmus of Suez, and a great 
part of lower Egypt was under water. Long before the dawn 
of history, however, Asia and Africa had joined at Suez, and 
these two language systems were in contact in that region. And 
if Asia and Africa were separated then at Suez, they may, 
on fhe other hand, have been joined by way of Arabia and 

These Hamitic languages may have radiated from a centre 
on the African coast of the Mediterranean, and they may have 
extended over the then existing land connections very widely 
into western Europe. 

All these three great groups of languages, it may be noted, 
the Aryan, Semitic, and Hlarnitic, have one feature in common 



yr ^o~^ V 

"UlTT^Clllt*^ ^Oyt^UV'-^"^' 


which they do not share with any other language, and that 
is grammatical gender; but whether that has much weight 
as evidence of a remote common origin of Aryan, Semitic, and 
H'amitic, is a question for the philologist rather than for the 
general student. It does not affect the clear evidence of a very 
long and very ancient prehistoric separation of the speakers of 
these three diverse groups of tongues. 

The hulk of the Semitic and Hamitic-speaking peoples are 
put hy ethnologists with the Aryans among the Caucasian group 
of races. They are "white." The Semitic and Nordic "races" 
have a much more distinctive physiognomy; they seem, like 
their characteristic languages, to be more marked and specialized 
than the Hamitic-speaking peoples. 


Across to the north-east of the Aryan and Semitic areas there 
must once have spread a further distinct language system which 
is now represented by a group of languages known as the 
TuEAisriAN, or UKAL-ALTAIC group. This includes the Lappish 
of Lapland and the Samoyed speech of Siberia, the Finnish lan- 
guage, Magyar, Turkish or Tartar, Manchu and Mongol; it 
has not as a group been so exhaustively studied by European 
philologists, and there is insufficient evidence yet whether it does 
or does not include the Korean and Japanese languages. H. B. 
Hulbert has issued a comparative grammar of Korean and cer- 
tain of the Dravidian languages of India to demonstrate the 
close affinity he finds between them. 


A fifth region of language formation was south-eastern Asia, 
where there still prevails a group of languages consisting of 
monosyllables without any inflections, in which the tone used 
in uttering a word determines its meaning. This may be called 
the Chinese or MONOSYLLABIC group, and it includes Chinese, 
Burmese, Siamese, and Tibetan. The difference between any 
of these Chinese tongues and the more western languages is pro- 
found. In the Pekinese form of Chinese there are only about 
420 primaiy monosyllables, and consequently each of these has 
to do duty for a great number of things, and the different mean- 


ings are indicated either by the context or by saying the word 
in a distinctive tone. The relations of these words to each other 
are expressed by quite different methods from the Aryan 
methods ; Chinese grammar is a thing different in nature from 
English grammar; it is a separate and different invention. 
Many writers declare there is no Chinese grammar at all, and 
that is true if we mean by grammar anything in the European 
sense of inflections and concords. Consequently any such thing 
as a literal translation from Chinese into English is an impossi- 
bility. The very method of the thought is different. 1 Their 
philosophy remains still largely a sealed book to the European 
on this account and vice versa, because of the different nature 
of the expressions. 

In addition, the following other great language families are 
distinguished by the philologist. All the American-Indian lan- 
guages, which vary widely among themselves, are separable 
from any Old World group. Here we may lump them together 
not so much as a family as a miscellany. There is one great 
group of languages in Africa, from a little way north of the 
equator to its southern extremity, the BANTU, and in addition 
a complex of other languages across the centre of the continent 
about which we will not trouble here. There are also two prob- 
ably separate groups, the DRAVIDIAN in South India, and the 
MALAY-POLYNESIAN stretched over Polynesia, and also now in- 
cluding Indian tongues. 

Now it seems reasonable to conclude irom these fundamental 
differences that about the time when men were beginning to 
form rather larger communities than the family tribe, when 
they were beginning to tell each other long stories and argue 
and exchange ideas, human beings were distributed about the 

*The four characters indicating "Affairs, query, imperative, old," placed 
in that order, for example, represent "Why walk in the ancient ways?" 
The Chinaman gives the bare cores of his meaning; the Englishman gets 
to it by a bold metaphor. He may be talking of conservatism in cooking 
or in book-binding, but he will say: "Why walk in the ancient ways?" 
Mr. Arthur Waley, in the interesting essay on Chinese thought and 
poetry which precedes his book, 110 Chinese Poems (Constable, 1918), 
makes it clear how in these fields Chinese thought is kept practical and 
restricted by the limitations upon metaphor the contracted structure of 
Chinese imposes. 


world in a number of areas which communicated very little 
with each other. They were separated by oceans, seas, thick 
forests, deserts or mountains from one another. There may 
have been in that remote time, it may be 15,000 years ago or 
more, Aryan, Semitic, Hamitic, Turanian, American and 
Chinese-speaking tribes and families, wandering over their sev- 
eral areas of hunting and pasture, all at very much the same 
stage of culture, and each developing its linguistic instrument 
in its own way. Probably each of these original tribes was not 
more numerous altogether than the Indians in Hudson Bay 
Territory to-day. Systematic agriculture was barely beginning 
then, and until agriculture made a denser population possible 
men may have been almost as rare as the great apes have always 
been. If agriculture was becoming at all important in human 
life at that time, and if population was anywhere denser, it 
was probably in the Mediterranean region and possibly in areas 
now submerged. 

In addition to these Neolithic tribes, there must have been 
various still more primitive forest folks in Africa and in India. 
Central Africa, from the Upper Nile, was then a vast forest, im- 
penetrable to ordinary human life, a forest of which the Congo 
forests of to-day are the last shrunken remains. 

Possibly the spread of men of a race higher than primitive 
Australoids into the East Indies, 1 and the development of the 
languages of the Malay-Polynesian type came later in time than 
the origination of these other language groups. 

The language divisions of the philologist do tally, it is mani- 
fest, in a broad sort of way with the main race classes of the 
ethnologist, and they carry out the same idea of age-long sepa- 
rations between great divisions of mankind. In the Glacial 
Age, ice, or at least a climate too severe for the free spreading 
of peoples, extended from the north pole into Central Europe 
and across Russia and Siberia to the great tablelands of Central 
Asia. After the last Glacial Age, this cold north mitigated its 
severities very slowly, and was for long without any other popu- 
lation than the wandering hunters who spread eastward and 
across Bering Strait. North and Central Europe and Asia did 
not become sufficiently temperate for agriculture until quite 
recent times, times that is within the limit of 12,000 or possibly 

J The Polynesians appear to be a later eastward extension of the dark 
whites or brown peoples. 


even 10,000 years, and a dense forest period intervened between 
the age of the hunter and the agricultural clearings. 

This forest period was also a very wet period. It has been 
called the Pluvial or Lacustrine Age, the rain or pond period. 
It has to be remembered that the outlines of the land of the 
world have changed greatly even in the last hundred centuries. 
Across European Russia, from the Baltic to the Caspian Sea, 
as the ice receded there certainly spread much water and many 
impassable swamps ; the Caspian Sea and the Sea of Aral and 
parts of the Desert of Turkestan, are the vestiges of a great 
extent of sea that reached far up to the Volga valley and sent 
an arm westward to join the Black Sea. Mountain barriers 
much higher than they are now, and the arm of the sea that is 
now the region of the Indus, completed the separation of the 
early Nordic races from the Mongolians and the Dravidians, 
and made the broad racial differentiation of those groups 

Again the blown-sand Desert of Sahara it is not a dried-up 
sea, but a wind desert, and was once fertile and rich in life 
becoming more and more dry and sandy, cut the Caucasians off 
from the sparse primitive Negro population in the central forest 
region of Africa. 

The Persian Gulf extended very far to the north of its pres- 
ent head, and combined with the Syrian desert to cut off the 
Semitic peoples from the eastern areas, while on the other hand 
the south of Arabia, much more fertile than it is to-day, may 
have reached across what is now the Gulf of Aden towards 
Abyssinia and Somaliland. The Mediterranean and Red Sea 
may even have been fertile valleys containing a string of fresh- 
water lakes during the Pluvial Age. The Himalayas and the 
higher and vaster massif of Central Asia and the northward 
extension of the Bay of Bengal up to the present Ganges valley 
divided off the Dravidians from the Mongolians, the canoe was 
the chief link between Dravidian and Southern Mongol, and 
the Gobi system of seas and lakes which presently became the 
Gobi desert, and the great system of mountain chains which 
follow one another across Asia from the centre to the north- 
east, split the Mongolian races into the Chinese and the Ural- 
Altaic language groups. 

Bering Strait, when this came into existence, before or after 
the Pluvial Period, isolated the Amerindians. 


We are not suggesting here, be it noted, that these ancient 
separations were absolute separations, but that they were 
effectual enough at least to prevent any great intermixture of 
blood or any great intermixture of speech in those days of 
man's social beginnings. There was, nevertheless, some amount 
of meeting and exchange even then, some drift of knowledge 
that spread the crude patterns and use of various implements, 
and the seeds of a primitive agriculture about the world. 

The fundamental tongues of these nine main language groups 
we have noted were not by any means all the human speech 
beginnings of the Neolithic Age. They are the latest languages, 
the survivors, which have ousted their more primitive predeces- 
sors. There may have been other, and possibly many other, 
ineffective centres of speech which were afterwards overrun 
by the speakers of still surviving tongues, and of elementary 
languages which faded out. We find strange little patches of 
speech still in the world which do not seem to be connected 
with any other language about them. Sometimes, however, an 
exhaustive inquiry seems to affiliate these disconnected patches, 
seems to open out to us tantalizing glimpses of some simpler, 
wider, and more fundamental and universal form of human 
speech. One language group that has been keenly discussed is 
the Basque group of dialects. The Basques live now on the 
north and south slopes of the Pyrenees; they number perhaps 
600,000 altogether in Europe, and to this day they are a very 
sturdy and independent-spirited people. Their language, as 
it exists to-day, is a fully developed one. But it is developed 
upon lines absolutely different from those of the Aryan lan- 
guages about it. Basque newspapers have been published in 
the Argentine and in the United States to supply groups of 
prosperous emigrants. The earliest "French" settlers in Canada 
were Basque, and Basque names are frequent among the 
French Canadians to this day. Ancient remains point to a 
much wider distribution of the Basque speech and people over 
Spain. For a long time this Basque language was a profound 
perplexity to scholars, and its structural character led to the 
suggestion that it might be related to some Amerindian tongue. 
A. H. Keane, in Man, Past and Present, assembles reasons for 



linking it though remotely with the Berber language of 
North Africa, and through the Berber with the general body 

of Hamitic languages, but 
this relationship is ques- 
tioned by other philolo- 
gists. They find Basque 
more akin to certain 
similarly stranded ves- 
tiges of speech found in 
the Caucasian Mountains, 
and they are disposed to 
regard it as a last surviv- 
ing member, much 
changed and specialized, 
of a once very widely ex- 
tended group of pre- 
Hamitic languages, other- 
wise extinet, spoken chief- 
ly by peoples of that 
brunet Mediterranean race 
which once occupied most 
of western and southern 
Europe and western Asia, 
and which may have been 
very closely related to the 
Dravidians of India and 
the peoples with a helio- 
lithic culture who spread 
eastward, thence through 
the East Indies to Poly- 
nesia and beyond. 

It is quite possible that 
over western and southern 
Europe language groups 
extended eight or ten thou- 
sand years ago that have 
completely vanished be- 
fore Aryan tongues. Later on we shall note, in passing, the 
possibility of three lost language groups represented by (1) 
Ancient Cretan, Lydian, and the like (though these may have 


belonged, says Sir H. H. Johnston, to the "Basque Caucasian 
Dravidian [ !] group"), (2) Sumerian, and (3) Elamite. 
The suggestion has been made it is a mere guess that an- 
cient Sumerian may have been a linking language between the 
early Basque-Caucasian and early Mongolian groups. If this 
is true, then we have in this "Basque-Caucasian-Dravidian- 
Sumerian-proto-Mongolian" group a still more ancient and 
more ancestral system of speech than the fundamental Hamitic. 
We have something more like the linguistic a missing link," 
more like an ancestral language than anything else we can 
imagine at the present time. It may have been related to the 
Aryan and Semitic and Hamitic languages much as the primi- 
tive lizards of later Palaeozoic times were related to the mam- 
mals, birds, and dinosaurs respectively. 

The Hottentot language is said to have affinities with the 
Hamitic tongues, from which it is separated by the whole 
breadth of Bantu-speaking Central Africa. A Hottentot-like 
language with Bushman affinities is still spoken in equatorial 
East Africa, and this strengthens the idea that the whole of 
East Africa was once Hamitic-speaking. The Bantu languages 
and peoples spread, in comparatively recent times, from some 
centre of origin in West Central Africa and cut off the Hotten- 
tots from the other Hamitic peoples. But it is at least equally 
probable that the Hottentot is a separate language group. 

Among other remote and isolated little patches of language 
are the Papuan speech of New Guinea and the native Aus- 
tralian. The now extinct Tasmanian language is but little 
known. What we do know of it is in support of what we have 
guessed about the comparative speechlessness of Palaeolithic 

We may quote a passage from Hutchinson's Living Races of 
Mankind upon this matter : 

"The language of the natives is irretrievably lost, only im- 
perfect indications of its structure and a small proportion of 
its words having been preserved. In the absence of sibilants 
and some other features, their dialects resembled the Australian, 
but were of ruder, of less developed structure, and so imperfect 
that, according to Joseph Milligan, our best authority on the 


subject, they observed no settled order or arrangement of words 
in the construction of their sentences, but conveyed in a supple- 
mentary fashion by tone, manner, and gesture those modifica- 
tions of meaning which we express by mood, tense, number, etc. 
Abstract terms were rare; for every variety of gum-tree or 
wattle-tree there was a name, but no word for 'tree' in general, 
nor for qualities such as hard, soft, warm, cold, long, short, 
round, etc. Anything hard was 'like a stone, 7 anything round 
'like the moon/ and so on, usually suiting the action to the 
word and confirming by some sign the meaning to be 



1. Early Cities and Early Nomads. 2A. The Sumerians. 
2s. The Empire of Sargon the First. 2c. The Empire 
of Hammurabi. 2D. The Assyrians and their Empire. 
2E. The Chaldean Empire. 3. The Early History of 
Egypt. 4. The Early Civilization of India. 5. The 
Early History of China. 6. While the Civilizations were 

IT was out Of the so-called heliolithic culture we have 
described in Chapter XII that the first beginnings of any- 
thing that we can call a civilization arose. It is still doubt- 
ful whether we are to consider Mesopotamia or Egypt the earlier 
scene of the two parallel beginnings of settled communities liv- 
ing in towns. By 4,000 B.C., in both these regions of the earth, 
such communities existed, and had been going on for a very 
considerable time. The excavations of the American expedition 
at Nippur have unearthed evidence of a city community ex- 
isting there at least as early as 5,000 B.C., and probably as early 
as 6,000 B.C., an earlier date than anything we know of in, 
Egypt. The late Mr. Aaron Aaronson found a real wild wheat 
upon the slopes of Mt, Hermon, and it must be that somewhere 
in that part of the world its cultivation began. It may be that 
from the western end of the Mediteranean, possibly in some 
region now submerged, as a centre that the cultivation of wheat 
spread over the entire eastern hemisphere. But cultivation is 
not civilization ; the growing of wheat had spread from the At- 
lantic to the Pacific coast with the distribution of the Neolithic 
culture by perhaps 15,000 or 10,000 B.C., before the beginnings 
of civilization. Civilization is something more than the occa- 
sional seasonal growing of wheat. It is the settlement of men 
upon an area continuously cultivated and possessed, who live in 



buildings continuously inhabited with a common rule and a com- 
mon city or citadel. For a long time civilization may quite pos- 
sibly have developed in Mesopotamia without any relations with 
the parallel beginnings in Egypt. The two settlements may 
have been quite independent, arising separately out of the 
widely diffused Heliolithic Neolithic culture. Or they may 
have had a common origin in the region of the Mediterranean, 
the Red Sea, and southern Arabia. 

The first condition necessary to a real settling down of Neo- 
lithic men, as distinguished from a mere temporary settlement 
among abundant food, was of course a trustworthy all-the-year- 
round supply of water, fodder for the animals, food for them- 
selves, and building material for their homes. There had to 
be everything they could need at any season, and no want that 
would tempt them to wander further. This was a possible state 
of affairs, no doubt, in many European and Asiatic valleys; 
and in many such valleys, as in the case of the Swiss lake dwell- 
ings, men settled from a very early date indeed ; but nowhere, 
of any countries now known to us, were these favourable con- 
ditions found upon such a scale, and nowhere did they hold 
good so surely year in and year out as in Egypt and in the 
country between the upper waters of the Euphrates and Tigris 
and the Persian Gulf. 1 Here was a constant water supply un- 
der enduring sunlight; trustworthy harvests year by year; in 
Mesopotamia wheat yielded, says Herodotus, two hundredfold 
to the sower; Pliny says that it was cut twice and afterwards 
yielded good fodder for sheep; there were abundant palrns and 
many sorts of fruits; and as for building material, in Egypt 
there was clay and easily worked stone, and in Mesopotamia a 
clay that becomes a brick in the sunshine. In such countries 
men would cease to wander and settle down almost unawares ; 
they would multiply and discover themselves numerous and by 
their numbers safe from any casual assailant. They multiplied, 
producing a denser human population than the earth had ever 
known before ; their houses became more substantial, wild beasts 

1 We shall use " Mesopotamia" here loosely for the Euphrates-Tigris 
country generally. Strictly, of course, as its name indicates, Mesopotamia 
(mid-rivers) means only the country between those two great rivers. That 
country in the fork was probably very marshy arid unhealthy in early 
times (Sayce), until it was drained by man, and the early cities grew 
up west of the Euphrates and east of the Tigris. Probably these rivers 
then flowed separately into the Persian Gulf. 



were exterminated over great areas, the security of life in- 
creased so that ordinary men went about in the towns and fields 
without encumbering themselves with weapons, and among 
themselves, at least, they became peaceful peoples. Men took 
root as man had never taken root before. 

Fertile LMtd:..^jjjj^ Forest 

. a 


. '..:*- 
&Vv,* fe 


6,000 to 4.000 B.C. 

* ji 

But in the less fertile and more seasonal lands outside these 
favoured areas, in the forests of Europe, the Arabian deserts, 
and the seasonal pastures of Central Asia, there developed on 
the other hand a thinner, more active population of peoples, 
the primitive nomadic peoples. In contrast with the settled folk, 
the agriculturists, these nomads lived freely and dangerously. 


They were in comparison lean and hungry men. Their herding 
was still blended with hunting ; they fought constantly for their 
pastures against hostile families. The discoveries in the elabora- 
tion of implements and the use of metals made by the settled 
peoples spread to them and improved their weapons. They 
followed the settled folk from Neolithic phase to Bronze phase. 
It is possible that in the case of iron, the first users were no- 
madic. They became more warlike with better arms, and more 
capable of rapid movements with the improvement of their 
transport. One must not think of a nomadic stage as a pre- 
decessor of a settled stage in human affairs. To begin with, 
man was a slow drifter, following food. Then one sort of men 
began to settle down, and another sort became more distinctly 
nomadic. The settled sort began to rely more and more upon 
grain for food ; the nomad began to make a greater use of milk 
for food. He bred his cows for milk. The two ways of life 
specialized in opposite directions. It was inevitable that nomad 
folk and the settled folk should clash, that the nomads should 
seem hard barbarians to the settled peoples, and the settled 
peoples soft and effeminate and very good plunder to the nomad 
peoples. Along the fringes of the developing civilizations there 
must have been a constant raiding and bickering between hardy 
nomad tribes and mountain tribes and the more numerous and 
less warlike peoples in the towns and villages. 

For the most part this was a mere raiding of. the borders. 
The settled folk had the weight of numbers on their side ; the 
herdsmen might raid and loot, but they could not stay. That 
sort of mutual friction might go on for many generations. But 
ever and again we find some leader or some tribe amidst the 
disorder of free and independent nomads, powerful enough to 
force a sort of unity upon its kindred tribes, and then woe be- 
tide the nearest civilization. Down pour the united nomads on 
the unwarlike, unarmed plains, and there ensues a war of con- 
quest. Instead of carrying off the booty, the conquerors settle 
down on the conquered land, which becomes all booty for them ; 
the villagers and townsmen are reduced to servitude and tribute- 
paying, they become hewers of wood and drawers of water, and 
the leaders" of the nomads become kings and princes, masters 
and aristocrats. They, too, settle down, they learn many of the 
arts and refinements of the conquered, they cease to be lean and 
hungry, but for many generations they retain traces of their 


old nomadic habits, they hunt and indulge in open-air sports, 
they drive and race chariots, they regard work, especially agri- 
cultural work, as the lot of an inferior race and class. 

This in a thousand variations has been one of the main stories 
in history for the last seventy centuries or more. In the first 
history that we can clearly decipher we find already in all the 
civilized regions a distinction between a non-working ruler class 
and the working mass of the population. And we find, too, that 
after some generations, the aristocrat, having settled down, be- 
gins to respect the arts and refinements and lawabidingness of 
settlement, and to lose something of his original hardihood. He 
intermarries, he patches up a sort of toleration between con- 
queror and conquered; he exchanges religious ideas and learns 
the lessons upon which soil and climate insist. He becomes a 
part of the civilization he has captured. And as he does so, 
events gather towards a fresh invasion by the free adventurers 
of the outer world. 


This alternation of settlement, conquest, refinement, fresh 
conquest, refinement, is particularly to be noted in the region of 
the Euphrates and Tigris, which lay open in every direction to 
great areas which are not arid enough to be complete deserts, 
but which were not fertile enough to support civilized popula- 
tions. Perhaps the earliest people to form real cities in this part 
of the world, or indeed in any part of the world, were a people 
of mysterious origin called the Sumerians. They were probably 
brunets of Iberian or Dravidian affinities. They used a kind of 
writing which they scratched upon clay, and their language has 
been deciphered. 1 It was a language more like the unclassified 
Caucasic language groups than any others that now exist. These 
languages may be connected with Basque, and may represent 
what was once a widespread primitive language group extend- 
ing from Spain and western Europe to eastern India, and reach- 

1 Excavations conducted at Eridu by Capt. R. Campbell Thompson during 
the recent war have revealed an early Neolithic agricultural stage, before 
the invention of writing or the use of bronze beneath the earliest Sumerian 
foundations. The crops were cut by sickles of earthenware. Capt. Thomp- 
son thinks that these pre-Sumerian people were not of Sumerian race, 
but proto-Elamites. Entirely similar Neolithic remains have been 
found at Susa, once the chief city of Elam. 



ing southwards to Central Africa. These people shaved their 
heads and wore simple tunic-like garments of wool. They set- 
tled first on the lower courses of the great river and not very 
far from the Persian Gulf, which in those days ran up for a 
hundred and thirty miles l and more beyond its present head. 
They fertilized their fields by letting water run through irriga- 
tion trenches, and they gradually became very skilful hydraulic 
engineers ; they had cattle, asses, sheep, and goats, but no horses ; 
their collections of mud huts grew into towns, and their religion 
raised up tower-like temple buildings. 

Clay, dried in the sun, was a very great fact in the lives of 
these people. This lower country of the Euphrates-Tigris val- 

A very earfy Swneriaxi stana carving showing Sumeriati warriors' in, phalanx 

leys had little or no stone. They built of brick, they made pot- 
tery and earthenware images, and they drew and presently wrote 
upon thin tile-like cakes of clay. They do not seem to have 
had paper or to have used parchment. Their books and mem- 
oranda, even their letters, were potsherds. 

At Nippur they built a great tower of brick to their chief 
god, El-lil (Enlil), the memory of which is supposed to be pre- 
served in the story of the Tower of Babel. They seem to have 
been divided up into city states, which warred among them- 
selves and maintained for many centuries their military ca- 
pacity. Their soldiers carried long spears and shields, and 
fought in close formation. Sumerians conquered Sumerians. 
Sumeria remained unconquered by any stranger race for a very 

1 Sayce, in Babylonian and Assyrian Life, estimates that in 6,500 B.C. 
Eridu was on the sea-coast. 


long period of time indeed. They developed their civilization, 
their writing, and their shipping, through a period that may he 
twice as long as the whole period from the Christian era to the 
present time. 

The first of all known empires was that founded by the high 
priest of the god of the Sumerian city of Erech. It reached, 
says an inscription at Nippur, from the Lower (Persian Gulf) 
to the Upper (Mediterranean or Red?) Sea. Among the mud 
heaps of the Euphrates-Tigris valley the record of that vast 
period of history, that first half of the Age of Cultivation, is 
huried. There flourished the first temples and the first priest- 
rulers that we know of among mankind. 


Upon the western edge of this country appeared nomadic 
tribes of Semitic-speaking peoples who traded, raided, and 
fought with the Sumerians for many generations. Then arose 
it last a great leader among these Semites, Sargon (2,750 B.C), 
who united them, and not only conquered the Sumerians, but 
extended his rule from beyond the Persian Gulf on the east 
to the Mediterranean on the west. His own people were called 
the Akkadians and his empire is called the Sumerian Akkadian 
empire. It endured for over two hundred years. 

But though the Semites conquered and gave a king to the 
Sumerian cities, it was the Sumerian civilization which pre- 
vailed Over the simpler Semitic culture. The newcomers learnt 
the Sumerian writing (the "cuneiform" writing) and the 
Sumerian language; they set up no Semitic writing of their 
own. The Sumerian language became for these barbarians the 
language of knowledge and power, as Latin was the language 
of knowledge and power among the barbaric peoples of the mid- 
dle ages in Europe. This Sumerian learning had a very great 
vitality. It was destined to survive through a long series of 
conquests and changes that now began in the valley of the two 


As the people of the Sumerian Akkadian empire lost their 
political and military vigour, fresh inundations of a warlike 


people began from the east, the Elamites, 1 while from the west 
came the Semitic Amorites, pinching the Sumerian Akkadian 
empire between them. The Amorites settled in what was at 
first a small up-river town, named Babylon ; and after a hundred 
years of warfare became masters of all Mesopotamia under a 
great king, Hammurabi (2,100 B.C.), who founded the first 
Babylonian empire. 

Again came peace and security and a decline in aggressive 
prowess, and in another hundred years fresh nomads from the 
east were invading Babylonia, bringing with them the horse and 
the war chariot, and setting up their own king in Babylon. . . . 


Higher up the Tigris, above the clay lands and with easy 
supplies of workable stone, a Semitic people, the Assyrians, 
while the Sumerians were still unconquered by the Semites, were 
settling about a number of cities of which Assur and Nineveh 
were the chief. Their peculiar physiognomy, the long nose and 
thick lips, was very like that of the commoner type of Polish 
Jew to-day. They wore great beards and ringletted long hair, 
tall caps and long robes. They were constantly engaged in 
mutual raiding with the Hittites to the west; they were con- 
quered by Sargon I and became free again ; a certain Tushratta, 
King of Mitanni, to the north-west, captured and held their 
capital, Nineveh, for a time ; they intrigued with Egypt against 
Babylon and were in the pay of Egypt ; they developed the mili- 
tary art to a very high pitch, and became mighty raiders and 
exacters of tribute; and at last, adopting the horse and the 
war chariot, they settled accounts for a time with the Hittites, 
and then, under Tiglath Pileser I, conquered Babylon for them- 
selves (about 1,100 B.C.). But their hold on the lower, older, 
and more civilized land was not secure, and Nineveh, the stone 
city, as distinguished from Babylon, the brick city, remained 
their capital. For many centuries power swayed between Nine- 
veh and Babylon, and sometimes it was an Assyrian and some- 
times a Babylonian who claimed to be "king of the world." 

*Of unknown language and race, "neither Sumerians nor Semites," 
says Sayce. Their central city was Suaa. Their archaeology is still largely 
an unworked mine. They are believed by some, says Sir H. H. Johnston, 
to have been negroid in type. There is a strong negroid strain in the mod- 
ern people of Elam. 



For four centuries Assyria was restrained from expansion 
towards Egypt by a fresh northward thrust and settlement of 
another group of Semitic peoples, the Arameans, whose chief 
city was Damascus, and whose descendants are the Syrians of 
to-day. (There is, we may note, no connection whatever be- 
tween the words Assyrian and Syrian. It is an accidental 
similarity.) Across these Syrians the Assyrian kings fought 
for power and expansion south-westward. In 745 B.C. 
arose another Tiglath Pileser, 
Tiglath Pileser III, the Tiglath 
Pileser of the Bible. 1 He not 
only directed the transfer of the 
Israelites to Media (the "Lost 
Ten Tribes" whose ultimate fate 
has exercised so many curious 
minds) but he conquered and 
ruled Babylon, so founding what 
historians know as the New 
Assyrian Empire. His son, Shal- 
maneser IV, 2 died during the 
siege of Samaria, and was suc- 
ceeded by a usurper, who, no 
doubt to flatter Babylonian sus- 
ceptibilities, took the ancient 
Akkadian Sumerian name of Sar- 
gon, Sargon II. He seems to have 
armed the Assyrian forces for the 
first time with iron weapons. It 
was probably Sargon II who 
actually carried out the deporta- 
tion of the Ten Tribes. 

Such shiftings about of popula- 

d .Sargon H 

tion became a very distinctive part of the political methods 
of the Assyrian new empire. Whole nations who were difficult 
to control in their native country would be shifted en masse 
to unaccustomed regions and amidst strange neighbours, where 
their only hope of survival would lie in obedience to the 
supreme power. 

Sargon's son, Sennacherib, led the Assyrian hosts to the 
borders of Egypt. There Sennacherib's army was smitten by 

*II. Kings, xv. 29, and xvi. 7 et seq. 'II. Kings xvii. 3. 


a pestilence, a disaster described in the nineteenth chapter of the 
Second Book of Kings. 

"And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord 
went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred 
fourscore and five thousand : and when they arose early in the 
morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. So Sennacherib 
king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt 
at Nineveh." l 

Sennacherib's grandson, Assurbanipal (called by the Greeks 
Sardanapalus), did succeed in conquering and for a time hold- 
ing lower Egypt. 


The Assyrian empire lasted only a hundred and fifty years 
after Sargon II. Fresh nomadic Semites coming from the 
south-east, the Chaldeans, assisted by two Aryan-speaking peo- 
ples from the north, the Medes and Persians, combined against 
it, and took Nineveh in 606 B.C. 

The Chaldean Empire, with its capital at Babylon (Second 
Babylonian Empire), lasted under Nebuchadnezzar the Great 
(Nebuchadnezzar II) and his successors until 539 B.C., when it 
collapsed before the attack of Cyrus, the founder of the Persian 
power. . . . 

So the story goes on. In 330 B.C., as we shall tell later in 
some detail, a Greek conqueror, Alexander the Great, is looking 
on the murdered body of the last of the Persian rulers. 

The story of the Tigris and Euphrates civilizations, of which 
we have given as yet only the bare outline, is a story of con- 
quest following after conquest, and each conquest replaces old 
rulers and ruling classes by new ; races like the Sumerian and 
the Elamite are swallowed up, their languages vanish, they 
interbreed and are lost, the Assyrian melts away into Chaldean 
and Syrian, the Hittites become Aryanized and lose distinc- 
tion, the Semites who swallowed up the Sumerians give place to 
Aryan rulers, Medes and Persians appear in the place of the 
Elamites, the Aryan Persian language dominates the empire 
until the Aryan Greek ousts it from official life. Meanwhile 

s To be murdered by his sons. 


the plough does its work year by year, the harvests are gathered, 
the builders build as they are told, the tradesmen work and 
acquire fresh devices; the knowledge of writing spreads, novel 
things, the horse and wheeled vehicles and iron, are introduced 
and become part of the permanent inheritance of mankind ; the 
volume of trade upon sea and desert increases, men's ideas 
widen, and knowledge grows. There are set-backs, massacres, 
pestilence; but the story is, on the whole, one of enlargement. 
For four thousand years this new thing, civilization, which 
had set its root into the soil of the two rivers, grew as a tree 
grows ; now losing a limb, now stripped by a storm, but always 
growing and resuming its growth. After four thousand years 
the warriors and conquerors were still going to and fro over 
this growing thing they did not understand, but men had now 
(330 B.C.) got iron, horses, writing and computation, money, a 
greater variety of foods and textiles, a wider knowledge of their 

The time that elapsed between the empire of Sargon I and 
the conquest of Babylon by Alexander the Great was as long, 
be it noted, at the least estimate, as the time from Alexander 
the Great to the present day. And before the time of Sargon, 
men had been settled in the Sumerian land, living in towns, 
worshipping in temples, following an orderly Neolithic agri- 
cultural life in an organized community for at least as long 
again. "Eridu, Lagash, Ur, Uruk, Larsa, have already an im- 
memorial past when first they appear in history." l 

One of the most difficult things for both the writer and stu- 
dent of history is to sustain the sense of these time-intervals 
and prevent these ages becoming shortened by perspective in his 
imagination. Half the duration of human civilization and the 
keys to all its chief institutions are to be found before Sargon 
I. Moreover, the reader cannot too often compare the scale 
of the dates in these latter fuller pages of man's history with 
the succession of countless generations to which the time dia- 
grams given on pages 11 and 47, bear witness. 

Parallel with the ancient beginnings of civilization in 
Sumeria, a parallel process was going on in Egypt. It is still 
1 Winckler (Craig), History of Babylonia and Assyria. 




a matter of discussion which was the most ancient of these two 
beginnings, or how far they had a common origin or derived 
one from the other. 

The story of the Nile valley from the dawn of its trace- 
able history until the time of Alexander the Great is not very 
dissimilar from that of Babylonia; but while Babylonia lay 
open on every side to invasion, Egypt was protected by desert 
to the west and by desert and sea to 
the east, while to the south she had 
only negro peoples. Consequently 
her history is less broken by the in- 
vasions of strange races than is the 
history of Assyria and Babylon, and 
until towards the eighth century 
B. c., when she fell under an Ethio- 
pian dynasty, whenever a conqueror 
did come into her story, he came in 
from Asia by way of the Isthmus of 

The Stone Age remains in Egypt 
are of very uncertain date ; there are 
Paleolithic and then Neolithic re- 
mains. It is not certain whether the 
Neolithic pastoral people who left 
those remains were the direct ances- 
tors of the later Egyptians. In many 
respects they differed entirely from 
their successors. They buried their 
dead, but before they buried them 
they cut up the bodies and appar- 
ently ate portions of the flesh. They 
seem to have done this out of a feel- 
ing of reverence for the departed; 
the dead were "eaten with honour" 
according to the phrase of Mr. Flinders Petrie. It may have 
been that the survivors hoped to retain thereby some vestige 
of the strength and virtue that had died. Traces of similar 
savage customs have been found in the long barrows that were 
scattered over western Europe before the spreading of the 
Aryan peoples, and they have pervaded negro Africa, where 
they are only dying out at the present time. 

Tarfc iiure oC&e. JZuvtian 

luoofaxtws o3des? 


About 5,000 B.C., or earlier, the traces of these primitive 
peoples cease, and the true Egyptians appear on the scene. The 
former people were hut builders and at a comparatively low 
stage of Neolithic culture, the latter were already a civilized 
Neolithic people; they used brick and wood buildings instead 
of their predecessors 7 hovels, and they were working stone. 
Very soon they passed into the Bronze Age. They possessed a 
system of picture writing almost as developed as the con- 
temporary writing of the Sumerians, but quite different in char- 
acter. Possibly there was an irruption from southern Arabia 
by way of Aden, of a fresh people, who came into upper Egypt 
and descended slowly towards the delta of the Nile. Dr. Wallis 
Budge writes of them as "conquerors from the East." But 
their gods and their ways, like their picture writing, were very 
different indeed from the Sumerian. One of the earliest known 
figures of a deity is that of a hippopotamus goddess, and so very 
distinctively African. 

The clay of the Nile is not so fine and plastic as the Sumerian 
clay, and the Egyptians made no use of it for writing. But they 
early resorted to strips of the papyrus reed fastened together, 
from whose name comes our word "paper." 

The broad outline of the history of Egypt is simpler than 
the history of Mesopotamia. It has long been the custom to 
divide the rulers of Egypt into a succession of Dynasties, and 
in speaking of the periods of Egyptian history it is usual to 
speak of the first, fourth, fourteenth, and so on, Dynasty. The 
Egyptians were ultimately conquered by the Persians after 
their establishment in Babylon, and when finally Egypt fell to 
Alexander the Great in 332 B.C., it was Dynasty XXXI that 
came to an end. In that long history of over 4,000 years, a 
much longer period than that between the career of Alexander 
the Great and the present day, certain broad phases of de- 
velopment may be noted here. There was a phase known as 
the "old kingdom," which culminated in the IVth Dynasty; 
this Dynasty marks a period of wealth and splendour, and its 
monarchs were obsessed by such a passion for making monu- 
ments for themselves as no men have ever before or since had 
a chance to display and gratify. It was Cheops l and Chephren 
and Mycerinus of this I\ r th Dynasty who raised the vast piles 
of the great and the second and the third pyramids at Gizeh, 
1 3,733 B.C., Wallis Budge. 


These unmeaning sepulchral piles, of an almost incredible vast- 
ness, 1 erected in an age when engineering science had scarcely 
begun, exhausted the resources of Egypt through three long 
reigns, and left her wasted as if by a war. 

The story of Egypt from the IVth to the XVth Dynasty is a 
story of conflicts between alternative capitals and competing 
religions, of separations into several kingdoms and reunions. 
It is, so to speak, an internal history. Here we can name only 
one of that long series of Pharaohs, Pepi II, who reigned ninety 
years, the longest reign in history, and left a great abundance 
of inscriptions and buildings. At last there happened to Egypt 
what happened so frequently to the civilizations of Mesopo- 
tamia. Egypt was conquered by nomadic Semites, who founded 
a "shepherd" dynasty, the Hyksos (XVIth), which was finally 
expelled by native Egyptians. This invasion probably hap- 
pened while that first Babylonian Empire which Hammurabi 
founded was flourishing, but the exact correspondences of dates 
between early Egypt and Babylonia are still very . doubtful. 
Only after a long period of servitude did a popular uprising 
expel these foreigners again. 

After the war of liberation (circa 1,600 B.C.) there followed a 
period of great prosperity in Egypt, the New Empire. Egypt 
became a great and united military state, and pushed her expedi- 
tions at last as far as the Euphrates, and so the age-long struggle 
between the Egyptian and Babylonian- Assyrian power began. 

For a time Egypt was the ascendant power. Thothmes III 2 

*The great pyramid is 450 feet high and its side 700 feet long. It is 
calculated (says Wallis Budge) to weigh 4,883,000 tons. All this stone 
was lugged into place chiefly by human muscle. 

'There are variants to these names, and to most Egyptian names, for 
few self-respecting Egyptologists will tolerate the spelling of their col- 
leagues. One may find, for instance, Thethmosis, Thoutmosis, Tahutmes, 
Thutmose, or Tet^mosis; Amunothph, Amenhotep or Amenothes. A pleas- 
ing variation is to break up the name, as, for instance, Amen Hetep. 
This particular little constellation of variants is given here not only be- 
cause it is amusing, but because it is desirable that the reader should 
know such variations exist. For most names the rule of this book has 
been to follow whatever usage has established itself in English literature, 
regardless of the possible contemporary pronunciation. Amenophis, for 
example, has been so written in English books for two centuries. It 
came into the language by indirect routes, but it is now as fairly estab- 
lished as is Damascus as the English name of a Syrian town. Neverthe- 
less, there are limits to this classicism. The writer, after some vacilla- 
tion, has abandoned Oliver Goldsmith and Dr. Johnson in the case of 
"Peisistratus" and "Keltic," which were formerly spelt "Pisistratus" and 


and Amenophis III (XVIIIth Dynasty) ruled from Ethiopia 
to the Euphrates in the fifteenth century B.C. For various 
reasons these names stand out with unusual distinctness in the 
Egyptian record. They were great builders, and left many 
monuments and inscriptions. Amenophis III founded Luxor, 
and added greatly to Karnak. At Tel-el-Amarna a mass of 
letters has been found, the royal correspondence with Babylonian 
and Hittite and other monarchs, including that Tushratta who 
took Nineveh, throwing a flood of light upon the political and 
social affairs of this particular age. Of Amenophis IV we 
shall have more to tell later, but of one, the most extraordinary 
and able of Egyptian monarchs, Queen Hatasu, we have no 
space to tell. She is represented upon her monuments in mas- 
culine garb, and with a long beard as a symbol of wisdom. 

Thereafter there was a brief Syrian conquest of Egypt, a 
series of changing dynasties, among which we may note the 
XlXth, which included Rameses II, a great builder of temples, 
who reigned seventy-seven years (about 1,317 to 1,250 B.C.), 
and who is supposed by some to have been the Pharaoh of 
Moses, and the XXIInd, which included Shishak, who 
plundered Solomon's temple (circa 930 B.C.). An Ethiopian 
conqueror from the Upper Nile founded the XXVth Dynasty, 
a foreign dynasty, which went down (670 B.C.) before the new 
Assyrian Empire created by Tiglath Pileser III, Sargon II, 
and Sennacherib, of which we have already made mention. 

The days of any Egyptian predominance over foreign nations 
were drawing to an end. For a time under Psammetichus I 
of the XXVIth Dynasty (664-610 B.C.) native rule was re- 
stored, and Necho II recovered for a time the old Egyptian 
possessions in Syria up to the Euphrates while the Medes and 
Chaldeans were attacking Nineveh. From those gains Necho II 
was routed out again after the fall of Nineveh and the Assyrians 
by Nebuchadnezzar II, the great Chaldean king, the Nebuchad- 
nezzar of the Bible. The Jews, who had been the allies of 
Necho II, were taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar to 

When, in the sixth century B.C., Chaldea fell to the Persians, 
Egypt followed suit, a rebellion later made Egypt independent 
once more for sixty years, and in 332 B.C. she welcomed Alex- 
ander the Great as her conqueror, to be ruled thereafter by for- 


eigners, first by Greeks, then by Romans, then in succession 
by Arabs, Turks, and British, until the present day. 

Such briefly is the history of Egypt from its beginnings; 
a history first of isolation and then pf increasing entanglement 
with the affairs of other nations, as increasing facilities of 
communication drew the peoples of the world into closer and 
closer interaction. 

The history we need to tell here of India is simpler even 
than this brief record of Egypt. The Dravidian peoples in 
the Ganges valley developed upon parallel lines to the Sumerian 
and Egyptian societies. But it is doubtful if they ever got to 
so high a stage of social development ; they have left few monu- 
ments, and they never achieved any form of writing. 

Somewhere about the time of Hammurabi or later, a branch 
of the Aryan-speaking people who then occupied North Persia 
and Afghanistan pushed down the north-west passes into India. 
They conquered their way until they prevailed over all the 
darker populations of North India, and spread their rule or 
influence over the whole peninsula. They never achieved any 
unity in India ; their history is a history of warring kings and 

The Persian empire, in the days of its expansion after the 
capture of Babylon, pushed its boundaries beyond the Indus, 
and later Alexander the Great marched as far as the border of 
the desert that separates the Punjab from the Ganges valley. 
But with this bare statement we will for a time leave the history 
of India. 


Meanwhile, as this triple system of White Man civilization 
developed in India and in the lands about the meeting-places 
of Asia, Africa, and Europe, another and quite distinct civiliza- 
tion was developing and spreading out from the then fertile 
but now dry and desolate valley of the Tarim and from the 
slopes of the Eoien-lun mountains in two directions down the 
course of the Hwang-ho, and later into the valley of the Yang- 
tse-kiang. We know practically nothing as yet of the archaeol- 


ogy of China, we do not know anything of the Stone Age in 
that part of the world, and at present our ideas of this early 
civilization are derived from the still very imperfectly ex- 
plored Chinese literature. It has evidently been from the first 
and throughout a Mongolian civilization. Until after the time 
of Alexander the Great there are few traces of any Aryan 
or Semitic, much less of Hamitic influence. All such influ- 
ences were still in another world, separated by mountains, 
deserts, and wild nomadic tribes until that time. The Chinese 
seem to have made their civilization spontaneously and un- 
assisted. Some recent writers suppose indeed a connection with 
ancient Sumeria. Of course both China and Sumeria arose 
on the basis of the almost world-wide early Neolithic culture, 
but the Tarim valley and the lower Euphrates are separated by 
such vast obstacles of mountain and desert as to forbid the idea 
of any migration or interchange of peoples who had once settled 
down. Perhaps the movement from the north met another 
movement of culture coming from the south. 

Though the civilization of China is wholly Mongolian (as 
we have defined Mongolian), it does not follow that the north- 
ern roots are the only ones from which it grew. If it grew 
first in the Tarim valley, then unlike all other civilization.^ 
(including the Mexican and Peruvian) it did not grow out 
of the heliolithic culture. We Europeans know very little as 
yet of the ethnology and pre-history of southern China. There 
the Chinese mingle with such kindred peoples as the Siamese 
and Burmese, and seem to bridge over towards the darker 
Dravidian peoples and towards the Malays. It ii quite clear 
from the Chinese records that there were southern as well as 
northern beginnings of a civilization, and that the Chinese civ- 
ilization that comes into history 2,000 years B.C. is the result of 
a long process of conflicts, minglings and interchanges between 
a southern and a northern culture of which the southern may 
have been the earlier and more highly developed. The southern 
Chinese perhaps played the role towards the northern Chinese 
that the Hamites or Sumerians played to the Aryan and Semitic 
peoples in the west, or that the settled Dravidians played to- 
wards the Aryans in India. They may have been the first 
agriculturists and the first temple builders. But so little is 
known as yet of this attractive chapter in pre-history, that 
We cannot dwell upon it further here. 




The chief foreigners mentioned in the early annals of China 
were a Ural-Altaic people on the north-east frontier, the Huns, 
against whom certain of the earlier emperors made war. 

Chinese history is still very little known to European stu- 
dents, and our accounts of the eaily records ave partieu'arly un- 
satisfactory. Ahout 2,700 to 2,400 B.C. reigned five emperors, 
who seem to have been almost incredibly exemplary beings. 

There follows upon these first five emperors a series of 
dynasties, of which the accounts become more and more exact 
and convincing as they become more recent. China has to 
tell a long history of border warfare and of graver struggles 
between the settled and nomad peoples. To begin with, China, 
like Sumer and like Egypt, was a land of city states. The 
government was at first a government of numerous kings ; they 
became loosely feudal under an emperor, as the Egyptians did ; 
and then later, as with the Egyptians, came a centralizing 
empire. Shang (1,750 to 1,125 B.C.) and Chow (1,125 to 
250 B.C.) are named as being the two great dynasties of the 
feudal period. Bronze vessels of these earlier dynasties, beau- 
tiful, splendid, and with a distinctive style of their own, still 
exist, and there can be no doubt of the existence of a high state 
of culture even before the days of Shang. 

It is perhaps a sense of symmetry that made the later his- 
torians of Egypt and China talk of the earlier phases of their 
national history as being under dynasties comparable to the 
dynasties of the later empires, and of such early "Emperors" 
as Menes (in Egypt) or the First Five Emperors (in China). 
The early dynasties exercised far less centralized powers than 
the later ones. Such unity as China possessed under the Shang 
Dynasty was a religious rather than an effective political union. 
The "Son of Heaven" offered sacrifices for all the Chinese. 
There was a common script, a common civilization, and a com- 
mon enemy in the Huns of the north-western borders. 

The last of the Shang Dynasty was a cruel and foolish mon- 
arch who burnt himself alive (1,125 B.C.) in his palace after a 
decisive defeat by Wu Wang, the founder of the Chow Dynasty. 
Wu Wang seems to have been helped by allies from among 
the south-western tribes as well as by a popular revolt. 

For a time China remained loosely united under the Chow 
emperors, as loosely united as was Christendom under the popes 
in the Middle Ages ; the Chow emperors had become the tradi- 


tional high priests of the land in the place of the Shang 
Dynasty and claimed a sort of overlordship in Chinese affairs, 
but gradually the loose ties of usage and sentiment that held 
the empire together lost their hold upon men's minds. Hunnish 
peoples to the north and west took on the Chinese civilization 
without acquiring a sense of its unity. Feudal princes began 
to regard themselves as independent. Mr. Liang-Chi-Chao, 1 
one of the Chinese representatives at the Paris Conference of 
1919, states that between the eighth and fourth centuries B.C. 
"there were in the Hwang-ho and Yang-tse valleys no less than 
five or six thousand small states with about a dozen powerful 
states dominating over them." The land was subjected to per- 
petual warfare ("Age of Confusion"). In the sixth century 
B.C. the great powers in conflict were Ts'i and Ts'in, which 
were northern Hwang-ho states, and Ch'u, which was a vigorous, 
aggressive power in the Yang-tse valley. A confederation 
against Ch'u laid the foundation for a league that kept the 
peace for a hundred years ; the league subdued and incorporated 
Ch'u and made a general treaty of disarmament. It became 
the foundation of a new pacific empire. 

The knowledge of iron entered China at some unknown date, 
but iron weapons began to be commonly used only about 500 
B.C., that is to say two or three hundred years or more after 
this had become customary in Assyria, Egypt, and Europe. 
Iron was probably introduced from the north into China by the 

The last rulers of the Chow Dynasty were ousted by the 
kings of Ts'in, the latter seized upon the sacred sacrificial 
bronze tripods, and so were able to take over the imperial duty 
of offering sacrifices to Heaven. In this manner was the Ts'in 
Dynasty established. It ruled with far more vigour and effect 
than any previous family. The reign of Shi Hwang-ti (mean- 
ing "first universal emperor") of this dynasty is usually taken 
to mark the end of feudal and divided China. He seems to 
have played the unifying role in the east that Alexander the 
Great might have played in the west, but he lived longer, and 
the unity he made (or restored) was comparatively permanent, 
while the empire of Alexander the Great fell to pieces, as we 
shall tell, at his death. Shi Hwang-ti, among other feats in the 

1 China and the League of Nations, a pamphlet by Mr. Liang-Chi-Chao. 
(Pekin Leader Office.) 


direction of common effort, organized the building of the Great 
Wall of China against the Huns. A civil war followed close 
upon his reign, and ended in the establishment of the Han 
Dynasty. Under this Han Dynasty the empire grew greatly 
beyond its original two river valleys, the Huns were effectively 
restrained, and the Chinese penetrated westwarcj until they 
began to learn at last of civilized races and civilisations other 
than their own. 

By 100 B.C. the Chinese had heard of India, their power 
had spread across Tibet and into Western Turkestan, and they 
were trading by camel caravans with Persia and the western 
world. So much for the present must suffice for our account of 
China. We shall return to the distinctive characters of its 
civilization later. 


And in these thousands of years during which man was 
making his way step by step from the barbarism of the helio- 
lithic culture to civilization at these old-world centres, what was 
happening in the rest of the world? To the north of these 
centres, from the Rhine to the Pacific, the Nordic and Mon- 
golian peoples, as we have told, were also learning the use 
of metals ; but while the civilizations were settling down these 
men of the great plains were becoming migratory and de- 
veloping from a slow wandering life towards a complete seasonal 
nomadism. To the south of the civilized zone, in central and 
southern Africa, the negro was making a slower progress, and 
that, it would seem, under the stimulus of invasion by whiter 
tribes from the Mediterranean regions, bringing with them 
in succession cultivation and the use of metals. These white 
men came to the black by two routes : across the Sahara to the 
west as Berbers and Tuaregs and the like, to mix with the negro 
and create such quasi-white races as the Fulas; and also by 
way of the Nile, where the Baganda ( Gandafolk) of Uganda, 
for example, may possibly be of remote white origin. The 
African forests were denser then, and spread eastward and 
northward from the Upper Nile. 

The islands of the East Indies, three thousand years ago, 
were probably still only inhabited here and there by stranded 
patches of Palaeolithic Australoids, who had wandered thither 


in those immemorial ages when there was a nearly complete 
land hridge by way of the East Indies to Australia. The 
islands of Oceania were uninhabited. The spreading of the 
heliolithic peoples by sea-going canoes into the islands of the 
Pacific came much later in the history of man, at earliest a 
thousand years B.C. Still later did they reach Madagascar. 
The beautiy of New Zealand also was as yet wasted upon man- 
kind ; its highest living creatures were a great ostrich-like bird, 
the moa, now extinct, and the little kiwi which has feathers 
like coarse hair and the merest rudiments of wings. 

In North America a group of Mongoloid tribes were now 
cut off altogether from the old world. They were spreading 
slowly southward, hunting the innumerable bison of the 
plains. They had still to learn for themselves the secrets of a 
separate agriculture based on maize, and in South America 
to tame the lama to their service, and so build up in Mexico 
and Peru two civilizations roughly parallel in their nature tc 
that of Sumer, but different in many respects, and later by six 
or seven thousand years. . . . 

When men reached the southern extremity of America, the 
Megatherium, the giant sloth, and the Glypiodon, the giant 
armadillo, were still living. 

There is a considerable imaginative appeal in the obscure 
story of the early American civilizations. It was largely a 
separate development. Somewhen at last the southward drift 
of the Amerindians must have met and mingled with the east- 
ward, canoe-borne drift of the heliolithic culture. But it was 
the heliolithic culture still at a very lowly stage and probably 
before the use of metals. It has to be noted as evidence of 
this canoe-borne origin of American culture, that elephant- 
headed figures are found in Central American drawings. Amer- 
ican metallurgy may have arisen independently of the old- 
world use of metal, or it may have been brought by these ele- 
phant carvers. These American peoples got to the use of 
bronze and copper, but not to the use of iron; they had gold 
and silver; and their stonework, their pottery, weaving, and 
dyeing were carried to a very high level. In all these things 
the American product resembles the old-world product generally, 
but always it has characteristics that are distinctive. The 
American civilizations had picture-writing of a primitive sort, 
but it never developed even to the pitch of the earliest Egyptian 


hieroglyphics. In Yucatan only was there a kind of script, 
the Maya writing, but it was used simply for keeping a cal- 
endar. In Peru the beginnings of writing were superseded 
by a curious and complicated method of keeping records by 
means of knots tied upon strings of various colours and shapes. 
It is said that even laws and orders could be conveyed by this 
code. These string bundles were called qmpus, but though 
quipus are still to be found in collections, the art of reading 
them is altogether lost. The Chinese histories, Mr. L. Y. Chen 
informs us, state that a similar method of record by knots was 
used in China before the invention of writing there. The 
Peruvians also got to making maps and the use of counting- 
frames. "But with all this there was no means of handing 
on knowledge and experience from one generation to another, 
nor was anything done to fix and summarize these intellectual 
possessions, which are the basis of literature and science." 1 

When the Spaniards came to America, the Mexicans knew 
nothing of the Peruvians nor the Peruvians of the Mexicans. 
Intercourse there was none. Whatever links had ever existed 
were lost and forgotten. The Mexicans had never heard of 
the potato which was a principal article of Peruvian diet. In 
5,000 B.C. the Sumerians and Egyptians probably knew as 
little of one another. American was 6,000 years behind the 
Old World. 

*F. Ratzel, History of Mankind. 



1. The Earliest Ships and Sailors. 2. The ^Egean Cities 
before History. 3. The First Voyages of Exploration. 
4. Early Traders. 5. Early Travellers. 


THE first boats were made very early indeed in the Neo- 
lithic stage of culture by riverside and lakeside peoples. 
They were no more than trees and floating wood, used 
to assist the imperfect natural swimming powers of men. Then 
came the hollowing out of the trees, and then, with the de- 
velopment of tools and a primitive carpentry, the building of 
boats. Men in Egypt and Mesopotamia also developed a primi- 
tive type of basketwork boat, caulked with bitumen. Such 
was the "ark of bulrushes" in which Moses was hidden by his 
mother. A kindred sort of vessel grew up by the use of 
skins and hides expanded upon a wicker framework. To this 
day cow-hide wicker boats (coracles) are used upon the west 
coast of Ireland where there is plenty of cattle and a poverty 
of big trees. They are also still used on the Euphrates, and 
on the Towy in South Wales. Inflated skins may have preceded 
the coracle, and are still used on the Euphrates and upper 
Ganges. In the valleys of the great rivers, boats must early 
have become an important means of communication; and it 
seems natural to suppose that it was from the mouths of the 
great rivers that man, already in a reasonably seaworthy vessel, 
first ventured out upon what must have seemed to him then 
the trackless and homeless sea. 

No doubt he ventured at first as a fisherman, having learnt 
the elements of seacraft in creeks and lagoons. Men may have 
navigated boats upon the Levantine lake before the refilling 
of the Mediterranean by the Atlantic waters. The canoe was 
an integral part of the heliolithic culture, it drifted with the 



culture upon the warm waters of the earth from the Mediter- 
ranean to (at last) America. There were not only canoes, but 
Sumerian boats and ships upon the Euphrates and Tigris, when 
these rivers in 7,000 B.C. fell by separate mouths into the 
Persian Gulf. The Sumerian city of Eridu, which stood at the 
head of the Persian Gulf (from which it is now separated by a 
hundred and thirty miles of alluvium *), had ships upon the sea 
then. We also find evidence of a fully developed sea life six 
thousand years ago at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, and 
possibly at that time there were already canoes on the seas 
among the islands of the nearer East Indies. There are pre- 
dynastic Neolithic Egyptian representations of Nile ships of a 
fair size, capable of carrying elephants. 2 

Very soon the seafaring men must have realized the peculiar 
freedom and opportunities the ship gave them. They could 
get away to islands ; no chief nor king could pursue a boat or 
ship with any certainty; every captain was a king. The sea- 
men would find it easy to make nests upon islands and in strong 
positions on the mainland. There they could harbour, there 
they could carry on a certain agriculture and fishery ; but their 
specialty and their main business was, of course, the expedition 
across the sea. That was not usually a trading expedition; 
it was much more frequently a piratical raid. From what 
we know of mankind, we are bound to conclude that the first 
sailors plundered when they could, and traded when they had to. 

Because it developed in the comparatively warm and tran- 
quil waters of the eastern Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the 
Persian Gulf, and the western horn of the Indian Ocean, the 
shipping of the ancient world retained throughout certain char- 
acteristics that make it .differ very widely from the ocean-going 
sailing shipping, with its vast spread of canvas, of the last four 
hundred years. "The Mediterranean," says Mr. Torr, 3 "is a 
sea where a vessel with sails may lie becalmed for days to- 
gether, while a vessel with oars would easily be traversing the 
smooth waters, with coasts and islands everywhere at hand 
to give her shelter in case of storm. In that sea, therefore, oars 
became the characteristic instruments of navigation, and the 
arrangement of oars the chief problem in shipbuilding. And 

1 Sayce. 

2 Mosso, The Dami of Mediterranean Civilization. R. L. C. 

"Cecil Torr. Ancient Ships. 



so long as the Mediterranean nations dominated Western Eu- 
rope, vessels of the southern type were built upon the northern 
coasts, though there generally was wind 
enough here for sails and too much wave 
for oars. . . . The art of rowing can 
first he discerned upon the Nile. Boats 
with oars are represented in the earliest 
pictorial monuments of Egypt, dating 
from about 2,500 B.C. ; and although 
some crews are paddling with their 
faces towards the bow, others are row- 
ing with their faces towards the stern. 
The paddling is certainly the older 
practice, for the hieroglyph chen depicts 
two arms grasping an oar in the attitude 
of paddling, and the hieroglyphs were 
invented in the earliest ages. And that 
practice may really have ceased before 
2,500 B.C., despite the testimony of 
monuments of that date; for in monu- 
ments dating from about 1,250 B.C., 
crews are represented unmistakably 
rowing with their faces towards the 
stern and yet grasping their oars in the 
attitude of paddling, so that even then 
Egyptian artists mechanically followed 
the turn of the hieroglyph to which 
their hands were accustomed. In these 
reliefs there are twenty rowers on the 
boats on the Nile, and thirty on the 
ships on the Red Sea ; but in the earliest 
reliefs the number varies considerably, 
and seems dependent on the amount of 
space at the sculptor's disposal." 

The Aryan peoples came late to the 
sea. The earliest ships on the sea were 
either Sumerian or Hamitic; the 
Semitic peoples followed close upon 
these pioneers. Along the eastern end 
of the Mediterranean, the Phoenicians, a Semitic people, set 
up a string of indep"endent harbour towns of which Acre, 



Tyre, and Sidon were the chief; and later they pushed their 
voyages westward and founded Carthage and IJtica in North 

Africa Possibly 
Phoenician keels 
, were already in 
the Mediterra- 
|1 nean by 2,000 B.C. 
bc|p Both Tyre and 
c % Sidon were origi- 
fe nally on islands, 
*| and so easily de- 
g fensible against a 
is ^ land raid. But be- 
te ^ fore we go on to 
=3.3 the marine ex- 
,2 g ploits of this great 
^ sea-going race, we 
2 g must note a very 
p remarkable and 
"2 curious nest of 
,'g early sea people 
^ g whose remains 
K* have been discov- 
^ ered in Crete. 

+> <4H 

|i 2 

|-g These early 
05 S Cretans were of a 
= J race akin to the 
"o Iberians of Spain 
o^ and Western Eu- 
l . rope and the dark 
S2 whites of Asia 
Minor and North 
Africa, and their 
g* language is un- 
known. This race 
lived not only in 
Crete, but in Cyprus, Greece, Asia Minor, Sicily, and South 
Italy. It was a civilized people for long ages before the 
fair Nordic Greeks spread southward through Macedonia. At 


Cnossos, in Crete, there have been found the most astonishing 
ruins and remains, and Cnossos, therefore, is apt to overshadow 
the rest of these settlements in people's imaginations, but it is 
well to bear in mind that though Cnossos was no doubt a chief 
city of this ^Egean civilization, these "JEgeans" had in the full- 
ness of their time many cities and a wide range. Possibly, all 
that we know of them now are but the vestiges of the far more 
extensive heliolithic Neolithic civilization which is now sub- 
merged under the waters of the Mediterranean. 

At Cnossos there are Neolithic remains as old or older than 
any of the pre-dynastic remains of Egypt. The Bronze Age 
began in Crete as soon as it did in Egypt, and there have been 
vases found by Elinders Petrie in Egypt and referred by 
him to the 1st Dynasty, which he declared to be importations 
from Crete. Stone vessels have been found in Crete of forms 
characteristic of the IVth (pyramid-building) Dynasty, and 
there can be no doubt that there was a vigorous trade between 
Crete and Egypt in the time of the Xllth Dynasty. This con- 
tinued until about 1,000 B.C. It is clear that this island civiliza- 
tion arising upon the soil of Crete is at least as old as the 
Egyptian, and that it was already launched upon the sea as 
early as 4,000 B.C. 

The great days of Crete were not so early as this. It was 
only about 2,500 B.C. that the island appears to have been 
unified under one ruler. Then began an age of peace and pros- 
perity unexampled in the history of the ancient world. Secure 
from invasion, living in a delightful climate, trading with every 
civilized community in the world, the Cretans were free to de- 
velop all the arts and amenities of life. This Cnossos was not 
so much a town as the vast palace of the king and his people. 
It was not even fortified. The kings, it would seem, were called 
Minos always, as the kings of Egypt were all called Pharaoh ; 
the king of Cnossos figures in the early legends of the Greeks 
as King Minos, who lived in the Labyrinth and kept there a 
horrible monster, half man, half bull, the Minotaur, to feed 
which he levied a tribute of youths and maidens from the 
Athenians. Those stories are a part of Greek literature, and 
have always been known, but it is only in the last few decades 
that the excavations at Cnossos have revealed how close these 
legends were to the reality. The Cretan labyrinth was a build- 
ing as stately, complex, and luxurious as any in the ancient 



world. Among other details we find water-pipes, bathrooms, 
and the like conveniences, such as have hitherto been regarded 
as the latest refinements of modern life. The pottery, the textile 
manufactures, the sculpture and painting of these people, their 
gem and ivory work, their metal and inlaid work, is as ad- 
mirable as any that mankind has produced. They were much 
given to festivals and shows, and, in particular, they were 
addicted to bull-fights and gymnastic entertainments. Their 
female costume became astonishingly "modern" in style; their 
women wore corsets and flounced dresses. They had a system 
of writing which has not yet been deciphered. 

It is the custom nowadays to make a sort of wonder of these 
achievements of the Cretans, as though they were a people 
of incredible artistic ability living in the dawn of civilization. 
But their great time was long past that dawn ; as late as 2,000 
B.C. It took them many centuries to reach their best in art 
and skill, and their art and luxury are by no means so great 
a wonder if we reflect that for 3,000 years they were immune 
from invasion, that for a thousand years they were at peace. 
Century after century their artizans could perfect their skill, 
and their men and women refine upon refinement. Wherever 
men of almost any race have been comparatively safe in this 
fashion for such a length of time, they have developed much 
artistic beauty. Given the opportunity, all races are artistic. 
Greek legend has it that it was in Crete that Dsedalus at- 
tempted to make the first flying machine. Daedalus ( = cunning 
artificer) was a sort of personified summary of mechanical 



skill. It is curious to speculate what germ of fact lies behind 
him and those waxen w r ings that, according to the legend, melted 
and plunged his son Icarus in the sea. 

There came at last a change in the condition of the lives of 
these Cretans, for other peoples, the Greeks and the Phosnicians, 
were also coming out with powerful fleets upon the seas. We 
do not know what led to the disaster nor who inflicted it; but 
somewhen about 1,400 B.C. Cnossos was sacked and burnt, and 
though the Cretan life 
struggled on there 
rather lamely for an- 
other four centuries, 
there came at last a 
final blow about 1,000 
B.C. (that is to say, in 
the days of the As- 
syrian ascendancy in 
the East). The palace 
at Cnossos was de- 
stroyed, and never re- 
built nor reinhabited. 
Possibly this was done 
by the ships of those 
new-comers into the 
Mediterranean, the 
barbaric Greeks, a 
group of Aryan-speak- 
ing tribes from the Jauousz figure from. GIOSSOS..... ~fr 

north, who may have votary oTt^ Sn&* God***...... 

wiped out Cnossos as they wiped out the city of Troy. The 
legend of Theseus tells of such a raid. He entered the Laby- 
rinth (which may have been the Cnossos Palace) by the aid of 
Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, and slew the Minotaur. 

The Iliad makes it clear that destruction came upon Troy 
because the Trojans stole Greek women. Modern writers, with 
modern ideas in their heads, have tried to make out that the 
Greeks assailed Troy in order to secure a trade route or some 
such fine-spun commercial advantage. If so, the authors of 
the Iliad hid the motives of their characters very skilfully. 
It would be about as reasonable to say that the Homeric Greeks 
went to war with the Trojans in order to be well ahead with 

T.FI H. "from photos, by 


a station on the Berlin to Bagdad railway. The Homeric 
Greeks were a healthy barbaric Aryan people, with very poor 
ideas about trade and "trade routes" ; they went to war with 
the Trojans because they were thoroughly annoyed about this 
stealing of women. It is fairly clear from the Minos legend 
and from the evidence of the Cnossos remains, that the Cretans 
kidnapped or stole youths and maidens to be slaves, bull-fighters, 
athletes, and perhaps sacrifices. They traded fairly with the 
Egyptians, but it may be they did not realize the gathering 
strength of the Greek barbarians ; they "traded 5 '* violently with 
them, and so brought sword and flame upon themselves. 

Another great sea people were the Phoenicians. They were 
great seamen because they were great traders. Their colony 
of Carthage (founded before 800 B. c. by Tyre) became at last 
greater than any of the older Phoenician cities, but already 
before 1,500 B.C. both Sidon and Tyre had settlements upon 
the African coast. Carthage was comparatively inaccessible 
to the Assyrian and Babylonian hosts, and, profiting greatly 
by the long siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar II, became the 
greatest maritime power the world had hitherto seen. She 
claimed the Western Mediterranean as her own, and seized 
every ship she could catch west of Sardinia. Roman writers 
accuse her of great cruelties. She fought the Greeks for Sicily, 
and later (in the second century B.C.) she fought the Romans. 
Alexander the Great formed plans for her conquest; but he 
died, as we shall tell later, before he could carry them out. 


At her zenith Carthage probably had the hitherto unheard-of 
population of a million. This population was largely indus- 
trial, and her woven goods were universally famous. As well 
as a coasting trade, she had a considerable land trade with 
Central Africa, 1 and she sold negro slaves, ivory, metals, 
precious stones and the like, to all the Mediterranean people ; she 
worked Spanish copper mines, and her ships went out into 

1 There were no domesticated camels in Africa until after the Persian 
conquest of Egypt. This must have greatly restricted the desert routes. 
(See Bunbury, History of Ancient Geography, note to Chap. VIII.) But 
the Sahara desert of 3,000 or 2,000 years ago was less parched and 
sterile than it is to-day. From rock engravings we may deduce the theory 
that the desert was crossed from oasis to oasis by riding oxen and by 


the Atlantic and coasted along Portugal and France northward 
as far as the Cassiterides (the Scilly Isles, or Cornwall, in 
England) to get tin. About 520 B.C. a certain Hanno made a 
voyage that is still one of the most notable in the world. This 
Hanno, if we may trust the Periplus of Hanno, the Greek trans- 
lation of his account which still survives, followed the African 
coast southward from the Straits of Gibraltar as far as the 
confines of Liberia. He had sixty big ships, and his main 
task was to found or reinforce certain Carthaginian stations 
upon the Morocco coast. Then he pushed southward. He 
founded a settlement in the Rio de Oro (on Kerne or Herne 
Island), and sailed, on past the Senegal River. The voyagers 
passed on for seven days beyond the Gambia, and landed at 
last upon some island. This they left in a panic, because, al- 
though the day was silent with the silence of the tropical for- 
ests, at night they heard the sound of flutes, drums, and gongs, 
and the sky was red with the blaze of the bush fires. The 
coast country for the rest of the voyage was one blaze of fire, 
from the burning of the bush. Streams of fire ran down the 
hills into the sea, and at length a blaze arose so loftily that it 
touched the skies. Three days further brought them to an 
island containing a lake ( ?Sherbro Island). In this lake was 
another island ( ?Macaulay Island), and on this were wild, 
hairy men and women, "whom the interpreters called gorilla." 
The Carthaginians, having caught some of the females of these 
"gorillas" they were probably chimpanzees turned back and 
eventually deposited the skins of their captives who had proved 
impossibly violent guests to entertain on board ship in the 
Temple of Juno. 

A still more wonderful Phoenician sea voyage, long doubted, 
but now supported by some archasological evidence, is related 
by Herodotus, who declares that the Pharaoh Necho of the 
XXVIth Dynasty commissioned some Phoenicians to attempt 
the circumnavigation of Africa, and that starting from the 
Gulf of Suez southward, they did finally come back through 

ox-carts: perhaps, also, on horses and asses. The camel as a beast of 
transport was seemingly not introduced into North Africa till the Arab 
invasions of the seventh century A.D. The fossil remains of camels are 
found in Algeria, and wild camels may have lingered in the wastes of the 
Sahara and Somaliland till the domesticated camel was introduced. The 
Nubian wild ass also seems to have extended its range to the Sahara. 
H. H. J. 


the Mediterranean to the Nile delta. They took nearly three 
years to complete their voyage. Each year they landed, and 
sowed and harvested a crop of wheat before going on. 

The great trading cities of the Phoenicians are the most strik- 
ing of the early manifestations of the peculiar and character- 
istic gift of the Semitic peoples to mankind, trade and exchange. 1 
While the Semitic Phoenician peoples were spreading them- 
selves upon the seas, another kindred Semitic people, the 
Arameans, whose occupation of Damascus we have already 
noted, were developing the caravan routes of the Arabian and 
Persian deserts, and becoming the chief trading people of 
Western Asia. The Semitic peoples, earlier civilized than the 
Aryan, have always shown, and still show to-day, a far greater 
sense of quality and quantity in marketable goods than the 
latter; it is to their need of account-keeping that the develop- 
ment of alphabetical writing is to be ascribed, and it is to them 
that most of the great advances in computation are due. Our 
modern numerals are Arabic; our arithmetic and algebra are 
essentially Semitic sciences. 

The Semitic peoples, we may point out here, are to this 
day counting peoples strong in their sense of equivalents and 
reparation. The moral teaching of the Hebrews was saturated 
by such ideas. "With what measure ye mete, the same shall 
be meted unto you." Other races and peoples have imagined 
diverse and fitful and marvellous gods, but it was the trad- 
ing Semites who first began to think of God as a Righteous 
Dealer, whose promises were kept, who failed not the humblest 
creditor, and called to account every spurious act. 

The trade that was going on in the ancient world before the 
sixth or seventh century B.C. was almost entirely a barter 
trade. There was little or no credit or coined money. The 
ordinary standard of value with the early Aryans was cattle, 
as it still is with the Zulus and Kaffirs to-day. In the Iliad, 
the respective values of two shields are stated in head of cattle, 
and the Roman word for moneys, pecunia, is derived from 

1 There was Sumerian trade organized round the temples before the 
Semites got into Babylonia. See Hall and King, Archceologioal Discoveries 
in Western Asia. E. B. 


pecus, cattle. Cattle as money had this advantage; it did not 
need to be carried from one owner to another, and if it needed 
attention and food, at any rate it bred. But it was incon- 
venient for ship or caravan transit. Many other substances 
have at various times been found convenient as a standard; 
tobacco was once legal tender in the colonial days in North 
America, and in West Africa fines are paid and bargains made 
in bottles of trade gin. The early Asiatic trade included 
metals; and weighed lumps of metal, since they were in gen- 
eral demand and were convenient for hoarding and storage, 
costing nothing for fodder and needing small houseroom, soon 
asserted their superiority over cattle and sheep. Iron, which 
seems to have been first reduced from its ores by the Hittites, 
was, to begin with, a rare and much-desired substance. 1 It is 
stated by Aristotle to have supplied the first currency. In 
the collection of letters found at Tel-el- Amarna, addressed to 
and from Amenophis III (already mentioned) and his succes- 
sor Amenophis IV, one from a Hittite king promises iron as 
an extremely valuable gift. Gold, then as now, was the most 
precious, and therefore most portable, security. In early Egypt 
silver was almost as rare as gold until after the XVIIIth 
Dynasty. Later the general standard of value in the Eastern 
world became silver, measured by weight. 

To begin with, metals were handed about in ingots and 
weighed at each transaction. Then they were stamped to 
indicate their fineness and guarantee their purity. The first 
recorded coins were minted about 600 B.C. in Lydia, a gold- 
producing country in the west of Asia Minor. The first-known 
gold coins were minted in Lydia by Cro3sus, whose name has 
become a proverb for wealth; he was conquered, as we shall 
tell later, by that same Cyrus the Persian who took Babylon in 
539 B.C. But very probably coined money had been used in 
Babylonia before that time. The "sealed shekel," a stamped 
piece of silver, came very near to being a coin. The promise 
to pay so much silver or gold on "leather" (= parchment) with 
the seal of some established firm is probably as old or older 
than coinage. The Carthaginians used such "leather money." 
We know very little of the way in which small traffic was con- 
ducted. Common people, who in those ancient times were in 

1 Iron bars of fixed weight were used for coin in Britain. Csesar, De 
Bello Gallico.G. Wh. 


dependent positions, seem to have had no money at all; they 
did their business by barter. Early Egyptian paintings show 
this going on. 1 


When one realizes the absence of small money or of any 
conveniently portable means of exchange in the pre- Alexandrian 
world, one perceives how impossible was private travel in those 
days. 2 The first "inns" no doubt a sort of caravanserai are 
commonly said to have come into existence in Lydia in the third 
or fourth century B.C. That, however, is too late a date. They 
are certainly older than that. There is good evidence of them 
at least as early as the sixth century. ^Eschylus twice mentions 
inns. His word is "all-receiver," or "all-receiving house." 3 
Private travellers must have been fairly common in the Greek 
world, including its colonies, by this time. But such private 
travel was a comparatively new thing then. The early histo- 
rians Hecataeus and Herodotus travelled widely. "I suspect," 
says Professor Gilbert Murray, "that this sort of travel 'for 
Historic' or 'for discovery' was rather a Greek invention. Solon 
is supposed to have practised it; and even Lycurgus." . . . 
The earlier travellers were traders travelling in a caravan or in 
a shipload, and carrying their goods and their minas and 
shekels of metal or gems or bales of fine stuff with them, or 
government officials travelling with letters of introduction and 
a proper retinue. Possibly there were a few mendicants, and, 
in some restricted regions, religious pilgrims. 

That earlier world before 600 B.C. was one in which a lonely 
"stranger" was a rare and suspected and endangered being. 
He might suffer horrible cruelties, for there was little law to 
protect such as he. Few individuals strayed therefore. One 

ir The earliest coinage of the west coast of Asia Minor was in electrum, 
a mixture of gold and silver, and there is an interesting controversy as to 
whether the first issues were stamped by cities, temples, or private bank- 
ers. P. G. 

'Small change was in existence before the time of Alexander. The 
Athenians had a range of exceedingly small silver coins running almost 
down to the size of a pinhead which were generally carried in the mouth; 
a character in Aristophanes was suddenly assaulted, and swallowed his 
change in consequence. P. G. 

'There is an inn-keeper in Aristophanes, but it may be inferred from 
the circumstance that she is represented as letting lodgings in hell, that 
the early inn left much to be desired. P. G. 


lived and died attached and tied to some patriarchal tribe, 
if one was a nomad, or to some great household if one was 
civilized or to one of the big temple establishments which we 
will presently discuss. Or one was a herded slave. One knew 
nothing, except for a few monstrous legends, of the rest of the 
world in which one lived. We know more to-day, indeed, of 
the world of 600 B.C. than any single living being knew 
at that time. We map it out, see it as a whole in relation to 
past and future. We begin to learn precisely what was going 
on at the same time in Egypt and Spain and Media and India 
and China. We can share in imagination, not only the won- 
der of Hanno's sailors, but of the men who lit the warning 
beacons on the shore. We know that those "mountains flam- 
ing to the sky" were only the customary burning of the dry 
grass at that season of the year. Year by year, more and more 
rapidly, our common knowledge increases. In the years to 
come men will understand still more of those lives in the past, 
until peihaps they will understand them altogether. 


1. Picture-Writing. 2. Syllable-Writing. 3. Alpha- 
bet-Writing. 4. T/ze Place of Writing in Human Life. 

IN the four preceding chapters (XII to XV) we have 
sketched in broad outline the development of the chief 
human communities from the primitive beginnings of the 
heliolith,ic culture to the great historical kingdoms and empires 
in the sixth century B.C. We must now study a little more closely 
the general process of social change, the growth of human ideas, 
and the elaboration of human relationships that was going on 
during these ages between 10,000 B.C. and 500 B.C. What we 
have done so far is to draw the map and name the chief kings 
and empires, to define the relations in time and space of 
Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, Phoenicia, Cnossos, and the like; 
we come now to the real business of history, which is to get down 
below these outer forms to the thoughts and' lives of individual 

By far the most important thing that was going on during 
those fifty or sixty centuries of social development was the 
invention of writing and its gradual progress to importance in 
human affairs. It was a new instrument for the human mind, 
an enormous enlargement of its range of action, a new means 
of continuity. We have seen how in later Palaeolithic and early 
Neolithic times the elaboration of articulate speech gave men 
a mental handhold for consecutive thought, and a vast en- 
largement of their powers of co-operation. For a time this new 
acquirement seems te have overshadowed their earlier achieve- 
ment of drawing, and possibly it checked the use of gesture. 
But drawing presently reappeared again, for record, for signs, 
for the joy of drawing. Before real writing came picture- 
writing, such as is still practised by the Amerindians, the Bush- 



men, and savage and barbaric people in all parts of the world. 
It is essentially a drawing of things and acts, helped out by 
heraldic indications of proper names, and by strokes and dots 
to represent days and distances and such-like quantitative ideas. 

Quite kindred to such picture-writing is the pictograph that 
one finds still in use to-day in international railway time-tables 
upon the continent of Europe, where a little black sign of a 
cup indicates a stand-up buffet for light refreshments ; a crossed 
knife and fork, a restaurant; a little steamboat, a transfer to 
a steamboat; and a postilion's horn, a diligence. Similar signs 
are used in the well-known Michelin guides for automobilists 
in Europe, to show a post office (envelope) or a telephone (tele- 
phone receiver). The quality of hotels is shown by an inn 
with one, two, three, or four gables, and so forth. Similarly, 
the roads of Europe are marked with wayside signs represent- 
ing a gate, to indicate a level crossing ahead, a sinuous bend 
for a dangerous curve, and the like. From such pictographic 
signs to the first elements of Chinese writing is not a very long 

In Chinese writing there are still traceable a number of picto- 
graphs. Most are now difficult to recognize. A mouth was 
originally written as a mouth-shaped hole, and is now, for 
convenience of brushwork, squared ; a child, originally a rec- 
ognizable little mannikin, is now a hasty wriggle and a cross; 
the sun, originally a large circle with a dot in the centre, has 
been converted, for the sake of convenience of combination, into 
a crossed oblong, which is easier to make with a brush. By 
combining these pictographs, a second order of ideas is ex- 
pressed. For example, the pictograph for mouth combined 
with pictograph for vapour expressed "words." 1 

From such combinations one passes to what are called ideo- 
grams: the sign for "words" and the sign for "tongue" combine 
to make "speech" ; the sign for "roof" and the sign for "pig" 
make "home" for in the early domestic economy of China the 
pig was as important as it used to be in Ireland. But, as we 
have already noted earlier, the Chinese language consists of a 
comparatively few elementary monosyllabic sounds, which are 
all used in a great variety of meanings, and the Chinese soon 
discovered that a number of these pictographs and ideographs 
could be used also to express other ideas, not so conveniently 
'See the Encyclopaedia Brit., Article China, p. 218. 


pictured, but having the same sound. Characters so used are 
called phonograms. For example, the sound fang meant not 
only "boat," but a a place," "spinning," "fragrant," "inquire," 
and several other meanings according to the context. But while 
a boat is easy to draw, most of the other meanings are undraw- 
able. How can one draw "fragrant" or "inquire" ? The 
Chinese, therefore, took the same sign for all these meanings 
of "fang," but added to each of them another distinctive sign, 
the determinative, to show what sort of fang was intended. A 
"place" was indicated by the same sign as for "boat" (fang} 
and the determinative sign for "earth" ; "spinning" by the sign 
for fang and the sign for "silk" ; "inquire" by the sign for fang, 
and the sign for "words," and so on. 

One may perhaps make this development of pictographs, ideo- 
grams, and phonograms a little clearer by taking an analogous 
case in English. Suppose we were making up a sort of picture- 
writing in English, then it would be very natural to use a square 
with a slanting line to suggest a lid, for the word and thing 
box. That would be a pictograph. But now suppose we had a 
round sign for money, and suppose we put this sign inside the 
box sign, that would do for "cash-box" or "treasury." That 
would be an ideogram. But the word "box" is used for other 
things than boxes. There is the box shrub which gives us box- 
wood. It would be hard to draw a recognizable box-tree dis- 
tinct from other trees, but it is quite easy to put our sign "box," 
and add our sign for shrub as a determinative to determine that 
it is that sort of box and not a common box that we want to 
express. And then there is "box," the verb, meaning to fight 
with fists. Here, again, we need a determinative; we might 
add the two crossed swords, a sign which is used very often 
upon maps to denote a battle. A box at a theatre needs yet an- 
other determinative, and so we go on, through a long series of 

Now it is manifest that here in the Chinese writing is a very 
peculiar and complex system of sign-writing. A very great 
number of characters have to be learnt and the mind habituated 
to their use. The power it possesses to carry ideas and discus- 
sion is still ungauged by western standards, but we may doubt 
whether with this instrument it will ever be possible to establish 
such a wide, common mentality as the simpler and swifter 
alphabets of the western civilizations permit. In China it 



created a special reading-class, the mandarins, who were also 
the ruling and official class. Their necessary concentration 
upon words and classical forms, rather than upon ideas and 
realities, seems, in 
spite of her com- 
parative peaceful- 
ness and the very 
high individual in- 
tellectual quality 
of her people, to 
have greatly ham- 
pered the social 
and economic de- 
velopment of 
China. Probably 
it is the complex- 
ity of her speech 
and writing, more 
than any other 
imaginable cause, 
that has made 
China to-day po- 
litically, socially, 
and individually a 

Specimens oC Tkmericari Indian, 

vast pool of back- 
ward people rather 
than the foremost 
power in the whole 
world. 1 


But while the 
Chinese mind thus 
made for itself an 
instrument which 

No. 1, painted on a rock on the shore of Lake 
Superior, records an expedition across the lake, in 
which five canoes took part. The upright strokes 
in each indicate the number of the crew, and the 
bird represents a chief, "The Kingfisher." The 
three circles (suns) under the arch (of heaven) 
indicate that the voyage lasted three days, and the 
tortoise, a symbol of land, denotes a safe arrival. 
No. 2 is a petition sent to the United States Con- 
gress by a group of Indian tribes, asking for fish- 
ing rights in certain small lakes. The tribes are 
represented by their totems, martens, bear, man- 
fish, and catfish, led by the crane. Lines running 
from the heart and eye of each animal to the heart 
and eye of the crane denote that they are all of 
one mind; and a line runs from the eye of the 
crane to the lakes, shown in the crude little "map" 
in the lower left-hand corner. 

1 The writer's friend, Mr. L. Y. Chen, thinks that this is only partially 
true. He thinks that the emperors insisted upon a minute and rigorous 
study of the set classics in order to check intellectual innovation. This 
was especially the case with the Ming emperors, the first of whom, when 
reorganizing the examination system on a narrower basis, said definitely, 
"This will bring all the intellectuals of the world into my trap." The 
Five Classics and the Four Books have imprisoned the mind of China. 


is probably too elaborate in structure, too laborious in use, and 
too inflexible in its form to meet the modern need for simple, 
swift, exact, and lucid communications, the growing civiliza- 
tions of the west were working out the problem of a 
written record upon rather different and, on the whole, more 
advantageous lines. They did not seek to improve their scrip*- 
to make it swift and easy, but circumstances conspired to make 
it so. The Sumerian picture writing, which had to be done 
upon clay and with little styles, which made curved marks 
with difficulty and inaccurately, rapidly degenerated by a con- 
ventionalized dabbing down of wedged-shaped marks (cunei- 
form = wedge-shaped) into almost unrecognizable hints of the 
shapes intended. It helped the Sumerians greatly to learn to 
write, that they had to draw so badly. They got very soon 
to the Chinese pictographs, ideographs, and phonograms, and 
beyond them. 

Most people know a sort of puzzle called a rebus. It is a way 
of representing words by pictures, not of the things the words 
represent, but by the pictures of other things having a similar 
sound. For example, two gates and a head is a rebus for Gates- 
head; a little streamlet (beck), a crowned monarch, and a ham, 
Beckingham. The Sumerian language was a language well 
adapted to this sort of representation. It was apparently a 
language of often quite vast polysyllables, made up of very dis- 
tinct inalterable syllables; and many of the syllables taken 
separately were the names of concrete things. So that this 
cuneiform writing developed very readily into a syllabic way 
of writing, in which each sign conveys a syllable just as each 
act in a charade conveys a syllable. When presently the Semites 
conquered Sumeria, they adapted the syllabic system to their 
own speech, and so this writing became entirely a sign-for-a- 
sound writing. It was so used by the Assyrians and by the 
Chaldeans, But it was not a letter-writing, it was a syllable- 
writing. This cuneiform script prevailed for long ages over 
Assyria, Babylonia, and the Near East generally; there are 
vestiges of it in some of the letters of our alphabet to-day. 


But, meanwhile, in Egypt and upon the Mediterranean coast 
yet another system of writing grew up. Its beginnings are 


probably to be found in the priestly picture- writing (hiero- 
glyphics) of the Egyptians, which also in the usual way became 
partly a sound-sign system. As we see it on the Egyptian 
monuments, the hieroglyphic writing consists of decorative but 
stiff and elaborate forms, but for such purpose as letter-writing 
and the keeping of recipes and the like, the Egyptian priests 
used a much simplified and flowing form of these characters, 
the hieratic script. Side by side with this hieratic script rose 
another, probably also derivative from the hieroglyphs, a script 
now lost to use, which was taken over by various non-Egyptian 
peoples in the Mediterranean, the Phoenicians, Libyans, 
Lydians, Cretans, and Celt-Iberians, and used for business pur- 
poses. Possibly a few letters were borrowed from the later 
cuneiform. In the hands of these foreigners this writing was, 
so to speak, cut off from its roots; it lost all but a few traces 
of its early pictorial character. It ceased to be pictographic 
or ideographic ; it became simply a pure sound-sign system, an 

There were a number of such alphabets in the Mediterranean 
differing widely from each other. It may be noted that the 
Phoenician alphabet (and perhaps others) omitted vowels. 
Possibly they pronounced their consonants very hard and had 
rather indeterminate vowels, as is said to be still the case with 
tribes of South Arabia. Quite probably, too, the Phoenicians 
used their alphabet at first not so much for writing as for single 
initial letters in their business accounts and tallies. One of 
these Mediterranean alphabets reached the Greeks, long after 
the time of the Iliad, who presently set to work to make it 
express the clear and beautiful sounds of their own highly 
developed Aryan speech. It consisted at first of consonants, 
and the Greeks added the vowels. They began to write for 
record, to help and fix their bardic tradition. . . . 


So it was by a series of very natural steps that writing grew 
out of the life of man. At first and for long ages it was the 
interest and the secret of only a few people in a special class, 
a mere accessory to the record of pictures. But there were cer- 
tain very manifest advantages, quite apart from the increased 
expressiveness of mood and qualification, to be gained by making 


writing a little less plain than straightforward pictures, and in 
conventionalizing and codifying it. One of these was that so 
messages might be sent understandable by the sender and re- 
ceiver, but not plain to the uninitiated. Another was that so 
one might put down various matters and help one's memory and 
the memory of one's friends, without giving away too much 
to the common herd. Among some of the earliest Egyptian 
writings, for example, are medical recipes and magic formula. 
Accounts, letters, recipes, name lists, itineraries; these were 
the earliest of written documents. Then, as the art of writing 
and reading spread, came that odd desire, that pathetic desire 
so common among human beings, to astonish some strange and 
remote person by writing down something striking, some secret 
one knew, some strange thought, or even one's name, so that 
long after one had gone one's way, it might strike upon the 
sight and mind of another reader. Even in Sumeria men 
scratched on walls, and all that remains to us of the ancient 
world, its rocks, its buildings, is plastered thickly with the 
names and the boasting of those foremost among human adver- 
tisers, its kings. Perhaps half the early inscriptions in that 
ancient world are of this nature, if, that is, we group with the 
name-writing and boasting the epitaphs, which were probably 
in many cases pre-arranged by the deceased. 

For long the desire for crude self-assertion of the name- 
scrawling sort and the love of secret understandings kept writ- 
ing within a narrow scope; but that other, more truly social 
desire in men, the desire to tell, was also at work. The pro- 
founder possibilities of writing, the possibilities of a vast exten- 
sion and definition and settlement of knowledge and tradition, 
only grew apparent after long ages. But it will be interesting 
at this point and in this connection to recapitulate certain ele- 
mental facts about life, upon which we laid stress in our earlier 
chapters, because they illuminate not only the huge value of 
writing in the whole field of man's history, but also the role 
it is likely to play in his future. 

1. Life had at first, it must be remembered, only a discon- 
tinuous repetition of consciousness, as the old died and the 
young were born. 

Such a creature as a reptile has in its brain a capacity for 
experience, but when the individual dies, its experience dies 
with it. Most of its motives are purely instinctive, and all 


the mental life that it has is the result of heredity (birth 
inheritance) . 

2. But ordinary mammals have added to pure instinct tradi- 
tion, a tradition of .experience imparted hy the imitated ex- 
ample of the mother, and in the case of such mentally developed 
animals as dogs, cats, or apes, by a sort of mute precept also. 
For example, the mother cat chastises her young for misbe- 
haviour. So do mother apes and baboons. 

3. Primitive man added to his powers of transmitting ex- 
perience, representative art and speech. Pictorial and sculp- 
tured record and verbal tradition began. 

Verbal tradition was developed to its highest possibility by 
the bards. They did much to make language what it is to the 
world to-day. 

4. With the invention of writing, which developed out of 
pictorial record, human tradition was able to become fuller and 
much more exact. Verbal tradition, which had hitherto 
changed from age to age, began to be fixed. Men separated by 
hundreds of miles could now communicate their thoughts. An 
increasing number of human beings began to share a common 
written knowledge and a common sense of a past and a future. 
Human thinking became a larger operation in which hundreds 
of minds in different places and in different ages could react 
upon one another; it became a process constantly more con- 
tinuous and sustained. . . . 

5. For hundreds of generations the full power of writing 
was not revealed to the world, because for a long time the idea 
of multiplying writings by taking prints of a first copy did not 
become effective. The only way of multiplying writings was 
by copying one copy at a time, and this made books costly and 
rare. Moreover, the tendency to keep things secret, to make a 
cult and mystery of them, and so to gain an advantage over the 
generality of men, has always been very strong in men's minds. 
It is only nowadays that the great masses of mankind are learn- 
ing to read, and reaching out towards the treasures of knowledge 
and thought already stored in books. 

Nevertheless, from the first writings onward a new sort of 
tradition, an enduring and immortal tradition, began in the 
minds of men. Life, through mankind, grew thereafter more 
and more distinctly conscious of itself and its world. It is a 
thin streak of intellectual growth we trace in history, at first in 


a world of tumultuous ignorance and forgetfulness ; it is like a 
mere line of light coming through the chink of an opening door 
into a darkened room; but slowly it widens, it grows. At last 
came a time in the history of Europe when. the door, at the push 
of the printer, began to open more rapidly. Knowledge flared 
up, and as it flared it ceased to be the privilege of a favoured 
minority. For us now that door swings wider, and the light 
behind grows brighter. Misty it is still, glowing through clouds 
of dust and reek. 

The door is not half open; the light is but a light new lit. 
Our world to-day is only in the beginning of knowledge. 


1. The Priest Comes into History. 2. Priests and the 
Stars. 3. Priests and the Dawn of Learning. 4. King 
against Priest. 5. How Bel-Marduk Struggled against the 
Kings. 6. The God^Kings of Egypt. 7. Shi Hwang-ti 
Destroys the Boolcs. 


WHEN we direct our attention to these new accumula- 
tions of human beings that were beginning in Egypt 
and Mesopotamia, we find that one of the most con- 
spicuous and constant objects in all these cities is a temple or 
a group of temples. In some cases there arises beside it in 
these regions a royal palace, but as often the temple towers over 
the palace. This presence of the temple is equally true of the 
Phoenician cities and of the Greek and Roman as they arise. 
The palace of Cnossos, with its signs of comfort and pleasure- 
seeking, and the kindred cities of the ^Egean peoples, include 
religious shrines, but in Crete there are also temples standing 
apart from the palatial city-households. All over the ancient 
civilized world we find them; wherever primitive civilization 
set its foot in Africa, Europe, or western Asia, a temple arose, 
and where the civilization is most ancient, in Egypt and in 
Sumer, there the temple is most in evidence. When Hanno 
reached what he thought was the most westerly point of Africa, 
he set up a temple to Hercules. The beginnings of civilization 
and the appearance of temples is simultaneous in history. The 
two things belong together. The beginning of cities is the 
temple stage of history. 

In all these temples there was a shrine; dominating the 
shrine there was commonly a great figure usually of some 
monstrous half-animal form, before which stood an altar for 
sacrifices. In the Greek and Roman temples however the image 
was generally that of a divinity in human form. This figure 



was either regarded as the god or as the image or symbol of the 
god, for whose worship the temple existed. And connected 
with the temple there were a number, and often a considerable 
number, of priests or priestesses, and temple servants, generally 
wearing a distinctive costume and forming an important part 
of the city population. They belong to no household; they 
made up a new kind of household of their own. They were 
a caste and a class apart, attracting intelligent recruits from 
the general population. 

The primary duty of this priesthood was concerned with the 
worship of and the sacrifices to the god of the temple. And 
these things were done, not at any time, but at particular times 
and seasons. There had come into the life of man with his 
herding and agriculture a sense of a difference between the 
parts of the year and of a difference between day and day. Men 
were beginning to work and to need days of rest. The temple, 
by its festivals, kept count. The temple in the ancient city was 
like the clock and calendar upon a writing-desk. 

But it was a centre of other functions. It was in the early 
temples that the records and tallies of events were kept and 
that writing began. And there was knowledge there. The 
people went to the temple not only en masse for festivals, but 
individually for help. The early priests were also doctors and 
magicians. In the earliest temples we already find those little 
offerings for some private and particular end, which are still 
made in the chapels of Catholic churches to-day, ex votos, little 
models of hearts relieved and limbs restored, acknowledgment 
of prayers answered and accepted vows. 

It is clear that here we have that comparatively unimportant 
element in the life of the early nomad, the medicine-man, the 
shrine-keeper, and the memorist, developed, with the develop- 
ment of the community and as a part of the development of the 
community from barbarism to civilized settlement, into some- 
thing of very much greater importance. And it is equally evi- 
dent that those primitive fears of (and hopes of help from) 
strange beings, the desire to propitiate unknown forces, the 
primitive desire for cleansing and the primitive craving for 
power and knowledge have all contributed to crystallize out this 
new social fact of the temple. 

The temple was accumulated by complex necessities, it grew 
from many roots and needs, and the god or goddess that domi- 



nated the temple was the creation of many imaginations and 
made up of all sorts of impulses, ideas, and half ideas. Here 
there was a god in which one sort of ideas predominated, and 
there another. It is necessary to lay some stress upon this 
confusion and variety of origin in gods, because there is a very 
abundant literature now in existence upon religious origins, 
in which a number of writers insist, some on this leading idea 
and some on that we have noted several in our chapter on 
"Early Thought" as though it were the only idea. Professor 
Max Miiller in his time, for example, harped perpetually on 
the idea of sun stories and sun worship. He would have had 
us think that early man never had lusts or fears, cravings for 
power, nightmares or fantasies, but that he meditated per- 
petually on the beneficent source of light and life in the sky. 
Now dawn and sunset are very moving facts in the daily life, 
but they are only two among many. Early men, three or four 
hundred generations ago, had brains very like our own. The 
fancies of our childhood and youth are perhaps the best clue 
we have to the ground-stuff of early religion, and anyone who 
can recall those early mental experiences will understand very 
easily the vagueness, the monstrosity, and the incoherent variety 
of the first gods. There were sun gods, no doubt, early in the 
history of temples, but there were also hippopotamus gods and 
hawk gods ; there were cow deities, there were monstrous male 
and female gods, there were gods of terror and gods of an ador- 
able quaintness, there were gods who were nothing but lumps 
of meteoric stone that had fallen amazingly out of the sky, and 
gods who were mere natural stones that had chanced to have 
a queer and impressive shape. Some gods, like Marduk of 
Babylon and the Baal (= the Lord) of the Phoenicians,, and the like, were quite probably at bottom just 
legendary wonder beings, such as little boys will invent for 
themselves to-day. The settled peoples, it is said, as soon as 
they thought of a god, invented a wife for him; most of the 
Egyptian and Babylonian gods were married. But the gods 
of the nomadic Semites had not this marrying disposition. 
Children were less eagerly sought by the inhabitants of the food- 
grudging steppes. 

Even more natural than to provide a wife for a god is to 
give him a house to live in to which offerings can be brought. 
Of this house the knowing man, the magician, would naturally 


become the custodian. A certain seclusion, a certain aloofness, 
would add greatly to the prestige of the god. The steps by 
which the early temple and the early priesthood developed so 
soon as an agricultural population settled and increased are all 
quite natural and understandable, up to the stage of the long 
temple with the image, shrine and altar at one end and the 
long nave in which the worshippers stood. And this temple, 
because it had records and secrets, because it was a centre of 
power, advice, and instruction, because it sought and attracted 
imaginative and clever people for its service, naturally became 
a kind of brain in the growing community. The attitude of 
the common people who tilled the fields and herded the beasts 
towards the temple would remain simple and credulous. There, 
rarely seen and so imaginatively enhanced, lived the god whost? 
approval gave prosperity, whose anger meant misfortune ; he 
could be propitiated by little presents and the help of his 
servants could be obtained. He was wonderful, and of such 
power and knowledge that it did not do to be disrespectful to 
him even in one's thoughts. Within the priesthood, however, a 
certain amount of thinking went on at a rather higher level 
than that. 


We may note here a very interesting fact about the chief 
temples of Egypt and, so far as we know because the ruins are 
not so distinct of Babylonia, and that is that they were 
"oriented" that is to say, that the same sort of temple was 
built so that the shrine and entrance always faced in the same 
direction. In Babylonian temples this was most often due 
east, facing the sunrise on March 21st and September 21st, 
the equinoxes; and it is to be noted that it was at the spring 
equinox that the Euphrates and Tigris came down in flood. 
The Pyramids of Gizeh are also oriented east and west, and 
the Sphinx faces due east, but very many of the Egyptian 
temples to the south of the delta of the Nile do not point due 
east, but to the point where the sun rises at the longest day 
and in Egypt the inundation comes close to that date. Others, 
however, pointed nearly northward, and others again pointed 
to the rising of the star Sirius or to* the rising-point of other 
conspicuous stars. The fact of orientation links up with the 




fact that there early arose a close association between various 
gods and the sun and various fixed stars. Whatever the mass 
of people outside were thinking, the priests of the temples were 
beginning to link the movements of those heavenly bodies with 
the power in the shrine. They were thinking about the gods 
they served and thinking new meanings into them. They were 
brooding upon the mystery of the stars. It was very natural 
for them to suppose that these shining bodies, so irregularly 
distributed and circling so solemnly and silently, must, be 
charged with portents to mankind. 

Among other things, this orientation of the temples served 
to fix and help the great annual festival of the New Year. On 
one morning in the year, and one morning alone, in a temple 
oriented to the rising-place of the sun at Midsummer Day, the 
sun's first rays would smite down through the gloom of the 
temple and the long alley of the temple pillars, and light up 
the god above the altar ^and irradiate him with glory. The 
narrow, darkened structure of the ancient temples seems to 
be deliberately planned for such an effect. No doubt the people 
were gathered in the darkness before the dawn ; in the darkness 
there was chanting and perhaps the offering of sacrifices; the 
god alone stood mute and invisible. Prayers and invocations 
would be made. Then upon the eyes of the worshippers, 
sensitized by the darkness, as the sun rose behind them, the 
god would suddenly shine. 

So, at least, one explanation of orientation is found by such 
students of orientation as Sir Norman Lockyer. 1 Not only is 
orientation apparent in most of the temples of Egypt, Assyria, 
Babylonia, and the east, it, is found in the Greek temples; 
Stonehenge is oriented to the midsummer sunrise, and so are 
most of the megalithic circles of Europe ; the Altar of Heaven 
in Peking is oriented to midwinter. In the days of the Chinese 
Empire, up to a few years ago one of the most important of 
all the duties of the Emperor of China was to sacrifice and pray 
in this temple upon midwinter's day for a propitious year. 

The Egyptian priests had mapped out the stars into the 
constellations, and divided up the zodiac into twelve signs by 
3,000 B.C. . . . 

*In his Daivn of Astronomy. 



This clear evidence of astronomical inquiry and of a develop- 
ment of astronomical ideas is the most obvious, hut only the 
most obvious evidence of the very considerable intellectual 
activities that went on within the temple precincts in ancient 
times. There is a curious disposition among many modern 
writers to deprecate priesthoods and to speak of priests as though 
they had always been impostors and tricksters, preying upon the 
simplicity of mankind. But, indeed, they were for long the 
only writing class, the only reading public, the only learned 
and the only thinkers ; they were all the professional classes of 
the time. You could have no intellectual life at all, you could 
not get access to literature or any knowledge except through 
the priesthood. The temples were not only observatories and 
libraries and clinics, they were museums and treasure-houses. 
The original Periplus of Hanno hung in one temple in Car- 
thage, skins of his "gorillas" were hung and treasured in an- 
other. Whatever there was of abicTing worth in the life of 
the community sheltered there. Herodotus, the early Greek 
historian (485-425 B.C.), collected most of his material from 
the priests of the countries in which he travelled, and it is 
evident they met him generously and put their very considerable 
resources completely at his disposal. Outside the temples the 
world was still a world of blankly illiterate and unspeculative 
human beings, living from day to day entirely for themselves. 
Moreover, there is little evidence that the commonalty felt 
cheated by the priests, or had anything but trust and affection 
for the early priesthoods. Even the great conquerors of later 
times were anxious to keep themselves upon the right side of 
the priests of the nations and cities whose obedience they de- 
sired, because of the immense popular influence of these priests. 

No doubt there were great differences between temple and 
temple and cult and cult in the spirit and quality of the priest- 
hood. Some probably were cruel, some vicious and greedy, 
many dull and doctrinaire, stupid with tradition, but it has to 
be kept in mind that there were distinct limits to the degeneracy 
or inefficiency of a priesthood. It had to keep its grip upon 
the general mind. It could not go beyond what people would 
stand either towards the darkness or towards the light. ^ Its 
authority rested, in the end, on the persuasion that its activities 
were propitious. 



The earliest civilized governments were essentially priestly 
governments. It was not kings and captains who first set men 
to the plough and a settled life. It was the ideas of the gods 
and plenty, working with the acquiescence of common men. 
The early rulers of Sumer we know were all priests, kings 
only because they were chief priests. And priestly government 
had its own weaknesses as well as its peculiar deep-rooted 
strength. The power of a priesthood is a power over their own 
people alone. It is a subjugation through mysterious fears and 
hopes. The priesthood can gather its people together for war, 
but its traditionalism and all its methods unfit it for military 
control. Against the enemy without, a priest-led people is feeble. 

Moreover, a priest is a man vowed, trained, and consecrated, 
a man belonging to a special corps, and necessarily with an 
intense esprit de corps. He has given up his life to his temple 
and his god. This is a very excellent thing for the internal 
vigour of his own priesthood, his own temple. He lives or dies 
for the honour of his particular god. But in the next town or 
village is another temple with another god. It is his constant 
preoccupation to keep his people from that god. Religious cults 
and priesthoods are sectarian by nature; they will convert, they 
will overcome, but they will never coalesce. Our first percep- 
tions of events in Sumer, in the dim uncertain light before 
history began, is of priests and gods in conflict; until the 
Sumerians were conquered by the Semites they were never 
united; and the same incurable conflict of priesthoods scars all 
the temple ruins of Egypt. It was impossible that it could 
have been otherwise, having regard to the elements out of which 
religion arose. 

It was out of those two main weaknesses of all priesthoods, 
namely, the incapacity for efficient military leadership and their 
inevitable jealousy of all other religious cults, that the power 
of secular kingship arose. The foreign enemy either prevailed 
and set up a king over the people, or the priesthoods who would 
not give way to each other set up a common fighting captain, 
who retained more or less power in peace time. This secular 
king developed a group of officials about him and began, in 
relation to military organization, to take a share in the priestly 
administration of the people's affairs. So, growing out of 
priestcraft and beside the priest, the king, the protagonist of 



the priest, appears upon the stage of human history, and a 
very large amount of the subsequent experiences of mankind 
is only to be understood as an elaboration, complication, and 

'An R&sifrian King & Ids Chief Minister 

distortion of the struggle, unconscious or deliberate, between 
these two systems of human control, the temple and the palace. 
And it was in the original centres of civilization that this 
antagonism was most completely developed. The barbaric 
Aryan peoples, who became ultimately the masters of all the 


ancient civilizations of the Orient and of the western world, 
never passed through a phase of temple rule on their way to 
civilization; they came to civilization late; they found that 
drama already half-played. They took over the ideas of both 
temple and kingship, when those ideas were already elaborately 
developed, from the more civilized Hamitic or Semitic people 
they conquered. 

The greater importance of the gods and the priests in the 
earlier history of the Mesopotamian civilization is very appar- 
ent, but gradually the palace won its way until it was at last 
in a position to struggle definitely for the supreme power. At 
first, in the story, the palace is ignorant and friendless in the 
face of the temple ; the priests alone read, the priests alone know 
the people are afraid of them. But in the dissensions of the 
various cults comes the opportunity of the palace. From other 
cities, from among captives, from defeated or suppressed re- 
ligious cults, the palace gets men who also can read and who 
can do magic things. 1 The court also becomes a centre of 
writing and record; the king thinks for himself and becomes 
politic. Traders and foreigners drift to the court, and if the 
king has not the full records and the finished scholarship of the 
priests, he has a wider and fresher first-hand knowledge of 
many things. The priest comes into the temple when he is 
very young; he passes many years as a neophyte; the path of 
learning the clumsy letters of primitive times is slow and toil- 
some; he becomes erudite and prejudiced rather than a man of 
the world. Some of the more active-minded young priests may 
even cast envious eyes at the king's service. There are many 
complications and variations in this ages-long drama of the 
struggle going on beneath the outward conflicts of priest and 
king, between the made man and the born man, between learn- 
ing and originality, between established knowledge and settled 
usage on the one hand, and creative will and imagination on 
the other. It is not always, as we shall find later, the priest 
who is the conservative and unimaginative antagonist. Some- 
times a king struggles against narrow and obstructive priest- 
hoods; sometimes priesthoods uphold the standards of civiliza- 
tion against savage, egotistical, or reactionary kings. 

1 Cp. Moses and the Egyptian Magicians. 


One or two outstanding facts and incidents of the early stages 
of this fundamental struggle in political affairs are all that we 
can note here between 4,000 B.C. and the days of Alexander. 


In the early days of Sumeria and Akkadia the city-kings 
were priests and medicine-men rather than kings, and it was 
only when foreign conquerors sought to establish their hold in 
relation to existing institutions that the distinction of priest and 
king became definite. But the god of the priests remained as 
the real overlord of the land and of priest and king alike. He 
was the universal landlord; the wealth and authority of his 
temples and establishments outshone those of the king. Espe- 
cially was this the case within the city walls. Hammurabi, the 
founder of the first Babylonian empire, is one of the earlier 
monarchs whom we find taking a firm grip upon the affairs of 
the community. He does it with the utmost politeness to the 
gods. In an inscription recording his irrigation work in 
Sumeria and Akkadia, he begins: "When Anu and Bel en- 
trusted me with the rule of Sumer and Akkad ." We 

possess a code of laws made by this same Hammurabi it is 
the earliest known code of law and at the head of this code 
we see the figure of Hammurabi receiving the law from its 
nominal promulgator, the god Shamash. 

An act of great political importance in the conquest of any 
city was the carrying off of its god to become a subordinate in 
the temple of its conqueror. This was far more important than 
the subjugation of king by king. Merodach, the Babylonian 
Jupiter, was carried off by the Elamites, and Babylon 
did not feel independent until its return. But sometimes a 
conqueror was afraid of the god he had conquered. In the col- 
lection of letters addressed to Amenophis III and IV at Tel- 
Amarna in Egypt, to which allusion has already been made, 
is one from a certain king, Tushratta, King of Mitanni, who 
has conquered Assyria and taken the statue of the goddess 
Ishtar. Apparently he has sent this statue into Egypt, partly 
to acknowledge the overlordship of Amenophis, but partly be- 
cause he fears her anger. (Winckler.) In the Bible is related 
(Sam. i. v. 1) how the Ark of the Covenant of the God of the 
Hebrews was carried off by the Philistines, as a token of con- 


quest, into the temple of the fish god, Dagon, at Ashdod, and 
how Dagon fell down and was broken, and how the people of 
Ashdod were smitten with disease. In the latter story par 
ticularly, the gods and priests fill the scene; there is no king in 
evidence at all. 

Right through the history of the Babylonian and Assyrian 
empires no monarch seems to have felt his tenure of power 
secure in Babylon until he had "taken the hand of Bel" 
that is to say, that he had been adopted by the priesthood of 
"Bel" as the god's son and representative. As our knowledge 
of Assyrian and Babylonian history grows clearer, it becomes 
plainer that the politics of that world, the revolutions, usurpa- 
tions, changes of dynasty, intrigues with foreign powers, turned 
largely upon issues between the great wealthy priesthoods and 
the growing but still inadequate power of the monarchy. The 
king relied on his army, and this was usually a mercenary army 
of foreigners, speedily mutinous if there was no pay or plunder, 
and easily bribed. We have already noted the name of Sen- 
nacherib, the son of Sargon II, among the monarchs of the 
Assyrian empire. Sennacherib was involved in a violent quar- 
rel with the priesthood of Babylon ; he never "took the hand of 
Bel" ; and finally struck at that power by destroying altogether 
the holy part of the city of Babylon (691 B.C.) and removing 
the statue of Bel-Marduk to Assyria. He was assassinated by 
one of his sons, and his successor, Esar-haddon (his son, but 
not the son who was his assassin), found it expedient to restore 
Bal-Marduk and rebuild his temple, and make his peace with 
the god. 

Assurbanipal (Greek, Sardanapalus), the son of this Esar- 
haddon, is a particularly interesting figure from this point of 
view of the relationship of priesthood and king. His father's 
reconciliation with the priests of Bel-Marduk went so far that 
Sardanapalus was given a Babylonian instead of a military 
Assyrian education. He became a great collector of the -clay 
documents of the past, and his library, which has been un- 
earthed, is now the most precious source of historical material 
in the world. But for all his learning he kept his grip on the 
Assyrian army ; he made a temporary conquest of Egypt, sup- 
pressed a rebellion in Babylon, and carried out a number of 
successful expeditions. As we have already told in Chapter 
XIV, he was almost the last of the Assvrian monarchs. The 



Aryan tribes, who knew more of war than of priestcraft, and 
particularly the Scythians, the Medes and Persians, had long 
been pressing upon Assyria from the north and north-east. 
The Medes and Persians formed an alliance with the nomadic 
Semitic Chaldeans of the south for the joint undoing of Assyria. 
Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, fell to these Aryans in 606 B.C. 
Sixty-seven years after the taking of Nineveh by the Aryans, 
which left Babylonia to the Semitic Chaldeans, the last mon- 
arch of the Chal- 
dean Empire (the 
Second Babylonian 
Empire) , Naboni- 
dus, the father of 
Belshazzar, was 
overthrown by Cy- 
rus, the Persian. 
This Nabonidus, 
again, was a highly 
educated monarch, 
who brought far too 
much intelligence 
and imagination 
and not enough of 
the short range wis- 
dom of this world to 
affairs of state. He 
conducted antiqua- 
rian researches, and 
to his researches it 
is that we owe the date of 3,750 B.C., assigned to Sargon I 
and still accepted by many authorities. He was proud of this 
determination, and left inscriptions to record it. It is clear he 
was a religious innovator ; he built and rearranged temples and 
attempted to centralize religion in Babylon by bringing a num- 
ber of local gods to the temple of Bel-Mar duk. No doubt he 
realized the weakness and disunion of his empire due to these 
conflicting cults, and had some conception of unification in 
his mind. 

Events were marching too rapidly for any such development. 
His innovation had manifestly raised the suspicion and hos- 
tility of the priesthood of Bel. They sided with the Persians. 


''The soldiers of Cyrus entered Babylon without fighting." 
Nabonidus was taken prisoner, and Persian sentinels were set 
at the gates of the temple of Bel, "where the services continued 
without intermission." 

Cyrus did, in fact, set up the Persian Empire in Babylon 
with the blessing of Bel-Marduk. He gratified the conservative 
instincts of the priests by packing off the local gods back to 
their ancestral temples. He also restored the Jews to Jerusa- 
lem. 1 These were merely matters of immediate policy to him. 
But in bringing in the irreligious Aryans, the ancient priest- 
hood was paying too highly for the continuation of its temple 
services. It would have been wiser to have dealt with the inno- 
vations of Nabonidus, that earnest heretic, to have listened 
to his ideas, and to have met the needs of a changing world. 
Cyrus entered Babylon 539 B.C.; by 521 B.C. Babylon was in 
insurrection again, and in 520 B.C. another Persian monarch, 
Darius, was pulling down her walls. Within two hundred 
years the life had altogether gone out of those venerable rituals 
of Bel-Marduk, and the temple of Bel-Marduk was being used 
by builders as a quarry. 


The story of priest and king in Egypt is similar to, but by 
no means parallel with, that of Babylonia. The kings of 
Sumeria and Assyria were priests who had become kings ; they 
were secularized priests. The Pharaoh of Egypt does not ap- 
pear to have followed precisely that line. Already in the very 
oldest records the Pharaoh has a power, and importance ex- 
ceeding that of any priest. He is, in fact, a god, and more 
than either priest or king. We do not know how he got to 
that position. No monarch of Sumeria or Babylonia or Assyria 
could have induced his people to do for him what the great 
pyramid-building Pharaohs of the IVth Dynasty made their 
people do in those vast erections. The earlier Pharaohs were 
not improbably regarded as incarnations of the dominant god. 
The falcon god Horus sits behind the head of the great statue of 
Chephren. So late a monarch as Rameses III (XlXth 
Dynasty) is represented upon his sarcophagus (now at Cam- 

l See the last two verses of the Second Book of Chronicles, and Ezra, 
ih. i. 



bridge) bearing the distinctive symbols of the three great gods 
of the Egyptian system. He carries the two sceptres of Osiris, 
the god of Day and Resurrection ; upon his head are the horns 
of the cow goddess Hathor, and also the sun ball and feathers 

of Ammon Ha. He 
is not merely 
wearing the sym- 
bols of these gods 
as a devout Baby- 
lonian might wear 
the symbols of Bei- 
M a r d u k ; he is 
these three gods in 

We find also a 
number of sculp- 
tures and paintings 
to enforce the idea 
that the Pharaohs 
were the actual 
sons of gods. The 
divine fathering 
and birth of Ame- 
nophis III, for in- 
XVIIIth Dynas- 
ty), is displayed 
i n extraordinary 
detail in a series 
of sculptures at 
Luxor. Moreover, 
it was held that 

~RelieF cm, -die. cover oC -die, 

Inscription (round the edges of cover) as far as 
decipherable : 

siris, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, lord 
of the two countries . . . son of the Sun, beloved 
of the gods, lord of diadems, Rameses, prince of 
Heliopolis, triumphant! Thou art in the condi- 
tion of a god, thou ahalt arise as Usr, there is no 
enemy to thee, I give to thee triumph among 
them. . . ." BUDGE, Catalogue, Egyptian Collec- 
tion, Fitzicilliam Museum, Cambridge. 

the Pharaohs, be- 
ing of so divine a 
strain, could not 
marry common 

clay, and consequently they were accustomed to marry blood 

relations within the degrees of consanguinity now prohibited, 

even marrying their sisters. 

The struggle between palace and temple came into Egyptian 

history, therefore, at a different angle from that at which it came 


into Babylonia. Nevertheless, it came in. Professor Maspero 
(in his New Light on Ancient Egypt) gives a very interesting 
account of the struggle of Amenophis IV with the priesthoods, 
and particularly with priests of the great god, Ammon Ha, Lord 
of Karnak. The mother of Amenophis IV was not of the race 
of Pharaoh; it would seem that his father, Amenophis III, 
made a love match with a subject, a beautiful Syrian named 
Tii, and Professor Maspero finds in the possible opposition to 
and annoyance of this queen by the priests of Ammon Ra the 
beginnings of the quarrel. She may, he thinks, have inspired 
her son with a fanatical hatred of Ammon Ra. But. Amenophis 
IV may have had a wider view. Like the Babylonian Nabo- 
nidus, who lived a thousand years later, he may have had in 
mind the problem of moral unity in his empire. We have al- 
ready noted that Amenophis III ruled from Ethiopia to the 
Euphrates, and that the store of letters to himself and his 
son found at Tel-Amarna show a very wide range of interest and 
influence. At any rate, Amenophis IV set himself to close all 
the Egyptian and Syrian temples, to put an end to all sectarian 
worship throughout his dominions, and to establish everywhere 
the worship of one god, Aton, the solar disk. He left his capital, 
Thebes, which was even more the city of Ammon Ra than later 
Babylon was the city of Bel-Marduk, and set up his capital 
at Tel-Amarna ; he altered his name from "Amenophis," which 
consecrated him to Ammon (Amen) to "Akhnaton," the Sun's 
Glory; and he held his own against all the priesthoods of his 
empire for eighteen years and died a Pharaoh. 

Opinions upon Amenophis IV, or Akhnaton, differ very 
widely. There are those who regard him as the creature of his 
mother's hatred of Ammon and the uxorious spouse of a beauti- 
ful wife. Certainly he loved his wife very passionately; he 
showed her great honour Egypt honoured women, and was 
ruled at different times by several queens and he was sculp- 
tured in one instance with his wife seated upon his knees, and 
in another in the act of kissing her in a chariot; but men who 
live under the sway of their womenkind do not sustain great 
empires in the face of the bitter hostility of the most influential 
organized bodies in their realm. Others write of him as a 
"gloomy fanatic." Matrimonial bliss is rare in the cases of 
gloomy fanatics. It is much more reasonable to regard him 
as the Pharaoh who refused to be a god. It is not simply his 



religious policy and his frank display of natural affection that 
seem to mark a strong and very original personality. His 
aesthetic ideas were his own. He refused to have his portrait 
conventionalized into the customary smooth beauty of the 
Pharaoh god, and his face looks out at us across an interval of 

thirty-four centu- 
ries, a man amidst 
ranks of divine in- 

A reign of eigh- 
teen years was not 
long enough for 
the revolution he 
contemplated, and 
his son-in-law who 
succeeded him 
went back to 
Thebes and made 
his peace with 
Ammon Ra. 

To the very end 
of the story the di- 
vinity of kings 
haunted the Egyp- 
tian mind, and in- 
fected the thoughts 
of intellectually 
healthier races. 
When Alexander 
the Great reached 
Babylon, the pres- 
tige of Bel-Marduk 
was already far gone in decay, but in Egypt, Ammon Ra was 
still god enough to make a snob of the conquering Grecian. 
The priests of Ammon Ra, about the time of the XVIIIth or 
XlXth Dynasty (circa 1,400 B.C.), had set up in an oasis of 
the desert a temple and oracle. Here was an image of the god 
which could speak, move its head, and accept or reject scrolls 
of inquiry. This oracle was still flourishing in 332 B.C. The 
young master of the world, it is related, made a special journey 
to visit it ; he came into the sanctuary, and the image advanced 

[based on,-he cast at Cairo, & the reliefs ui the 
Berlin Museum. J 


out of the darkness at the hack to meet him. There was an 
impressive exchange of salutations. Some such formula as this 
must have been used (says Professor Maspero) : "Come, son 
of my loins, who loves me so that I give thee the royalty of 
Ra and the royalty of Horus! I give thee valiance, I give 
thee to hold all countries and all religions under thy feet ; I give 
thee to strike all the peoples united together with thy arm!" 
So it was that the priests of Egypt conquered their conqueror, 
and an Aryan monarch first hecame a god. 


The struggle of priest and king in China cannot he discussed 
here at any length. It was different again, as in Egypt it was 
different from Babylonia, but we find the same effort on the 
part of the ruler to break up tradition because it divides up the 
people. The Chinese Emperor, the "Son of Heaven," was 
himself a high-priest, and his chief duty was sacrificial; in the 
more disorderly phases of Chinese history he ceases to rule and 
continues only to sacrifice. The literary class was detached 
from the priestly class at an early date. It became a bureau- 
cratic body serving the local kings and rulers. That is a funda- 
mental difference between the history of China and any Western 
history. While Alexander was overrunning Western Asia, 
China, under the last priest-emperors of the Chow Dynasty, was 
sinking into a state of great disorder. Each province clung to 
its separate nationality and traditions, and the Huns spread 
from province to province. The King of T'sin (who lived about 
eighty years after Alexander the Great) , impressed by the mis- 
chief tradition was doing in the land, resolved to destroy the 
entire Chinese literature, and his son, Shi Hwang-ti, the "first 
universal Emperor," made a strenuous attempt to seek out and 
destroy all the existing classics. They vanished while he ruled, 
and he ruled without tradition, and welded China into a unity 
that endured for some centuries; but when he had passed, the 
hidden books crept out again. China remained united, though 
not under his descendants, but after a civil war under a fresh 
dynasty, the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.). The first Han mon- 
arch did not sustain this campaign of Shi Hwang-ti against the 
literati, and his successor made his peace with them and restored 
the texts of the classics. 



1. The Common Man in Ancient Times. 2. The Earliest 
Slaves. 3. The First "Independent" Persons. 4. So- 
cial Classes Three Thousand Years Ago. 5. Classes Hard- 
ening into Castes. 6. Caste in India. 7. The System 
of the Mandarins. 8. A Summary of Five Thousand 

WE have been sketching in the last four chapters the 
growth of civilized states out. of the primitive Neolithic 
agriculture that began in Mesopotamia perhaps 15,000 
years ago. It was at first horticulture rather than agriculture ; 
it was done with the hoe before the plough, and at first it was 
quite supplementary to the sheep, goat, and cattle tending that 
made the "living" of the family tribe. We have traced the broad 
outlines of the development in regions of exceptional fruitful- 
ness of the first settled village communities into more populous 
towns and cities, and the growth of the village shrine and the 
village medicine-man into the city temple and the city priest- 
hood. We have noted the beginnings of organized war, first as 
a flickering between villages, and then as a more disciplined 
struggle between the priest-king and god of one city and those 
of another. Our story has passed on rapidly from the first 
indications of conquest and empire in Sumer, 6,000 or 7,000 
B.C., to the spectacle of great empires growing up, with roads 
and armies, with inscriptions and written documents, with edu- 
cated priesthoods and kings and rulers sustained by a tradition 
already ancient. We have traced in broad outline the appear- 
ance and conflicts and replacements of these empires of the 
great rivers. We have directed attention, in particular, to the 
evidence of a development of still wider political ideas as we 



find it betrayed by the actions and utterances of such men as 
Nabonidus and Amenophis IV. It has been an outline of the 
accumulations of human experience for ten or fifteen thousand 
years, a vast space of time in comparison with all subsequent 
history, but a brief period when we measure it against the suc- 
cession of endless generations that intervenes between us and the 
first rude flint-using human creatures of the Pleistocene dawn. 
But for these last four chapters we have been writing almost 
entirely not about mankind generally, but only about the men 
who thought, the men who could draw and read and write, the 
men who were altering their world. Beneath their activities 
what was the life of the mute multitude ? 

The life of the common man was, of course, affected and 
changed by these things, just as the lives of the domestic animals 
and the face of the cultivated country were changed ; but for the 
most part it was a change suffered and not a change in which 
the common man upon the land had any voice or will. Reading 
and writing were not yet for the likes of him. He went on 
cultivating his patch, loving his wife and children, beating his 
dog and tending his beasts, grumbling at hard times, fearing 
the magic of the priests and the power of the gods, desiring 
little more except to be left alone by the powers above him. So 
he was in 10,000 B.C. ; so he was, unchanged in nature and out- 
look, in the time of Alexander the Great; so over the greater 
part of the world he remains to-day. He got rather better tools, 
better seeds, better methods, a slightly sounder house, he sold 
his produce in a more organized market as civilization pro- 
gressed. A certain freedom and a certain equality passed out 
of human life when men ceased to wander. Men paid in liberty 
for safety, shelter, and regular meals. By imperceptible de- 
grees the common man found the patch he cultivated was not 
his own ; it belonged to the god ; and he had to pay a fraction 
of his produce to the god. Or the god had given it to the king, 
who exacted his rent and tax. Or the king had given it to an 
official, who was the lord of the common man. And sometimes 
the god or the king or the noble had work to be done, and then 
the common man had to leave his patch and work for his master. 

How far the patch he cultivated was his own was never very 
clear to him. In ancient Assyria the land seems to have been 
held as a sort of freehold and the occupier paid taxes ; in Baby- 
lonia the land was the god's, and he permitted the cultivator to 


work thereon. In Egypt the temples or Pharaoh-the-god or the 
nobles under Pharaoh were the owners and rent receivers. But 
the cultivator was not a slave ; he was a peasant, and only bound 
to the land in so far that there was nothing else for him to do 
but cultivate, and nowhere else for him to go. He lived in a 
'village or town, and went out to his work. The village, to begin 
with, was often merely a big household of related people under 
a patriarch headman, the early town a group of householders 
under its elders. There was no process of enslavement as 
civilization grew, but the headmen and leaderly men grew 
in power and authority, and the common men did not keep 
pace with them, and fell into a tradition of dependence and 

On the whole, the common men were probably well content 
to live under lord or king or god and obey their bidding. It 
was safer. It was easier. All animals and man is no excep- 
tion begin life as dependents. Most men never shake them- 
selves loose from the desire for leading and protection. 1 


The earlier wars did not involve remote or prolonged cam- 
paigns, and they were waged by levies of the common people. 
But war brought in a new source of possessions, plunder, and a 
new social factor, the captive. In the earlier, simpler days of 
war, the captive man was kept only to be tortured or sacrificed 
to the victorious god; the captive women and children were 
assimilated into the tribe. But later many captives were spared 
to be slaves because they had exceptional gifts or peculiar arts. 
It would be the kings and captains who would take these slaves 
at first, and it would speedily become apparent to them that 
these men were much more their own than were the peasant 
cultivators and common men of their own race. The slave could 
be commanded to do all sorts of things for his master that the 
quasi-free common man would not do so willingly because of 
his attachment to his own patch of cultivation. From a very 
early period the artificer was often a household slave, and the 

1 There were literary expressions of social discontent in Egypt before 
2,000 B.C. See "Social Forces and Religion" in Breasted's Religion and 
Thought in Ancient Egypt for some of the earliest complaints of the com- 
mon man under the ancient civilizations. 


manufacture of trade goods, pottery, textiles, metal ware, and 
go forth, such as went on vigorously in the household city of the 
Minos of Cnossos, was probably a slave industry from the be- 
ginning. Sayce, in his Babylonians and Assyrians, quotes 
Babylonian agreements for the teaching of trades to slaves, and 
dealing with the exploitation of slave products. Slaves pro- 
duced slave children, enslavement in discharge of debts added 
to the slave population; it is probable that as the cities grew 
larger, a larger part of the new population consisted of these 
slave artificers and slave servants in the large households. They 
were by no means abject slaves; in later Babylon their lives 
and property were protected by elaborate laws. Nor were 

peasants- seized, for non-payment: of taxes' . . . (PijratnicL Age) 

they all outlanders. Parents might sell their children into 
slavery, and brothers their orphan sisters. Free men who had 
no means of livelihood would even sell themselves into slavery. 
And slavery was the fate of the insolvent debtor. Craft ap- 
prenticeship, again, was a sort of fixed-term slavery. Out of 
the slave population, by a converse process, arose the freed-man 
and freed-woman, who worked for wages and had still more 
definite individual rights. Since in Babylon slaves could them- 
selves own property, many slaves saved up and bought 
themselves. Probably the town slave was often better off and 
practically as free as the cultivator of the soil, and as the rural 
population increased, its sons and daughters came to mix with 
and swell the growing ranks of artificers, some bound, some 

As the extent and complexity of government increased, the 
number of households multiplied. Under the king's household 
grew up the households of his great ministers and officials, under 


the temple grew up the personal households of temple func- 
tionaries; it is not difficult to realize how houses and patches 
of land would become more and more distinctly the property 
of the occupiers, and more and more definitely alienated from 
the original owner-god. The earlier empires in Egypt and 
China both passed into a feudal stage, in which families, origi- 
nally official, became for a time independent noble families. In 
the later stages of Babylonian civilization we find an increasing 
propertied class of people appearing in the social structure, 
neither slaves nor peasants nor priests nor officials, but widows 
and descendants of such people, or successful traders and the 
like, and all masierless folk. Traders came in from the out- 
side. Babylon was full of Aramean traders, who had great 
establishments, with slaves, f reed-men, employees of all sorts. 
Their book-keeping was a serious undertaking. It involved 
storing a great multitude of earthenware tablets in huge earthen- 
ware jars.) Upon this gathering mixture of more or less free 
and detached people would live other people, traders, merchants, 
small dealers, catering for their needs. Sayce (op. cit.) gives 
the particulars of an agreement for the setting up and stocking 
of a tavern and beerhouse, for example. The passer-by, the man 
who happened to be about, had come into existence. 

But another and far less kindly sort of slavery also arose in 
the old civilization, and that was gang slavery. If it did not 
figure very largely in the cities, it was very much in evidence 
elsewhere. The king was, to begin with, the chief entrepreneur. 
He made the canals and organized the irrigation (e.g. Ham- 
murabi's enterprises noted in the previous chapter). He ex- 
ploited mines. He seems (at Cnossos, e.g.) to have organized 
manufactures for export. The Pharaohs of the 1st Dynasty 
were already working the copper and turquoise mines in the 
peninsula of Sinai. For many such purposes gangs of captives 
were cheaper and far more controllable than levies of the king's 
own people. From an early period, too, captives may have 
tugged the oars of the galleys, though Torr (Ancient Ships) 
notes that up to the age of Pericles (450 B.C.) the free Athenians 
were not above this task. And the monarch also found slaves 
convenient for his military expeditions. They were uprooted 
men ; they did not fret to go home, because they had no homes 
to go to. The Pharaohs hunted slaves in Nubia, in order to 
have black troops for their Syrian expeditions. Closely allied 


to such slave troops were the mercenary barbaric troops the 
monarchs caught into their service, not by positive compulsion, 
but by the bribes of food and plunder and under the pressure 
of need. As the old civilization developed, these mercenary 
armies replaced the national levies of the old order more and 
more, and servile gang labour became a more and more impor- 
tant and significant factor in the economic system. From mines 
and canal and wall building, the servile gang spread into culti- 

ErMvl axnomg "boatmen,... (Fnntv -tomb of Ptah-hctp Pvjva*ni<i Ags ) 

vation. Nobles and temples adopted the gang-slave system for 
their works. Plantation gangs began to oust the patch cultiva- 
tion of the labourer-serf in the case of some staple products. . . . 

So, in a few paragraphs, we trace the development of the 
simple social structure of the early Sumerian cities to the com- 
plex city crowds, the multitude of individuals varying in race, 
tradition, education, and function, varying in wealth, free- 
dom, authority, and usefulness, in the great cities of the last 
thousand years B.C. The most notable thing of all is the gradual 
increase amidst this heterogeneous multitude of what we may 
call free individuals, detached persons who are neither priests, 
nor kings, nor officials, nor serfs, nor slaves, who are under 
no great pressure to work, who have time to read and inquire. 
They appear side by side with the development of social security 
and private property. Coined money and monetary reckoning 
developed. The operations of the Arameans and such-like 
Semitic trading people led to the organization of credit and 
monetary security. In the earlier days almost the only prop 
erty ? except a few movables, consisted of rights in land and in 


houses ; later, one could deposit and lend securities, could go 
away and return to find one's property faithfully held and 
secure. Towards the middle of the period of the Persian Em- 
pire there lived one free individual, Herodotus, who has a great 
interest for us because he was among the first writers of critical 
and intelligent history, as distinguished from a mere priestly 
or court chronicle. It is worth while to glance here very briefly 
at the circumstances of his life. Later on we shall quote from 
his history. 

We have already noted the conquest of Babylonia by the 
Aryan Persians under Cyrus in 539 B.C. We have noted, 
further, that the Persian Empire spread into Egypt, where its 
hold was precarious; and it extended also over Asia Minor. 
Herodotus was born about 484 B.C. in a Greek city of Asia 
Minor, Halicarnassus, which was under the overlcrdship of the 
Persians, and directly under the rule of a political boss or 
tyrant. There is no sign that he was obliged either to work 
for a living or spend very much time in the administration of 
his property. We do not know the particulars of his affairs, 
but it is clear that in this minor Greek city, under foreign 
rule, he was able to obtain and read and study manuscripts 
of nearly everything that had been written in the Greek lan- 
guage before his time. He travelled, so far as one can gather, 
with freedom and comfort about the Greek archipelagoes; he 
stayed wherever he wanted to stay, and he seems to have found 
comfortable accommodation; he went to Babylon and to Susa, 
the new capital the Persians had set up in Babylonia to the 
east of the Tigris ; he toured along the coast of the Black Sea, 
and accumulated a considerable amount of knowledge about 
the Scythians, the Aryan people who were then distributed over 
South Russia ; he went to the south of Italy, explored the 
antiquities of Tyre, coasted Palestine, landed at Gaza, and made 
a long stay in Egypt. He went, about Egypt looking at temples 
and monuments and gathering information. We know not only 
from him, but from other evidence, that in those days the older 
temples and the pyramids (which were already nearly three 
thousand years old) were visited by strings of tourists, a special 
sort of priests acting as guides. The inscriptions the sightseers 
scribbled upon the walls remain to this day, and many of them 
have been deciphered and published. 

As his knowledge accumulated, he conceived the idea of writ- 




ing a great history of the attempts of Persia to suhdue Greece. 
But in order to introduce that history he composed an account 
of the past of Greece, Persia, Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, 
Scythia, and of the geography and peoples of those countries. 
He then set himself, it is said, to make his history known among 
his friends in Halicarnassus by reciting it to them, but they 
failed to appreciate it; and he then betook himself to Athens, 
the most flourishing of all Greek cities at that time. There his 
work was received with applause. We find him in the centre 
of a brilliant circle of intelligent and active-minded people, and 
the city authorities voted him a reward of ten talents (a sum 
of money equivalent to 2,400) in recognition of his literary 
achievement. . . . 

But we will not complete the biography of this most inter- 
esting man, nor will we enter into any criticism of his garrulous, 
marvel-telling, and most entertaining history. It is a book to 
which all intelligent readers come sooner or later, abounding as 
it does in illuminating errors and Boswellian charm. We give 
these particulars here simply to show that in the fifth century 
B.C. a new factor was becoming evident in human affairs. Read- 
ing and writing had already long escaped from the temple pre- 
cincts and the ranks of the court scribes. Record was no longer 
confined to court and temple. A new sort of people, these peo- 
ple of leisure and independent means, were asking questions, 
exchanging knowledge and views, and developing ideas. So be- 
neath the march of armies and the policies of monarchs, and 
above the common lives of illiterate and incurious men, we 
note the beginnings of what is becoming at last nowadays a 
dominant power in human affairs, the free intelligence of 

Of that free intelligence we shall have more to say when in 
a subsequent chapter we tell of the Greeks. 


We may summarize the discussion of the last two chapters 
here by making a list of the chief elements in this complicated 
accumulation of human beings which made up the later Baby- 
lonian and Egyptian civilizations of from two thousand five 
hundred to three thousand years ago. These elements grew up 
and became distinct one from another in the great river valleys 


of the world in the course of five or six thousand years. They 
developed mental dispositions and traditions and attitudes of 
thought one to another. The civilization in which we live to- 
day is simply carrying on and still further developing and work- 
ing out and rearranging these relationships. This is the world 
from which we inherit. It is only by the attentive study of 
their origins that we can detach ourselves from the prejudices 
and immediate ideas of the particular class to which we may 
belong, and begin to understand the social and political questions 
of our own time. 

(1) First, then, came the priesthood, the temple system, 
which was the nucleus and the guiding intelligence about which 
the primitive civilizations grew. It was still in these later days 
a great power in the world, the chief repository of knowledge 
and tradition, an influence over the lives of every one, and a 
binding force to hold the community together. But it was no 
longer all-powerful, because its nature made it conservative and 
inadaptable. It no longer monopolized knowledge nor initiated 
fresh ideas. Learning had already leaked out to other less 
pledged and controlled people, who thought for themselves. 
About the temple system were grouped its priests and priestesses, 
its scribes, its physicians, its magicians, its lay brethren, treas- 
urers, managers, directors, and the like. It owned great prop- 
erties and often hoarded huge treasures. 

(2) Over against the priesthood, and originally arising out 
of it, was the court system, headed by a king or a "king of 
kings," who was in later Assyria and Babylonia a sort of cap- 
tain and lay controller of affairs, and in Egypt a god-man, who 
had released himself from the control of his priests. About 
the monarch were accumulated his scribes, counsellors, record 
keepers, agents, captains, and guards. Many of his officials, 
particularly his provincial officials, had great subordinate estab- 
lishments, and were constantly tending to become independent. 
The nobility of the old river valley civilizations arose out of 
the court system. It was, therefore, a different thing in its 
origins from the nobility of the early Aryans, which was a re- 
publican nobility of elders and leading men. 

(3) At the base of the social pyramid was the large and most 
necessary class in the community, the tillers of the soil. Their 
status varied from age to age and in different lands ; they were 


free peasants paying taxes, or serfs of the god, or serfs or 
tenants of king or noble, or of a private owner, paying him a 
rent; in most cases tax or rent was paid in produce. In the 
states of the river valleys they were high cultivators, cultivating 
comparatively small holdings; they lived together for safety 
in villages, and had a common interest in maintaining their irri- 
gation channels and a sense of community in their village life. 
The cultivation of the soil is an exacting occupation; the sea- 
sons and the harvest sunsets will not wait for men ; children can 
be utilized at an early age, and so the cultivator class is gen- 
erally a poorly educated, close-toiling class, superstitious by 
reason of ignorance and the uncertainty of the seasons, ill-in- 
formed and easily put upon. It is capable at times of great 
passive resistance, but it has no purpose in its round but crops 
and crops, to keep out of debt and hoard against bad times. So 
it has remained to our own days over the greater part of Europe 
and Asia. 

(4) Differing widely in origin and quality from the tillers 
of the soil was the artisan class. At first, this was probably 
in part a town-slave class, in part it consisted of peasants who 
had specialized upon a craft. But in developing an art and 
mystery of its own, a technique that had to be learnt before it 
could be practised, each sort of craft probably developed a cer- 
tain independence and a certain sense of community of its own. 
The artisans were able to get together and discuss their affairs 
more readily than the toilers on the land, and they were able 
to form guilds to restrict output, maintain rates of pay, and 
protect their common interest. 

(5) As the power of the Babylonian rulers spread out beyond 
the original areas of good husbandry into grazing regions and 
less fertile districts, a class of herdsmen came into existence. 
In the case of Babylonia these were nomadic Semites, the 
Bedouin, like the Bedouin of to-day. They probably grazed 
their flocks over great areas much as the sheep ranchers of 
California do. They were paid and esteemed much more highly 
than the husbandmen. 

(6) The first merchants in the world were shipowners like 
the people of Tyre and Cnossos, or nomads who carried and 
traded goods as they wandered between one area of primitive 
civilization and another. In the Babylonian and Assyrian 
world the traders were predominantly the Semitic Arameans, 


the ancestors of the modern Syrians. They became a distinct 
factor in the life of the community; they formed great house- 
holds of their own. Usury developed largely in the last thou- 
sand years B.C. Traders needed accommodation; cultivators 
wished to anticipate their crops. Sayce (op. cit.) gives an ac- 
count of the Babylonian banking-house of Egibi, which lasted 
through several generations and outlived the Chaldean Empire. 

(7) A class of small retailers, one must suppose, came into 
existence with the complication of society during the later 
days of the first empires, but it was not probably of any great 

(8) A growing class of independent property owners. 

(9) As the amenities of life increased, there grew up in the 
court, temples, and prosperous private houses a class of domestic 
servants, slaves or freed slaves, or young peasants taken into 
the household. 

(10) Gang workers. These were prisoners of war or debt 
slaves, or impressed or deported men. 

(11) Mercenary soldiers. These were also often captives or 
impressed men. Sometimes they were enlisted from friendly 
foreign populations in which the military spirit still prevailed. 

(12) Seamen. 

In modern political and economic discussions we are apt to 
talk rather glibly of "labour." Much has been made of the 
solidarity of labour and its sense of community. It is well to 
note that in these first civilizations, what we speak of as 
"labour" is represented by five distinct classes dissimilar in 
origin, traditions, and outlook namely, classes 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 
and the oar-tugging part of 12. The "solidarity of labour" is, we 
shall find when we come to study the mechanical revolution of 
the nineteenth century A.D. ; a new idea and a new possibility in 
human affairs. 


Let us, before we leave this discussion of the social classes 
that were developing in these first civilizations, devote a little 
attention to their fixity. How far did they stand aloof from 
each other, and how far did they intermingle? So far as the 
classes we have counted as 9, 10, 11, and 12 go, the servants, 
the gang labourers and slaves, the gang soldiers, and to a lesser 


extent the sailors, or at any rate the galley rowers among the 
sailors, they were largely recruited classes, they did not readily 
and easily form homes, they were not distinctively breeding 
classes ; they were probably replenished generation after genera- 
tion by captives, by the failures of other classes, and especially 
from the failures of the class of small retailers, and by persua- 
sion and impressment from among the cultivators. But so far 
as the sailors go, we have to distinguish between the mere rower 
and the navigating and shipowning seaman of such ports as Tyre 
and Sidon. The shipowners pass, no doubt, by insensible grada- 
tions into the mercantile class, but the navigators must have 
made a peculiar community in the great seaports, having homes 
there and handing on the secrets of seacraft to their sons. The 
eighth class we have distinguished was certainly a precarious 
class, continually increased by the accession of the heirs and de- 
pendents, the widows and retired members of the wealthy and 
powerful, and continually diminished by the deaths or specula- 
tive losses of these people and the dispersal of their properties. 
The priests and .priestess, too, so far as all this world west of 
India went, were not a very reproductive class; many priest- 
hoods were celibate, and that class, too, may also be counted 
as a recruited class. Nor are servants, as a rule, reproductive. 
They live in the households of other people; they do not have 
households and rear large families of their own. This leaves us 
as the really vital classes of the ancient civilized community : 

(a) The royal and aristocratic class, officials, military offi- 
cers, and the like; 

(6) The mercantile class ; 

(c) The town artisans; 

(d) The cultivators of the soil ; and 

(e) The herdsmen. 

Each of these classes reared its own children in its own 
fashion, and so naturally kept itself more or less continuously 
distinct from the others. General education was not organized 
in those ancient states, education was mainly a household mat- 
ter (as it is still in many parts of India to-day), and so it 
was natural and necessary for the sons to follow in the footsteps 
of their father and to marry women accustomed to their own 
sort of household. Except during times of great, political dis- 
turbance, therefore, there would be a natural and continuous 


separation of classes ; which would not, however, prevent ex- 
ceptional individuals from intermarrying or passing from one 
class to another. Poor aristocrats would marry rich members 
of the mercantile class ; ambitious herdsmen, artisans, or sailors 
would become rich merchants. So far as one can gather, that 
was the general state of affairs in both Egypt and Babylonia. 
The idea was formerly entertained that in Egypt there was a 
fixity of classes, but this appears to be a misconception due to 
a misreading of Herodotus. The only exclusive class in Egypt 
which did not intermarry was, as in England to-day, the semi- 
divine royal family. 

At various points in the social system there were probably 
developments of exclusiveness, an actual barring out of inter- 
lopers. Artisans of particular crafts possessing secrets, for ex- 
ample, have among all races and in all ages tended to develop 
guild organizations restricting the practice of their craft and 
the marriage of members outside their guild. Conquering peo- 
ple have also, and especially when there were marked physical 
differences of race, been disposed to keep themselves aloof from 
the conquered peoples, and have developed an aristocratic ex- 
clusiveness. Such organizations of restriction upon free inter- 
course have come and gone in great variety in the history of all 
long-standing civilizations. The natural boundaries of func- 
tion were always there, but sometimes they have been drawn 
sharply and laid stress upon, and sometimes they have been 
made little of. There has been a general tendency among the 
Aryan peoples to distinguish noble (patrician) from common 
(plebeian) families; the traces of it are evident throughout 
the literature and life of Europe to-day, and it has received a 
picturesque enforcement in the "science" of heraldry. This 
tradition is still active even in democratic America. Germany, 
the most methodical of European countries, had in the Middle 
Ages a very clear conception of the fixity of such distinctions. 
Below the princes (who themselves constituted an exclusive class 
which did not marry beneath itself) there were the : 

(a) Knights, the military and official caste, with heraldic 
coats-of-arms ; 

(& and c) The Biirgerstand, the merchants, shipping people, 
and artisans; and 

(d) The Bauernstand, the cultivating serfs or peasants. 

Medieval Germany went as far as any of the Western heirs 


of the first great civilizations towards a fixation of classes. The 
idea is far less congenial both to the English-speaking people 
and to the French and Italians, who, by a sort of instinct, 
favour a free movement from class to class. Such exclusive 
ideas began at first among, and were promoted chiefly by, the 
upper classes, but it is a natural response and a natural Nemesis 
to such ideas that the mass of the excluded should presently 
range themselves in antagonism to their superiors. It was in 
Germany, as we shall see in the concluding chapters of this story, 
that the conception of a natural and necessary conflict, "the 
class war," between the miscellaneous multitudes of the dis- 
inherited ("the class-conscious proletariat'' of the Marxist) and 
the rulers and merchants first arose. It was an idea more ac- 
ceptable to the German mind than to the British or French. 
. . . But before we come to that conflict, we must traverse a 
long history of many centuries. 


If now we turn eastward from this main development of civ- 
ilization in the world between Central Asia and the Atlantic, 
to the social development of India in the 2,000 years next be- 
fore the Christian era, we find certain broad and very interest- 
ing differences. The first of these is that we find such a fixity 
of classes in process of establishment as no other part of the 
world can present. This fixity of classes is known to Euro- 
peans as the institution of caste; 1 its origins are still in com- 
plete obscurity, but it was certainly well rooted in the Ganges 
valley before the days of Alexander the Great. It is a com- 
plicated horizontal division of the social structure into classes 
or castes, the members of which may neither eat nor intermarry 
with persons of a lower caste under penalty of becoming out- 
casts, and who may also "lose caste" for various ceremonial 
negligences and defilements. By losing caste a man does not 
sink to a lower caste; he becomes outcast. The various sub- 
divisions of caste are very complex ; many are practically trade 
organizations. Each caste has its local organization which main- 
tains discipline, distributes various charities, looks after its 
own poor, protects the common interests of its members, and 

1 From oasta, a word of Portuguese origin ; the Indian word is varna, 


examines the credentials of new-comers from other districts. 
(There is little to check the pretensions of a travelling Hindu 
to be of a higher caste than is legitimately his.) Originally, 
the four main castes seem to have been : 

The Brahmins the priests and teachers ; 

The Kshatriyas the warriors ; 

The Yaisyas herdsmen, merchants, moneylenders, and land- 
owners ; 

The Sudras; 

And, outside the castes, the Pariahs. 

But these primary divisions have long been complicated by 
subdivision into a multitude of minor castes, all exclusive, each 
holding its members to one definite way of living and one group 
of associates. In Bengal the Kshatriyas and Vaisyas have 
largely disappeared. But this is too intricate a question for us 
to deal with here in any detail. 

Next to this extraordinary fission and complication of the 
social body we have to note that the Brahmins, the priests and 
teachers of the Indian world, unlike so many Western priest- 
hoods, are a reproductive and exclusive class, taking no recruits 
from any other social stratum. 

Whatever may have been the original incentive to this ex- 
tensive fixation of class in India, there can be little doubt of 
the role played by the Brahmins as the custodians of tradition 
and the only teachers of the people in sustaining it. By some 
it is supposed that the first three of the four original castes, 
known also as the "twice born," were the descendants of the 
Vedic Aryan conquerors of India, who established these hard- 
and-fast separations to prevent racial mixing with the conquered 
Sudras and Pariahs. The Sudras are represented as a previous 
wave of northern conquerors, and the Pariahs are the original 
Dravidian inhabitants of India. But these speculations are not 
universally accepted, and it is, perhaps, rather the case that 
the uniform conditions of life in the Ganges valley throughout 
long centuries served to stereotype a difference of classes that 
have never had the same steadfastness of definition under the 
more various and variable conditions of the greater world to 
the west. 

However caste arose, there can be no doubt of its extraordi- 
nary hold upon the Indian mind. In the sixth century B.C. 
arose Gautama, the great teacher of Buddhism, proclaiming, 


"As the four streams that flow into the Ganges lose their names 
as soon as they mingle their waters in the holy river, so all who 
believe in Buddha cease to be Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, 
and Sudras." His teaching prevailed in India for some cen- 
turies; it spread over China, Tibet, Japan, Burmah, Ceylon, 
Turkestan, Manchuria ; it is to-day the religion of a large frac- 
tion of the human race, but it was finally defeated and driven 
out of Indian life by the vitality and persistence of the Brah- 
mins and of their caste ideas. 

In China we find a social system travelling along yet another, 
and only a very roughly parallel line to that followed by the 
Indian and Western civilizations. The Chinese civilization 
even more than the Hindu is organized for peace, and the war- 
rior plays a small part in its social scheme. As in the Indian 
civilization, the leading class is an intellectual one ; less priestly 
than the Brahmin and more official. But unlike the Brahmins, 
the mandarins, who are the literate men of China, are not a 
caste; one is not a mandarin by birth, but by education; they 
are drawn by education and examination from all classes of 
the community, and the son of a mandarin has no prescriptive 
right to succeed his father. 1 As a consequence of these differ- 
ences, while the Brahmins of India are, as a class, ignorant 
even of their own sacred books, mentally slack, and full of a 
pretentious assurance, the Chinese mandarin has the energy 
that comes from hard mental work. But since his education so 
far has been almost entirely a scholarly study of the classical 
Chinese literature, his influence has been entirely conservative. 
Before the days of Alexander the Great, China had already 
formed itself and set its feet in the way in which it was still 
walking in the year 1,000 A. D. Invaders and dynasties had come 
and gone, but the routine of life of the yellow civilization re- 
mained unchanged. 

The traditional Chinese social system recognized four main 
classes below the priest-emperor. 

1 In the time of Confucius classes were much more fixed than later. 
Under the Han dynasty the competitive examination system was not yet 
established. Scholars were recommended for appointments by local dig- 
nitaries, etc. I/, Y. C. 


(a) The literary class, which was equivalent partly to the 
officials of the Western world and partly to its teachers and 
clerics. In the time of Confucius its education included archery 
and horsemanship. Rites and music, history and mathematics 
completed the "Six Accomplishments." 

(5) The cultivators of the land. 

(c) The artisans. 

(d ) The mercantile class. 

But since from the earliest times it has been the Chinese way 
to divide the landed possessions of a man among all his sons, 
there has never been in Chinese history any class of great land- 
owners, renting their land to tenants, such as most other coun- 
tries have displayed. The Chinese land has always been cut 
up into small holdings, which are chiefly freeholds, and culti- 
vated intensively. There are landlords in China who own one 
or a few farms and rent them to tenants, but there are no 
great, permanent estates. When a patch of land, by repeated 
division, is too small to sustain a man, it is sold to some prosper- 
ing neighbour, and the former owner drifts to one of the great 
towns of China to join the mass of wage-earning workers there. 
In China, for many centuries, there have been these masses of 
town population with scarcely any property at all, men neither 
serfs nor slaves, but held to their daily work by their utter 
impecuniousness. From such masses it is that the soldiers 
needed by the Chinese Government are recruited, and also such 
gang labour as has been needed for the making of canals, the 
building of walls, and the like has been drawn. The war cap- 
tive and the slave class play a smaller part in Chinese history 
than in any more westerly record of these ages before the 
Christian era. 

One fact, we may note, is common to all these three stories 
of developing social structure and that is the immense power 
exercised by the educated class in the early stages before the 
crown or the commonalty began to read and, consequently, to 
think for itself. In India, by reason of their exclusiveness, the 
Brahmins, the educated class, retain their influence to this day ; 
over the masses of China, along entirely different lines and be- 
cause of the complexities of the written language, the man- 
darinate has prevailed. The diversity of race and tradition in 
the more various and eventful world of the West has delayed, 
and perhaps arrested for ever, any parallel organization of the 


specially intellectual elements of society into a class ascendancy. 
In the Western world, as we have already noted, education early 
"slopped over/' and soaked away out of the control of any spe- 
cial class; it escaped from the limitation of castes and priest- 
hoods and traditions into the general life of the community. 
Writing and reading had been simplified down to a point when 
it was no longer possible to make a cult and mystery of them. 
It may be due to the peculiar elaboration and difficulty of the 
Chinese characters, rather than to any racial difference, that the 
same thing did not happen to the same extent in China. 


In these last six chapters we have traced in outline the whole 
process by which, in the course of 5,000 or 6,000 years that 
is to say, in something between 150 and 200 generations man- 
kind passed from the stage of early Neolithic husbandry, in 
which the primitive skin-clad family tribe reaped and stored 
in their rude mud huts the wild-growing fodder and grain-bear- 
ing grasses with sickles of stone, to the days of the fourth cen- 
tury B.C., when all round the shores of the Mediterranean and 
up the Nile, and across Asia to India, and again over the great 
alluvial areas of China, spread the fields of human cultivation 
and busy cities, great temples, and the coming and going of 
human commerce. Galleys and lateen-sailed ships entered and 
left crowded harbours, and made their careful way from head- 
land to headland and from headland to island, keeping always 
close to the land. Pho3nician shipping under Egyptian owners 
was making its way into the East Indies and perhaps even 
further into the Pacific. Across the deserts of Africa and 
Arabia and through Turkestan toiled the caravans with their re- 
mote trade; silk was already coming from China, ivory from 
Central Africa, and tin from Britain to the centres of this new 
life in the world. Men had learnt to weave fine linen * and 
delicate fabrics of coloured wool; they could bleach and dye; 
they had iron as well as copper, bronze, silver, and gold; Jthey 
had made the most beautiful pottery and porcelain ; there was 
hardly a variety of precious stone in the world that they had 
not found and cut and polished; they could read and write; 
divert the course of rivers, pile pyramids, and make walls a 
1 Damascus was already making Damask, and "Damascening" steel. 


thousand miles long. The fifty or sixty centuries in which all 
this had to he achieved may seem a long time in comparison 
with the threescore and ten years of a single human life, but 
it is utterly inconsiderable in comparison with the stretches of 
geological time. Measuring backward from these Alexandrian 
cities to the days of the first stone implement*:, the rostro-carinate 
implements of the Pliocene Age, gives us an extent of time fully 
a hundred times as long. 

We have tried in this account, and with the help of maps 
and figures and time charts, to give a just idea of the order and 
shape of these fifty or sixty centuries. Our business is with 
that outline. We have named but a few names of individuals ; 
though henceforth the personal names must increase in number. 
But the content of this outline that we have drawn here in 
a few diagrams and charts cannot but touch the imagination. 
If only we could look closelier, we should see through all these 
sixty centuries a procession of lives more and more akin in their 
fashion to our own. We have shown how the naked Palaeo- 
lithic savage gave place to the Neolithic cultivator, a type of 
man still to be found in the backward places of the world. We 
have given an illustration of Sumerian soldiers copied from a 
carved stone that was set up long before the days when the 
Semitic S argon I conquered the land. ' Day by day some busy 
brownish man carved those figures, and, no doubt, whistled as 
he carved. In those days the plain of the Egyptian delta was 
crowded with gangs of swarthy workmen unloading the stone 
that had come down the Nile to add a fresh course to the cur- 
rent pyramid. One might paint a thousand scenes from those 
ages: of some hawker merchant in Egypt spreading his stock 
of Babylonish garments before the eyes of some pretty, rich 
lady; of a miscellaneous crowd swarming between the pylons 
to some temple festival at Thebes; of an excited, dark-eyed 
audience of Cretans like the Spaniards of to-day, watching a 
bull-fight, with the bull-fighters in trousers and tightly girded, 
exactly like any contemporary bull-fighter ; of children learning 
their cuneiform signs at Nippur the clay exercise tiles of a 
school have been found ; of a woman with a sick husband at 
home slipping into some great temple in Carthage to make a 
vow for his recovery. Or perhaps it is a wild Greek, skin-clad 
and armed with a bronze axe, standing motionless on some 
Illyrian mountain crest, struck with amazement at his first 


vision of a many-oared Cretan galley crawling like a great in- 
sect across the amethystine mirror of the Adriatic Sea. He 
went home to tell his folk a strange story of a monster, Briareus 
with his hundred arms. Of millions of such stitches in each 
of these 200 generations is the fabric of this history woven. But 
unless they mark the presence of a primary seam or join, we 
cannot pause now to examine any of these stitches. 



1. The Place of the Israelites in History. 2. Saul, David, 
and Solomon. 3. The Jews a People of Mixed Origin. 
4. The Importance of the Hebrew Prophets. 

WE are now in a position to place in their proper re- 
lationship to this general outline of human history the 
Israelites, and the most remarkable collection of an- 
cient documents in the world, that collection which is known to 
all Christian peoples as the Old Testament. We find in these 
documents the most interesting and valuable lights upon the 
development of civilization, and the clearest indications of a 
new spirit that was coming into human affairs during the strug- 
gles of Egypt and Assyria for predominance in the world of 

All the books that constitute the Old Testament were cer- 
tainly in existence, and in very much their present, form, at latest 
by the year 100 B.C. Most of them were probably recognized 
as sacred writings in the time of Alexander the Great (330 
B.C.). They were the sacred literature of a people, the Jews, 
who, except for a small remnant of common people, had re- 
cently been deported to Babylonia from their own country in 
587 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar II, the Chaldean. They had re- 
turned to their city, Jerusalem, and had rebuilt their temple 
there* under the auspices of Cyrus, that Persian conqueror who, 
we have already noted, in 539 B.C. overthrew Nabonidus, the 
last of the Chaldean rulers in Babylon. The Babylonian Cap- 
tivity had lasted about fifty years, and many authorities are of 
opinion that there was a considerable admixture during that 
period both of race and ideas with the Babylonians. 

The position of the land of Judea and of Jerusalem, its 



capital, is a peculiar one. The country is a band-shaped strip 
between the Mediterranean to the west and the desert beyond 
the Jordan to the east ; through it lies the natural high-road be- 
tween the Hittites, Syria, Assyria, and Babylonia to the north 
and Egypt to the south. It was a country predestined, there- 
fore, to a stormy history. Across it Egypt, and whatever power 
was ascendant in the north, fought for empire ; against its people 
they fought for a trade route. It had itself neither the area, 
the agricultural possibilities, nor the mineral wealth to be im- 
portant. The story of its people that these scriptures have 
preserved runs like a commentary to the greater history of the 
two systems of civilization to the north and south and of the 
sea peoples to the west. 

These scriptures consist of a number of different elements. 
The first five books, the Pentateuch, were early regarded with 
peculiar respect. They begin in the form of a universal his- 
tory with a double account of the Creation of the world and 
mankind, of the early life of the race, and of a great Flood 
by which, except for certain favoured individuals, mankind 
was destroyed. This flood story is very widely distributed in 
ancient traditions ; it may be a memory of that flooding of the 
Mediterranean valley which occurred in the Neolithic age of 
mankind. Excavations have revealed Babylonian versions of 
both the Creation story and the Flood story of prior date to 
the restoration of the Jews, and it is therefore argued by Bibli- 
cal critics that these opening chapters were acquired by the 
Jews during their captivity. They constitute the first ten chap- 
ters of Genesis. 

There follows a history of the fathers and founders of the 
Hebrew nation, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They are presented 
as patriarchal Bedouin chiefs, living the life of nomadic shep- 
herds in the country between Babylonia and Egypt. The ex- 
isting Biblical account is said by the critics to be made up out 
of several pre-existing versions ; but whatever its origins, the 
story, as we have it to-day, is full of colour and vitality. What 
is called Palestine to-day was at that time the land of Canaan, 
inhabited by a Semitic people called the Canaanites, closely 
related to the Phoenicians who founded Tyre and Sidon, and to 
the Amorites who took Babylon and, under Hammurabi, founded 
the first Babylonian Empire. The Canaanites were a settled 
folk in the days which were perhaps contemporary with the 


of t* HEBREWS 

HiiZZ. country snaHea. 

"Route, from. 

to the, ~Red e&, across 

[The. distance, 'froro, Tyre. 
Jerusalem, is roughly 1OO 

about wa, of London, 
to Bristol Tram. Tyre to tfie 
Red 5ea is aioui me. same, 
distance, as from, London, to 


5 i n a. i 

11 I a. 


days of Hammurabi when Abraham's flocks and herds passed 
through the land. The God of Abraham, says the Bible narra- 
tive, promised this smiling land of prosperous cities to him and 
to his children. To the book of Genesis the reader must go 
to read how Abraham, being childless, doubted this promise, 
and of the births of Ishmael and Isaac. And in Genesis, too, 
he will find the lives of Isaac and Jacob, whose name was 
changed to Israel, and of the twelve sons of Israel; and 
how in the days of a great famine they went down into 
Egypt. With that, Genesis, the first book of the Pentateuch, 
ends. The next book, Exodus, is concerned with the story of 

The story of the settlement and slavery of the children of 
Israel in Egypt is a difficult one. There is an Egyptian rec- 
ord of a settlement of certain Semitic peoples in the land of 
Goshen by the Pharaoh Rameses II, and it is stated that they 
were drawn into Egypt by want of food. But of the life and 
career of Moses there is nb Egyptian record at all; there is 
no account of any plagues of Egypt or of any Pharaoh who 
was drowned in the Red Sea. 

Very perplexing is the discovery of a clay tablet written by 
the Egyptian governors of a city in Canaan to the Pharaoh 
Amenophis IV, who came in the XVIIIth Dynasty before 
Rameses II, apparently mentioning the Hebrews by name and 
declaring that, they are overrunning Canaan. Manifestly, if 
the Hebrews were conquering Canaan in the time of the 
XVIIIth Dynasty, they could not have been made captive and 
oppressed, before they conquered Canaan, by Rameses II of 
the XlXth Dynasty. But it is quite understandable that the 
Exodus story, written long after the events it narrates, may 
have concentrated and simplified, and perhaps personified and 
symbolized, what was really a long and complicated history 
of tribal invasions. One Hebrew tribe may have drifted down 
into Egypt and become enslaved, while the others were already 
attacking the outlying Canaanite cities. It is even possible 
that the land of the captivity was not Egypt (Hebrew, Misraim), 
but Misrim in the north of Arabia, on the other side of the 
Red Sea. These questions are discussed fully and acutely in 
the Encyclopaedia Biblica (articles Moses and Exodus), to 
which the curious reader must be referred. 1 

1 See also G. B. Gray, A Critical Introduction to the Old Testament. 


Two other books of the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy and Leviti- 
cus, are concerned with the Law and the priestly rules. The 
book of Numbers takes up the wanderings of the Israelites in the 
desert and their invasion of Canaan- 
Whatever the true particulars of the Hebrew invasion of 
Canaan may be, there can be no doubt that the country they 
invaded had changed very greatly since the days of the legend- 
ary promise, made centuries before, to Abraham. Then it 
seems to have been largely a Semitic land, with many pros- 
perous trading cities. But great waves of strange peoples had 
washed along this coast. We have already told how the dark 
Iberian or Mediterranean peoples of Italy and Greece, the peo- 
ples of that ^Egean civilization which culminated at Cnossos, 
were being assailed by the southward movement of Aryan-speak- 
ing races, such as the Italians and Greeks, and how Cnossos 
was sacked about 1,400 B.C., and destroyed altogether about 
1,000 B.C. It is now evident that the people of these ^Egean 
seaports were crossing the sea in search of securer land 
nests. They invaded the Egyptian delta and the African 
coast to the west, they formed alliances with the Hittites and 
other Aryan or Aryanized races. This happened after the time 
of Eameses II, in the time of Rameses III. Egyptian monu- 
ments record great sea fights, and also a march of these peo- 
ple along the coast of Palestine towards Egypt. Their trans- 
port was in the ox-carts characteristic of the Aryan tribes, and 
it is clear that these Cretans were acting in alliance with some 
early Aryan invaders. ~No connected narrative of these conflicts 
that went on between 1,300 B.C. and 1,000 B.C. has yet been 
made out, but it is evident from the Bible narrative, that when 
the Hebrews under Joshua pursued their slow subjugation of 
the promised land, they came against a new people, the Phil- 
istines, unknown to Abraham, 1 who were settling along the 
coast in a series of cities of which Gaza, Gath, Ashdod, Ascalon, 
and Joppa became the chief, who were really, like the Hebrews, 
new-comers, and probably chiefly these Cretans from the sea and 
from the north. The invasion, therefore, that began as an at- 
tack upon the Canaanites, speedily became a long and not very 
successful struggle for the coveted and promised land with 
these much more formidable new-comers, the Philistines. 

1 This may seem to contradict Genesis xx. 15, and xxi. and xxvi. various 
verses, but compare with this the Encyclopedia, Biblica, article Philistines. 


It cannot be said that the promised land was ever completely 
in the grasp of the Hebrews. Following after the Pentateuch 
in the Bible come the books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth (a di- 
gression), Samuel I and II, and Kings I and II, with Chronicles 
repeating with variation much of the matter of Samuel II and 
Kings; there is a growing flavour of reality in most of this 
latter history, and in these books we find the Philistines 
steadfastly in possession of the fertile lowlands of the south, 
and the Canaanites and Phoenicians holding out against the 
Israelites in the north. The first triumphs of Joshua are not 
repeated. The book of Judges is a melancholy catalogue of 
failures. The people lose heart. They desert the worship of 
their own god Jehovah, and worship Baal and Ashtaroth 
(^Bel and Ishtar). They mixed their race with the Philistines, 
with the Hittites, and so forth, and became, as they have always 
subsequently been, a racially mixed people. Under a series 
of wise men and heroes they wage a generally unsuccessful and 
never very united warfare against their enemies. In succession 
they are conquered by the Moabites, the Canaanites, the Midi- 
anites, and the Philistines. The story of these conflicts, of 
Gideon and of Samson and the other heroes who now and then 
cast a gleam of hope upon the distress of Israel, is told in the 
book of Judges. In the first book of Samuel is told the story 
of their great disaster at Ebenezer in the days when Eli was 

This was a real pitched battle in which the Israelites lost 
30,000 ( !) men. They had previously suffered 'd reverse and 
lost 4,000 men, and then they brought out their most sacred 
symbol, the Ark of the Covenant of God. 

"And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into 
the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the 
earth rang again. And when the Philistines heard the noise 
of the shout, they said, 'What meaneth the noise of this great 
shout in the camp of the Hebrews ?' And they understood that 
the ark of the Lord was come into the camp. And the Phil- 
istines were afraid, for they said, 'God is come into the camp. 7 
And they said, 'Woe unto us ! for there hath not been such a 
thing heretofore. Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of 
the hand of these mighty Gods ? these are the Gods that smote 
the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. Be 
strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye 


be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they bave been to you: 
quit yourselves like men, and fight.' 

"And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and 
they fled every man into his tent : and there was a very great 
slaughter for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen. 
And the ark of God was taken ; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni 
and Phinehas, were slain. 

"And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and 
came to Shiloh the same day, with his clothes rent, and with 
earth upon his head. And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon 
a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the 
ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told 
it, all the city cried out. And when Eli heard the noise of the 
crying, he said, 'What meaneth the noise of this tumult ?' And 
the man came in hastily, and told Eli. Now Eli was ninety 
and eight years old; and his eyes were dim that he could not 
see. And the man said unto Eli, 'I am he that came out of 
the army, and I fled to-day out of the army.' And he said, 
'What is there done, my son?' And the messenger answered 
and said, 'Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath 
been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two 
sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of 
God is taken. 7 And it came to pass, when he made mention 
of the ark of God, that Eli fell from off the seat backward, 
by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for 
he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel 
forty years. 

"And his daughter in law, Phinehas' wife, was with child, 
near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the 
ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her 
husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed: for her 
pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the 
women that stood by her said unto her, Tear not, for thou 
hast borne a son.' But she answered not, neither did she regard 
it. And she named the child I-chabod, 1 saying, The glory 
is departed from Israel' : because the ark of God was taken, 
and because of her father in law and her husband." (I. Sam., 
chap, iv.) 

The successor of Eli and the last of the judges was Samuel, 
and at the end of his rule came an event in the history of 

'That is, where is the glory? 


Israel which paralleled and was suggested by the experience 
of the greater nations around. A king arose. We are told in 
vivid language the plain issue between the more ancient rule 
of priestcraft and the newer fashion in human affairs. It is 
impossible to avoid a second quotation. 

"Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, 
and came to Samuel unto Ramah, and said unto him: 'Be- 
hold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now 
make us a king to judge us like all the nations.' 

"But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, 'Give 
us a king to judge us/ And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. 
And the Lord said unto Samuel, 'Hearken unto the voice of 
the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not 
rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign 
over them. According to all the works which they have done 
since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto 
this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and serve other 
gods, so do they also unto thee. Now, therefore, hearken unto 
their voice : howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew 
them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.' 

"And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people 
that asked of him a king. And he said, 'This will be the man- 
ner of the king that shall reign over you: He will' take your 
sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his 
horsemen ; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will 
appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; 
and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, 
and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his 
chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectioners, 
and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, 
and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, 
and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of 
your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and 
to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your 
maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, 
and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your 
sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in 
that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you ; 
and the Lord will not hear you in that day.' 

"Nevertheless, the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel ; 
and they said, 'Nay; but we will have a king over us; that we 


also may be like all the nations ; and that our king may judge 
us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.' ' (I. Sam., 
chap, viii.) 


But the nature and position of their land was against the 
Hebrews, and their first king Saul was no more successful than 
their judges. The long intrigues of the adventurer David 
against Saul are told in the rest of the first book of Samuel, 
and the end of Saul was utter defeat upon Mount Gilboa. His 
army was overwhelmed by the Philistine archers. 

"And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines 
came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three 
sons fallen in Mount Gilboa. And they cut off his head, and 
stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines 
round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and 
among the people. And they put his armour in the house of 
Ashtaroth; and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth- 
shan." (I. Sam., chap, xxxi.) 

David (990 B.C. roughly) was more politic and successful 
than his predecessor, and he seems to have placed himself under 
the protection of Hiram, King of Tyre. This Phoenician 
alliance sustained him, and was the essential element in the 
greatness of his son Solomon. His story, with its constant 
assassinations and executions, reads rather like the history of 
some savage chief than of a civilized monarch. It is told with 
great vividness in the second book of Samuel. 

The first book of Kings begins with the reign of King 
Solomon (960 B.C. roughly). The most interesting thing in 
that story, from the point of view of the general historian, is 
the relationship of Solomon to the national religion and the 
priesthood, and his dealings with the tabernacle, the priest 
Zadok, and the prophet Nathan. 

The opening of Solomon's reign is as bloody as his father's. 
The last recorded speech of David arranges for the murder 
of Shimei ; his last recorded word is "blood." "But his hoar 
head bring thou down to the grave with blood," he says, point- 
ing out that though old Shimei is protected by a vow David 
had made to the Lord so long as David lives, there is nothing 
to bind Solomon in that matter. Solomon proceeds to murder 
his brother, who has sought the throne but quailed and made 


submission. He then deals freely with his brother's party. 
The weak hold of religion upon the racially and mentally con- 
fused Hebrews at that time is shown by the ease with which 
he replaces the hostile chief priest by his own adherent Zadok, 
and still more strikingly by the murder of Joab by Benaiah, 
Solomon's chief ruffian, in the tabernacle, while the victim is 
claiming sanctuary and holding to the very horns of Jehovah's 
altar. Then Solomon sets to work, in what was for that time 
a thoroughly modern spirit, to recast the religion of his people. 
He continues the alliance with Hiram, King of Sidon, who 
uses Solomon's kingdom as a high road by which to reach and 
build shipping upon the Ked Sea, and a hitherto unheard of 
wealth accumulates in Jesusalem as a result of this partner 
ship. Gang labour appears in Israel ; Solomon sends relays o 
men to cut cedarwood in Lebanon under Hiram, and organizes a 
service of porters through the land. (There is much in all 
this to remind the reader of the relations of some Central 
African chief to a European trading concern.) Solomon then 
builds a palace for himself, and a temple not nearly as big for 
Jehovah. Hitherto, the Ark of the Covenant, the divine symbol 
of these ancient Hebrews, had abode in a large tent, which had 
been shifted from one high place to another, and sacrifices had 
been offered to the God of Israel upon a number of different 
high places, ^ow the ark is brought into the golden splendours 
of the inner chamber of a temple of cedar-sheathed stone, and 
put between two great winged figures of gilded olivewood, and 
sacrifices are henceforth to be made only upon the altar be^ 
fore it. 

This centralizing innovation will remind the reader of both 
Akhnaton and Nabonidus. Such things as this are done suc- 
cessfully only when the prestige and tradition and learning 
of the priestly order has sunken to a very low level. 

"And he appointed, according to the order of David his 
father, the courses of the priests to their service, and the 
Levites to their charges, to praise and minister before the priests, 
as the duty of every day required; the porters also by their 
courses at every gate; for so had David the man of God com- 
manded. And they departed not from the commandment of 
the king unto the priest and Levites concerning any matter, or 
concerning the treasures." 

Neither Solomon's establishment of the worship of Jehovah 


in Jerusalem upon this new footing, nor his vision of and con- 
versation with his God at the opening of his reign, stood in 
the way of his developing a sort of theological flirtatiousness 
in his declining years. He married widely, if only for reasons 
of state and splendour, and he entertained his numerous wives 
by sacrificing to their national deities, to the Sidonian god- 
dess Ashtaroth (Ishtar), to Chemosh (a Moabitish god), 
to Moloch, and so forth. The Bible account of Solomon 
does, in fact, show us a king and a confused people, both 
superstitious and mentally unstable, in no way more religious 
than any other people of the surrounding world. 

A point of considerable interest in the story of Solomon, 
because it marks a phase in Egyptian affairs, is his marriage 
to a daughter of Pharaoh. This must have been one of the 
Pharaohs of the XXIst Dynasty. In the great days of Ameno- 
phis III, as the Tel-Amarna letters witness, Pharaoh could con- 
descend to receive a Babylonian princess into his harem, but 
he refused absolutely to grant so divine a creature as an Egyp- 
tian princess in marriage to the Babylonian monarch. It points 
to the steady decline of Egyptian prestige that now, three cen- 
turies later, such a petty monarch as Solomon could wed on 
equal terms with an Egyptian princess. There was, however, 
a revival with the next Egyptian dynasty (XXII) ; and the 
Pharaoh Shishak, the founder, taking advantage of the cleavage 
between Israel and Judah, which had been developing through 
the reigns of both David and Solomon, took Jerusalem and 
looted the all-too-brief splendours both of the new temple and 
of the king's house. 

Shishak seems also to have subjugated Philistia. From this 
time onward it is to be noted that the Philistines fade in im- 
portance. They had already lost their Cretan language and 
adopted that of the Semites they had conquered, and although 
their cities remain more or less independent, they merge grad- 
ually into the general Semitic life of Palestine. 

There is evidence that the original rude but convincing narra- 
tive of Solomon's rule, of his various murders, of his associa- 
tion with Hiram, of his palace and temple building, and the 
extravagances that weakened and finally tore his kingdom in 
twain, has been subjected to extensive interpolations and ex- 
pansions by a later writer, anxious to exaggerate his prosperity 
and glorify his wisdom. It is not the place here to deal with 


the criticism of Bible origins, but it is a matter of ordinary 
common sense rather than of scholarship to note the manifest 
reality and veracity of the main substance of the account of 
David and Solomon, an account explaining sometimes and justi- 
fying sometimes, but nevertheless relating facts, even the harsh- 
est facts, as only a contemporary or almost contemporary writer, 
convinced that they cannot be concealed, would relate them, and 
then to remark the sudden lapse into adulation when the in- 
serted passages occur. It is a striking tribute to the power of the 
written assertion over realities in men's minds that this Bible 
narrative has imposed, not only upon the Christian but upon the 
Moslem world, the belief that King Solomon was not only one 
of the most magnificent, but one of the wisest of men. Yet 
the first book of Kings tells in detail his utmost splendours, and 
beside the beauty and wonder of the buildings and organizations 
of such great monarchs as Thotmes III or Rameses II or half 
a dozen other Pharaohs, or of Sargon II or Sardanapalus or 
Nebuchadnezzar the Great, they are trivial. His temple meas- 
ured internally was twenty cubits broad, about 35 feet l that 
is, the breadth of a small villa residence and sixty cubits, say 
100 feet, long. And as for his wisdom and statecraft, one 
need go no further than the Bible to see that Solomon was a 
mere helper in the wide-reaching schemes of the trader-king 
Hiram, and his kingdom a pawn between Phoenicia and Egypt. 
His importance was due largely to the temporary enfeeblement 
of Egypt, which encouraged the ambition of the Phoenician 
and made it necessary to propitiate the holder of the key to 
an alternate trade route to the East. To his own people 
Solomon was a wasteful and oppressive monarch, and already 
before his death his kingdom was splitting, visibly to all 

With the reign of King Solomon the brief glory of the He- 
brews ends; the northern and richer section of his kingdom, 
long oppressed by taxation to sustain his splendours, breaks off 
from Jerusalem to become the separate kingdom of Israel, and 
this split ruptures that linking connection between Sidon and 
the Red Sea by which Solomon's gleam of wealth was possible. 
There is no more wealth in Hebrew history. Jerusalem re- 
mains the capital of one tribe, the tribe of Judah, the capital 

1 Estimates of the cubit vary. The greatest is 44 inches. This would 
extend the width to seventy-odd feet. 


of a land of barren hills, cut off by Philistia from the sea and 
surrounded by enemies. 

The tale of wars, of religious conflicts, of usurpations, as- 
sassinations, and of fratricidal murders to secure the throne 
goes on for three centuries. It is a tale frankly barbaric. Israel 
wars with Judah and the neighbouring states; forms alliances 
first with one and then with the other. The power of Aramean 
Syria burns like a baleful star over the affairs of the Hebrews, 
and then there rises behind it the great and growing power of 
the last Assyrian empire. For three centuries the life of the 
Hebrews was like the life of a man who insists upon living in 
the middle of a busy thoroughfare, and is consequently being 
run over constantly by omnibuses and motor-lorries. 

"Pul" (apparently the same person as Tiglath Pileser III) 
is, according to the Bible narrative, the first Assyrian monarch 
to appear upon the Hebrew horizon, and Menahem buys him 
off with a thousand talents of silver (738 B.C.). But the power 
of Assyria is heading straight for the now aged and decadent 
land of Egypt, and the line of attack lies through Judea ; Tiglath 
Pileser III returns and Shalmaneser follows in his steps, the 
King of Israel intrigues for help with Egypt, that "broken 
reed/' and in 721 B.C., as we have already noted, his kingdom 
is swept off into captivity and utterly lost to history. The same 
fate hung over Judah, but for a little while it was averted. The 
fate of Sennacherib's army in the reign of King Hezekiah (701 
B.C.), and how he was murdered by his sons (II. Kings xix. 37), 
we have already mentioned. The subsequent subjugation of 
Egypt by Assyria finds no mention in Holy Writ, but it is 
clear that before the reign of Sennacherib, King Hezekiah had 
carried on a diplomatic correspondence with Babylon (700 
B.C.), which was in revolt against Sargon II of Assyria. There 
followed the conquest of Egypt by Esarhaddon, and then for a 
time Assyria was occupied with her own troubles ; the Scythians 
and Medes and Persians were pressing her on the north, and 
Babylon was in insurrection. As we have already noted, Egypt, 
relieved for a time from Assyrian pressure, entered upon a 
phase of revival, first under Psammetichus and then under 
ISTecho II. 

Again the little country in between made mistakes in its 
alliances. But on neither side was there safety. Josiah op- 
posed Necho, and was slain at the battle of Megiddo (608 B,C.). 


The king of Judah became an Egyptian tributary. Then when 
Necho, after pushing as far as the Euphrates, fell before 
Nebuchadnezzar II, Judah fell with him (604 B.C.). Nebuchad- 
nezzar, after a trial of three puppet kings, carried off the greater 
part of the people into captivity in Babylon (586 B.C.), and the 
rest, after a rising and a massacre of Babylonian officials, took 
refuge from the vengeance of Chaldea in Egypt. 

"And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and 
the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the 
king, and of his princes ; all these he brought to Babylon. And 
they burnt the house of God and brake down the wall of Jerusa- 
lem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed 
all the goodly vessels thereof. And them that had escaped from 
the sword carried he away to Babylon ; where they were servants 
to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia." 
(II. Chron. xxxvi. 18, 19, 20.) 

So the four centuries of Hebrew kingship comes to an end. 
From first to last it was a mere incident in the larger and greater 
history of Egypt, Syria, Assyria, and Phoenicia. But out of 
it there were now to arise moral and intellectual consequences 
of primary importance to all mankind. 


The Jews who returned, after an interval of more than two 
generations, to Jerusalem from Babylonia in the time of Cyrus 
were a very different people from the warring Baal worshippers 
and Jehovah worshippers, the sacrificers in the high places and 
sacrificers at Jerusalem of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. 
The plain fact of the Bible narrative is that the Jews went to 
Babylon barbarians and came back civilized. They went a 
confused and divided multitude, with no national self-con- 
sciousness; they came back with an intense and exclusive na- 
tional spirit. They went with no common literature generally 
known to them, for it was only about forty years before the 
captivity that King Josiah is said to have discovered "a book of 
the law" in the temple (II. Kings xxii), and, besides that, 
there is not a hint in the record of any reading of books ; and 
they returned with most of their material for the Old Testa- 
ment. It is manifest that, relieved of their bickering and mur- 
derous kings, restrained from politics and in the intellectually 


stimulating atmosphere of that Babylonian world, the Jewish 
mind made a great step forward during the Captivity. 

It was an age of historical inquiry and learning in Baby- 
lonia. The Babylonian influences that had made Sardanapalus 
collect a great library of ancient writings in Nineveh were still 
at work. We have already told how Nabonidus was so pre- 
occupied with antiquarian research as to neglect the defence of 
his kingdom against Cyrus. Everything, therefore, contributed 
to set the exiled Jews inquiring into their own history, and they 
found an inspiring leader in the prophet Ezekiel. From such 
hidden and forgotten records as they had with them, genealogies, 
contemporary histories of David, Solomon, and their other kings, 
legends and traditions, they made out and amplified their own 
story, and told it to Babylon and themselves. The story of the 
Creation and the Flood, much of the story of Moses, much of 
Samson, were probably incorporated from Babylonian sources. 1 
When the Jews returned to Jerusalem, only the Pentateuch had 
been put together into one book, but the grouping of the rest 
of the historical books was bound to follow. 

The rest of their literature remained for some centuries as 
separate books, to which a very variable amount of respect was 
paid. Some of the later books are frankly post-captivity com- 
positions. Over all this literature were thrown certain leading 
ideas. There was an idea, which even these books themselves 
gainsay in detail, that all the people were pure-blooded children 
of Abraham; there was next an idea of a promise made by 
Jehovah to Abraham that he would exalt the Jewish race above 
all other races; and, thirdly, there was the belief first of all 
that Jehovah was the greatest and most powerful of tribal gods, 
and then that he was a god above all other gods, and at last 
that he was the only true god. The Jews became convinced 
at last, as a people, that they were the chosen people of the 
one God of all the earth. 

And arising very naturally out of these three ideas, was a 
fourth, the idea of a coming leader, a saviour, a Messiah who 
would realize the long-postponed promises of Jehovah. 

This welding together of the Jews into one tradition-cemented 
people in the course of the "seventy years" is the first instance 

*But one version of the Creation story and the Eden story, though 
originally from Babylon, seem to have been known to the Hebrews before 
the exile. G. W. B. 


in history of the new power of the written word in human 
affairs. It was a mental consolidation that did much more than 
unite the people who returned to Jerusalem. This idea of be- 
longing to a chosen race predestined to pre-eminence was a very 
attractive one. It possessed also those Jews who remained in 
Babylonia. Its literature reached the Jews now established 
in Egypt. It affected the mixed people who had been placed 
in Samaria, the old capital of the kings of Israel when the ten 
tribes were deported to Media. It inspired a great number 
of Babylonians and the like to claim Abraham as their father, 
and thrust their company upon the returning Jews. Am- 
monites and Moabites became adherents. The book of Nehe- 
miah is full of the distress occasioned by this invasion of the 
privileges of the chosen. The Jews were already a people dis- 
persed in many lands and cities, when their minds and hopes 
were unified and they became an exclusive people. But at first 
their exclusiveness is merely to preserve soundness of doctrine 
and worship, warned by such lamentable lapses as those of King 
Solomon. To genuine proselytes of whatever race, Judaism 
long held out welcoming arms. 

To Pho3nicians after the falls of Tyre and Carthage, con- 
version to Judaism must have been particularly easy and at- 
tractive. Their language was closely akin to Hebrew. It is 
possible that the great majority of African and Spanish Jews 
are really of Phoanician origin. There were also great Arabian 
accessions. In South Russia, as we shall note later, there were 
even Mongolian Jews. 

The historical books from Genesis to ^Tehemiah, upon which 
the idea of the promise to the chosen people had been imposed 
later, were no doubt the backbone of Jewish mental unity, but 
they by no means complete the Hebrew literature from which 
finally the Bible was made up. Of such books as Job, said to be 
an imitation of Greek tragedy, the Song of Solomon, the 
Psalms, Proverbs, and others, there is no time to write in this 
Outline, but it is necessary to deal with the books known as 
"the Prophets" with some fullness. For those books are almost 
the earliest and certainly the best evidence of the appearance 
of a new kind of leading in human affairs. 


These prophets are not a new class in the community; they 
are of the most various origins Ezekiel was of the priestly 
caste and of priestly sympathies, and Amos was a shepherd; 
hut they have this ir. common, that they hring into life a re- 
ligious force outside the sacrifices and formalities of priesthood 
and temple. The earlier prophets seem most like the earlier 
priests, they are oracular, they give advice and foretell events ; 
it is quite possible that at first, in the days when there were 
many high places in the land and religious ideas were com- 
paratively unsettled, there was no great distinction hetween 
priest and prophet. The prophets danced, it would seem, some- 
what after the Dervish fashion, and uttered oracles. Generally 
they wore a distinctive mantle of rough goatskin. They kept 
up the nomadic tradition as against the "new ways" of the set- 
tlement. But after the building of the temple and the organi- 
zation of the priesthood the prophetic type remains over and 
outside the formal religious scheme. They were probably al- 
ways more or less of an annoyance to the priests. They became 
informal advisers upon public affairs, denouncers of sin and 
strange practices, "self-constituted," as we should say, having 
no sanction but an inner light. "Now the word of the Lord 
came unto" so and so ; that is the formula. 

In the latter and most troubled days of the kingdom of Judah, 
as Egypt, North Arabia, Assyria, and then Babylonia closed 
like a vice upon the land, these prophets became very significant 
and powerful. Their appeal was to anxious and fearful minds, 
and at first their exhortation was chiefly towards repentance, 
the pulling down of this or that high place, the restoration of 
worship in Jerusalem, or the like. But through some of the 
prophecies there runs already a note like the note of what we 
call nowadays a "social reformer." The rich are "grinding the 
faces of the poor" ; the luxurious are consuming the children's 
bread; influential and wealthy people make friends with and 
imitate the splendours and vices of foreigners, and sacrifice the 
common people to these new fashions; and this is hateful to 
Jehovah, who will certainly punish the land. 

But with the broadening of ideas that came with the Cap- 
tivity, the tenor of prophecy broadens and changes. The jealous 
pettiness that disfigures the earlier tribal ideas of God gives 
place to a new idea of a god of universal righteousness. It is 
dear that the increasing influence of prophets was not confined 


to the Jewish people; it was something that was going on in 
those days all over the Semitic world. The breaking down of 
nations and kingdoms to form the great and changing empires 
of that age, the smashing up of cults and priesthoods, the mutual 
discrediting of temple by temple in their rivalries and disputes 
all these influences were releasing men's minds to a freer and 
wider religious outlook. The temples had accumulated great 
stores of golden vessels and lost their hold upon the imaginations 
of men. It is difficult to estimate whether, amidst these con- 
stant wars, life had become more uncertain and unhappy than 
it had ever been before, but there can be no doubt that men 
had become more conscious of its miseries and insecurities. 
Except for the weak and the women, there remained little com- 
fort or assurance in the sacrifices, ritual, and formal devotions 
of the temples. Such was the world to which the later prophets 
of Israel began to talk of the One God, and of a Promise that 
some day the world should come to peace and unity and happi- 
ness. This great God that men were now discovering lived in a 
temple "not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." There 
can be little doubt of a great body of such thought and utter- 
ance in Babylonia, Egypt, and throughout the Semitic east. 
The prophetic books of the Bible can be but specimens of the 
prophesyings of that time. . . . 

We have already drawn attention to the gradual escape of 
writing and knowledge from their original limitation to the 
priesthood and the temple precincts, from the shell in which 
they were first developed and cherished. We have taken Herod- 
otus as an interesting specimen of what we have called the free 
intelligence of mankind. Now here we are dealing with a 
similar overflow of moral ideas into the general community. 
The Hebrew prophets, and the steady expansion of their ideas 
towards one God in all the world, is a parallel development of 
the free conscience of mankind. From this time onward there 
runs through human thought, now weakly and obscurely, now 
gathering power, the idea of one rule in the world, and of a 
promise and possibility of an active and splendid peace and 
happiness in human affairs. From being a temple religion 
of the old type, the Jewish religion becomes, to a large extent, 
a prophetic and creative religion of a new type. Prophet suc- 
ceeds prophet. Later on, as we shall tell, there was born a 
prophet of unprecedented power, Jesus, whose followers founded 


the great universal religion of Christianity. Still later Mu- 
hammad, another prophet, appears in Arabia and founds Islam. 
In spite of very distinctive features of their own, these two 
teachers do in a manner arise out of and in succession to these 
Jewish prophets. It is not the place of the historian to discuss 
the truth and falsity of religion, but it is his business to record 
the appearance of great constructive ideas. Two thousand four 
hundred years ago, and six or seven or eight thousand years 
after the walls of the first Sumerian cities arose, the ideas of 
the moral unity of mankind and of a world peace had come 
into the world. 1 

1 Fletcher H. Swift's Education in Ancient Israel from Earliest Times to 
A.D. 70 is an interesting account of the way in which the Jewish religion, 
because it was a literature-sustained religion, led to the first efforts to 
provide elementary education for all the children in the community. 



1. The Spreading of the Aryan-Speakers. 2. Primitive 
Aryan Life. 3. Early Aryan Daily Life. 

WE have spoken of the Aryan language as probably aris- 
ing in the region of the Danube and South Russia and 
spreading from that region of origin. We say "prob- 
ably," because it is by no means certainly proved that that was 
the centre; there have been vast discussions upon this point 
and wide divergences of opinion. We give the prevalent view. 
It was originally the language of a group of peoples of the 
Nordic race. As it spread widely, Aryan began to differentiate 
into a number of subordinate languages. To the west and south 
it encountered the Basque language, which was then widely 
spread in Spain, and also possibly various other Mediterranean 

Before the spreading of the Aryans from- their lands of 
origin southward and westward, the Iberian race was dis- 
tributed over Great Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, north 
Africa, south Italy, and, in a more civilized state, Greece and 
Asia Minor. It was closely related to the Egyptian. To judge 
by its European vestiges it was a rather small human type, 
generally with an oval face and a long head. It buried its 
chiefs and important people in megalithic chambers i.e. made 
of big stones covered over by great mounds of earth ; and these 
mounds of earth, being much longer than they are broad, are 
spoken of as the long barrows. These people sheltered at times 
in caves, and also buried some of their dead therein ; and from 
the traces of charred, broken, and cut human bones, including 
the bones of children, it is inferred that they were cannibals. 





These short dark Iberian tribes (and the Basques also if they 
were a different race) were thrust back westward, and con- 
quered and enslaved by slowly advancing waves of the taller 
and fairer Aryan-speaking people, coming southward and west- 
ward through Central Europe, who are spoken of as the Kelts. 
Only the Basque resisted the conquering Aryan speech. Grad- 
ually these Keltic-speakers made their way to the Atlantic, and 
all that now remains of the Iberians is mixed into the Keltic 
population. How far the Keltic invasion affected the Irish 
population is a matter of debate at the present time; in that 
island the Kelts may have been a mere caste of conquerors 
who imposed their language on a larger subject population. It 
is even doubtful if the north of England is more Aryan than 
pre-Keltic in blood. There is a sort of short dark Welshman, 
and certain types of Irishmen, who are Iberians by race. The 
modern Portuguese are also largely of Iberian blood. 

The Kelts spoke a language, Keltic, 1 which was also in its 
turn to differentiate into the language of Gaul, Welsh, Breton, 
Scotch and Irish Gaelic, and other tongues. They buried the 
ashes of their chiefs and important people^ in round barrows. 
While these Nordic Kelts were spreading westward, other 
Nordic Aryan peoples were pressing down upon the dark white 
Mediterranean race in the Italian and Greek peninsulas, and 
developing the Latin and Greek groups of tongues. Certain 
other Aryan tribes were drifting towards the Baltic and across 
into Scandinavia, speaking varieties of the Aryan which be- 
came ancient Norse the parent of Swedish, Danish, Nor- 
wegian, and Icelandic Gothic, and Low and High German. 

While the primitive Aryan speech was thus spreading and 
breaking up into daughter languages to the west, it was also 
spreading and breaking up to the east. North of the Car- 
pathians and the Black Sea, Aryan-speaking tribes were in- 
creasing and spreading and using a distinctive dialect called 
Slavonian, from which came Russian, Serbian, Polish, Bul- 
garian, and other tongues ; other variations of Aryan distributed 
over Asia Minor and Persia were also being individualized as 
Armenian and Indo-Iranian, the parent of Sanscrit and 
Persian. In this book we have used the word Aryan for all 

'"The Keltic group of languages, of which it has been said that they 
combined an Aryan vocabulary with a Berber (or Iberian) grammar." 
Sir Harry Johnston. 


this family of languages, but the term Indo-European is some- 
times used for the entire family, and "Aryan' 7 itself restricted 
in a narrower sense to the Indo-Iranian speech. This Indo- 
Iranian speech was destined to split later into a number of 
languages, including Persian and Sanscrit, the latter being the 
language of certain tribes of fair-complexioned Aryan speakers 
who pushed eastward into India somewhen between 3,000 and 
1,000 B.C. and conquered dark Dravidian peoples who were 
then in possession of that land. 

From their original range of wandering, other Aryan 
tribes spread to the north as well as to the south of the Black 
Sea, and ultimately, as these seas shrank and made way 
for them, to the north and east of the Caspian, and so 
began to come into conflict with and mix also with Mongolian 
peoples of the Ural-Altaic linguistic group the horse-keeping 
people of the grassy steppes of Central Asia. From these Mon- 
golian races the Aryans seem to have acquired the use of the 
horse for riding and warfare. There were three or four pre- 
historic varieties or sub-species of horse in Europe and Asia, 
but it was the steppe or semi-desert lands that first gave horses 
of a build adapted to other than food uses. 1 All these peoples, 
it must be understood, shifted their ground rapidly, a succes- 
sion of bad seasons might drive them many hundreds of miles, 
and it is only in a very rough and provisional manner that their 
a beats" can now be indicated. Every summer they went north, 
every winter they swung south again. This annual swing cov- 
ered sometimes hundreds of miles. On our maps, for the sake 
of simplicity, we represent the shifting of nomadic peoples by 
a straight line; but really they moved in annual swings, as the 
broom of a servant who is sweeping out a passage swishes from 
side to side as she advances. Spreading round the north of the 
Black Sea, and probably to the north of the Caspian, from 
the range of the original Teutonic tribes of Central and North- 
central Europe to the Iranian peoples who became the Medes 
and Persians and (Aryan) Hindus, were the grazing lands 
of a confusion of tribes, about whom it is truer to be vague than 
precise, such as the Cimmerians, the Sarmatians, and those 
Scythians who, together with the Medes and Persians, came into 
effective contact with the Assyrian Empire by 1,000 B.C. or 
1 Roger Pocock's Horses is a good and readable book on these questions. 


East and south of the Black Sea, between the Danube and 
the Medes and Persians, and to the north of the Semitic and 
Mediterranean peoples of the sea-coasts and peninsulas, ranged 
another series of equally ill-defined Aryan tribes, moving easily 
from place to place and intermixing freely to the great con- 
fusion of historians. They seem, for instance, to have broken 
up and assimilated the Hittite civilization, which was probably 
pre-Aryan in its origin. These latter Aryans were, perhaps, 
not so far advanced along the nomadic line as the Scythians of 
the great plains. 


What sort of life did these prehistoric Aryans lead, these 
Nordic Aryans who were the chief ancestors of most Europeans 
and most white Americans and European colonists of to-day, 
as well as of the Armenians, 1 Persians, and high-caste Hindus? 

In answering that question in addition to the dug-up remains 
and vestiges upon which we have had to rely in the case of the 
predecessors of the Aryans, we have a new source of knowledge. 
We have language. By careful study of the Aryan languages 
it has been found possible to deduce a number of conclusions 
about the life of these Aryan peoples 5,000 or 4,000 years ago. 
All these languages have a common resemblance, as each, as 
we have already explained, rings the changes upon a number 
of common roots. When we find the same root word running 
through all or most of these tongues, it seems reasonable to 
conclude that the thing that root word signifies must have been 
known to the common ancestors. Of course, if they have ex- 
actly the same word in their- languages, this may not be the 
case; it may be the new name of a new thing or of a new idea 
that has spread over the world quite recently. "Gas," for 
instance, is a word that was made by Van Helmont, a Dutch 
chemist, about 1625, and has spread into most civilized tongues, 
and "tobacco" again is an American-Indian word which fol- 
lowed the introduction of smoking almost everywhere. But if 
the same word turns up in a number of languages, and if it 
follows the characteristic modifications of each language, we 
may feel sure that it has been in that language, and a part of 
that language, since the beginning, suffering the same changes 

1 But these may have been an originally Semitic people who learnt an 
Aryan speech. 


with the rest of it. We know, for example, that the words for 
waggon and wheel run in this fashion through the Aryan 
tongues, and so we are able to conclude that the primitive 
Aryans, the more purely Nordic Aryans, had waggons, though 
it would seem from the absence of any common roots for spokes, 
rim, or axle that their wheels were not wheelwright's wheels 
with spokes, but made of the trunks of trees shaped out with 
an axe between the ends. 

These primitive waggons were drawn by oxen. The early 
Aryans did not ride or drive horses ; they had very little to do 
with horses. The Reindeer men were a horse-people, but the 
Neolithic Aryans were a cow-people. They ate beef, not horse ; 
and after many ages they began this use of draught cattle. 
They reckoned wealth by cows. They wandered, following 
pasture, and "trekking" their goods, as the South African Boers 
do, in ox-waggons, though of course their waggons were much 
clumsier than any to be found in the world to-day. They prob- 
ably ranged over very wide areas. They were migratory, but 
not in the strict sense of the word "nomadic" ; they moved in a 
slower, clumsier fashion than did the later, more specialized 
nomadic peoples. They were forest and parkland people with- 
out horses. They were developing a migratory life out of the 
more settled "forest clearing" life of the earlier Neolithic 
period. Changes of climate which were replacing forest by 
pasture, and the accidental burning of forests by fire, may have 
assisted this development. 

We have already described the sort of home the primitive 
Aryan occupied and his household life, so far as the remains 
of the Swiss pile dwellings enable us to describe these things. 
Mostly his houses were of too flimsy a sort, probably of wattle 
and mud, to have survived, and possibly he left them and 
trekked on for very slight reasons. The Aryan peoples burnt 
their dead, a custom they still preserve in India, but their 
predecessors, the long-barrow people, the Iberians, buried their 
dead in a sitting position. In some ancient Aryan burial 
mounds (round barrows) the urns containing the. ashes of the 
departed are shaped like houses, and these represent rounded 
huts with thatched roofs. (See Fig., page 86.) 

The grazing of the primitive Aryan was far more important 
to him than his agriculture. At first he cultivated with a rough 
wooden hoe ; then, after he had found out the use of cattle for 


draught purposes, he began real ploughing with oxen, using 
at first a suitably bent tree bough as his plough. His first 
cultivation before that came about must have been rather in 
the form of garden patches near the house buildings than of 
fields. Most of the land his tribe occupied was common land 
on which the cattle grazed together. 

He never used sto::e for building house walls until upon 
the very verge of history. He used stone for hearths (e. g. at 
Glastonbury), and sometimes stone sub-structures. He did, 
however, make a sort of stone house in the centre of the great 
mounds in which he buried the ashes of his illustrious dead. 
He may have learnt this custom from his Iberian neighbours 
and predecessors. It was these dark whites of the heliolithic 
culture, and not the primitive Aryans, who were responsible 
for such temples as Stonehenge or Carnac in Brittany. 

These Aryans were congregated not in cities but in districts 
of pasturage, as clans and tribal communities. They formed 
loose leagues of mutual help under chosen leaders, they had 
centres where they could come together with their cattle in 
times of danger, and they made camps with walls of earth and 
palisades, many of which are still to be traced in the history- 
worn contours of the European scenery. The leaders under 
whom men fought in war were often the same men as the sacri- 
ficial purifiers who were their early priests. 

The knowledge of bronze spread late in Europe. The Nordic 
European had been making his slow advances age by age for 
7,000 or 8,000 years before the metals came. By that time 
his social life had developed so that there were men of various 
occupations and men and women of different ranks in the com- 
munity. There were men who worked wood and leather, pot- 
ters and carvers. The women span and wove and embroidered. 
There were chiefs and families that were distinguished as 
leaderly and noble. The Aryan tribesman varied the monotony 
of his herding and wandering, he consecrated undertakings and 
celebrated triumphs, held funeral assemblies, and distinguished 
the traditional seasons of the year, by feasts. His meats we 
have already glanced at ; he was an eager user of intoxicating 
drinks. He made these of honey, of barley, and, as the Aryan- 
speaking tribes spread southward, of the grape. And he got 
merry and drunken. Whether he first used yeast to make his 
bread light or to ferment his drink we do not know. 


At his feasts there were individuals with a gift for "playing 
the fool/ 7 who did so no doubt to win the laughter of their 
friends, but there was also another sort of men, of great im- 
portance in their time, and still more important to the historian, 
certain singers of songs and stories, the bards or rhapsodists. 
These bards existed among all the Aryan-speaking peoples ; they 
were a consequence of and a further factor in that development 
of spoken language which was the chief of all the human ad- 
vances made in Neolithic times. They chanted or recited stories 
of the past, or stories of the living chief and his people ; they told 
other stories that they invented; they memorized jokes and 
catches. They found and seized upon and improved the 
rhythms, rhymes, alliterations, and such-like possibilities latent 
in language ; they probably did much to elaborate and fix gram- 
matical forms. They were the first great artists of the ear, as 
the later Aurignacian rock painters were the first great artists 
of the eye and hand. No doubt they used much gesture ; prob- 
ably they learnt appropriate gestures when they learnt their 
songs ; but the order and sweetness and power of language was 
their primary concern. 

And they mark a new step forward in the power and range 
of the human mind. They sustained and developed in men's 
minds a sense of a greater something than themselves, the tribe, 
and of a life that extended back into the past. They not only 
recalled old hatreds and battles, they recalled old alliances and 
a common inheritance. The feats of dead heroes lived again. 
The Aryans began to live in thought before they were born 
and after they were dead. 

Like most human things, this bardic tradition grew first 
slowly and then more rapidly. By the time bronze was coming 
into Europe there was not an Aryan people that had not a 
profession and training of bards. In their hands language 
became as beautiful as it is ever likely to be. These bards were 
living books, man-histories, guardians and makers of a new 
and more powerful tradition in human life. Every Aryan peo- 
ple had its long poetical records thus handed down, its sagas 
(Teutonic), its epics (Greek), its vedas (Old Sanscrit). The 
earliest Aryan people were essentially a people of the voice. The 
recitation seems to have predominated even in those ceremonial 
and dramatic dances and that "dressing-up" which among most 
human races have also served for the transmission of tradition. 


At that time there was no writing, and when first the art 
of writing crept into Europe, as we shall tell later, it must 
have seemed far too slow, clumsy, and lifeless a method of 
record for men to trouble very much about writing down these 
glowing and beautiful treasures of the memory. Writing was 
at first kept for accounts and matters of fact. The bards and 
rhapsodists flourished for long after the introduction of writing. 
They survived, indeed, in Europe as the minstrels into the 
Middle Ages. 

Unhappily their tradition had not the fixity of a written 
record. They amended and reconstructed, they had their 
fashions and their phases of negligence. Accordingly we have 
now only the very much altered and revised vestiges of that 
spoken literature of prehistoric times. One of the most inter- 
esting and informing of these prehistoric compositions of the 
Aryans survives in the Greek Iliad. An early form of Iliad 
was probably recited by 1,000 B.C., but it was not written down 
until perhaps 700 or 600 B.C. Many men must have had to do 
with it as authors and improvers, but later Greek tradition 
attributed it to a blind bard named Homer, to whom also is 
ascribed the Odyssey, a composition of a very different spirit 
and outlook. It is possible that many of the Aryan bards were 
blind men. According to Professor J. L. Myres their bards 
were blinded to prevent their straying from the tribe. Mr. 
L. Lloyd has seen in Ehodesia the musician of a troupe of 
native dancers who had been blinded by his chief for this very 
reason. The Slavs called all bards sliepac, which was also their 
word for a blind man. The original recited version of the Iliad 
was older than that of the Odyssey. "The Iliad as a complete 
poem is older than the Odyssey, though the material of the 
Odyssey, being largely undatable folk-lore, is older than any of 
the historical material in the Iliad." Both epics were prob- 
ably written over and rewritten at a later date, in much the 
same manner that Lord Tennyson, the poet laureate of Queen 
Victoria, in his Idylls of the King, wrote over the Morte 
d'Arthur (which was itself a writing over by Sir Thomas 
Malory, circ. 1450, of pre-existing legends), making the 
speeches and sentiments and the characters more in accordance 
with those of his own time. But the events of the Iliad and the 
Odyssey, the way of living they describe, the spirit of the acts 
recorded, belong to the closing centuries of the prehistoric age. 


These sagas, epics, and vedas do supply, in addition to archaeol- 
ogy and philology, a third source of information about those 
vanished times. 

Here, for example, is th3 concluding passage of the Iliad, 
describing very exactly the making of a prehistoric barrow. 
(We have taken here Chapman's rhymed translation, correct- 
ing certain words with the help of the prose version of Lang, 
Leaf, and Myers.) 

"... Thus oxen, mules, in waggons straight they put, 
Went forth, and an unmeasured pile of sylvan matter cut; 
Nine days employed in carriage, but when the tenth morn shin'd 
On wretched mortals, then they brought the bravest of his kind 
Forth to be burned. Troy swam in tears. Upon the pile's most height 
They laid the body, and gave fire. All day it burn'd, all night. 
But when th' eleventh morn let on earth her rosy fingers shine, 
The people flock'd about the pile, and first with gleaming wine 
Quench'd all the flames. His brothers then, and friends, the snowy 


Gather' d into an urn of gold, still pouring out their moans. 
Then wrapt they in soft purple veils the rich urn, digg'd a pit, 
Grav'd it, built up the grave with stones, and quickly piled on it 
A barrow. . . . 

. . . The barrow heap'd once, all the town 

In Jove-nurs'd Priam's Court partook a sumptuous fun'ral feast, 
And so horse-taming Hector's rites gave up his soul to rest." 

There remains also an old English saga, Beowulf, made long 
before the English had crossed from Germany into England, 
which winds up with a similar burial. The preparation of a 
pyre is first described. It is hung round with shields and coats 
of mail. The body is brought and the pyre fired, and then for 
ten days the warriors built a mighty mound to be seen afar 
by the traveller on sea or land. Beowulf, which is at least a 
thousand years later than the Iliad, is also interesting because 
one of the main adventures in it is the looting of the treasures 
of a barrow already ancient in those days. 


The Greek epics reveal the early Greeks with no knowledge 
of iron, without writing, and before any Greek-founded cities 
existed in the land into which they had evidently come quite 
recently as conquerors. They were spreading southward from 



the Aryan region of origin. They seem to have been a fair peo- 
ple, new-comers in Greece, new-comers to a land that had been 
held hitherto by the Mediterranean or Iberian peoples. 

Let us, at the risk of a slight repetition, be perfectly clear 
upon one point. The Iliad does not give us the primitive neo- 
lithic life of that Aryan region of origin; it gives us that life 
already well on the move towards a new state of affairs. The 
primitive neolithic way of living, with its tame and domesti- 
cated animals, its pottery and cooking, and its transitory patches 
of rude cultivation, we have already sketched. Between 15,000 

and 6,000 B.C. the 
neolithic way of liv- 
ing had spread with 
the forests and abun- 
dant vegetation of the 
Pluvial Period, over 
the greater part of the 
old world, from the 
Niger to the Hwang- 
ho and from Ireland 
to the south of India. 
Now, as the climate 
of great portions of 
the earth was swing- 
ing towards drier and 
more open conditions 
again, the earlier, 


From a platter ascribed to the end of the 
seventh century in the British Museum. This 
is probably the earliest known vase bearing a 
Greek inscription. Greek writing was just be- 
ginning. Note the Swastika. 

simpler, neolithic life 
was developing along 

two divergent directions. One was leading to a more wander- 
ing life, towards at last a constantly migratory life between 
summer and winter pasture, which is called NOMADISM; the 
other, in certain sunlit river valleys, was towards a water-treas- 
uring life of irrigation, in which men gathered into the first 
towns and made the first CIVILIZATION. We have already de- 
scribed the first civilizations and their liability to recurrent 
conquests by nomadic peoples. We have already noted that for 
many thousands of years there has been an almost rhythmic re- 
currence of conquest of the civilizations by the nomads. Here we 
have to note that the Greeks, as the Iliad presents them, are 
neither simple neolithic nomads, innocent of civilization, nor are 



they civilized men. They are nomads in an excited state, be- 
cause they have just come upon civilization, and regard it as an 
opportunity for war and loot. 

These early Greeks of the Iliad are sturdy fighters, but with- 
out discipline their battles are a confusion of single combats. 
They have horses, but no cavalry; they use the horse, which is 
a comparatively recent addition to Aryan resources, to drag a 
rude fighting chariot into battle. The horse is still novel enough 
to be something of a terror in itself. For ordinary draught pur- 
poses, as in the quo- 
tation from the Iliad 
we have just made, 
oxen were employed. 

The only priests of 
these Aryans are the 
keepers of shrines 
and sacred places. 
There are chiefs, who 
are heads of families 
and who also perform 
sacrifices, but there 
does not seem to be 
much mystery or sac- 
ramental feeling in 
their religion. When the Greeks go to war, these heads and 
elders meet in council and appoint a king, whose powers are 
very loosely defined. There are no laws, but only customs; 
and no exact standards of conduct. 

The social life of the early Greeks centred about the house- 
holds of these leading men. There were no doubt huts for herds 
and the like, and outlying farm buildings; but the hall of 
the chief was a comprehensive centre, to which everyone went 
to feast, to hear the bards, to take part in games and exercises. 
The primitive craftsmen were gathered there. About it were 
cowsheds and stabling and such-like offices. Unimportant peo- 
ple slept about anywhere as retainers did in the mediaeval castles 
and as people still do in Indian households. Except for quite 
personal possessions, there was still an air of patriarchal com- 
munism about the tribe. The tribe, or the chief as the head of the 
tribe, owned the grazing lands ; forest and rivers were the wild. 

The Aryan social organization seems, and indeed all early 


(from, an archaic Qre^k vase) 


communities seem, to have been without the little separate 
households that make up the mass of the population in western 
Europe or America to-day. The tribe was a big family; the 
nation a group of tribal families; a household often contained 
hundreds of people. Human society began, just as herds 
and droves begin among animals, by the family delaying its 
breaking up. Nowadays the lions in East Africa are apparently 
becoming social animals in this way, by the young keeping with 
the mother after they are fully grown, and hunting in a group. 
Hitherto the lion has been much more of a solitary beast. If 
men and women do not cling to their families nowadays as 
much as they did, it is because the state and the community 
supply now safety and help and facilities that were once only 
possible in the family group. 

In the Hindu community of to-day these great households 
of the earlier stages of human society are still to be found. Mr. 
Bhupendranath Basu has recently described a typical Hindu 
household. 1 It is an Aryan household refined and made gentle 
by thousands of years of civilization, but its social structure 
is the same as that of the households of which the Aryan epics 

"The joint family system," he said, "has descended to us from 
time immemorial, the Aryan patriarchal system of old still 
holding sway in India. The structure, though ancient, remains 
full of life. The joint family is a co-operative corporation, in 
which men and women have a well-defined place. At the head 
of the corporation is the senior member of the family, generally 
the eldest male member, but in his absence the senior female 
member often assumes control." (Cp. Penelope in the 

"All able-bodied members must contribute their labour and 
earnings, whether of personal skill or agriculture and trade, to 
the common stock ; weaker members, widows, orphans, and desti- 
tute relations, all must be maintained and supported; sons, 
nephews, brothers, cousins, all must be treated equally, for any 
undue preference is apt to break up the family. We have no 
word for cousins they are either brothers or sisters, and we 
do not know what are cousins two degrees removed. The chil- 
dren of a first cousin are your nephews and nieces, just the same 

1 Some Aspects of Hindu Life in India. Paper read to the Royal Society 
of Arts, Nov. 28, 1918. 


as the children of your brothers and sisters. A man can no 
more marry a cousin, however removed, than he can marry 
his own sister, except in certain parts of Madras, where a man 
may marry his maternal uncle's daughter. The family affec- 
tions, the family ties, are always very strong, and therefore 
the maintenance of an equal standard among so many members 
is not so difficult as it may appear at first sight. Moreover, 
life is very simple. Until recently shoes were not in general 
use at home, but sandals without any leather fastenings. I 
have known of a well-to-do middle-class family of several 
brothers and cousins who had two or three pairs of leather shoes 
between them, these shoes being only used when they had occa- 
sion to go out, and the same practice is still followed in the case 
of the more expensive garments, like shawls, which last for 
generations, and with their age are treated with loving care, as 
having been used by ancestors of revered memory. 

"The joint family remains together sometimes for several 
generations, until it becomes too unwieldy, when it breaks up 
into smaller families, and you- thus see whole villages peopled 
by members of the same clan. I have said that the family is a 
co-operative society, and it may be likened to a small state, and 
is kept in its place by strong discipline based on love and obedi- 
ence. You see nearly every day the younger members coming 
to the head of the family and taking the dust of his feet as a 
token of benediction; whenever they go on an enterprise, they 
take his leave and carry his blessing. . . . There are many 
bonds which bind the family together the bonds of sympathy, 
of common pleasures, of common sorrows ; when a death occurs, 
all the members go into mourning; when there is a birth or a 
wedding, the whole family rejoices. Then above all is the 
family deity, some image of Vishnu, the preserver; his place 
is in a separate room, generally known as the room of God, or 
in well-to-do families in a temple attached to the house, where 
the family performs its daily worship. There is a sense of per- 
sonal attachment between this image of the deity and the family, 
for the image generally comes down from past generations, often 
miraculously acquired by a pious ancestor at some remote time. 
. . . With the household gods is intimately associated the 
family priest. . . . The Hindu priest is a part of the family 
life of his flock, between whom and himself the tie has existed 
for many generations. The priest is not generally a man of 


much learning; he knows, however, the traditions of his faith. 
. . . He is not a very heavy burden, for he is satisfied with 
little a few handfuls of rice, a few home-grown bananas or 
vegetables, a little unrefined sugar made in the village, and 
sometimes a few pieces of copper are all that is needed. ... A 
picture of our family life would be incomplete without the 
household servants. A female servant is known as the *jhi/ or 
daughter, in Bengal she is like the daughter of the house; 
she calls the master and the mistress father and mother, and 
the young men and women of the family brothers and sisters. 
She participates in the life of the family ; she goes to the holy 
places along with her mistress, for she could not go alone, and 
generally she spends her life with the family of her adoption ; 
her children are looked after by the family. The treatment of 
men servants is very similar. These servants, men and women, 
are generally people of the humbler castes, but a sense of per- 
sonal attachment grows up between them and the members of 
the family, and as they get on in years they are affectionately 
called by the younger members elder brothers, uncles, aunts, 
etc. ... In a well-to-do house there is always a resident 
teacher, who instructs the children of the family as well as 
other boys of the village; there is no expensive school building, 
but room is found in some veranda or shed in the courtyard for 
the children and their teacher, and into this school low-caste 
boys are freely admitted. These indigenous schools were not of 
a very high order, but they supplied an agency of instruction 
for the masses which was probably not available in many other 
countries. . . . 

"With Hindu life is bound up its traditional duty of hos- 
pitality. It is the duty of a householder to offer a meal to any 
stranger who may come before midday and ask for one; the 
mistress of the house does not sit down to her meal until every 
member is fed, and, as sometimes her food is all that is left, 
she does not take her meal until well after midday lest a hungry- 
stranger should come and claim ona" . . . 

We have been tempted to quote Mr. Basu at some length, 
because here we do get to something like a living understanding 
of the type of household which has prevailed in human com- 
munities since Neolithic days, which still prevails to-day in 


India, China, and the Far East, but which in the west is rapidly 
giving ground before a state and municipal organization of 
education and a large-scale industrialism within which an 
amount of individual detachment and freedom is possible, such 
as these great households never knew. . . . 

But let us return now to the history preserved for us in the 
Aryan epics. 

The Sanscrit epics tell a very similar story to that under- 
lying the Iliad, the story of a fair, beef-eating people only 
later did they become vegetarians coming down from Persia 
into the plain of N"orth India and conquering their way slowly 
towards the Indus. From the Indus they spread over India, 
but as they spread they acquired much from the dark Dravidians 
they conquered, and they seem to have lost their bardic tradi- 
tion. The vedas, says Mr. Basu, were transmitted chiefly in 
the households by the women. . . . 

The oral literature of the Keltic peoples who pressed west- 
ward has not been preserved so completely as that of the Greeks 
or Indians ; it was written down many centuries later, and so, 
like the barbaric, primitive English Beowulf, has lost any clear 
evidence of a period of migration into the lands of an antece- 
dent people. If the pre-Aryans figure in it at all, it is as the 
fairy folk of the Irish stories. Ireland, most cut off of all 
the Keltic-speaking communities, retained to the latest date its 
primitive life ; and the Tain, the Irish Iliad, describes a cattle- 
keeping life in which war chariots are still used, and war dogs 
also, and the heads of the slain are carried off slung round the 
horses 7 necks. The Tain is the story of a cattle raid. Here, 
too, the same social order appears as in the Iliad; the chiefs sit 
and feast in great halls, they build halls for themselves, there 
is singing and story-telling by the bards, and drinking and in- 
toxication. Priests are not very much in evidence, but there 
is a sort of medicine-man who deals in spells and prophecy. 



1. The Hellenic Peoples. 2. Distinctive Features of Hel- 
lenic Civilization. 3. Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Democ- 
racy in Greece. 4. The Kingdom of Lydia. 5. The 
Rise of the Persians in the East. 6. The Story of Croesus. 
7. Darius Invades Russia. 8. The Battle of Marathon. 
9. Thermopylae and Salamis. 10. Platcea and Mycale. 

THE Greeks appear in the dim light before the dawn of 
history (say, 1,500 B.C.) as one of the wandering im- 
perfectly nomadic Aryan peoples who were gradually 
extending the range of their pasturage southward into the Bal- 
kan peninsula and coming into conflict and mixing with that 
preceding /Egean civilization of which Cnossos was the crown. 
In the Homeric poems these Greek tribes speak one common 
language, and a commo^ tradition upheld by the epic poems 
keeps them together in a loose unity; they call their various 
tribes by a common name, Hellenes. They probably came in 
successive waves. Three main variations of the ancient Greek 
speech are distinguished: the Ionic, the ^Eolic, and the Doric. 
There was a great variety of dialects. The lonians seem to 
have preceded the other Greeks, and to have mixed very inti- 
mately with the civilized peoples they overwhelmed. Racially 
the people of such cities as Athens and Miletus may have been 
less Nordic than Mediterranean. The Doric apparently con- 
stituted the last most powerful and least civilized wave of the 
migration. These Hellenic tribes conquered and largely de- 
stroyed the ^Egean civilization that had preceded their arrival ; 
upon its ashes they built up a civilization of their own. They 
took to the sea and crossed by way of the islands to Asia Minor ; 
and, sailing through the Dardanelles and Bosphorus, spread 




their settlements along the south, and presently along the north 
borders of the Black Sea. They spread also over the south of 
Italy, which was called at last Magna Grsecia, and round the 

northern coast of the Mediterranean. They founded the town 
of Marseilles on the site of an earlier Phoenician colony. They 
began settlements in Sicily in rivalry with the Carthaginians 
as early as 735 B.C. 

In the rear of the Greeks proper came the kindred Mace- 
donians and Thracians; on their left wing, the Phrygians 
crossed by the Bosphorus into Asia Minor. 

We find all this distribution of the Greeks effected before the 



beginnings of written history. 
By the seventh century B.C. 
that is to say, by the time 
of the Babylonian captivity of 
the Jews the landmarks of 
the ancient world of the pre- 
Hellenic civilization in Eu- 
rope have been obliterated. 
Tiryns and Cnossos are unim- 
portant sites; Mycenae and 
Troy survive in legend; the 
great cities of this new Greek 
world are Athens, Sparta (the 
capital of Lacedemon) , 
Corinth, Thebes, Samos, 
Miletus. The world our 
grandfathers called "Ancient 
Greece" had arisen on the 
forgotten ruins of a still more 
Ancient Greece, in many 
ways as civilized and artistic, 
of which to-day we are only 
beginning to learn through 
the labours of the excavator. 
But the newer Ancient 
Greece, of which we are now 
telling, still lives vividly in 
the imaginations and institu- 
tions of men because it spoke 
a beautiful and most expres- 
sive Aryan tongue akin to our 
own, and because it had taken 
over the Mediterranean alpha- 
bet and perfected it by the ad- 
dition of vowels, so that read- 
ing and writing were now 
easy arts to learn and practise, and great numbers of 
people could master them and make a record for later ages. 1 

bowels were less necessary for the expression of a Semitic language. 
In the early Semitic alphabets only A, I, and U were provided with sym- 
bols, but for such a language as Greek, in which many of the inflectional 
endings are vowels, a variety of vowel signs was indispensable. 



Now this Greek civilization that we find growing up in South 
Ttaly and Greece and Asia Minor in the seventh century B.C., 
is a civilization differing in ninny important respects from the 
two great civilized systems whose growths we have already 
traced, that of the Nile and that of the Two Eivers of Mesopo- 
tamia. These civilizations grew through long ages where they 
are found ; they grew slowly about a temple life out of a primi- 
tive agriculture; priest-kings and god-kings consolidated such 
early city states into empires. But the barbaric Greek herds- 
men raiders came southward into a world whose civilization 
was already an old story. Shipping and agriculture, walled 
cities and writing were already there. The Greeks did not 
grow a civilization of their own; they wrecked one and put 
another together upon and out of the ruins. 

To this we must ascribe the fact that there is no temple- 
state stage, no stage of priest-kings, in the Greek record. The 
Greeks got at once to the city organization that in the east had 
grown round the temple. They took over the association of 
temple and city ; the idea was ready-made for them. What im- 
pressed them most about the city was probably its wall. It is 
doubtful if they took to city life and citizenship straight away. 
At first they lived in open villages outside the ruins of the cities 
they had destroyed, but there stood the model for them, a con- 
tinual suggestion. They thought first of a city as a safe place 
in a time of strife, and of the temple uncritically as a proper 
feature of the city. They came into this inheritance of a pre- 
vious civilization with the ideas and traditions of the wood- 
lands still strong in their minds. The heroic social system of 
the Iliad took possession of the land, and adapted itself to the 
new conditions. As history goes on the Greeks became more 
religious and superstitious as the faiths of the conquered welled 
up from below. 

We have already said that the social structure of the primi- 
tive Aryans was a two-class system of nobles and commoners, 
the classes not very sharply marked off from each other, and 
led in warfare by a king who was simply the head of one of the 
noble families, primus inter pares, a leader among his equals. 
With the conquest of the aboriginal population and with the 
building of towns there was added to this simple social arrange- 


ment of two classes a lower stratum of farm-workers and skilled 
and unskilled workers, who were for the most part slaves. But 
all the Greek communities were not of this "conquest" type. 
Some were "refugee" cities representing smashed communities, 
and in these the aboriginal substratum would be missing. 

In many of the former cases the survivors of the earlier popu- 
lation formed a subject class, slaves of the state as a whole, as, 
for instance, the Helots in Sparta. The nobles and commoners 
became landlords and gentlemen farmers; it was they who 
directed the shipbuilding and engaged in trade. But some of 
the poorer free citizens followed mechanic arts, and, as we have 
already noted, would even pull an oar in a galley for pay. 
Such priests as there were in this Greek world were either the 
guardians of shrines and temples or sacrificial functionaries; 
Aristotle, in his Politics, makes them a mere subdivision of 
his official class. The citizen served as warrior in youth, ruler 
in his maturity, priest in his old age. The priestly class, in 
comparison with the equivalent class in Egypt and Babylonia, 
was small and insignificant. The gods of the Greeks proper, 
the gods of the heroic Greeks, were, as we have already noted, 
glorified human beings, and they were treated without very 
much fear or awe; but beneath these gods of the conquering 
freemen lurked other gods of the subjugated peoples, who found 
their furtive followers among slaves and women. The original 
Aryan gods were not expected to work miracles or control men's 
lives. But Greece, like most of the Eastern world in the thou- 
sand years B.C., was much addicted to consulting oracles or 
soothsayers. Delphi was particularly famous for its oracle. 
"When the Oldest Men in the tribe could not tell you the right 
thing to do," says Gilbert Murray, a you went to the blessed 
dead. All oracles were at the tombs of Heroes. They told you 
what was 'Themis/ what was the right thing to do, or, as re 
ligious people would put it now, what was the Will of the God.' 

The priests and priestesses of these temples were not united 
into one class, nor did they exercise any power as a class. It 
was the nobles and free commoners, two classes which, in some 
cases, merged into one common body of citizens, who consti- 
tuted the Greek state. In many cases, especially in great city 
states, the population of slaves and unenfranchised strangers 
greatly outnumbered the citizens. But for them the state 
existed only by courtesy ; it existed legally for the select body 



of citizens alone. It might or might not tolerate the outsider 
and the slave, but they had no legal voice in their treatment 
any more than if it had been a despotism. 

This is a social structure differing widely from that of the 
Eastern monarchies. The exclusive importance of the Greek 
citizen reminds one a little of the exclusive importance of the 
children of Israel in the later Jewish state, but there is no 
equivalent on the Greek side to the prophets and priests, nor 
to the idea of an overruling Jehovah. 

Another contrast between the Greek states and any of the 
human communities to which we have hitherto given attention 

ut an. 'Qtheniaxi. warship, about 4OO "B.C. 
of relief found, on, 

is their continuous and incurable division. The civilizations 
of Egypt, Sumeria, China, and no doubt North India, all began 
in a number of independent city states, each one a city with a 
few miles of dependent agricultural villages and cultivation 
around it, but out of this phase they passed by a process of 
coalescence into kingdoms and empires. But to the very end 
of their independent history the Greeks did not coalesce. Com- 
monly, this is ascribed to the geographical conditions under 
which they lived. Greece is a country cut up iito a multitude 
of valleys by mountain masses and arms of the sea that render 
intercommunication difficult; so difficult that few cities were 
able to hold many of the others in subjection for any length 
of time. Moreover, many Greek cities were on islands and 
scattered along remote coasts. To the end the largest city states 
of Greece remained smaller than many English counties; and 


some had an area of only a few square miles. Athens, one of 
the largest of the Greek cities, at the climax of its power had 
a population of perhaps a third of a million. Few other Greek 
cities exceeded 50,000. Of this, half or more were slaves and 
strangers, and two-thirds of the free body women and children. 


The government of these city states varied very widely in its 
nature. As they settled down after their conquests the Greeks 
retained for a time the rule of their kings, but these kingdoms 
drifted back more and more to the rule of the aristocratic class. 
In Sparta (Lacedemon) kings were still distinguished in the 
sixth century B.C. The Lacedemonians had a curious system 
of a double kingship; two kings, drawn from different royal 
families, ruled together. But most of the Greek city states 
had become aristocratic republics long before the sixth century. 
There is, however, a tendency towards slackness and inefficiency 
in most families that rule by hereditary right; sooner OF later 
they decline; and as the Greeks got out upon the seas and set 
up colonies and commerce extended, new rich families arose to 
jostle the old and bring new personalities into power. These 
nouveaux riches became members of an expanded ruling class, 
a mode of government known as oligarchy in opposition to 
aristocracy though, strictly, the term oligarchy ( = govern- 
ment by the few) should of course include hereditary aristocracy 
as a special case. 

In many cities persons of exceptional energy, taking advan- 
tage of some social conflict or class grievance, secured a more 
or less irregular power in the state. This combination of 
personality and opportunity has occurred in the United States 
of America, for example, where men exercising various kinds 
of informal power are called bosses. In Greece they were 
called tyrants. But the tyrant was rather more than a boss; 
he was recognized as a monarch, and claimed the authority 
of a monarch. The modern boss, on the other hand, shelters 
behind legal forms which he has "got hold of" and uses for 
his own ends. Tyrants were distinguished from kings, who 
claimed some sort of right, some family priority, for example, 
to rule. They were supported, perhaps, by the poorer class 
with a grievance; Peisistratus, for example, who was tyrant of 


Athens, with two intervals of exile, between 560 and 527 B.C., 
was supported by the poverty-struck Athenian hillmen. Some- 
times, as in Greek Sicily, the tyrant stood for the rich against 
the poor. When, later on, the Persians began to subjugate the 
Greek cities of Asia Minor, they set up pro-Persian tyrants. 

Aristotle, the great philosophical teacher, who was born under 
the hereditary Macedonian monarchy, and who was for some 
years tutor to the king's son, distinguishes in his Politics be- 
tween kings who ruled by an admitted and inherent right, such 
as the King of Macedonia, whom he served, and tyrants who 
ruled without the consent of the governed. As a matter of 
fact, it is hard to conceive of a tyrant ruling without the con- 
sent of many, and the active participation of a substantial num- 
ber of his subjects ; and the devotion and unselfishness of your 
"true kings" has been known to rouse resentment and question- 
ing. Aristotle was also able to say that while the king ruled 
for the good of the state, the tyrant ruled for his own good. 
Upon this point, as in his ability to regard slavery as a natural 
thing and to consider women unfit for freedom and political 
rights, Aristotle was in harmony with the trend of events about 

A third form of government that prevailed increasingly in 
Greece in the sixth, fifth, and fourth centuries B.C., was known 
as democracy. As the modern world nowadays is constantly 
talking of democracy, and as the modern idea of democracy is 
something widely different from the democracy of the Greek 
city states, it will be well to be very explicit upon the meaning 
of democracy in Greece. Democracy then was government by 
the commonalty, the Demos; it was government by the whole 
body of the citizens, by the many as distinguished from the few. 
But let the modern reader mark that word "citizen." The slave 
was excluded, the freedman was excluded, the stranger; even 
the Greek born in the city, whose father had come eight or ten 
miles from the city beyond the headland, was excluded. The 
earlier democracies (but not all) demanded a property qualifica- 
tion from the citizen, and property in those days was land ; this 
was subsequently relaxed, but the modern reader will grasp 
that here was something very different from modern democracy. 
At the end of the fifth century B.C. this property qualification 
had been abolished in Athens, for example; but Pericles, a 
great Athenian statesman of whom we shall have more to tell 


later, had established a law (451 B.C.) restricting citizenship to 
those who could establish Athenian descent on both sides. Thus, 
in the Greek democracies quite as much as in the oligarchies, 
the citizens formed a close corporation, ruling sometimes, as in 
the case of Athens in its great days, a big population of serfs, 
slaves, and "outlanders." A modern politician used to the idea, 
the entirely new and different idea, that democracy in its per- 
fected form means that every adult man and woman shall have 
a voice in the government, would, if suddenly spirited back to 
the extremist Greek democracy, regard it as a kind of oligarchy. 
The only real difference between a Greek "oligarchy" and a 
Greek democracy was that in the former the poorer and less 
important citizens had no voice in the government, and in the 
latter every citizen had. Aristotle, in his Politics, betrays very 
clearly the practical outcome of this difference. Taxation set 
lightly on the rich in the oligarchies; the democracies, on the 
other hand, taxed the rich, and generally paid the impecunious 
citizen a maintenance allowance and special fees. In Athens 
fees were paid to citizens even for attending the general as- 
sembly. But the generality of people outside the happy order 
of citizens worked and did what they were told, and if one 
desired the protection of the law, one sought a citizen to plead 
for one. For only the citizen had any standing in the law 
courts. The modern idea, that any one in the state should be 
a citizen, would have shocked the privileged democrats of 
Athens profoundly. 

One obvious result of this monopolization of the state by the 
class of citizens was that the patriotism of these privileged 
people took an intense and narrow form. They would form 
alliances, but never coalesce with other city states. That would 
have obliterated every advantage by which they lived. The 
narrow geographical limits of these Greek states added to the 
intensity of their feeling. A man's love for his country was 
reinforced by his love for his native town, his religion, and his 
home; for these were all one. Of course the slaves did not 
share in these feelings, and in the oligarchic states very often 
the excluded class got over its dislike of foreigners in its greater 
dislike of the class at home which oppressed it But in the 
main, patriotism in the Greek was a personal passion of an 
inspiring and dangerous intensity. Like rejected love, it was 
apt to turn into something very like hatred. The Greek exile 


resembled the French or Russian emigre in being ready to treat 
his beloved country pretty roughly in order to save her from 
the devils in human form who had taken possession of her and 
turned him- out. 

In the fifth century B.C. Athens formed a system of relation- 
ships with a number of other Greek city states which is often 
spoken of by historians as the Athenian Empire. But all the 
other city states retained their own governments. One "new 
fact" added by the Athenian Empire was the complete and 
effective suppression of piracy; another was the institution of 
a sort of international law. The law indeed was Athenian law ; 
but actions could now be brought and justice administered be- 
tween citizens of the different states of the League, which of 
course had not been possible before. The Athenian Empire had 
really developed out of a league of mutual defence against 
Persia; its seat had originally been in the island of Delos, and 
the allies had contributed to a common treasure at Delos; the 
treasure of Delos was carried off to Athens because it was ex- 
posed to a possible Persian raid. Then one city after another 
offered a monetary contribution instead of military service, with 
the result that in the end Athens was doing almost all the work 
and receiving almost all the money. She was supported by 
one or two of the larger islands. The "League" in this way 
became gradually an "Empire," but the citizens of the allied 
states remained, except where there were special treaties of 
intermarriage and the like, practically foreigners to one an- 
other. And it was chiefly the poorer citizens of Athens who 
sustained this empire by their most vigorous and incessant per- 
sonal service. Every citizen was liable to military service at 
home or abroad between the ages of eighteen and sixty, some- 
times on purely Athenian affairs and sometimes in defence of 
the cities of the Empire whose citizens had bought themselves 
off. There was probably no single man over twenty-five in the 
Athenian Assembly who had not served in several campaigns 
in different parts of the Mediterranean or Black Sea, and who 
did not expect to serve again. Modern imperialism is denounced 
by its opponents as the exploitation of the world by the rich; 
Athenian imperialism was the exploitation of the world by the 
poorer citizens of Athens. 

Another difference from modern conditions, due to the small 
size of the Greek city states, was that in a democracy every 


citizen had the right to attend and speak and vote in the popular 
assembly. For most cities this meant a gathering of only a 
few hundred people ; the greatest had no more than some thou- 
sands of citizens. Nothing of this sort is possible in a modern 
"democracy" with, perhaps, several million voters. The mod- 
ern "citizen's" voice in public affairs is limited to the right 
to vote for one or other of the party candidates put before 
him. He, or she, is then supposed to have "assented" to the 
resultant government. Aristotle, who would have enjoyed the 
electoral methods of our modern democracies keenly, points out 
very subtly how the outlying farmer class of citizens in a 
democracy can be virtually disenfranchised by calling the popu- 
lar assembly too frequently for their regular attendance. In 
the later Greek democracies (fifth century) the appointment 
of public officials, except in the case of officers requiring very 
special knowledge, was by casting lots. This was supposed to 
protect the general corporation of privileged citizens from the 
continued predominance of rich, influential, and conspicuously 
able men. 

Some democracies (Athens and Miletus, e.g.) had an insti- 
tution called the ostracism, 1 by which in times of crisis and 
conflict the decision was made whether some citizen should go 
into exile for ten years. This may strike a modern reader as 
an envious institution, but that was not its essential quality. 
It was, says Gilbert Murray, a way of arriving at a decision 
in a case when political feeling was so divided as to threaten a 
deadlock. There were in the Greek democracies parties and 
party leaders, but no regular government in office and no regu- 
lar opposition. There was no way, therefore, of carrying out 
a policy, although it might be the popular policy, if a strong 
leader or a strong group stood out against it. But by the 
ostracism, the least popular or the least trusted of the chief 
leaders in the divided community was made to retire for a 
period without loss of honour or property. Professor Murray 
suggests that a Greek democracy, if it had found itself in such 
a position of deadlock as the British Empire did upon the 
question of Home Rule for Ireland in 1914, would have prob- 
ably first ostracized Sir Edward Carson, and then proceeded 
to carry out the provisions of the Home Rule Bill. 

This institution of the ostracism has immortalized one ob- 

1 From ostrakon, a tile ; the voter wrote the name on a tile or shell. 


scure and rather illiterate member of the democracy of Athens. 
A certain Aristides had gained a great reputation in the law 
court for his righteous dealing. He fell into a dispute with 
Themistocles upon a question of naval policy ; Aristides was for 
the army, Themistocles was a "strong navy 77 man, and a dead- 
lock was threatened. There was resort to an ostracism to 
decide between them. Plutarch relates that as Aristides walked 
through the streets while the voting was in progress, he was 
accosted by a strange citizen from the agricultural environs 
unaccustomed to the art of writing, and requested to write his 
own name on the proffered potsherd. 

"But why ?" he asked. "Has Aristides ever injured you ?" 

"No," said the citizen. "No. Never have I set eyes on 
him. But, oh ! I am so bored by hearing him called Aristides 
the Just." 

Whereupon, says Plutarch, without further parley Aristides 
wrote as the man desired. . . . 

When one understands the true meaning of these Greek con- 
stitutions, and in particular the limitation of all power, whether 
in the democracies or the oligarchies, to a locally privileged 
class, one realizes how impossible was any effective union of 
the hundreds of Greek cities scattered about the Mediterranean 
region, or even of any effective co-operation between them for 
a common end. Each city was in the hands of a few or a few 
hundred men, to whom its separateness meant everything that 
was worth having in life. Only conquest from the outside could 
unite the Greeks, and until Greece was conquered they had no 
political unity. When at last they were conquered, they were 
conquered so completely that their unity ceased to be of any 
importance even to themselves ; it was a unity of subjugation. 

Yet there was always a certain tradition of unity between 
all the Greeks, based on a common language and script, on 
the common possession of the heroic epics, and on the con- 
tinuous intercourse that the maritime position of the states 
made possible. And in addition, there were certain religious 
bonds of a unifying kind. Certain shrines, the shrines of the 
god Apollo in the island of Delos and at Delphi, for example, 
were sustained not by single states, but by leagues of states or 
Amphictyonies ( League of neighbours), which in such in- 
stances as the Delphic amphictyony became very wide-reaching 
unions. The league protected the shrine and the safety of 


pilgrims, kept up the roads leading thereunto, secured peace at 
the time of special festivals, upheld certain rules to mitigate 
the usages of war among its members, and the Delian league 
especially suppressed piracy. A still more important link of 
Hellenic union was the Olympian games that were held every 
four years at Olympia. Foot races, boxing, wrestling, javelin 
throwing, quoit throwing, jumping, and chariot and horse racing 
were the chief sports, and a record of victors and distinguished 
visitors was kept. From the year 776 B.C. onward 1 these games 
were held regularly for over a thousand years, and they did 
much to maintain that sense of a common Greek life (pan- 
Hellenic) transcending the narrow politics of the city states. 

Such links of sentiment and association were of little avail 
against the intense "separatism" of the Greek political institu- 
tions. From the History of Herodotus the student will be able 
to gather a sense of the intensity and persistence of the feuds 
that kept the Greek world in a state of chronic warfare. In the 
old days (say, to the sixth century B.C.) fairly large families 
prevailed in Greece, and something of the old Aryan great 
household system (see Chap. XX), with its strong clan feeling 
and its capacity for maintaining an enduring feud, still re- 
mained. The history of Athens circles for many years about 
the feud of two great families, the Alcma?onida3 and the Peisis- 
tratidse ; the latter equally an aristocratic family, but founding 
its power on the support of the poorer class of the populace 
and the exploitation of their grievances. Later on, in the sixth 
and fifth centuries, a limitation of births and a shrinkage of 
families to two or three members a process Aristotle notes 
without perceiving its cause led to the disappearance of the 
old aristocratic clans, and the later wars were due rather to 
trade disputes and grievances caused and stirred up by indi- 
vidual adventurers than to family vendettas. 

It is easy to understand, in view of this intense separatism 
of the Greeks, how readily the lonians of Asia and of the 
islands fell first under the domination of the kingdom of Lydia, 
and then under that of the Persians when Cyrus overthrew 
Croesus, the king of Lydia. They rebelled only to be recon- 
quered. Then came the turn of European Greece. It is a 
matter of astonishment, the Greeks themselves were astonished, 

1 776 B.C. is the year of the First Olympiad, a valuable starting-point in 
Greek chronology. 


to find that Greece itself did not fall under the dominion of 
the Persians, these barbaric Aryan masters of the ancient civili- 
zations of Western Asia. But before we tell of this struggle 
we must give some attention to these Asiatics against whom they 
were pitted ; and particularly to these Medes and Persians who, 
by 538 B.C., were already in possession of the ancient civiliza- 
tions of Assyria, Babylonia and about to subjugate Egypt. 


We have had occasion to mention the kingdom of Lydia, and 
it may be well to give a short note here upon the Lydians before 
proceeding with our story. The original population of the 
larger part of Asia Minor may perhaps have been akin to the 
original population of Greece and Crete. If so, it was of 
"Mediterranean" race. Or it may have been another branch of 
those still more generalized and fundamental darkish peoples 
from whom arose the Mediterranean race to the west and the 
Dravidians to the east. Eemains of the same sort of art that 
distinguishes Cnossos and Mycenae are to be found scattered 
over Asia Minor. But just as the Nordic Greeks poured south- 
ward into Greece to conquer and mix with the aborigines, so 
did other and kindred Nordic tribes pour over the Bosphorus 
into Asia Minor. Over some areas these Aryan peoples pre- 
vailed altogether, and became the bulk of the inhabitants and 
retained their Aryan speech. Such were the Phrygians, a peo- 
ple whose language was almost as close to that of the Greeks as 
the Macedonian. But over other areas the Aryans did not so 
prevail. In Lydia the original race and their language held 
their own. The Lydians were a non-Aryan people speaking a 
non-Aryan speech, of which at the present time only a few 
words are known. Their capital city was Sardis. 

Their religion was also non-Aryan. They worshipped a 
Great Mother goddess. The Phrygians also, though retaining 
their Greek-like language, became infected with mysterious 
religion, and much of the mystical religion and secret cere- 
monial that pervaded Athens at a later date was Phrygian 
(when not Thracian) in origin. 

At first the Lydians held the western sea-coast of Asia Minor, 
but they were driven back from it by the establishment of 
Ionian Greeks coming by the sea and founding cities. Later 


on, however, these Ionian Greek cities were brought into sub- 
jection by the Lydian kings. 

The history of this country is not clearly known, and were 
it known it would scarcely be of sufficient importance to be 
related in this historical outline, but in the eighth century B.C. 
one monarch, named Gyges, becomes noteworthy. The country 
under his rule was subjected to another Aryan invasion; certain 
nomadic tribes called the Cimmerians came pouring across Asia 
Minor, and they were driven back with difficulty by Gyges and 
his son and grandson. Sardis was twice taken and burnt by 
these barbarians. And it is on record that Gyges paid tribute 
to Sardanapalus, which serves to link him up with our general 
ideas of the history of Assyria, Israel, and Egypt. Later Gyges 
rebelled against Assyria, and sent troops to help Psammetichus I 
to liberate Egypt from its brief servitude to the Assyrians. 

It was Alyattes, the grandson of Gyges, whomade Lydia into 
a considerable power. He reigned for seven years, and he re- 
duced most of the- Ionian cities of Asia Minor to subjection. 
The country became the centre of a great trade between Asia 
and Europe; it had always been productive and rich in gold, 
and now the Lydian monarch was reputed the richest in Asia. 
There was a great coming and going between the Black and 
Mediterranean Seas, and between the East and West. We have 
already noted that Lydia was reputed to be the first country in 
the world to produce coined money, and to provide the conven- 
ience of inns for travellers and traders. The Lycian dynasty 
seems to have been a trading dynasty of the type of Minos in 
Crete, with a banking and financial development. ... So much 
we may note of Lydia by way of preface to the next section. 


Now while one series of Aryan-speaking invaders had de- 
veloped along the lines we have described in Greece, Magna 
Grsecia, and around the shores of the Black Sea, another series 
of Aryan-speaking peoples, whose originally Nordic blood was 
perhaps already mixed with a Mongolian element, were settling 
and spreading to the north and east of the Assyrian and Baby- 
lonian empires. We have already spoken of the arc-like dis- 
persion of the Nordic Aryan peoples to the north of the Black 
and Caspian Seas ; it was probably by this route that the Aryan- 


speaking races gradually came down into what is now the 
Persian country, and spread, on the one hand, eastward to India 
( ? 2,000 to 1,000 B.C.), and on the other, increased and multi- 
plied in the Persian uplands until they were strong enough to 
assail first Assyria (650 B.C.) and then Babylon (538 B.C.). 

There is much that is not yet clear about the changes of 
climate that have been going on in Europe and Asia during the 
last 10,000 years. The ice of the last glacial age receded grad- 
ually, and gave way to a long period of steppe or prairie-like 
conditions over the great plain of Europe. About 12,000 or 
10,000 years ago, as it is reckoned now, this state of affairs 
was giving place to forest conditions. We have already noted 
how, as a consequence of these changes, the Solutrian horse 
hunters gave place to Magdalenian fishers and forest deer 
hunters ; and these, again, to the Neolithic herdsmen and agri- 
culturists. For some thousands of years the European climate 
seems to have been warmer than it is to-day. A great sea spread 
from the coast of the Balkan peninsula far into Central Asia 
and extended northward into Central Eussia, and the shrinkage 
of that sea arid the consequent hardening of the climate of South 
Russia and Central Asia was going on contemporaneously with 
the development of the first civilizations in the river valleys. 
Many facts seem to point to a more genial climate in Europe 
and Western Asia, and still more strongly to a greater luxuri- 
ance of plant and vegetable life, 4,000 to 3,000 years ago, than 
we find to-day. There were forests then in South Russia and 
in the country which is now Western Turkestan, where now 
steppes and deserts prevail. On the other hand, between 1,500 
and 2,000 years kgo, the Aral-Caspian region was probably 
drier and those seas smaller than they are at the present time. 

We may note in this connection that Thotmes III (say, the 
fifteenth century B.C.), in his expedition beyond the Euphrates, 
hunted a herd of 120 elephants in that region. Again, an 
^Egean dagger from Mycenae, dating about 2,000 B.C., shows a 
lion-hunt in progress. The hunters carry big shields and spears, 
and stand in rows one behind the other. The first man spears 
the lion, and when the wounded beast leaps at him, drops flat 
under the protection of his big shield, leaving the next man to 
repeat his stroke, and so on, until the lion is speared to death. 
This method of hunting is practised by the Masai to-day, and 
could only have been worked out by a people in a land where 


lions were abundant. But abundant lions imply abundant game, 
and that again means abundant vegetation. About 2,000 B.C. 
the hardening of the climate in the central parts of the Old 
World, to which we have already referred, which put an end 
to elephants and lions in Asia Minor and Greece, 1 was turning 
the faces of the nomadic Aryan peoples southward towards the 
fields and forests of the more settled and civilized nations. 

These Aryan peoples come down from the East Caspian 
regions into history about the time that Mycenae and Troy and 
Cnossos are falling to the Greeks. It is difficult to disentangle 
the different tribes and races that appear under a multitude of 
names in the records and inscriptions that record their first ap- 
pearance, but, fortunately, these distinctions are not needed in 
an elementary outline such as this present history. A people 
called the Cimmerians appear in the districts of Lake Urumiya 
and Van, and shortly after Aryans have spread from Armenia 
to Elam. In the ninth century B.C., a people called the Medes, 
very closely related to the Persians to the east of them, appear 
in the Assyrian inscriptions. Tiglath Pileser III and Sargon 
II, names already familiar in this story, profess to have made 
them pay tribute. They are spoken of in the inscriptions as the 
"dangerous Medes." They are as yet a tribal people, not united 
under one king. 

About the ninth century B.C. Elam and the Elamites, whose 
capital was Susa, a people which possessed a tradition and 
civilization at least as old as the Sumerian, suddenly vanish 
from history. We do not know what happened. They seem 
to have been overrun and the population absorbed by the con- 
querors. Susa is in the hands of the Persians. 

A fourth people, related to these Aryan tribes, who appear 
at this time in the narrative of Herodotus, are the "Scythians." 
For a while the monarchs of Assyria play off these various 
kindred peoples, the Cimmerians, the Medes, the Persians, and 

1 It is, at least, doubtful whether any change of climate expelled either 
lion or elephant from southeast Europe and Asia Minor; the cause of 
their gradual disappearance was I think nothing but Man, increasingly 
well armed for the chase. Lions lingered in the Balkan peninsula till 
about the fourth century B.C., if not later. Elephants had perhaps dis- 
appeared from western Asia by the eighth century B.C. The lion (much 
bigger than the existing form) stayed on in southern Germany till the 
Neolithic period. The panther inhabited Greece, southern Italy, and 
southern Spain likewise till the beginning of the historical period (say 
1,000 B.C.). H. H. J. 



the Scythians, against each other. Assyrian princesses (a 
daughter of Esarhaddon, e.g.) are married to Scythian chiefs. 
^Nebuchadnezzar the Great, on the 
other hand, marries a daugh- 
ter of Cyaxares, who has become 
king of all the Medes. The Aryan 
Scythians are for the Semitic 
Assyrians; the Aryan Medes for 
the Semitic Babylonians. It was 
this Cyaxares who took Nine- 
veh, the Assyrian capital, in GO 6 
B.C., and so released Babylon from 
the Assyrian yoke to establish, 
under Chaldean rule, the Second 
Babylonian Empire. The Scyth- 
ian allies of Assyria drop out of 
the story after this. They go on 
living their own life away to the 
north without much interference 
with the peoples to the south. A 
glance at the map of this 
period shows how, for two-thirds 
of a century, the Second Baby- 
lonian Empire lay like a lamb 
within the embrace of the Median 

Into the internal struggles of 
the Medes and Persians, that 
ended at last in the accession of 
Cyrus "the Persian" to the 
throne of Cyaxares in 550 B.C., 
we will not enter. In that year 
Cyrus was ruling over an empire 
that reached from the boundaries 
of Lydia to Persia and perhaps 
to India. Nabonidus, the last of 
the Babylonian rulers, was, as we have already told, digging up 
old records and buildicg temples in Babylonia. 




But one monarch in the world was alive to the threat of the 
new power that lay in the hands of Cyrus. This was Croesus, 
the Lydian king. His son had been killed in a very tragic man- 
ner, which Herodotus relates, but which we will not describe 
here. Says Herodotus : 

"For two years then, Croesus remained quiet in great mourn- 
ing, because he was deprived of his son; but after this period 
of time, the overthrowing of the rule of the son of Cyaxares 

TViaxr ,5/umnj 
of A* 


by Cyrus, and the growing greatness of the Persians, caused 
Croesus to cease from his mourning, and led him to .a care of 
cutting short the power of the Persians if by any means he 
might, while yet it was in growth and before they should have 
become great." 

He then made trial of the various oracles. 

"To the Lydians who were to carry these gifts to the temples 
Croesus gave charge that they should ask the Oracles this que,*- 


tion: whether Croesus should inarch against the Persians, and, 
if so, whether he should join with himself any army of men 
as his friends. And when the Lydians had arrived at the places 
to which they had been sent and had dedicated the votive offer- 
ings, they inquired of the Oracles, and said: 'Croesus, king of 
the Lydians and of other nations, considering that these are 
the only true Oracles among men, presents to you gifts such 
as your revelations deserve, and asks you again now whether 
he shall march against the Persians, and, if so, whether he shall 
join with himself any army of men as allies. 7 They inquired 
thus, and the answers of both the Oracles agreed in one, de- 
claring to Croesus that if he should march against the Persians 
he should destroy a great empire. ... So when the answers 
were brought back and Croesus heard them, he was delighted 
with the Oracles, and expecting that he would certainly destroy 
the kingdom of Cyrus, he sent again to Pytho, and presented 
to the men of Delphi, having ascertained the number of them, 
two staters of gold for each man: and in return for this the 
Delphians gave to Croesus and to the Lydians precedence in 
consulting the Oracle and freedom from all payments, and the 
right to front seats at the games, with this privilege also for 
all time, that any one of them who wished should be allowed 
to become a citizen of Delphi." 

So Croesus made a defensive alliance both with the Lace- 
demonians and the Egyptians. And Herodotus continues, 
"while Croesus was preparing to march against the Persians, 
one of the Lydians, who even before this time was thought to 
be a wise man, but in consequence of this opinion got a very 
great name for wisdom among the Lydians, advised Croesus 
as follows: ( O king, thou art preparing to march against men 
who wear breeches of leather, and the rest of their clothing is of 
leather also; and they eat food not such as they desire, but such 
as they can obtain, dwelling in a land which is rugged; and, 
moreover, they make no use of wine but drink water; and no 
figs have they for dessert, nor any other good thing. On the 
one hand, if thou shalt overcome them, what wilt thou take 
away from them, seeing they have nothing? and, on the other 
hand, if thou shalt be overcome, consider how many good things 
thou wilt lose ; for once having tasted our good things, they will 
cling to them fast, and it will not be possible to drive them away. 
I ? for my own part ? feel gratitude to the gods that they do not 


put it into the minds of the Persians to march against the 
Lydians.' Thus he spoke not persuading Croesus ; for it is true 
indeed that the Persians hefore they subdued the Lydians had 
no luxury nor any good thing." 

Croesus and Cyrus fought an indecisive battle at Pteria, from 
which Croesus retreated. Cyrus followed him up, and he gave 
battle outside his capital town of Sardis. The chief strength 
of the Lydians lay in their cavalry; they were excellent, if 
undisciplined, horsemen, and fought with long spears. 

"Cyrus, when he saw the Lydians being arrayed for battle, 
fearing their horsemen, did on the suggestion of Harpagos, a 
Mede, as follows: All the camels which were in the train of 
his army carrying provisions and baggage he gathered together 
and he took off their burdens and set men upon them provided 
with the equipment of cavalry; and, having thus furnished 
them, forth he appointed them to go in front of the rest of 
the a-rmy towards the horsemen of Croesus ; and after the camel- 
troop he ordered the infantry to follow ; and behind the infantry 
he placed his whole force of cavalry. Then, when all his men 
had been placed in their several positions, he charged them 
to spare none of the other Lydians, slaying all who might come 
in their way, but Croesus himself they were not to slay, not even 
if he should make resistance when he was being captured. Such 
was his charge : and he set the camels opposite the horsemen for 
this reason because the horse has a fear of the camel and 
cannot endure either to see his form or to scent his smell: for 
this reason then the trick had been devised, in order that the 
cavalry of Croesus might be useless, that very force wherewith 
the Lydian king was expecting most to shine. And as they 
were coming together to the battle, so soon as the horses scented 
the camels and saw them, they turned away back, and the hopes 
of Croesus were at once brought to nought." 

In fourteen days Sardis was stormed and Croesus taken 
prisoner. . . . 

"So the Persians having taken him brought him into the 
presence of Cyrus; and he piled up a great pyre and caused 
Croesus to go up upon it bound in fetters, and along with him 
twice seven sons of Lydians, whether it was that he meant to 
dedicate this offering as first-fruits of his victory to some god, 
or whether he desired to fulfil a vow, or else had heard that 
Croesus was a god-fearing man, and so caused him to go up on 


the pyre because lie wished to know if any one of the divine 
powers would save him, so that he should not he hurnt alive. 
He, they say, did this ; but to Croesus as he stood upon the pyre 
there came, although he was in such evil case, a memory of 
the saying of Solon, how he had said with divine inspiration 
that no one of the living might be called happy. And when 
this thought came into his mind, they say that he sighed deeply 
and groaned aloud, having been for long silent, and three times 
he uttered the name of Solon. Hearing this, Cyrus bade the 
interpreters ask Croesus who was this person on whom he called ; 
and they came near and asked. And Croesus for a time, it is 
said, kept silence when he was asked this, but afterwards, being 
pressed, he said : 'One whom more than much wealth I should 
have desired to have speech with all monarchs.' Then, since his 
words were of doubtfiil import, they asked again of that which 
he said; and as they were urgent with him and gave him no 
peace, he told how once Solon, an Athenian, had come and 
having inspected all his wealth had made light of it, with such 
and such words ; and how all had turned out for him according 
as Solon had said, not speaking at all especially with a view to 
Croesus himself, but with a view to the whole human race, and 
especially those who seem to themselves to be happy men. And 
while Croesus related these things, already the pyre was lighted 
and the edges of it round about were burning. Then they say 
that Cyrus, hearing from the interpreters what Croesus had 
said, changed his purpose and considered that he himself also 
was but a man, and that he was delivering another man, who 
had been not inferior to himself in felicity, alive to the fire; 
and, moreover, he feared the requital, and reflected that there 
was nothing of that which men possessed which was secure; 
therefore, they say, he ordered them to extinguish as quickly 
as possible the fire that was burning, and to bring down Croesus 
and those who were with him from the pyre; and they, using 
endeavours, were not able now to get the mastery of the flames. 
Then it is related by the Lydians that Croesus, having learned 
how Cyrus had changed his mind, and seeing that every one was 
trying to put out the fire, but that they were no longer able 
to check it, cried aloud, entreating Apollo that if any gift had 
ever been given by him which was acceptable to the god, he 
would come to his aid and rescue him from the evil which was 
now upon him. So he with tears entreated the god, and sud- 


denly, they say, after dear sky and calm weather clouds gathered 
and a storm burst, and it rained with a very violent shower, 
and the pyre was extinguished. 

"Then Cyrus, having perceived that Croesus was a lover of 
the gods and a good man, caused him to be brought down from 
the pyre and asked him as follows: 'Crcesus, tell me who of 
all men was it who persuaded thee to march upon my land and 
so to become an enemy to me instead of a friend ?' And he said : 
*O king, I did this to thy felicity and to my own misfortune, 
and the causer of this was the god of the Hellenes, who incited 
me to march with my army. For no one is so senseless as to 
choose of his own will war rather than peace, since in peace 
the sons bury their fathers, but in war the fathers bury their 
sons. But it was pleasing, I suppose, to the divine powers that 
these things should come to pass thus.' ? 

So Croesus became a councillor of Cyrus, and lived in Baby- 
lon. When Lydia was subdued, Cyrus turned his attention ta 
Nabonidus in Babylon. He defeated the Babylonian army, 
under Belshazzar, outside Babylon, and then laid siege to the 
town. He entered the town (538 B.C.), probably as we have 
already suggested, with the connivance of the priests of Bel. 


Cyrus was succeeded by his son Cambyses, who took an army 
into Egypt (525 B.C.). There was a battle in the delta, in 
which Greek mercenaries fought on both sides. Herodotus 
declares that he saw the bones of the slain still lying on the 
field fifty or sixty years later, and comments on the comparative 
thinness of the Persian skulls. After this battle Cambyses took 
Memphis and most of Egypt. 

In Egypt, we are told, Cambyses went mad. He took great 
liberties with the Egyptian temples, and remained at Memphis 
"opening ancient tombs and examining the dead bodies." He 
had already murdered both Croesus, ex-king of Lydia, and his 
own brother Smerdis before coming to Egypt, and he died in 
Syria on the way back to Susa of an accidental wound, leaving 
no heirs to succeed him. He was presently succeeded by Darius 
the Mede (521 B.C.), the son of Hystaspes, one of the chief 
councillors of Cyrus. 

The empire of Darius I was larger than any one of the pre- 


ceding empires whose growth we have traced. It included all 
Asia Minor and Syria, that is to say, the ancient Lydian and 
Hittite empires, all the old Assyrian and Babylonian empire^, 
Egypt, the Caucasus and Caspian regions, Media, Persia, and 
it extended, perhaps, into India to the Indus. The nomadic 
Arabians alone of all the peoples of what is nowadays called the 
Near East, did not pay tribute to the satraps (provincial gover- 
nors) of Darius. The organization of this great empire seems 
to have been on a much higher level of efficiency than any of 
its precursors. Great arterial roads joined province to prov- 
ince, and there was a system of royal posts ; * at stated intervals 
post horses, stood always ready to carry the government messen- 
ger, or the traveller if he had a government permit, on to the 
next stage of his journey. Apart from this imperial right-of- 
way and the payment of tribute, the local governments possessed 
a very considerable amount of local freedom. They were re- 
strained from internecine conflict, which was all to their own 
good. And at first the Greek cities of the mainland of Asia 
paid the tribute and shared in this Persian Peace. 

Darius was first incited to attack the Greeks in Europe by a 
homesick Greek physician at his court, who wanted at any 
cost to be back in Greece. Darius had already made plans for 
an expedition into Europe, aiming not at Greece, but to the 
northward of Greece, across the Bosphorus and Danube. He 
wanted to strike at South Russia, which he believed to be the 
home country of the Scythian nomads who threatened him on 
his northern and north-eastern frontiers. But he lent an at- 
tentive ear to the tempter, and sent agents into Greece. 

This great expedition of Darius opens out our view in this 
history. It lifts a curtain upon the Balkan country behind 
Greece about which we have said nothing hitherto; it carries 
us to and over the Danube. The nucleus of his army marched 
from Susa, gathering up contingents as they made their way 
to the Bosphorus. Here Greek allies (Ionian Greeks from 
Asia) had made a bridge of boats, and the army crossed over 
while the Greek allies sailed on in their ships to the Danube, 
and, two days' sail up from its mouth, landed to make another 
floating bridge. Meanwhile, Darius and his host advanced along 
the coast of what is now Bulgaria, but which was then called 

1 But a thousand years earlier the Hittites seem to have had paved high- 
roads running across their country. 




Thrace. They crossed the Danube, and prepared to give battle 
to the Scythian army and take the cities of the Scythians. 

But the Scythians had no cities, and they evaded a battle, 
and the war degenerated into a tedious and hopeless pursuit of 
more mobile enemies. Wells were stopped up and pastures 
destroyed by the nomads. The Scythian horsemen hung upon 
the skirts of the great army, which consisted mostly of foot 
soldiers, picking off stragglers and preventing foraging; and 
they did their best to persuade the Ionian Greeks, who had 
made and were guarding the bridge across the Danube, to break 
up the bridge, and so ensure the destruction of Darius. So 
long as Darius continued to advance, however, the loyalty of 
his Greek allies remained unshaken. 

But privation, fatigue, and sickness hindered and crippled 
the Persian army; Darius lost many stragglers and consumed 
his supplies, and at last the melancholy conviction dawned upon 
him that a retreat across the Danube was necessary to save 
him from complete exhaustion and defeat. 

In order to get a start in his retreat he sacrificed his sick and 
wounded. He had these men informed that he was about to 
attack the Scythians at nightfall, and under this pretence stole 
out of the camp with the pick of his troops and made off south- 
ward, leaving the camp fires burning and the usual noises and 
movements of the camp behind him. Next day the men left 
in the camp realized the trick their monarch had played upon 
them, and surrendered themselves to the mercy of the Scythians ; 
but Darius had got his start, and was able to reach the bridge 
of boats before his pursuers came upon him. They were more 
mobile than his troops, but they missed their quarry in the 
darkness. At the river the retreating Persians "were brought 
to an extremity of fear," for they found the bridge partially 
broken down and its northern end destroyed. 

At this point a voice echoes down the centuries to us. We 
see a group of dismayed Persians standing about the Great 
King upon the bank of the streaming river ; we see the masses 
of halted troops, hungry and war-worn; a trail of battered 
transport stretches away towards the horizon, upon which at 
any time the advance guards of the pursuers may appear. There 
is not much noise in spite of the multitude, but rather an in- 
quiring silence. Standing out like a pier from the further side 
of the great stream are the remains of the bridge of boats, an 


enigma. . . . We cannot discern whether there are men over 
there or not. The shipping of the Ionian Greeks seems still to 
be drawn up on the further shore, but it is all very far away. 

"Now there was with Darius an Egyptian who had a voice 
louder than that of any other man on earth, and this man Darius 
ordered to take his stand upon the bank of the Ister (Danube) 
and to call Histiseus of Miletus." 

This worthy a day is to come, as we shall presently tell, 
when his decapitated head will be sent to Darius at Susa 
appears approaching slowly across the waters in a boat. 

There is a parley, and we gather that it is "all right." 

The explanation Histiseus has to make is a complicated one. 
Some Scythians have been and have gone again. Scouts, per- 
haps, these were. It would seem there had been a discussion 
between the Scythians and the Greeks. The Scythians wanted 
the bridge broken down ; they would then, they said, undertake 
to finish up the Persian army and make an end of Darius and 
his empire, and the Ionian Greeks of Asia could then free 
their cities again. Miltiades, the Athenian, was for accepting 
this proposal. But Histiseus had been more subtle. He would 
prefer, he said, to see the Persians completely destroyed before 
definitely abandoning their cause. Would the Scythians go 
back and destroy the Persians to make sure of them while the 
Greeks on their part destroyed the bridge? Anyhow, which- 
ever side the Greeks took finally, it was clear to him that it 
would be wise to destroy the northern end of the bridge, because 
otherwise the Scythians might rush it. Indeed, even as they 
parleyed the Greeks set to work to demolish the end that linked 
them to the Scythians as quickly as possible. In accordance 
with the suggestions of Histiseus the Scythians rode off in search 
of the Persians, and so left the Greeks safe in either event. 
If Darius escaped, they could be on his side; if he were 
destroyed, there was nothing of which the Scythians could 

Histiseus did not put it quite in that fashion to Darius. He 
had at least kept the shipping and most of the bridge. He 
represented himself as the loyal friend of Persia, and Darius 
was not disposed to be too critical. The Ionian ships came 
over. With a sense of immense relief the remnant of the 
wasted Persians were presently looking back at the steely flood 


of the Danube streaming wide between themselves and their 
pursuers. . . . 

The pleasure and interest had gone out of the European 
expedition for Darius. He returned to Susa, leaving an army 
in Thrace, under a trusted general Megabazus. This Mega- 
bazus set himself to the subjugation of Thrace, and among other 
states which submitted reluctantly to Darius was a kingdom, 
which thus comes into our history for the first time, the kingdom 
of Macedonia, a country inhabited by a people so closely allied 
to the Greeks that one of its princes had already been allowed 
to compete and take a prize in the Olympian games. 

Darius was disposed to reward Histiseus by allowing him 
to build a city for himself in Thrace, but Megabazus had a dif- 
ferent opinion of the trustworthiness of Histiseus, and pre- 
vailed upon the king to take him to Susa, and, under the title 
of councillor, to keep him a prisoner there. HistiaBus was at 
first flattered by this court position, and then realized its true 
meaning. The Persian court bored him, and he grew homesick 
for Miletus. He set himself to make mischief, and was able 
to stir up a revolt against the Persians among the Ionian Greeks 
on the mainland. The twistings and turnings of the story, which 
included the burning of Sardis by the lonians and the defeat 
of a Greek fleet at the battle of Lade (495 B.C.), are too com- 
plicated to follow here. It is a dark and intricate^ story of 
treacheries, cruelties, and hate, in which the death of the wily 
Histiseus shines almost cheerfully. The Persian governor of 
Sardis, through which town he was being taken on his way back 
to Susa as a prisoner, having much the same opinion of him 
as Megabazus had, and knowing his ability to humbug Darius, 
killed him there and then, and sent on the head only to his 

Cyprus and the Greek islands were dragged into this contest 
that HistiaBus had stirred up, and at last Athens. Darius 
realized the error he had made in turning to the right and not 
to the left when he had crossed the Bosphorus, and he now 
set himself to the conquest of all Greece. He began with the 
islands. Tyre and Sidon were subject to Persia, and ships of 
the Phoenician and of the Ionian Greeks provided the Persians 
with a fleet by means of which one Greek island after another 
was subjugated. 




The first attack upon Greece proper was made in 490 B.C. It 
was a sea attack upon Athens, with a force long and carefully 
prepared for the task, thfe fleet being provided with specially 


built transports for the conveyance of horses. This expedition 
made a landing near Marathon in Attica. The Persians were 
guided into Marathon by a renegade Greek, Hippias, the son 
of Peisistratus, who had been tyrant of Athens. If Athens 


fell, then Hippias was to be its tyrant, under the protection 
of the Persians. Meanwhile, so urgent was the sense of a 
crisis in the affairs of Hellas, that a man, a herald and runner, 
went from Athens to Sparta, forgetful of all feuds, to say: 
"Lacedemonians, the Athenians make request of you to come to 
their help, and not to allow a city most anciently established 
among the Hellenes to fall into slavery by the means of Bar- 
barians ; for even now Eretria has been enslaved and Hellas has 
become the weaker by a city of renown. " This man, Pheidip- 
pides, did the distance from Athens to Sparta, nearly a hundred 
miles as the crow flies, and much more if we allow for the 
contours, and the windings of the way, in something under 
eight and forty hours. 

But before the Spartans could arrive on the scene the battle 
was joined. The Athenians charged the enemy. They fought 
"in a memorable fashion : for they were the first of all the 
Hellenes about whom we know who went to attack the enemy 
at a run, and they were the first also who endured to face the 
Median garments and the men who wore them, whereas up to 
this time the very name of the Medes was to the Hellenes a 
terror to hear." 

The Persian wings gave before this impetuous attack, but 
the centre held. The Athenians, however, were cool as well 
as vigorous ; they let the wings run and closed in on the flanks 
of the centre, whereupon the main body of the Persians fled 
to their ships. Seven vessels fell into the hands of the Athe- 
nians; the rest got away, and, after a futile attempt to sail 
round to Athens and seize the city before the army returned 
thither, the fleet made a retreat to Asia. Let Herodotus close 
the story with a paragraph that still further enlightens us upon 
the tremendous prestige of the Medes at this time : 

"Of the Lacedemonians there came to Athens two thousand 
after the full moon, making great haste to be in time, so that 
they arrived in Attica on the third day after leaving Sparta: 
and though they had come too late for the battle, yet they de- 
sired to behold the Medes; and accordingly they went on to 
Marathon and looked at the bodies of the slain : then afterwards 
they departed home, commending the Athenians and the work 
which they had done." 




So Greece, unified for a while by fear, gained her first victory 
over Persia. The news came to Darius simultaneously with 
the news of a rebellion in 
Egypt, and he died while still 
undecided in which direction 
to turn. His son and succes- 
sor, Xerxes, turned first to 
Egypt and set up a Persian 
satrap there; then for four 
years he prepared a second 
attack upon Greece. Says 
Herodotus, who was, one must 
remember, a patriotic Greek, 
approaching now to the climax 
of his History : 

"For what nation did 
Xerxes not lead out of Asia 
against Hellas? and what 
water was not exhausted, 
being drunk by his host, ex- 
cept only the great rivers? 
For some supplied ships, and 
others were appointed to serve 
in the land army; to some it 
was appointed to furnish 
cavalry, and to others vessels 
to carry horses, while they 
served in the expedition them- 
selves also; others were or- 
dered to furnish ships of war 
for the bridges, and others 
again ships with provisions." 

Xerxes passed into Europe, 
not as Darius did at the half- 
mile crossing of the Bos- 
phorus, but at the Hellespont 
(== the Dardanelles). In his account of the assembling of the 
great army, and its march from Sardis to the Hellespont, the 
poet in Herodotus takes possession of the historian, The great 


host passes in splendour by Troy, and Xerxes, who although a 
Persian and a Barbarian, seems to have had the advantages of a 
classical education, turns aside, says our historian, to visit the 
citadel of Priam. The Hellespont was bridged at Abydos, and 
upon a hill was set a marble throne from which Xerxes sur- 
veyed the whole array of his forces. 

"And seeing all the Hellespont covered over with the ships 
and all the shores and the plains of Abydos full of men, then 
Xerxes pronounced himself a happy man, and after that he 
fell to weeping. Artabanus, his uncle, therefore perceiving 
him the same who at first boldly declared his opinion advising 
Xerxes not to march against Hellas this man, I say, having 
observed Xerxes wept, asked as follows: 'O king, how far 
different from one another are the things which thou hast 
done now and a short while before now ! for having pronounced 
thyself a happy man, thou art now shedding tears.' He said: 
'Yea, for after I had reckoned up, it came into my mind to 
feel pity at the thought how brief was the whole life of man, 
seeing that of these multitudes not one will be alive when a 
hundred years have gone by. 7 ' 

This may not be exact history, but it is great poetry. It is 
as splendid as anything in The Dynasts. 

The Persian fleet, coasting from headland to headland, ac- 
companied this land multitude during its march southward ; but 
a violent storm did the fleet great damage and 400 ships were 
lost, including much corn transport. At first the united Hellenes 
marched out to meet the invaders at the Yale of Tempe near 
Mount Olympus, but afterwards retreated through Thessaly, 
and chose at last to await the advancing Persians at a place 
called Thermopyla?, where at that time 2,300 years have 
altered these things greatly there was a great cliff on the land- 
ward side and the sea to the east, with a track scarcely wide 
enough for a chariot between. The great advantage to the 
Greeks of this position at Thermopylae was that it prevented the 
use of either cavalry or chariots, and narrowed the battle front 
so as to minimize their numerical inequality. And there the 
Persians joined battle with them one summer day in the year 
480 B.C. 

For three days the Greeks held this great army, and did 
them much damage with small loss to themselves, and then 
on the third day a detachment of Persians appeared upon the 


rear of the Greeks, having learnt of a way over the mountains 
from a peasant. There were hasty discussions among the Greeks ; 
some were for withdrawing, some for holding out. The leader 
of the whole force, Leonidas, was for staying; and with him 
he would keep, he said, 300 Spartans. The rest of the Greek 
army could, meanwhile, make good its retreat to the next de- 
fensible pass. The Thespian contingent of 700, however, re- 
fused to fall back. They preferred to stay and die with the 
Spartans. Also a contingent of 400 Thebans remained. As 
Thebes afterwards joined the Persians, there is a story that 
these Thebans were detained by force against their will, which 
seems on military as well as historical grounds improbable. 
These 1,400 stayed, and were, after a conflict of heroic quality, 
slain to a man. Two Spartans happened to be away, sick with 
ophthalmia. When they heard the news, one was too ill to 
move; the other made his helot guide him to the battle, and 
there struck blindly until he was killed. The other, Aristo- 
demus, was taken away with the retreating troops, and returned 
to Sparta, where he was not actually punished for his conduct, 
but was known as Tresas, "the man who retreated." It was 
enough to distinguish him from all other Spartans, and he got 
himself killed at the Battle of Platsea a year later, performing 
prodigies of reckless courage. . . . For a whole day this little 
band had held the pass, assailed in front and rear by the whole 
force of the Persians. They had covered the retreat of the 
main Greek army, they had inflicted great losses on the in- 
vaders, and they had raised the prestige of the Greek warrior 
over that of the Mede higher even than the victory of Marathon 
had done. 

The Persian cavalry and transport filtered slowly through 
the narrow passage of Thermopylse, and marched on towards 
Athens, while a series of naval encounters went on at sea. The 
Hellenic fleet retreated before the advance of the Persian ship- 
ping, which suffered seriously through its comparative ignorance 
of the intricate coasts and of the tricks of the local weather; 
Weight of numbers carried the Persian army forward to 
Athens; now that Thermopylse was lost, there was no line of 
defence nearer than the Isthmus of Corinth, and this meant 
the abandonment of all the intervening territory, including 
Athens. The population had either to fly or submit to the 
Persians. Thebes with all Boeotia submitted, and was pressed 


into the Persian army, except one town, Platsea, whose in- 
habitants fled to Athens. The turn of Athens came next, and 
great efforts were made to persuade her to make terms; but, 
instead, the whole population determined to abandon everything 
and take to the shipping. The women and non-combatants were 
carried to Salamis and various adjacent islands. Only a few 
people too old to move and a few dissentients remained in the 
town, which was occupied by the Persians and burnt. The 
sacred objects, statues, etc., which were burnt at this time, were 
afterwards buried in the Acropolis by the returning Athenians, 
and have been dug up in our own day with the marks of burn- 
ing visible upon them. Xerxes sent off a mounted messenger 
to Susa with the news, and he invited the sons of Peisistratus, 
whom he had brought back with him, to enter upon their in- 
heritance and sacrifice after the Athenian manner upon the 

Meanwhile, the Hellenic confederate fleet had come round to 
Salamis, and in the council of war there were bitter differences 
of opinion. Corinth and the states behind the Isthmus wanted 
the fleet to fall back to that position, abandoning the cities of 
Megara and ^Egina. Themistocles insisted with all his force 
on fighting in the narrows of Salamis. The majority was 
steadily in favour of retreat, when there suddenly arrived the 
news that retreat was cut off. The Persians had sailed round 
Salamis and held the sea on the other side. This news was 
brought by that Aristides the Just, of whose ostracism we have 
already told; his sanity and eloquence did much to help 
Themistccles to hearten the hesitating commanders. These two 
men had formerly been bitter antagonists ; but, with a generos- 
ity rare in those days, they forgot their differences before the 
common danger. At dawn the Greek ships pulled out to battle. 

The fleet before them was a fleet more composite and less 
united than their own. But it was about three times as great. 
On one wing were the Phoenicians, on the other Ionian Greeks 
from Asia and the Islands. Some of the latter fought stoutly ; 
others remembered that they, too, were Greeks. The Greek ships, 
on the other hand, were mostly manned by freemen fighting for 
their homes. Throughout the early hours the battle raged con- 
fusedly. Then it became evident to Xerxes, watching the combat, 
that his fleet was attempting flight. The flight became disaster. 

Xerxes had taken his seat to watch the battle. He saw his 



galleys rammed by the sharp prows of other galleys ; his fight- 
ing-men shot down ; his ships boarded. Much of the sea-fighting 
in those days was done by ramming ; the big galleys bore down 
their opponents by superior weight of impact, or sheared off 
their oars and so destroyed their manoeuvring power and left 
them helpless. Presently, Xerxes saw that some of his broken 

Soldiers' of 


(From, &vzz& in th& 
022jd fence Kali of 
Darws at 5usa,.) 

ships were surrendering. In the water he could see the heads 
of Greeks swimming to land; but "of 'the Barbarians the greater 
number perished in the sea, not knowing how to swim." The 
clumsy attempt of the hard-pressed first line of the Persian 
fleet to put about led to indescribable confusion. Some were 
rammed by the rear ships of their own side. This ancient ship- 
ping was poor, unseaworthy stuff by any modern standards. 
The west wind was blowing and many of the broken ships of 
Xerxes were now drifting away out of his sight to be wrecked 



on the coast beyond. Others were being towed towards Salamis 
by the Greeks. Others, less injured and still in fighting trim, 
were making for the beaches close beneath him that would bring 
them under the protection of his army. Scattered over the 
further sea, beyond the headlands, remote and vague, were ships 
in flight and Greek ships in pursuit. Slowly, incident by in- 
cident, the disaster had unfolded under his eyes. We can 
imagine something of the coming and going of messengers, the 
issuing of futile orders, the changes of plan, throughout the 
day. In the morning Xerxes had come out provided with tables 
to mark the most successful of his commanders for reward. In 
the gold of the sunset he beheld the sea power of Persia utterly 
scattered, sunken and destroyed, and the Greek fleet over against 

Salamis unbroken and triumphant, ordering its ranks, as if 
still incredulous of victory. 

The Persian army remained as if in indecision for some days 
close to the scene of this sea fight, and then began to retreat to 
Thessaly, where it was proposed to winter and resume the cam- 
paign. But Xerxes, like Darius I before him, had conceived a 
disgust for European campaigns. He was afraid of the de- 
struction of the bridge of boats. With part of the army he went 
on to the Hellespont, leaving the main force in Thessaly under 
a general, Mardonius. Of his own retreat the historian relates : 

" Whithersoever they came on the march and to whatever 
nation they seized the crops of that people and used them for 
provisions ; and if they found no crops, then they took the grass 


which was growing up from the earth, and stripped off the bark 
from the trees and plucked down the leaves and devoured them ; 
alike of the cultivated trees and of those growing wild ; and they 
left nothing behind them : thus they did by reason of famine. 
Then plague too seized upon the army and dysentery, which de- 
stroyed them by the way, and some of them also who were sick 
the king left behind, laying charge upon the cities where at the 
time he chanced to be in his march, to take care of them and 
support them; of these he left some in Thessaly, and some at 
Siris in Paionia, and some in Macedonia. . . . When, passing 
on from Thrace they came to the passage, they crossed over the 
Hellespont in haste to Abydos by means of the ships, for they 
did not find the floating bridges still stretched across, but 
broken up by a storm. While staying there for a time they had 
distributed to them an allowance of food more abundant than 
they had had by the way, and from satisfying their hunger with- 
out restraint and also from the changes of water there died many 
of those in the army who had remained safe till then. The 
rest arrived with Xerxes at Sardis." 


The rest of the Persian army remained in Thessaly under 
the command of Mardonius, and for a year he maintained an 
aggressive compaign against the Greeks. Finally, he was de- 
feated and killed in a pitched battle at Platsea (479 B.C.), and 
on the same day the Persian fleet and a land army met with 
joint disaster under the shadow of Mount Mycale on the Asiatic 
mainland, between Ephesus and Miletus. The Persian ships, 
being in fear of the Greeks, had been drawn up on shore and 
a wall built about them; but the Greeks disembarked and 
stormed this enclosure. They then sailed to the Hellespont 
to destroy what was left of the bridge of boats, so that later 
the Persian fugitives, retreating from Plataea, had to cross 
by shipping at the Bosphorus, and did so with difficulty. 

Encouraged by these disasters of the imperial power, says 
Herodotus, the Ionian cities in Asia began for a second time 
to r^;olt against the Persians. 

Vith this the ninth book of the History of Herodotus comes 
V) an end. He was born about 484 B.C., so that at the time 
of the battle of Plataea he was a child of five years old. Much 


of the substance of his story was gathered by him from actors 
in, and eye-witnesses of, the great events he relates. The war 
still dragged on for a long time; the Greeks supported a re- 
bellion against Persian rule in Egypt, and tried unsuccessfully 
to take Cyprus ; it did not end until about 449 B.C. Then the 
Greek coasts of Asia Minor and the Greek cities in the Black 
Sea remained generally free, but Cyprus and Egypt continued 
under Persian rule. Herodotus, who had been born a Persian 
subject in the Ionian city of Halicarnassus, was five and thirty 
years old by that time, and he must have taken an early op- 
portunity after this peace of visiting Babylon and Persia. He 
probably went to Athens, with his History ready to recite, 
about 438 B.C. 

The idea of a great union of Greece for aggression against 
Persia was not altogether strange to Herodotus. Some of his 
readers suspect him of writing to enforce it. It was certainly 
in the air at that time. He describes Aristagoras, the son-in- 
law of Histiseus, as showing the Spartans a a tablet of bronze 
on which was engraved a map of the whole earth with all the 
seas and rivers." He makes Aristagoras say: "These Bar- 
barians are not valiant in fight. You, on the other hand, have 
now attained to the utmost skill in war. They fight with bows 
and arrows and a short spear: they go into battle wearing 
trousers and having caps on their heads. You have perfected 
your weapons and discipline. They are easily to be conquered. 
Not all the other nations of the world have what they possess ; 
gold, silver, bronze, embroidered garments, beasts and slaves; 
all this you might have for yourselves, if you so desired." 

It was a hundred years before these suggestions bore fruit. 

Xerxes was murdered in his palace about 465 B.C., and there- 
after Persia made no further attempts at conquest in Europe. 
We have no such knowledge of the things that were happening 
in the empire of the Great King as we have of the occurrences 
in the little states of Central Greece. Greece had suddenly be- 
gun to produce literature, and put itself upon record as no other 
nation had ever done hitherto. After 479 B.C. (Platsea) the 
spirit seems to have gone out o the government of the Medes 
and Persians. The empire of the Great King enters upon a 
period of decay. An Artaxerxes, a second Xerxes, a second 
Darius, pass across the stage; there are rebellions in 
Egypt and Syria; the Medes rebel; a second Arta- 


xerxes and a second Cyrus, his brother, fight for the throne. 
This history is even as the history of Babylonia, Assyria, and 
Egypt in the older times. It is autocracy reverting to its nor- 
mal state of palace crime, blood-stained magnificence, and moral 
squalor. But the last-named struggle produced a Greek master- 
piece, for this second Cyrus collected an army of Greek mer- 
cenaries and marched into Babylonia, and was there killed at 
the moment of victory over Artaxerxes II. Thereupon, the 
Ten Thousand Greeks, left with no one to employ them, made 
a retreat to the coast again (401 B.C.), and this retreat was 
immortalized in a book, one of the first of personal war books, 
the Anabasis, by their leader Xenophon. 

Murders, revolts, chastisements, disasters, cunning alliances, 
and base betrayals, and no Herodotus to record them. Such is 
the texture of Persian history. An Artaxerxes III, covered 
with blood, flourishes dimly for a time. "Artaxerxes III is 
said to have been murdered by Bagoas, who places Arses, the 
youngest of the king's sons, on the throne only to slay him 
in turn when he seemed to be contemplating independent ac- 
tion." l So it goes on. 

Athens, prospering for a time after the Persian repulse, was 
smitten by the plague in which Pericles, its greatest ruler, died 
(428 B.C.). But, as a noteworthy fact amidst these confusions, 
the Ten Thousand of Xenophon were scattering now among 
the Greek cities, repeating from their own experience the 
declaration of Aristagoras that the Persian empire was a rich 
confusion which it would be very easy for resolute men to 

1 Winckler, in Helmolt's Universal History. 



1. The Athens of Pericles. 2. Socrates. 3. Plato and 
the Academy. 4. Aristotle and the Lyceum. 5. Phi- 
losophy becomes Unworldly. 6. The Quality and Limita- 
tions of Greek Thought. 

GREEK history for the next forty years after Platsea and 
Mycale is a story of comparative peace and tranquillity. 
There were wars, but they were not intense wars. For 
a little while in Athens, for a section of the prosperous, there 
was leisure and opportunity. And by a combination of acci- 
dents and through the character of a small group of people, 
this leisure and opportunity produced the most memorable re- 
sults. Much beautiful literature was produced; the plastic 
arts flourished, and the foundations of modern science, 
already laid by the earlier philosophers of the Ionian Greek 
cities, were consolidated. Then, after an interlude of fifty odd 
years, the long-smouldering hostility between Athens and 
Sparta broke out into a fierce and exhausting war, which sapped 
at last the vitality of this creative movement. 

This war is known in history as the Peloponnesian War ; it 
went on for nearly thirty years, and wasted all the power of 
Greece. At first Athens was in the ascendant, then Sparta. 
Then arose Thebes, a city not fifty miles from Athens, to over- 
shadow Sparta. Once more Athens flared into importance as 
the head of a confederation. It is a story of narrow rivalries 
and inexplicable hatreds that would have vanished long ago out 
of the memories of men, were it not that it is recorded and 
reflected in a great literature. 

Through all this time Persia appears and reappears as the 
ally first of this league and then of that. About the middle of 



the fourth century B.C., Greece becomes aware of a new in- 
fluence in its affairs, that of Philip, King of Macedonia. Mace- 
donia does, indeed, arise in the background of this incurably 
divided Greece, as the Medes and Persians arose behind the 
Chaldean Empire. A time comes when the Greek mind turns 
round, so to speak, from its disputes, and stares in one united 
dismay at the Macedonian. 

Planless and murderous squabbles are still planless and mur- 
derous squabbles even though Thucydides tells the story, even 
though the great beginnings of a new civilization are wrecked 
by their disorders ; and in this general outline we can give 
no space at all to the particulars of these internecine feuds, to 
the fights and flights that sent first this Greek city and then 
that up to the sky in flames. Upon a one-foot globe Greece 
becomes a speck almost too small to recognize; and in a short 
history of mankind, all this century and more of dissension 
between the days of Salamis and Plataea and the rise of King 
Philip shrinks to a little, almost inaudible clash of disputa- 
tion, to a mere note upon the swift passing of opportunity 
for nations as for men. 

But what does not shrink into insignificance, because it has 
entered into the intellectual process of all subsequent nations, 
because it is inseparably a part of our mental foundation, is 
the literature that Greece produced during such patches and 
gleams of tranquillity and security as these times afforded her. 

Says Professor Gilbert Murray : l 

"Their outer political history, indeed, like that of all other 
nations, is filled with war and diplomacy, with cruelty and de- 
ceit. It is the inner history, the history of thought and feeling 
and character, that is so grand. They had some difficulties to 
contend with which are now almost out of our path. They had 
practically no experience, but were doing everything for the 
first time; they were utterly weak in material resources, and 
their emotions, their 'desires and fears and rages/ were prob- 
ably wilder and fiercer than ours. Yet they produced the Athens 
of Pericles and of Plato." 

This remarkable culmination of the long-gathering creative 
power of the Greek mind, which for three and twenty centuries 
has been to men of intelligence a guiding and inspiring beacon 
out of the past, flared up after the battles of Marathon and 

1 Ancient Greek Literature, by Gilbert Murray ( Heinemann, 1911). 


Salamis had made Athens free and fearless, and, without any 
great excesses of power, predominant in her world. It was 
the work of a quite small group of men. A number of her 
citizens lived for the better part of a generation under con- 
ditions which, in all ages, have disposed men to produce good 
and beautiful work ; they were secure, they were free, and they 
had pride; and they were without that temptation of appar- 
ent and unchallenged power which disposes all of us to inflict 
wrongs upon our fellow men. When political life narrowed 
down again to the waste and crimes of a fratricidal war with 
Sparta, there was so broad and well-fed a flame of intellectual 
activity burning that it lasted through all the windy distresses 
of this war and beyond the brief lifetime of Alexander the 
Great, for a period altogether of more than a hundred years 
after the wars began. 

Flushed with victory and the sense of freedom fairly won, 
the people of Athens did for a time rise towards nobility. Un- 
der the guidance of a great demagogue, Pericles, the chief offi- 
cial of the Athenian general assembly, and a politician states- 
man rather of the calibre of Gladstone or Lincoln in modern 
history, they were set to the task of rebuilding their city and 
expanding their commerce. For a time they were capable of 
following a generous leader generously, and Fate gave them a 
generous leader. In Pericles there was mingled in the strang- 
est fashion political ability with a real living passion for deep 
and high and beautiful things. He kept in power for over 
thirty years. He was a man of extraordinary vigour and lib- 
erality of mind. He stamped these qualities upon his time. 
As Winckler has remarked, the Athenian democracy had for 
a time "the face of Pericles." He was sustained by what was 
probably a very great and noble friendship. There was a woman 
of unusual education, Aspasia, from Miletus, whom he could 
not marry because of the law that restricted the citizenship of 
Athens to the home-born, but who was in effect his wife. She 
played a large part in gathering about him men of unusual 
gifts. All the great writers of the time knew her, and sev- 
eral have praised her wisdom. Plutarch, it is true, accuses 
her of instigating a troublesome and dangerous but finally suc- 
cessful war against Samos, but, as he himself shows later, this 
was necessitated by the naval hostility of the Samians, which 


threatened the overseas trade of Athens, upon which all the 
prosperity of the republic depended. 

Men's ambitions are apt to reflect the standards of their in- 
timates. Pericles was content, at any rate, to serve as a leader 
in Athens rather than to dominate as a tyrant. Alliances were 
formed under his guidance, new colonies and trading stations 
were established from Italy to the Black Sea ; and the treasures 
of the league at Delos were brought to Athens. Convinced of 
his security from Persia, Pericles spent the war hoard of the 
allies upon the beaut ificat ion of his city. This was an unright- 
eous thing to do by our modern standards, but it was not a 
base or greedy thing to do. Athens had accomplished the work 
of the Delian League, and is not the labourer worthy of his 
hire? This sequestration made a time of exceptional oppor- 
tunity for architects and artists. The Parthenon of Athens, 
whose ruins are still a thing of beauty, was but the crown set 
upon the clustering glories of the Athens Pericles rebuilt. Such 
sculptures as those of Phidias, Myron, and Polyclitus that still 
survive, witness to the artistic quality of the time. 

The reader must bear in mind that illuminating remark of 
Winckler's, which says that this renascent Athens bore for a 
time the face of Pericles. It was the peculiar genius of this 
man and of his atmosphere that let loose the genius of men 
about him, and attracted men of great intellectual vigour to 
Athens. Athens wore his face for a time as one wears a mask, 
and then became restless and desired to put him aside. There 
was very little that was great and generous about the common 
Athenian. We have told of the spirit of one sample voter for 
the ostracism of Aristides, and Lloyd (in his Age of Pericles) 
declares that the Athenians would not suffer the name of 
Miltiades to be mentioned in connection with the battle of 
Marathon. The sturdy self-respect of the common voters re- 
volted presently against the beautiful buildings rising about 
them; against the favours shown to such sculptors as Phidias 
over popular worthies in the same line of business; against 
the donations made to a mere foreigner like Herodotus of 
Halicarnassus ; against the insulting preference of Pericles 
for the company and conversation of a Milesian woman. The 
public life of Pericles was conspicuously orderly, and that pres- 
ently set the man in the street thinking that his private life 
must be very corrupt. One gathers that Pericles was "superior" 


in his demeanour; he betrayed at times a contempt for the 
citizens he served. 

"Pericles acquired not only an elevation of sentiment, and 
a loftiness and purity of style far removed from the low ex- 
pression of the vulgar, but likewise a gravity of countenance 
which relaxed not into laughter, a firm and even tone of voice, 
an easy deportment, and a decency of dress which no vehemence 
of speaking ever put into disorder. These things, and others 
of a like nature, excited admiration in all that saw him. Such 
was his conduct, when a vile and abandoned fellow loaded him 
a whole day with reproaches and abuse ; he bore it with patience 
and silence, and continued in public for the despatch of some 
urgent affairs. In the evening he walked softly home, this 
impudent wretch following, and insulting him all the way with 
the most scurrilous language. And as it was dark when he 
came to his own door, he ordered one of his servants to take 
a torch and light the man home. The poet Ion, however, says 
he was proud and supercilious in conversation, and that there 
was a great deal of vanity and contempt of others mixed with 
his dignity of manner. . . . He appeared not in the streets 
except when he went to the forum or the senate house. He 
declined the invitations of his friends, and all social entertain- 
ments and recreations; insomuch that in the whole time of his 
administration, which was a considerable length, he never went 
to sup with any of his friends but once, which was at the mar- 
riage of his nephew Euryptolemus, and he stayed there only 
until the ceremony of libation was ended. He considered 
that the freedom of entertainments takes away all distinction 
of office, and that dignity is but little consistent with 
familiarity. . . ," 1 

There was as yet no gutter journalism to tell the world of 
the vileness of the conspicuous and successful; but the com- 
mon man, a little out of conceit with himself, found much con- 
solation in the art of comedy, which flourished exceedingly. The 
writers of comedy satisfied that almost universal craving for 
the depreciation of those whose apparent excellence offends 
our self-love. They threw dirt steadily and industriously at 
Pericles and his friends. Pericles was portrayed in a helmet; 
a helmet became him, and it is to be feared he knew as much. 
This led to much joy and mirth over the pleasant suggestion 

1 Plutarch. 



of a frightfully distorted head, an onion head. The "goings 
on" of Aspasia were of course a fruitful vineyard for the in- 
ventions of the street. . . . 

Dreaming souls, weary of the vulgarities of our time, have 
desired to he transferred to the sublime Age of Pericles. But, 
plumped down into that Athens, they would have found them- 
selves in very much the at- 
mosphere of the lower sort of 
contemporary music-hall, very 
much in the vein of our popu- 
lar newspapers; the same hot 
blast of braying libel, foul im- 
putation, greedy "patri- 
otism," and general baseness 
would have blown upon them, 
the "modern note" would 
have pursued them. As the 
memories of Platsea and 
Salamis faded and the new 
buildings grew familiar, 
Pericles and the pride of 
Athens became more and 
more offensive to the homely 
humour of the crowd. He 
was never ostracized his 
prestige with the quieter citi- 
zens saved him from that ; but 
he was attacked with increas- 

1 ing boldness and steadfast- 

ness. He lived and died a poor man ; he was perhaps the most 
honest of demagogues; but this did not save him from an 
abortive prosecution for peculation. Defeated in that, his 
enemies resorted to a more devious method ; they began to lop 
away his friends. 

Eeligious intolerance and moral accusations are the natural 
weapons of the envious against the leaders of men. His friend 
Damon was ostracized. Phidias was attacked for impiety. On 
the shield of the great statue of the goddess Athene, Phidias 
had dared to put, among the combatants in a fight between 
Greeks and Amazons, portraits of Pericles and himself. Phidias 
died in prison. Anaxagoras, a stranger welcomed to Athens 


by Pericles when there were plenty of honest fellows already 
there quite willing to satisfy any reasonable curiosities was 
saying the strangest things about the sun and stars, and hint- 
ing not obscurely that there were no gods, but only one animat- 
ing spirit (nous) in the world. 1 The comedy writers suddenly 
found they had deep religious feelings that could be profoundly 
and even dangerously shocked, and Anaxagoras fled the threat 
of a prosecution. Then came the turn of Aspasia. Athens 
seemed bent upon deporting her, and Pericles was torn be- 
tween the woman who was the soul of his life and the un- 
gracious city he had saved, defended, and made more beautiful 
and unforgettable than any other city in history. He stood up 
to defend Aspasia, he was seized by a storm of very human 
emotion, and as he spoke he wept a gleeful thing for the 
rabble. His tears saved Aspasia for a time. 

The Athenians were content to humiliate Pericles, but he 
had served them so long that they were indisposed to do without 
him. He had been their leader now for a third of a century. 

In 431 B.C. came the war with Sparta. Plutarch accuses 
Pericles of bringing it on, because he felt his popularity waned 
so fast that a war was needed to make him indispensable. 

"And as he himself was become obnoxious to the people upon 
Phidias's account, and was afraid of being called in question 
for it, he urged on the war, which as yet was uncertain, and 
blew up that flame which till then was stifled and suppressed. 
By this means he hoped to obviate the accusations that threat- 
ened him, and to mitigate the rage of envy, because such was his 
dignity and power, that in all important affairs, and in every great 
danger, the republic could place its confidence in him alone." 

But the war was a slow and dangerous war, and the Athenian 
people were impatient. A certain Cleon arose, ambitious to 
oust Pericles from his leadership. There was a great clamour 
for a swift ending of the war. Cleon set out to be "the man who 
won the war." The popular poets got to work in this fashion : 

"Thou king of satyrs . . . why boast thy prowess, 
Yet shudder at the sound of sharpened swords, 
Spite of the flaming Cleon?" 

An expedition under the leadership of Pericles was unsuc- 
cessful, and Cleon seized the opportunity for a prosecution. 

*For an account of his views, see Burnet's Early Greek Philosophy. 
Gomperz' Greek Thinkers is also a good book for this section. 


Pericles was supended from his command and fined. The story 
goes that his oldest son this was not the son of Aspasia, but 
of a former wife turned against him, and pursued him with 
vile and incredible accusations. This young man was carried 
off by the plague. Then the sister of Pericles died, and then 
his last legitimate son. When, after the fashion of the time, 
he put the funeral garlands on the boy he wept aloud. Presently 
he himself took the contagion and died (428 B.C.). 

The salient facts of this brief summary will serve to show 
how discordant Pericles was with much of the life of his city. 
This intellectual and artistic outbreak in Athens was no doubt 
favoured by the conditions of the time, but it was also due in 
part to the appearance of some very unusual men. It was not 
a general movement; it was the movement of a small group of 
people exceptionally placed and gifted. 


Another leading figure in this Athenian movement, a figure 
still more out of harmony with the life around him, and quite 
as much an original source and stimulant of the enduring great- 
ness of his age, was a man called Socrates, a son of a stone- 
mason. He was born about sixteen years later than Herodotus, 
and he was beginning to be heard of about the time when 
Pericles died. He himself wrote nothing, but it was his cus- 
tom to talk in public places. There was in those days a great 
searching for wisdom going on ; there was a various multitude 
of teachers called sophists who reasoned upon truth, beauty, and 
right living, and instructed the developing curiosities and im- 
aginations of youth. This was so because tnere were no great 
priestly schools in Greece. And into these discussions this 
man came, a clumsy and slovenly figure, barefooted, gathering 
about him a band of admirers and disciples. 

His method was profoundly sceptical; he believed that the 
only possible virtue was true knowledge ; he would tolerate no 
belief, no hope that could not pass the ultimate acid test. For 
himself this meant virtue, but for many of his weaker followers 
it meant the loss of beliefs and moral habits that would have 
restrained their impulses. These weaklings became self-excus- 
ing, self-indulging scoundrels. Among his young associates 
were Plato, who afterwards immortalized his method in a series 


of philosophical dialogues, and founded the philosophical school 
of the Academy, which lasted nine hundred years, Xenophon, of 
the Ten Thousand, who described his death, and Isocrates, one 
of the wisest of Greek political thinkers; but there were also 
Critias, who, when Athens was utterly defeated by Sparta, 
was leader among the Thirty Tyrants appointed by the Spartans 
to keep the crushed city under; 1 Charmides, who was killed 
beside Critias when the Thirty were overthrown ; and Alcibiades, 
a brilliant and complex traitor, who did much to lead Athens 
into the disastrous expedition against Syracuse which destroyed 
her strength, who betrayed her to the Spartans, and who was 
at last assassinated while on his way to the Persian court to 
contrive mischief against Greece. These latter pupils were not 
the only young men of promise whose vulgar faith and patriotism 
Socrates destroyed, to leave nothing in its place. His most 
inveterate enemy was a certain Anytus, whose son, a devoted 
disciple of Socrates, had become a hopeless drunkard. Through 
Anytus it was that Socrates was at last prosecuted for "cor- 
rupting" the youth of Athens, and condemned to death by drink- 
ing a poisonous draught made from hemlock (399 B.C.). 

His death is described with great beauty in the dialogue of 
Plato called by the name of Phcedo. 


Plato was born 427 B.C., and he lived for eighty years. 

In mental temperament Plato was of an altogether different 

*"But it was not only against the lives, properties, and liberties of 
Athenian citizens that the Thirty made war. They were not less solicitous 
to extinguish the intellectual force and education of the city, a project so 
perfectly in harmony both with the sentiment and practice of Sparta, 
that they counted on the support of their foreign allies. Among the or- 
dinances which they promulgated was one, expressly forbidding any one 
'to teach the art of words.' The edict of the Thirty was, in fact, a general 
suppression of the higher class of teachers or professors, above the rank of 
the elementary (teacher of letters or) grammatist. If such an edict could 
have been maintained in force for a generation, combined with the other 
mandates of the Thirty the city out of which Sophocles and Euripides 
had just died, and in which Plato and Isocrates were in vigorous age, would 
have been degraded to the intellectual level of the meanest community in 
Greece. It was not uncommon for a Grecian despot to suppress all those 
assemblies wherein youths came together' for the purpose of common 
training, cither intellectual or gymnastic, as well as the public banquets 
and clubs or associations, as being dangerous to his authority, tending to 
elevation of courage, and to a consciousness of political rights among the 
citizens." Grote's History of Greece. 


type from Socrates. He was a most artistic and delicate writer, 
and Socrates could write nothing consecutive. He cared for 
beautiful things and Socrates despised them. He was supremely 
concerned with the ordering of public affairs and the scheming 
of happier human relationships, while Socrates, heedless of heat 
and cold and the opinion of his fellow creatures, concentrated 
his mind upon a serene disillusionment. Life, said Socrates, 
was deception; only the Soul lived. Plato had a very great 
affection for this rugged old teacher, he found his method of 
the utmost value in disentangling and cleaning up opinions, 
and he made him the central figure of his immortal dialogues; 
but his own thoughts and disposition turned him altogether 
away from the sceptical attitude. In many of the dialogues 
the voice is the voice of Socrates, but the thought is the thought 
of Plato. 

Plato was living in a time of doubt and questioning about 
all human relationships. In the great, days of Pericles, be- 
fore 450 B.C., there seems to have been a complete satisfaction 
in Athens with social and political institutions. Then there 
seemed no reason for questioning. Men felt free; the com- 
munity prospered; one suffered chiefly from jealousy. The 
History of Herodotus displays little or no dissatisfaction with 
Athenian political institutions. 

But Plato, who was born about the time Herodotus died, 
and who grew up in the atmosphere of a disastrous war and 
great social distress and confusion, was from the first face to 
face with human discord and the misfit of human institutions. 
To that challenge his mind responded. One of his earlier 
works and his latest are bold and penetrating discussions of 
the possible betterment of social relations. Socrates had taught 
him to take nothing for granted, not even the common relations 
of husband and wife or parent and child. His Republic, the 
first of all Utopian books, is a young man's dream of 
a city in which human life is arranged according to 
a novel and a better plan ; his last unfinished work, the Laws, 
is a discussion of the regulation of another such Utopia. There 
is much in Plato at which we cannot even glance here, but it 
is a landmark in this history, it is a new thing in the develop- 
ment of mankind, this appearance of the idea of wilfully and 
completely recasting human conditions. So far mankind has 
been living by tradition under the fear of the gods. Here is 


a man who says boldly to our race, and as if it were a quite 
reasonable and natural thing to say, "Take hold of your lives. 
Most of these things that distress you, you can avoid; most of 
these things that dominate you, you can overthrow. You can 
do as you will with them." 

One other thing besides the conflicts of the time perhaps 
stimulated the mind of Plato in this direction. In the days of 
Pericles Athens had founded many settlements overseas, and 
the setting up of these settlements had familiarized men with 
the idea that a community need not grow, it could also be made. 

Closely associated with Plato was a younger man, who later 
also maintained a school in Athens and lived to an even greater 
age. This was Isocrates. He was what we should call a pub- 
licist, a writer rather than an orator, and his peculiar work was 
to develop the idea of Herodotus, the idea of a unification of 
Greece against the Persian Empire, as a remedy for the base- 
ness and confusion of her politics and the waste and destruc- 
tion of her internecine wars. His political horizon was in 
some respects broader than Plato's, and in his later years he 
looked towards monarchy, and particularly towards the Mace- 
donian monarchy of Philip, as a more unifying and broadening 
method of government than city democracy. The same drift to 
monarchist ideas had occurred in the case of that Xenophon 
whose Anabasis we have already mentioned. In his old age 
Xenophon wrote the Cyropcedia, a "vindication both theoreti- 
cally and practically of absolute monarchy as shown in the 
organization of the Persian Empire." * 


Plato taught in the Academy. To him in his old age came 
a certain good-looking youngster from Stagira in Macedonia, 
Aristotle, who was the son of the Macedonian king's physician, 
and a man with a very different type of mind from that of 
the great Athenian. He was naturally sceptical of the imagina- 
tive will, and with a great respect for and comprehension of 
established fact. Later on, after Plato was dead, he set up 
a school at the Lyceum in Athens and taught, criticizing Plato 
and Socrates with a certain hardness. When he taught, the 
shadow of Alexander the Great lay across the freedom of 

1 Mahaffy. 


Greece, and he favoured slavery and constitutional kings. He 
had previously been the tutor of Alexander for several years 
at the court of Philip of Macedon. Intelligent men were 
losing heart in those days, their faith in the power of men 
to make their own conditions of life was fading. There were 
n more Utopias. The rush of events was manifestly too power- 
ful for such organized effort as was then practicable between 
men of fine intelligence. It was possible to think of recasting 
human society when human society was a little city of a few 
thousand citizens, but what was happening about them was 
something cataclysmal; it was the political recasting of the 
whole known world, of the affairs of what even then must have 
amounted to something between fifty and a hundred million 
people. It was recasting upon a scale no human mind was 
yet equipped to grasp. It drove thought back upon the idea 
of a vast and implacable Fate. It made men snatch at what- 
ever looked stable and unifying. Monarchy, for instance, for 
all its manifest vices, was a conceivable government for mil- 
lions; it had, to a certain extent, worked; it imposed a ruling 
will where it would seem that a collective will was impossible. 
This change of the general intellectual mood harmonized with 
Aristotle's natural respect for existing fact. If, on the one 
hand, it made him approve* of monarchy and slavery and the 
subjection of women as reasonable institutions, on the other 
hand it made him eager to understand fact and to get some 
orderly knowledge of these realities of nature and human nature 
that were now so manifestly triumphant over the creative dreams 
of the preceding generation. He is terribly sane and luminous, 
and terribly wanting in self-sacrificial enthusiasm. He ques- 
tions Plato when Plato would exile poets from his Utopia, for 
poetry is a power; he directs his energy along a line dia- 
metrically opposed to Socrates' depreciation of Anaxagoras. 
He anticipates Bacon and the modern scientific movement in his 
realization of the importance of ordered knowledge. He set 
himself to the task of gathering together and setting down 
knowledge. He was the first natural historian. Other men 
before him had speculated about the nature of things, but he, 
with every young man he could win over to the task, set him- 
self to classify and compare things. Plato says in effect : "Let 
us take hold of life and remodel it"; this soberer successor: 
"Let us first know more of life and meanwhile serve the king." 


It was not so much a contradiction as an immense qualification 
of the master. 

The peculiar relation of Aristotle to Alexander the Great 
enabled him to procure means for his work such as were not 
available again for scientific inquiry for long ages. He could 
command hundreds of talents (a talent = about 240) for his 
expenses. At one time he had at his disposal a thousand men 
scattered throughout Asia and Greece, collecting matter for 
his natural history. They were, of course, very untrained obser- 
vers, collectors of stories rather than observers; but nothing 
of the kind had ever been attempted, had even been thought of, 
so far as we know, before his time. Political as well as natural 
science began. The students of the Lyceum under his direc- 
tion made an analysis of 158 political constitutions. . . . 

This was the first gleam of organized science in the world. 
The early death of Alexander and the breaking up of his empire 
almost before it had begun, put an end to endowments on this 
scale for 2,000 years. Only in Egypt at the Alexandria Museum 
did any scientific research continue, and that only for a few 
generations. Of that we will presently tell. Fifty years 
after Aristotle's death the Lyceum had already dwindled to 


The general drift of thought in the concluding years of the 
fourth century B.C. was not with Aristotle, nor towards the 
laborious and necessary accumulation of ordered knowledge. 
It is possible that without his endowments from the king he 
would have made but a small figure in intellectual history. 
Through them he was able to give his splendid intelligence sub- 
stance and effect. The ordinary man prefers easy ways so 
long as they may be followed, and is almost wilfully heedless 
whether they end at last in a cul-de-sac. Finding the stream 
of events too powerful to control at once, the generality of 
philosophical teachers drifted in those days from the scheming 
of model cities and the planning of new ways of living into the 
elaboration of beautiful and consoling systems of evasion. 

Perhaps that is putting things coarsely and unjustly. But 
let Professor Gilbert Murray speak upon this matter. 1 

* Ancient Greek Literature, 


"The Cynics cared only for virtue and the relation of the 
soul to God; the world and its learning and its honours were 
as dross to them. The Stoics and Epicureans, so far apart at 
first sight, were very similar in their ultimate aim. What they 
really cared ahout was ethics the practical question how a 
man should order his life. Both, indeed, gave themselves to some 
science the Epicureans to physics, the Stoics to logic and 
rhetoric but only as a means to an end. The Stoic tried to 
win men's hearts and convictions by sheer subtlety of abstract 
argument and dazzling sublimity of thought and expression. 
The Epicurean was determined to make Humanity go its way 
without cringing to capricious gods and without sacrificing 
Free-Will. He condensed his gospel into four maxims: "God 
is not to be feared ; Death cannot be felt ; the Good can be won ; 
all that we dread can be borne and conquered." 

And meanwhile the stream of events flowed on, with a 
reciprocal indifference to philosophy. 


If the Greek classics are to be read with any benefit by mod- 
ern men, they must be read as the work of men like ourselves. 
Kegard must be had to their traditions, their opportunities, and 
their limitations. There is a disposition to exaggeration in all 
human admiration; most of our classical texts are very much 
mangled, and all were originally the work of human beings in 
difficulties, living in a time of such darkness and narrowness 
of outlook as makes our own age by comparison a period of 
dazzling illumination. What we shall lose in reverence by this 
familiar treatment, we shall gain in sympathy for that group 
of troubled, uncertain, and very modern minds. The Athenian 
writers were, indeed, the first of modern men. They were 
discussing questions that we still discuss ; they began to struggle 
with the great problems that confront us to-day. Their writ- 
ings are our dawn. 1 

1 Jung in his Psychology of the Unconscious is very good in his Chapter 
I on the differences between ancient (pre- Athenian) thought and modern 
thought. The former he calls Undirected Thinking, the latter Directed 
Thinking. The former was a thinking in images, akin to dreaming; the 
latter a thinking in words. Science is an organization of directed thinking. 
The Antique spirit (before the Greek thinkers i.e.] created not science 
but mythology. The ancient human world was a world of subjective 
fantasies like the world of children and uneducated young people to-day, 


They began an inquiry, and they arrived at no solutions. 
We cannot pretend to-day that we have arrived at solutions 
to most of the questions they asked. The mind of the Hebrews, 
as we have already shown, awoke suddenly to the endless 
miseries and disorders of life, saw that these miseries and 
disorders were largely due to the lawless acts of men, and con- 
cluded that salvation could come only through subduing our- 
selves to the service of the one God who rules heaven and 
earth. The Greek, rising to the same perception, was not pre- 
pared with the same idea of a patriarchal deity; he lived in a 
world in which there was not God but the gods; if perhaps 
he felt that the gods themselves were limited, then he thought 
of Fate behind them, cold and impersonal. So he put his 
problem in the form of an inquiry as to what was right living, 
without any definite correlation of the right-living man with 
the will of God. ... To us, looking at the matter from a 
standpoint purely historical, the common problem can now 
be presented in a form that, for the purposes of history, covers 
both the Hebrew and Greek way of putting it. We have seen 
our kind rising out of the unconsciousness of animals to a 
continuing racial self -consciousness, realizing the unhappiness 
of its wild diversity of aims, realizing the inevitable tragedy of 
individual self-seeking, and feeling its way blindly towards some 
linking and subordinating idea to save it from the pains and 
accidents of mere individuality. The gods, the god-king, the 
idea of the tribe, the idea of the city ; here are ideas that have 
claimed and held for a time the devotion of men, ideas in which 
they have a little lost their individual selfishness and escaped 
to the realization of a more enduring life. Yet, as our wars 
and disasters prove, none of these greater ideas have yet been 
great enough. The gods have failed to protect, the tribe has 
proved itself vile and cruel, the city ostracized one's best and 
truest friends, the god-king made a beast of himself. . . . 

As we read over the speculative literature of this great period 

and like the world of savages and dreams. Infantile thought and dreams 
are a re-echo of prehistoric and savage methods of thinking. Myths, 
says Jung, are the mass dreams of peoples, and dreams the myths of in- 
dividuals. We have already directed the reader's attention to the re- 
semblance of the early gods of civilization to the fantasies of children. 
The work of hard and disciplined thinking by means of carefully analyzed 
words and statements which was begun by the Greek thinkers and re- 
sumed by the scholastic philosophers of whom we shall tell in the middle 
ages, was a necessary preliminary to the development of modern science. 


of the Greeks, we realize three barriers set about the Greek 
mind, from which it rarely escaped, but from which we now 
perhaps are beginning to escape. 

The first of these limitations was the obsession of the Greek 
mind by the idea of the city as the ultimate state. In a world 
in which empire had followed empire, each greater than its pre- 
decessor, in a world through which men and ideas drove ever 
more loosely and freely, in a world visibly unifying even then, 
the Greeks, because of their peculiar physical and political cir- 
cumstances, were still dreaming impossibly of a compact little 
city state, impervious to outer influences, valiantly secure 
against the whole world. Plato's estimate of the number of citi- 
zens in a perfect state varied between 1,000 (the Republic) and 
5,040 (the Laws) citizens. 1 This state was to go to war and 
hold its own against other cities of the same size. And this 
was not a couple of generations after the hosts of Xerxes had 
crossed the Hellespont ! 

Perhaps these Greeks thought the day of world empires had 
passed for ever, whereas it was only beginning. At the utmost 
their minds reached out to alliances and leagues. There must 
have been men at the court of Artaxerxes thinking far away 
beyond these little ideas of the rocky creek, the island, and the 
mountain-encircled valley. But the need for unification against 
the greater powers that moved outside the Greek-speaking world, 
the Greek mind disregarded wilfully. These outsiders were 
barbarians, not to be needlessly thought about ; they were barred 
out now from Greece for ever. One took Persian money ; every- 
body took Persian money; what did it matter? Or one en- 
listed for a time in their armies (as Xenophon did) and hoped 
for his luck with a rich prisoner. Athens took sides in Egyptian 
affairs, and carried on minor wars with Persia, but there was 
no conception of a common policy or a common future for 
Greece. . . . Until at last a voice in Athens began to shout 
"Macedonia !" to clamour like a watch-dog, "Macedonia !" This 
was the voice of the orator and demagogue, Demosthenes, hurl- 
ing warnings and threats and denunciations at King Philip 

1 "For the proper administration of justice and for . the distribution of 
authority it is necessary that the citizens be acquainted with each other's 
characters, so that, where this cannot be, much mischief ensues, both in 
the use of authority and in the administration of justice; for it is not 
just to decide arbitrarily, as must be the case with excessive population." 
Aristotle: Politics. 


of Macedon, who had learnt his politics not only from Plato 
and Aristotle, but also from Isocrates and Xenophon, and from 
Babylon and Susa, and who was preparing quietly, ably, and 
steadfastly to dominate all Greece, and through Greece to con- 
quer the known world. . . . 

There was a second thing that cramped the Greek mind, the 
institution of domestic slavery. Slavery was implicit in Greek 
life ; men could conceive of neither comfort nor dignity without 
it. But slavery shuts off one's sympathy not only from a class 
of one's fellow subjects ; it puts the slave-owner into a class and 
organization against all stranger men. One is of an elect tribe. 
Plato, carried b}^ his clear reason and the noble sanity of his 
spirit beyond the things of the present, would have abolished 
slavery; much popular feeling and the ~New Comedy were 
against it; the Stoics and Epicureans, many of whom were 
slaves, condemned it as unnatural, but finding it too strong to 
upset, decided that it did not affect the soul and might be 
ignored. With the wise there was no bound or free. To the 
matter-of-fact Aristotle, and probably to most practical men, 
its abolition was inconceivable. So they declared that there 
were in the world men "naturally slaves." ... 

Finally, the thought of the Greeks was hampered by a want 
of knowledge that is almost inconceivable to us to-day. They 
had no knowledge of the past of mankind at all; at best they 
had a few shrewd guesses. They had no knowledge of geography 
beyond the range of the Mediterranean basin and the frontiers 
of Persia. We know far more to-day of what was going on 
in Susa, Persepolis, Babylon, and Memphis in the time of 
Pericles than he did. Their astronomical ideas were still in the 
state of rudimentary speculations. Anaxagoras, greatly daring, 
thought the sun and moon were vast globes, so vast that the sun 
was probably "as big as all the Peloponnesus." Their ideas 
in physics and chemistry were the results of profound cogita- 
tion; it is wonderful that they did guess at atomic structure. 
One has to remember their extraordinary poverty in the matter 
of experimental apparatus. They had coloured glass for orna- 
ment, but no white glass ; no accurate means of measuring the 
minor intervals of time, no really efficient numerical notation, 
no very accurate scales, no rudiments of telescope or microscope. 
A modern scientific man dumped down in the Athens of Pericles 
would have found the utmost difficulty in demonstrating the 


elements of his knowledge, however crudely, to the men he would 
have found there. He would have had to rig up the simplest 
apparatus under every disadvantage, while Socrates pointed 
out the absurdity of seeking Truth with pieces of wood and 
string and metal such as small boys use for fishing. And our 
professor of science would also have been in constant danger 
of a prosecution for impiety. 

Our world to-day draws upon relatively immense accumula- 
tions of knowledge of fact. In the age of Pericles scarcely the 
first stone of our comparatively tremendous cairn of things 
recorded and proved had been put in place. When we reflect 
upon this difference, then it ceases to be remarkable that the 
Greeks, with all their aptitude for political speculation, were 
blind to the insecurities of their civilization from without and 
from within, to the necessity for effective unification, to the 
swift rush of events that was to end for long ages these first 
brief freedoms of the human mind. 

It is not in the results it achieved, but in the attempts it 
made, that the true value for us of this group of Greek talkers 
and writers lies. It is not that they answered questions, but 
that they dared to ask them. Never before had man challenged 
his world and the way of life to which he found his birth had 
brought him. Never had he said before that he could alter his 
conditions. Tradition and a seeming necessity had held him 
to life as he had found it grown up about his tribe since time 
immemorial. Hitherto he had taken the world as children still 
take the homes and habits in which they have been reared. 

So in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. we perceive, most 
plainly in Judea and in Athens, but by no means confined to 
those centres, the beginnings of a moral and an intellectual 
process in mankind, an appeal to righteousness and an appeal 
to the truth from the passions and confusions and immediate 
appearances of existence. It is like the dawn of the sense of 
responsibility in a youth,, who suddenly discovers that life is 
neither easy nor aimless. Mankind is growing up. The rest 
of history for three and twenty centuries is threaded with the 
spreading out and development and interaction and the clearer 
and more effective statement of these main leading ideas. Slowly 
more and more men apprehend the reality of human brother- 
hood, the needlessness of wars and cruelties and* oppression, 
the possibilities of a common purpose for the whole of our 


kind. In every generation thereafter there is the evidence 
of men seeking for that better order to which they feel our 
world must come. But everywhere and wherever in any man 
the great constructive ideas have taken hold, the hot greeds, 
the jealousies, the suspicions and impatience that are in the 
nature of every one of us, war 'against the struggle towards 
greater and broader purposes. The last twenty-three centimes 
of history are like the efforts of some impulsive, hasty immortal 
to think clearly and live rightly. Blunder follows blunder; 
promising beginnings end in grotesque disappointments ; streams 
of living water are poisoned by the cup that conveys them to 
the thirsty lips of mankind. But the hope of men rises again 
at last after every disaster. . . . 

We pass on now to the story of one futile commencement, 
one glorious shattered beginning of human unity. There was 
in Alexander the Great knowledge and imagination, power and 
opportunity, folly, egotism, detestable vulgarity, and an im- 
mense promise broken by the accident of his early death while 
men were still dazzled by its immensity. 


1. Philip of Macedonia. 2. The Murder of King Philip. 
3. Alexander's First Conquests. ,4. The Wanderings of 
Alexander. 5. Was Alexander Indeed Great? 6.' The 
Successors of Alexander. 7. Pergamum a Refuge of Cul- 
ture. 8. Alexander as a Portent of World Unity. 

flr^HE true hero of the story of Alexander is not so much 
Alexander as his father Philip. The author of a piece 
does not shine in the limelight as the actor does, and 
it was Philip who planned much of the greatness that his son 
achieved, who laid the foundations and forged the tools, who 
had indeed already begun the Persian expedition at the time 
of his death. Philip, beyond doubting, was one of the greatest 
monarchs the world has ever seen ; he was a man of the utmost 
intelligence and ability, and his range of ideas was vastly 
beyond the scope of his time. He made Aristotle his friend; 
he must have discussed with him those schemes for the organ- 
ization of real knowledge which the philosopher was to realize 
later through Alexander's endowments. Philip, so far as we 
can judge, seems to have been Aristotle's "Prince"; to him 
Aristotle turned as men turn only to those whom they admire 
and trust. To Philip also Isocrates appealed as the great leader 
who should unify and ennoble the chaotic public life of Greece. 
In many books it is stated that Philip was a man of in- 
credible cynicism and of uncontrolled lusts. It is true that at 
feasts, like all the Macedonians of his time, he was a hard 
drinker and sometimes drunken it was probably considered 
unamiable not to drink excessively at feasts; but of the other 
accusations there is no real proof, and for evidence we have 
only the railings of such antagonists as Demosthenes, the 
Athenian demagogue and orator, a man of reckless rhetoric. 




The quotation of a phrase or so will serve to show to what the 
patriotic anger of Demosthenes could bring him. In one of 
the Philippics, as his denunciations of Philip are called, he 
gives vent in this style: 

"Philip a man who not only is no Greek, and no way 
akin to the Greeks, but is not even a barbarian from a re- 
spectable country- no, a pestilent fellow of Macedon, a country 
from which we never 
get even a decent 
slave." And so on and 
so on. We know, as a 
matter of fact, that 
the Macedonians were 
an Aryan people very 
closely akin to the 
Greeks, and that 
Philip was probably 
the best educated man 
of his time. This was 
the spirit in which the 
adverse accounts of 
Philip were written. 

When Philip be- 
came king of Mace- 
donia in 359 B.C., his 
country was a little 
country without a seaport or industries or any considerable 
city. It had a peasant population, Greek almost in lan- 
guage and ready to be Greek in sympathies, but more purely 
Nordic in blood than any people to the south of it. Philip 
made this little barbaric state into a great one; he cre- 
ated the most efficient military organization the world 
had so far seen, and he had brought most of Greece into one 
confederacy under his leadership at the time of his death. And 
his extraordinary quality, his power of thinking out beyond 
the current ideas of his time, is shown not so much in those 
matters as in the care with which he had his son trained to carry 
on the policy he had created. He is one of the few monarchs 
in history who cared for his successor. Alexander was, as few 
other monarchs have ever been, a specially educated king; 
he was educated for empire. Aristotle was but one of the sev- 


eral able tutors his father chose for him. Philip confided his 
policy to him, and entrusted him with commands and authority 
by the time he was sixteen. He commanded the cavalry at 
ChaBronea under his father's eye. He was nursed into power 
generously and unsuspiciously. 

To any one who reads his life with care it is evident that 
Alexander started with an equipment of training and ideas 
of unprecedented value. As he got beyond the wisdom of his 
upbringing he began to blunder and misbehave sometimes with 
a dreadful folly. The defects of his character had triumphed 
over his upbringing long before he died. 

Philip was a king after the old pattern, a leader-king, first 
among his peers, of the ancient Nordic Aryan type. The army 
he found in Macedonia consisted of a general foot levy and 
a noble equestrian order called the "companions." The people 
were farmers and hunters and somewhat drunken in their 
habits, but ready for discipline and good fighting stuff. And 
if the people were homely, the government was intelligent and 
alert. For some generations the court language had been Attic 
( Athenian) Greek, and the court had been sufficiently civi- 
lized to shelter and entertain such great figures as Euripides, 
who died there in 406 B.C., and Zeuxis the artist. Moreover, 
Philip, before his accession, had spent some years as a hostage 
in Greece. He had had as good an education as Greece could 
give at that time. He was, therefore, quite familiar with what 
we may call the idea of Isocrates the idea of a great union 
of the Greek states in Europe to dominate the Eastern world; 
and he knew, too, how incapable was the Athenian democracy, 
because of its constitution and tradition, of taking the op- 
portunity that lay before it. For it was an opportunity that 
would have to be shared. To the Athenians or the Spartans 
it would mean letting in a "lot of foreigners" to the advantages 
of citizenship. It would mean lowering themselves to the level 
of equality and fellowship with Macedonians a people from 
whom "we" do not get "even a decent slave." 

There was no way to secure unanimity among the Greeks 
for the contemplated enterprise except by some revolutionary 
political action. It was no love of peace that kept the Greeks 
from such an adventure; it was their political divisions. The 
resources of the several states were exhausted in a series of 
internecine wars wars arising out of the merest excuses and 



fanned by oratorical wind. The ploughing of certain sacred 
lands near Delphi by the Phocians was, for example, the pre- 
text for a sanguinary Sacred War. 

Philip's first years of kingship were devoted to the discipline 
of his army. Hitherto most of the main battle fighting in the 

world had been done by footmen in formation. In the very 
ancient Sumerian battle-pieces we see spearmen in close order 
forming the main battle, just as they did in the Zulu armies 
of the nineteenth century; the Greek troops of Philip's time 
were still fighting in that same style ; the Theban phalanx was 
a mass of infantry holding spears, the hinder ranks thrusting 
their longer spears between the front-line men. Such a forma- 
tion went through anything less disciplined that opposed it. 


Mounted archers could, of course, inflict considerable losses 
on such a mass of men, and accordingly, as the horse came into 
warfare, horsemen appeared on either side as an accessory to 
this main battle. The reader must remember that the horse 
did not come into very effective use in western war until the 
rise of the Assyrians, and then at first only as a chariot horse. 
The chariots drove full tilt at the infantry mass and tried to 
break it. Unless its discipline was very solid they succeeded. 
The Homeric fighting is chariot fighting. It is not until the 
last thousand years B.C. that we begin to find mounted soldiers, 
as distinct from charioteers, playing a part in warfare. At first 
they appear to have fought in a scattered fashion, each man 
doing his personal feats. So the Lydians fought against Cyrus. 
It was Philip who seems to have created charging cavalry. 
He caused his "companions" to drill for a massed charge. 
And also he strengthened his phalanx by giving the rear men 
longer spears than had been used hitherto, and so deepening 
its mass. The Macedonian phalanx was merely a more solid 
version of the Theban phalanx. None of these massed in- 
fantry formations was flexible enough to stand a flank or rear 
attack. They had very slight manoeuvring power. Both 
Philip's and his son's victories followed, therefore, with varia- 
tions, one general scheme of co-operation between these two 
arms. The phalanx advanced in the centre and held the 
enemy's main body; on one wing or the other the cavalry 
charges swept away the enemy cavalry, and then swooped round 
upon the flank and rear of the enemy phalanx, the front, of 
which the Macedonian phalanx was already smiting. The 
enemy main battle then broke and was massacred. As Alex- 
ander's military experience grew, he also added a use of cata- 
pults in the field, big stone-throwing affairs, to break up 
the enemy infantry. Before his time catapults had been 
used in sieges, but never in battles. He invented "artillery 

With the weapon of his new army in his hand, Philip first 
turned his attention to the north of Macedonia. He carried 
expeditions into Illyria and as far as the Danube; he also 
spread his power along the coast as far as the Hellespont. He 
secured possession of a port, Amphipolis, and certain gold 
mines adjacent. After several Thracian expeditions he turned 
southward in good earnest. He took up the cause of the Delphic 


ainphictyony against those sacrilegious Phocians, and so ap- 
peared as the champion of Hellenic religion. 

There was a strong party of Greeks, it must be understood, 
a Pan-Hellenic party, in favour of the Greek headship of Philip. 
The chief writer of this Pan-Hellenic movement was Isocrates. 
Athens, on the other hand, was the head and front of the op- 
position to Philip, and Athens was in open sympathy with 
Persia, even sending emissaries to the Great King to warn 
him of the danger to him of a united Greece. The comings 
and goings of twelve years cannot he related here. In 338 B.C. 
the long struggle between division and pan-Hellenism came to a 
decisive issue, and at the battle of Chseronea Philip inflicted 
a crushing defeat upon Athens and her allies. He gave Athens 
peace upon astonishingly generous terms; he displayed him- 
self steadfastly resolved to propitiate and favour that im- 
placable city; and in 338 B.C. a congress of Greek states recog- 
nized him as captain-general for the war against Persia. 

He was now a man of forty-seven. It seemed as though the 
world lay at his feet. He had made his little country into 
the leading state in a great Grseco-Macedonian confederacy. 
That unification was to be the prelude to a still greater one, 
the unification of the Western world with the Persian empire 
into one world state of all known peoples. Who can doubt he 
had that dream ? The writings of Isocrates convince us that 
he had it. Who can deny that he might have realized it ? He 
had a reasonable hope of living for perhaps another quarter 
century of activity. In 336 B.C. his advanced guard crossed 
into Asia. . . . 

But he never followed with his main force. He was 


It is necessary now to .tell something of the domestic life of 
King Philip. The lives of both Philip and his son were per- 
vaded by the personality of a restless and evil woman, Olympias, 
the mother of Alexander. 

She was the daughter of the king of Epirus, a country to 
the west of Macedonia, and, like Macedonia, a semi-Greek land. 
She met Philip, or was thrown in his way, at some religious 
gathering in Samothrace. Plutarch declares the marriage was 



a love-match, and there seems to be at least this much in the 
charges against Philip that, like many energetic and imaginative 
men, he was prone to impatient love impulses. He married 
her when he was already a king, and Alexander was born 
to him three years later. 

It was not long before Olympias and Philip were bitterly 
estranged. She was jealous of him, but there was another 

and graver source of trouble in her 
passion for religious mysteries. We 
have already noted that beneath the 
fine and restrained Nordic religion 
of the Greeks the land abounded 
with religious cults of a darker and 
more ancient kind, aboriginal cults 
with secret initiations, orgiastic 
celebrations, and often with cruel 
and obscene rites. These religions 
of the shadows, these practices of 
the women and peasants and slaves, 
gave Greece her Orphic, Dionysic, 
and Demeter cults ; they have 
lurked in the tradition of Europe 
down almost to our own times. The 
witchcraft of the Middle Ages, with 
its resort to the blood of babes, 
scraps of executed criminals, incan- 
tations and magic circles, seems to have been little else than 
the lingering vestiges of these solemnities of the dark whites. 
In these matters Olympias was an expert and an enthusiast, 
and Plutarch mentions that she achieved considerable celebrity 
by use of tame serpents in these pious exercises. The 
snakes invaded her domestic apartments, and history is not 
clear whether Philip found in them matter for exasperation 
or religious awe. These occupations of his wife must have 
been a serious inconvenience to Philip, for the Macedonian 
people were still in that sturdy stage of social development in 
which neither enthusiastic religiosity nor uncontrollable wives 
are admired. 

The evidence of a bitter hostility between mother and father 
peeps out in many little things in the histories. She was evi- 
dently jealous of Philip's conquests ; she hated his fame. There 


are many signs that Olympias did her best to set her son against 
his father and attach him wholly to herself. A story survives 
(in Plutarch's Life) that "whenever news was brought of 
Philip's victories, the capture of a city or the winning of 
some great battle, he never seemed greatly rejoiced to hear 
it ; on the contrary he used to say to his play-fellows : 'Father 
will get everything in advance, boys; he won't leave any 
great task for me to share with you.' " . . . 

It is not a natural thing for a boy to envy his father in 
this fashion without some inspiration. That sentence sounds 
like an echo. 

We have already pointed out how manifest it is that Philip 
planned the succession of Alexander, and how eager he was 
to thrust fame and power into the boy's hands. He was think- 
ing of the political structure he was building but the mother 
was thinking of the glory and pride of that wonderful lady, 
Olympias. She masked her hatred of her husband under the 
cloak of a mother's solicitude for her son's future. When in 
337 B.C. Philip, after the fashion of kings in those days, mar- 
ried a second wife who was a native Macedonian, Cleopatra, "of 
whom he was passionately enamoured," Olympias made much 

Plutarch tells of a pitiful scene that occurred at Philip's 
marriage to Cleopatra. There was much drinking of wine at 
the banquet, and Attains, the father of the bride, being "in- 
toxicated with liquor," betrayed the general hostility to 
Olympias and Epirus by saying he hoped there would be a 
child by the marriage to give them a truly Macedonian heir. 
Whereupon Alexander, taut for such an insult, cried out, 
"What then am I?" and hurled his cup at Attalus. Philip, 
enraged, stood up and, says Plutarch, drew his sword, only to 
stumble and fall. Alexander, blind with rage and jealousy, 
taunted and insulted his father. 

"Macedonians," he said. "See there the general who would 
go from Europe to Asia ! Why ! he cannot get from one table 
to another!" 

How that scene lives still, the sprawl, the flushed faces, the 
angry voice of the boy! Next day Alexander departed with 
his mother and Philip did nothing to restrain them. Olympias 
went home to Epirus; Alexander departed to Illyria, Thence 
Philip persuaded him to return. 


Fresh trouble arose. Alexander had a brother of weak inr 
tellect, Aridseus, whom the Persian governor of Caria sought 
as a son-in-law. " Alexanders friends and his mother now 
infused notions into him again, though perfectly groundless, 
that by so noble a match, and the support consequent upon it, 
Philip designed the crown for Aridseus, Alexander, in the 
uneasiness these suspicions gave him, sent one Thessalus, a 
player, into Caria, to desire the grandee to pass by Aridseus, 
who was of spurious birth, and deficient in point of under- 
standing, and to take the lawful heir to the crown into his 
alliance. Pixcdarus was infinitely more pleased with this pro- 
posal. But Philip no sooner had intelligence of it, than he 
went to Alexander's apartment, taking along with him Philotas, 
the son of Parmenio, one of his most intimate friends and 
companions, and, in his presence, reproached him with his 
degeneracy and meanness of spirit, in thinking of being son- 
in-law to a man of Caria, one of the slaves of a barbarian king. 
At the same time he wrote to the Corinthians, insisting that they 
should send Thessalus to him in chains. Harpalus and 
Niarchus, Phrygius and Ptolemy, some of the other companions 
of the prince, he banished. But Alexander afterwards recalled 
them, and treated them with great distinction." 

There is something very touching in this story of the father 
pleading with the son he manifestly loved, and baffled by the 
web of mean suggestion which had been spun about the boy's 

It was at the marriage of his daughter to her uncle, the king 
of Epirus and the brother of Olympias, that Philip was stabbed. 
He was walking in a procession into the theatre unarmed, in 
a white robe, and he was cut down by one of his bodyguard. 
The murderer had a horse waiting, and would have got away, 
but the foot of his horse caught in a wild vine and he was 
thrown from the saddle by the stumble and slain by his 
pursuers. . . . 

So at the age of twenty Alexander was at the end of 
his anxiety about the succession, and established king in 

Olympias then reappeared in Macedonia, a woman proudly 
vindicated. It is said that she insisted upon paying the same 
funeral honours to the memory of the murderer as to Philip. 

In Greece there were great rejoicings over this auspicious 


event, and Demosthenes, when he had the news, although it 
was but seven days after the death of his own daughter, went 
into the public assembly at Athens in gay attire wearing a 

Whatever Olympias may have done about her husband's 
assassin, history does not doubt about her treatment of her sup- 
planter, Cleopatra. So soon as Alexander was out of the way 
and a revolt of the hillmen in the north called at once for 
his attention Cleopatra's newly born child was killed in its 
mother's arms, and Cleopatra no doubt after a little taunting 
was then strangled. These excesses of womanly feeling are 
said to -have shocked Alexander, but they did not prevent him 
from leaving his mother in a position of considerable authority 
in Macedonia. She wrote letters to him upon religious and 
political questions, and he showed a dutiful disposition in send- 
ing her always a large share of the plunder he made. 

These stories have to be told because history cannot be un- 
derstood without them. Here was the great world of men be- 
tween India and the Adriatic ready for union, ready as it had 
never been before for a unifying control. Here was the wide 
order of the Persian empire with its roads, its posts, its gen- 
eral peace and prosperity, ripe for the fertilizing influence of 
the Greek mind. And these stories display the quality of 
the human beings to whom those great opportunities came. 
Here was this Philip who was a very great and noble man, and 
yet he was drunken, he could keep no order in his household. 
Here was Alexander in many ways gifted above any man 
of his time, and he was vain, suspicious, and passionate, with 
a mind set awry by his mother. 

We are : beginning to understand something of what the 
world might be, something of what our race might become, 
Were it not for our still raw humanity. It is barely a matter 
of seventy generations between ourselves and Alexander ; and 
between ourselves and the savage hunters, our ancestors, who 
charred their food in the embers or ate it raw, intervene some 
four or five hundred generations. There is not much scope for 
the modification of a species in four or five hundred gen- 
erations. Make men and women only sufficiently jealous or 


fearful or drunken or angry, and the hot red eyes of the cave- 
men will glare out at us to-day. We have writing and teach- 
ing, science and .power ; we have tamed the beasts and schooled 
the lightning ; but we are still only shambling towards the light. 
We have tamed and bred the beasts, but we have still to tame 
and breed ourselves. 

From the very beginning of his reign the deeds of Alexander 
showed how well he had assimilated his father's plans, and 
how great were his own abilities. A map of the known world 
is needed to show the course of his life. At first, after re- 
ceiving assurances from Greece that he was to be captain-gen- 
eral of the Grecian forces, he marched through Thrace to the 
Danube; he crossed the river and burnt a village, the second 
great monarch to raid the Scythian country beyond the Danube ; 
then recrossed it and marched westward and so came down, by 
Illyria. By that time the city of Thebes was in rebellion, and 
his next blow was at Greece. Thebes unsupported of course 
by Athens was taken and looted; it was treated with ex- 
travagant violence; all its buildings, except the temple and 
the house of the poet Pindar, were razed, and thirty thousand 
people sold into slavery. Greece was stunned, and Alexander 
was free to go on with the Persian campaign. 

This destruction of Thebes betrayed a streak of violence in 
the new master of human destinies. It was too heavy a blow 
to have dealt. It was a barbaric thing to do. If the spirit of 
rebellion was killed, so abo was the spirit of help. The Greek 
states remained inert thereafter, neither troublesome nor help- 
ful. They would not support Alexander with their shipping, 
a thing which was to prove a very grave embarrassment to him. 

There is a story told by Plutarch about this Theban massacre, 
as if it redounded to the credit of Alexander, but indeed it 
shows only how his saner and his crazy sides were in con- 
flict. It tells of a Macedonian officer and a Theban lady. This 
officer was among the looters, and he entered this woman's house, 
inflicted unspeakable insults and injuries upon her, and at 
last demanded whether she had gold or silver hidden. She 
told him all her treasures had been put into the well, conducted 
him thither, and, as he stooped to peer down, pushed him sud- 
denly in and killed him by throwing great stones upon him. 
Some allied soldiers came upon this scene and took her forth- 
with to Alexander for judgment 


She defied him. Already the extravagant impulse that had 
ordered the massacre was upon the wane, and he not only 
spared her, hut had her family and property and freedom re- 
stored to her. This Plutarch makes out to he a generosity, 
hut the issue is more complicated than that. It was Alex- 
ander who was outraging and plundering and enslaving all 
Thebes. That poor crumpled Macedonian brute in the well 
had been doing only what he had been told he had full lib- 
erty to do. Is a commander first to give cruel orders, and then 
to forgive and reward those who slay his instruments? This 
gleam of remorse at the instance of one woman who was not 
perhaps wanting in tragic dignity and beauty, is a poor set- 
off to the murder of a great city. 

Mixed with the craziness of Olympias in Alexander was 
the sanity of Philip and the teachings of Aristotle. This The- 
ban business certainly troubled the mind of Alexander. When- 
ever afterwards he encountered Thebans, he tried to show them 
special favour. Thebes, to his credit, haunted him. 

Yet the memory of Thebes did not save three other great 
cities from, similar brain storms ; Tyre he destroyed, and Gaza, 
and a city in India, in the storming of which he was knocked 
down in fair fight and wounded; and of the latter place not 
a soul, not a child, was spared. He must have been badly 
frightened to have taken so evil a revenge. 

At the outset of the war the Persians had this supreme ad- 
vantage, they were practically masters of the sea. The ships 
of the Athenians and their allies sulked unhelpfully. Alex- 
ander, to get at Asia, had to go round by the Hellespont; and 
if he pushed far into the Persian empire, he ran the risk of 
being cut off completely from his base. His first task, there- 
fore, was to cripple the enemy at sea, and this he could only 
do by marching along the coast of Asia Minor and capturing 
port after port until the Persian sea bases were destroyed. If 
the Persians had avoided battle and hung upon his lengthening 
line of communications they could probably have destroyed 
him, but this they did not do. A Persian army not very much 
greater than his own gave battle on the banks of the Granicus 
(334 B.C.) and was destroyed. This left him free to take 
Sardis, Ephesus, Miletus, and, after a fierce struggle, Halicar- 
nassus. Meanwhile the Persian fleet was on his right flank and 


between him and Greece, threatening much but accomplishing 

In 333 B.C., pursuing this attack upon the sea bases, he 
marched along the coast as far as the head of the gulf now called 
the Gulf of Alexandretta. A huge Persian army, under the 
great king Darius III, was inland of his line of march, sep- 
arated from the coast by mountains, and Alexander went right 
beyond this enemy force before he or the Persians realized 
their proximity. Scouting was evidently very badly done by 
Greek and Persian alike. The Persian army was a vast, ill- 
organized assembly of soldiers, transport, camp followers, and 
so forth. Darius, for instance, was accompanied by his harem, 
and there was a great multitude of harem slaves, musicians, 
dancers, and cooks. Many of the leading officers had brought 
their families to witness the hunting down of the Macedonian 
invaders. The troops had been levied from every province in 
the empire; they had no tradition or principle of combined 
action. Seized by the idea of cutting off Alexander from Greece, 
Darius moved this multitude over the mountains to the sea ; he 
had the luck to get through the passes without opposition, and 
he encamped on the plain of Issus between the mountains and 
the shore. And there Alexander, who had turned back to fight, 
struck him. The cavalry charge and the phalanx smashed this 
great brittle host as a stone smashes a bottle. It was routed. 
Darius escaped from his war chariot that out-of-date instru- 
ment and fled on horseback, leaving even his harem in the 
hands of Alexander. 

All the accounts of Alexander after this battle show him at 
his best. He was restrained and magnanimous. He treated 
the Persian princesses with the utmost civility. And he kept 
his head ; he held steadfastly to his plan. He let Darius escape, 
unpursued, into Syria, and he continued his march upon the 
naval bases of the Persians that is to say, upon the Phoenician 
ports of Tyre and Sidon. 

Sidon surrendered to him; Tyre resisted. 

Here, if anywhere, we have the evidence of great military 
ability on the part of Alexander. His army was his father's 
creation, but Philip had never shone in the siege of cities. 
When Alexander was a boy of sixteen, he had seen his father 
repulsed by the fortified city of Byzantium upon the Bosphorus. 
he was face to face with an inviolate city which had stood 



siege after siege, which had resisted Nebuchadnezzar the Great 
for fourteen years. For the standing of sieges Semitic peoples 
hold the palm. Tyre was then an island half a mile from the 
shore, and her fleet was unbeaten. On the other hand, Alex- 
ander had already learnt much by the siege of the citadel of 
Halicarnassus ; he had gathered to himself a corps of engineers 
from Cyprus and Phoenicia, the Sidonian fleet was with him, 
and presently the king of Cyprus came over to him with a 
hundred and twenty ships, which gave him the command of the 
sea. Moreover, great Carthage, either relying on the strength 
of the mother city or being disloyal to her, and being further- 
more entangled in a war in Sicily, sent no help. 

The first measure of Alexander was to build a pier from the 
mainland to the island, a dam which remains to this day ; and 
on this, as it came close to the walls of Tyre, he set up his 
towers and battering-rams. Against the walls he also moored 
ships in which towers and rams were erected. The Tyrians 
used fire-ships against this flotilla, and made sorties from their 
two harbours. In a big surprise raid that they made on the 
Cyprian ships they were caught and badly mauled; many of 
their ships were rammed, and one big galley of five banks of 
oars and one of four were captured outright. Finally a breach 
in the walls was made, and the Macedonians, clambering up the 
debris from their ships, stormed the city. 

The siege had lasted seven months. Gaza held out for two. 
In each case there was a massacre, the plundering of the city, 
and the selling of the survivors into slavery. Then towards the 
end of 332 B.C. Alexander entered Egypt, and the command 
of the sea was assured. Greece, which all this while had been 
wavering in its policy, decided now at last that it was on the 
side of Alexander, and the council of the Greek states at Corinth 
voted its "captain-general" a golden crown of victory. From 
this time onward the Greeks were with the Macedonians. 

Tho Egyptians also were with the Macedonians. But they 
had been for Alexander from the beginning. They had lived 
under Persian rule for nearly two hundred years, and the com- 
ing of Alexander meant for them only a change of masters; 
on the whole, a change for the better. The country surrendered 
without a blow. Alexander treated its religious feelings with 
extreme respect. He unwrapped no mummies as Cambyses 
nad done; he took no liberties with Apis, the sacred bull of 


Memphis. Here, in great temples and upon a vast scale, Alex- 
ander found the evidences of a religiosity, mysterious and ir- 
rational, to remind him of the secrets and mysteries that had 
entertained his mother and impressed his childhood. During 
his four months in Egypt he flirted with religious emotions. 

He was still a very young man, we must rememher, divided 
against himself. The strong sanity he inherited from his father 
had made him a great soldier; the teaching of Aristotle had 
given him something of the scientific outlook upon the world. 
He had destroyed Tyre ; in Egypt, at one of the mouths of the 
Nile, he now founded a new city, Alexandria, to replace that 
ancient centre of trade. To the north of Tyre, near Issus, he 
founded a second port, Alexandretta. Both of these cities 
flourish to this day, and for a time Alexandria was perhaps 
the greatest city in the world. The sites, therefore, must have 
been wisely chosen. But also Alexander had the unstable emo- 
tional imaginativeness of his mother, and side by side with 
such creative work he indulged in religious adventures. The 
gods of Egypt took possession of his mind. He travelled four 
hundred miles to the remote oasis of the oracle of Ammon. 
He wanted to settle certain doubts about his true parentage. 
His mother had inflamed his mind by hints and vague speeches 
of some deep mystery about his parentage. Was so ordinary a 
humaa being as Philip of Macedon really his rather? 

For nearly four hundred years Egypt had been a country 
politically contemptible, overrun now by Ethiopians, now by 
Assyrians, now by Babylonians, now by Persians. As the in- 
dignities of the present became more and more disagreeable to 
contemplate, the past and the other world became more splendid 
to Egyptian eyes. It is from the festering humiliations of peo- 
ples that arrogant religious propagandas spring. To the tri- 
umphant the downtrodden can say, "It is naught in the sight 
of the true gods." So the son of Philip of Macedon, the master- 
general of Greece, was made to feel a small person amidst the 
gigantic temples. And he had an abnormal share of youth's 
normal ambition to impress everybody. How gratifying then 
for him to discover presently that he was no mere successful 
mortal, not one of these modern vulgar Greekish folk, but an- 
cient and divine, the son of a god, the Pharaoh god, son of 
Ammon Ha! 


Already in. a previous chapter we have given a description 
of that encounter in the desert temple. 

Not altogether was the young man convinced. He had his 
moments of conviction ; he had his saner phases when the thing 
was almost a jest. In the presence of Macedonians and Greeks 
he doubted if he was divine. When it thundered loudly, the 
ribald Aristarchus could ask him: "Won't you do something 
of the sort, oh Son of Zeus ?" But the crazy notion was, never- 
theless, present henceforth in his brain, ready to be inflamed 
by wine or flattery. 

Next spring (331 B.C.) he returned to Tyre, and marched 
thence round towards Assyria, leaving the Syrian desert on his 
right. Near the ruins of forgotten Nineveh he found a great 
Persian army, that had been gathering since the battle of Issus, 
awaiting him. It was another huge medley of contingents, and 
it relied for its chief force upon that now antiquated weapon, 
the war chariot. Of these Darius had a force of two hundred, 
and each chariot had scythes attached to its wheels and to the 
pole and body of the chariot. There seem to have been four 
horses to each chariot, and it will be obvious that if one of those 
horses was wounded by javelin or arrow, that chariot was held 
up. The outer horses acted chiefly as buffers for the inner 
wheel horses ; they were hitched to the chariot by a single out- 
side trace which could be easily cut away, but the loss of one 
of the wheel horses completely incapacitated the whole affair. 
Against broken footmen or a crowd of individualist fighters 
such vehicles might be formidable; but Darius began the battle 
by flinging them against the cavalry and light infantry. Few 
reached their objective, and those that did were readily disposed 
of. There was some manoeuvring for position. The well-drilled 
Macedonians moved obliquely across the Persian front, keeping 
good order ; the Persians, following this movement to the flank, 
opened gaps in their array. Then suddenly the disciplined 
Macedonian cavalry charged at one of these torn places and 
smote the centre of the Persian host The infantry followed 
close upon their charge. The centre and left of the Persians 
crumpled up. For a while the light cavalry on the Persian right 
gained ground against Alexander's left, only to be cut to pieces 
by the cavalry from Thessaly, which by this time had become 
almost as good as its Macedonian model. The Persian forces 
ceased to resemble an army. They dissolved into a vast multi- 


tude of fugitives streaming under great dust clouds and without 
a single rally across the hot plain towards Arbela. Through 
the dust and the flying crowd rode the victors, slaying and 
slaying until darkness stayed the slaughter. Darius led the 

Such was the battle of Arbela. It was fought on October 
the 1st, 331 B.C. We know its date so exactly, because it is 
recorded that, eleven days before it began, the soothsayers on 
both sides had been greatly exercised by an eclipse of the moon. 

Darius fled to the north into the country of the Medes. Alex- 
ander marched on to Babylon. The ancient city of Hammurabi 
(who had reigned seventeen hundred years before) and of 
Nebuchadnezzar the Great and of Nabonidus was still, unlike 
Nineveh, a prosperous and important centre. Like the Egyp- 
tians, the Babylonians were not greatly concerned at a change 
of rule to Macedonian from Persian. The temple of Bel- 
Marduk was in ruins, a quarry for building material, but the 
tradition of the Chaldean priests still lingered, and Alexander 
promised to restore the building. 

Thence he marched on to Susa, once the chief city of the van- 
ished and forgotten Elamites, and now the Persian capital. 

He went on to Persepolis, where, as the climax of a drunken 
carouse, he burnt down the great palace of the king of kings. 
This he afterwards declared was the revenge of Greece for the 
burning of Athens by Xerxes. 

And now begins a new phase in the story of Alexander. For 
the next seven years he wandered with an army chiefly of Mace- 
donians in the north and east of what was then the known world. 
At first it was a pursuit of Darius. Afterwards it became - ? 
Was it -a systematic survey of a world he meant to consolidate 
into one great order, or was it a wild-goose chase ? His own 
soldiers, his own intimates, thought, the latter, and at last stayed 
his career beyond the Indus. On the map it looks very like a 
wild-goose chase; it seems to aim at nothing in particular and 
to get nowhere. 

The pursuit of Darius III soon came to a pitiful end. After 
the battle of Arbela his own generals seem to have revolted 
against his weakness and incompetence; they made him a pris- 


oner, and took him with them in spite of his desire to throw 
himself upon the generosity of his conqueror. Bessus, the 
satrap of Bactria, they made their leader. There was at last a 
hot and exciting chase of the flying caravan which conveyed the 
captive king of kings. At dawn, after an all-night pursuit, it 
was sighted far ahead. The flight became a headlong bolt. 
Baggage, women, everything was abandoned by Bessus and 
his captains; and one other impediment also they left behind. 
By the side of a pool of water far away from the road a Mace- 
donian trooper presently found a deserted mule-cart with its 
mules still in the traces. In this cart lay Darius, stabbed in a 
score of places and bleeding to death. He had refused to go on 
with Bessus, refused to mount the horse that was brought to 
him. So his captains had run him through with their spears and 
left him. . . . He asked his captors for water. What else he 
may have said we do not know. The historians have seen fit 
to fabricate a quite impossible last dying speech for him. Prob- 
ably he said very little. . . . 

When, a little after sunrise, Alexander came up, Darius was 
already dead. . . . 

To the historian of the world the wanderings of Alexander 
have an interest of their own quite apart from the light they 
throw upon his character. Just as the campaign of Darius I 
lifted the curtain behind Greece and Macedonia, and showed us 
something of the silent background to the north of the audible 
and recorded history of the early civilizations, so now Alex- 
ander's campaigns take us into regions about which there had 
hitherto been no trustworthy record made. 

We discover they were not desert regions, but full of a 
gathering life of their own. 

He marched to the shores of the Caspian, thence he travelled 
eastward across what is now called Western Turkestan. He 
founded a city that is now known as Herat; whence he went 
northward by Cabul and by what is now Samarkand, right up 
into the mountains of Central Turkestan. He returned south- 
ward, and came down into India by the Khyber Pass. He 
fought a great battle on the Upper Indus against a very tall 
and chivalrous king, Porus, in which the Macedonian infantry 
encountered an array of elephants and defeated them. Possi- 
bly he would have pushed eastward across the deserts to the 
Ganges valley, but his troops refused to go further. Possibly, 


had they not done so, then or later he would have gone on until 
he vanished eastward out of history. But he was forced to turn 
about. He built a fleet and descended to the mouth of the Indus. 
There he divided his forces. The main army he took along 
the desolate coast back to the Persian Gulf, and on the way it 
suffered dreadfully and lost many men through thirst. The 
fleet followed him by sea, and rejoined him at the entrance to 
the Persian Gulf. In the course of this six-year tour he fought 
battles, received the submission of many strange peoples, and 
founded cities. He saw the dead body of Darius in June, 330 
B.C. ; he returned to Susa in 324 B.C. He found the empire in 
disorder: the provincial satraps raising armies of their own, 
Bactria and Media in insurrection, and Olympias making gov- 
ernment impossible in Macedonia. Harpalus, the royal treas- 
urer, had bolted with all that was portable of the royal treas- 
ure, and was making his way, bribing as he went, towards 
Greece. Some of the Harpalus money is said to have reached 

But before we deal with the closing chapter of the story of 
Alexander, let us say a word or so about these northern regions 
into which he wandered. It is evident that from the Danube 
region right across South Russia, right across the country to 
the north of the Caspian, right across the country to the east of 
the Caspian, as far as the mountain masses of the Pamir 
Plateau and eastward into the Tarim basin of Eastern Turkes- 
tan, there spread then a series of similar barbaric tribes and 
peoples all at about the same stage of culture, and for the most 
part Aryan in their language and possibly Nordic in their race. 
They had few cities, mostly they were nomadic ; at times they 
settled temporarily to cultivate the land. They were certainly 
already mingling in Central Asia with Mongolian tribes, but 
the Mongolian tribes were not then prevalent there. 

An immense process of drying up and elevation has been 
going on 'in these parts of the world during the last ten thou- 
sand years. Ten thousand years ago there was probably a con- 
tinuous water barrier between the basin of the Obi and the 
Aral-Caspian sea. As this had dried up and the marshy land 
had become steppe-like country, Nordic nomads from the west 
and Mongolian nomads from the east had met and mixed, 
and the riding horse had come back into the western world. 
It is evident this great stretch of country was becoming a region 


of accumulation for these barbaric peoples. They were very 
loosely attached to the lands they occupied. They lived in tents 
and wagons rather than houses. A brief cycle of plentiful and 
healthy years, or a cessation of tribal warfare under some strong 
ruler, would lead to considerable increases of population; then 
two or three hard years would suffice to send the tribes wander- 
ing again in search of food. 

From before the dawn of recorded history this region of 
human accumulation between the Danube and China had been, 
as it were, intermittently raining out tribes southward and 
westward. It was like a cloud bank behind the settled landscape 
that accumulated and then precipitated invaders. We have 
noted how the Keltic peoples drizzled westward, how the Ital- 
ians, the Greeks, and their Epirote, Macedonian, and Phrygian 
kindred came : outh. We have noted, too, the Cimmerian drive 
from the east, like a sudden driving shower of barbarians across 
Asia Minor, the southward coming of the Scythians and Medes 
and Persians, and the Aryan descent into India. About a cen- 
tury before Alexander there had been a fresh Aryan invasion 
of Italy by a Keltic people, the Gauls, who had settled in the 
valley of the Po. Those various races came down out of their 
northern obscurity into the light of history; and meanwhile 
beyond that light the reservoir accumulated for fresh discharges. 
Alexander's march in Central Asia brings now into our history 
names that are fresh to us; the Parthians, a race of mounted 
bowmen who were destined to play an important role in history 
a century or so later, and the Bactrians who lived in the sandy 
native land of the camel. Everywhere he seems to have met 
Aryan-speaking peoples. The Mongolian barbarians to the 
north-eastward were still unsuspected, no one imagined there 
was yet another great cloud bank of population beyond the 
Scythians and their kind, in the north of China, that was pres- 
ently also to begin a drift westward and southward, mixing as it 
came with the Nordic Scythians and every other people of 
kindred habits that it encountered. As yet only China knew 
of the Huns ; there were no Turks in Western Turkestan or any- 
where else then, no Tartars in the world. 

This glimpse of the state of affairs in Turkestan in the fourth 
century B.C. is one of the most interesting aspects of the wan- 
derings of Alexander; another is his raid through the Punjab. 
From the point of view of the teller of the human story it is 


provocative that he did not go on into the Ganges country, and 
that consequently we have no independent accounts by Greek 
writers of the life in ancient Bengal. But there is a consider- 
able literature in various Indian languages dealing with Indian 
history and social life -that still needs to be made accessible to 
European readers. 


Alexander had been in undisputed possession of the Persian 
empire for six years. He was now thirty-one. In those six 
years he had created very little. He had retained most of the 
organization of the Persian provinces, appointing fresh satraps 
or retaining the former ones ; the roads, the ports, the organiza- 
tion of the empire was still as Cyrus, his greater predecessor, 
had left them ; in Egypt he had merely replaced old provincial 
governors by new ones; in India he had defeated Porus, and 
then left him in power much as he found him, except that Porus 
was now called a satrap by the Greeks. Alexander had, it is 
true, planned out a number of towns, and some of them were 
to grow into great towns ; seventeen Alexandrias he founded al- 
together; 1 but he had destroyed Tyre, and with Tyre the se- 
curity of the sea routes which had hitherto been the chief west- 
ward outlet for Mesopotamia. Historians say that he Hellenized 
the east. But Babylonia and Egypt swarmed with Greeks 
before his time; he was not the cause, he was a part of the 
Hellenizat.ion. For a time the whole world, from the Adriatic 
to the Indus, was under one ruler; so far he had realized the 
dreams of Isocrates and Philip his father. But how far was 
he making this a permanent and enduring union ? How far as 
yet was it anything more than a dazzling but transitory flourish 
of his own magnificent self ? 

He was making no great roads, setting up no sure sea com- 
munications. It is idle to accuse him of leaving education alone, 
because the idea that empires must be cemented by education 
was still foreign to human thought. But he was forming no 
group of statesmen about him ; he was thinking of no successor ; 
he was creating no tradition nothing more than a personal 
legend. The idea that the world would have to go on after 

1 Mahaffy. Their names have undergone various changes e.g., Candahar 
(Iskender) and Secunderabad. 


Alexander, engaged in any other employment than the discus- 
sion of his magnificence, seems to have been outside his mental 
range. He was still young, it is true, but well before Philip 
was one and thirty he had been thinking of the education of 

Was Alexander a statesman at all ? 

Some students of his career assure us that he was ; that now 
at Susa he planned a mighty world empire, seeing it not simply 
as a Macedonian conquest of the world, but as a melting to- 
gether of racial traditions. He did one thing, at any rate, 
that gives colour to this idea; he held a great marriage feast, 
in which he and ninety of his generals and friends were mar- 
ried to Persian brides. He himself married a daughter of 
Darius, though already he possessed an Asiatic wife in Roxana, 
the daughter of the king of Samarkand. This wholesale wed- 
ding was made a very splendid festival, and at the same time 
all of his Macedonian soldiers, to the number of several thou- 
sands, who had married Asiatic brides, were given wedding 
gifts. This has been called the Marriage of Europe and Asia ; 
the two continents were to be joined, wrote Plutarch, "in lawful 
wedlock and by community of offspring." And next he began 
to train recruits from Persia and the north, Parthians, Bac- 
trians, and the like, in the distinctive disciplines of the phalanx 
and the cavalry. Was that also to assimilate Europe and Asia, 
or was it to make himself independent of his Macedonians? 
They thought the latter, at any rate, and mutinied, and it was 
with some difficulty that he brought them to a penitent mood 
and induced them to take part in a common feast with the Per- 
sians. The historians have made a long and eloquent speech 
for him on this occasion, but the gist of it was that he bade his 
Macedonians begone, and gave no sign of how he proposed they 
should get home out of Persia. After three days of dismay they 
submitted to him and begged his forgiveness. 

Here is the matter for a very pretty discussion. Was Alex- 
ander really planning a racial fusion or had he just fallen in 
love with the pomp and divinity of an Oriental monarch, and 
wished to get rid of these Europeans to whom he was only a 
king-leader ? The writers of his own time : and those who lived 
near to his time, lean very much to the latter alternative. They 
insist upon his immense vanity. They relate how he began 
to wear the robes and tiara of a Persian monarch. "At first 



only before the barbarians and privately, but afterwards lie 
came to wear it in public when he sat for the dispatch of busi- 
ness." And presently he demanded Oriental prostrations from 
his friends. 

One thing seems to support the suggestion of great personal 
vanity in Alexander. His portrait was painted and sculptured 
frequently, and always he is represented as a beautiful youth, 
with wonderful locks flowing backward from a broad forehead. 
Previously most, men had worn beards. But Alexander, en- 
amoured of his own 
youthful loveliness, 
would not part with 
it; he remained a 
sham boy at thirty- 
two; he shaved his 
face, and so set a 
fashion in Greece 
and Italy that lasted 
many centuries. 

The stories of vio- 
lence and vanity in 
his closing years 
cluster thick upon his 
memory. He listened 
to tittle-tattle about 
Philotas, the son of 
Parmenio, one of his 

most trusted and 'Alexander the 

faithful generals, (sfoer coui of Lqsimadms , 321- 281 B.C) 
Philotas, it was said, 

had boasted to some woman he was making love to that Alex- 
ander was a mere boy ; that, but for such men as his father and 
himself, there would have been no conquest of Persia, and the 
like. Such assertions had a certain element of truth in them. 
The woman was brought to Alexander, who listened to her 
treacheries. Presently Philotas was accused of conspiracy, and, 
upon very insufficient evidence, tortured and executed. Then 
Alexander thought of Parmenio, whose other two sons had 
died for him in battle. He sent swift messengers to assas- 
sinate the old man before he could hear of his son's death! 
Now Parmenio had een one of the most trusted of Philip's 


generals ; it was Pannenio who had led the Macedonian armies 
into Asia before the murder of Philip. There can be little 
doubt of the substantial truth of this story, nor about the 
execution of Callisthenes, the nephew of Aristotle, who re- 
fused Alexander divine honours, and "went about with as 
much pride as if he had demolished a tyranny, while the young 
men followed him as the only freeman among thousands." 
Mixed with such incidents we have the very illuminating story 
of the drunken quarrel in which he killed Clitus. The monarch 
and his company had been drinking hard, and the drink had 
made the talk loud and free. There was much flattery of the 
"young god, 77 much detraction of Philip, at which Alexander 
had smiled with satisfaction. 1 This drunken self-complacency 
was more than the Macedonians could stand ; it roused Clitus, 
his foster-brother, to a frenzy. Clitus reproached Alexander 
with his Median costume and praised Philip, there was a loud 
quarrel, and, to end it, Clitus was hustled out of the room by 
his friends. He was, however, in the obstinate phase of drunk- 
enness, and he returned by another entrance. He was heard 
outside quoting Euripides "in a bold and disrespectful tone": 

"Are these your customs ? Is it thus that Greece 
Rewards her combatants? Shall one man claim 
The trophies won by thousands?" 

Whereupon Alexander snatched a spear from one of his 
guards and ran Clitus through the body as he lifted the curtain 
to come in. ... 

One is forced to believe that this was the real atmosphere of 
the young conqueror's life. Then the story of his frantic and 
cruel display of grief for Hepha3stion can scarcely be all in- 
vention. If it is true, or in any part true, it displays a mind 
ill-balanced and altogether wrapped up in personal things, to 
whom empire was no more than opportunity for egoistic display, 
and all the resources of the world, stuff for freaks of that sort 
of "generosity" which robs a thousand people to extort the ad- 
miration of one astounded recipient. 

HephaBstion, being ill, was put upon a strict diet, but in the 
absence of his physician at the theatre he ate a roasted fowl and 
drank a flagon of iced wine, in consequence of which he died. 

1 D. G. Hogarth. 




Thereupon Alexander decided upon a display of grief. It was 
the grief of a lunatic. He had the physician crucified! He 
ordered every horse and mule in Persia to be shorn, and pulled 
down the battlements of the neighbouring cities. He prohibited 
all music in his camp for a long time, and, having taken certain 
villages of the Cusseans, he caused all the adults to be massacred, 
as a sacrifice to the manes of Hephasstion. Finally he set aside 
ten thousand talents (a talent = 240) for a tomb. For those 
days this was an enormous sum of money. None of which 
things did any real honour to Hephaastion, but they served to 

demonstrate to an awe-stricken 
world what a tremendous thing 
the sorrow of Alexander could be. 
This last story and many such 
stories may be lies or distortions or 
exaggerations. But they have a 
vein in common. After a bout of 
hard drinking in Babylon a sud- 
den fever came upon Alexander 
(323 B.C.), and he sickened and 
died. He was still only thirty- 
three years of age. Forthwith the 
world empire he had snatched at 
I. and held in his hands, as a child 

might snatch at and hold a precious 
vase, fell to the ground and was shattered to pieces. 

Whatever appearance of a worldwide order may have gleamed 
upon men's imaginations, vanished at his death. The story be- 
comes the story of a barbaric autocracy in confusion. Every- 
where the provincial rulers set up for themselves. In the course 
of a few years the entire family of Alexander had been de- 
stroyed. Roxana, his barbarian wife, was prompt to murder, 
as a rival, the daughter of Darius. She herself presently bore 
Alexander a posthumous son, who was also called Alexander. 
He was murdered, with her, a few years later (311 B.C.). Her- 
cules, the only other son of Alexander, was murdered also. So, 
too, was Arida3us, the weak-minded half-brother (see 2). 
Plutarch gives a last glimpse of Olympias during a brief in- 
terval of power in Macedonia, accusing first this person and 
then that of poisoning her wonderful son. Many she killed in 
her fury. The bodies of some of his circle who had died after 


his death she caused to be dug up, but we do not know if any 
fresh light was shed upon his death by these disinterments. 
Finally Olympias was killed in Macedonia by the friends of 
those she had slain. 


From this welter of crime there presently emerged three 
leading figures. Much of the old Persian empire, as far as 
the Indus eastward and almost to Lydia in the west, was held 
by one general Seleucus, who founded a dynasty, the Seleucid 
Dynasty; Macedonia fell to another Macedonian general, Anti- 
gonus; a third Macedonian, Ptolemy, secured Egypt, and 
making Alexandria his chief city, established a sufficient naval 
ascendancy to keep also Cyprus and most of the coast of 
Phoenicia and Asia Minor. The Ptolemaic and Seleucid em- 
pires lasted for a considerable time ; the forms of government in 
Asia Minor and the Balkans were more unstable. Two maps 
will help the reader to a sense of the kaleidoscopic nature of 
the political boundaries of the third century B.C. Antigonus 
was defeated and killed at the battle of Ipsus (301), leaving 
Lysimachus, the governor of Thrace, and Cassander, of Mace- 
donia and Greece, as equally transitory successors. Minor gov- 
ernors carved out smaller states. Meanwhile the barbarians 
swung down into the broken-up and enfeebled world of civiliza- 
tion from the west and from the east. From the west came the 
Gauls, a people closely related to the Kelts. They raided down 
through Macedonia and Greece to Delphi, and (227 B.C.) two 
sections of them crossed the Bosphorus into Asia Minor, being 
first employed as mercenaries and then setting up for them- 
selves as independent plunderers; and after raiding almost to 
the Taurus, they settled in the old Phrygian land, holding the 
people about them to tribute. (These Gauls of Phrygia be- 
came the Galatians of St. Paul's Epistle.) Armenia and the 
southern shores of the Black Sea became a confusion of chang- 
ing rulers. Kings with Hellenistic ideas appeared in Cappa- 
docia, in Pontus (the south shore of the Black Sea), in Bithynia, 
and in Pergamum. From the east the Scythians and the 
Parthians and Bactrians also drove southward. . . . For a time 
there were Greek-ruled Bactrian states becoming more and more 
Orientalized; in the second century B.C. Greek adventurers from 


Bactria raided down into North India and founded short-lived 
kingdoms there, the last eastward fling of the Greek; then 
gradually barbarism fell again like a curtain between the West- 
ern civilizations and India. 


Amidst all these shattered fragments of the burst bubble of 
Hellenic empire one small state stands out and demands at 
least a brief section to itself, the kingdom of Pergamum. We 
hear first of this town as an independent centre during the 
struggle that ended in the battle of Ipsus. While the tide of 
the Gaulish invasion swirled and foamed to and fro about Asia 
Minor between the years 277 and 241, Pergamum for a time 
paid them tribute, but she retained her general independence, 
and at last, under Attains I, refused her tribute and defeated 
them in two decisive battles. For more than a century there- 
after (until 133 B.C.) Pergamum remained free, and was per- 
haps during that period the most highly civilized state in the 
world. On the hill of the Acropolis was reared a rich group of 
buildings, palaces, temples, a museum, and a library, rivals of 
those of Alexandria of which we shall presently tell, and almost 
the first in the world. Under the princes of Pergamum, Greek 
art blossomed afresh, and the reliefs of the altar of the temple 
of Zeus and the statues of the fighting and dying Gauls which 
were made there, are among the great artistic treasures of 

In a little while, as we shall tell later, the influence of a 
new power began to be felt in the Eastern Mediterranean, the 
power of the Roman republic, friendly to Greece and to Greek 
civilization; and in this power the Hellenic communities of 
Pergamum and Rhodes found a natural and useful ally and 
supporter against the Galatians and against the Orientalized 
Seleucid empire. We shall relate how at last the Roman power 
came into Asia, how it defeated the Seleucid empire at the 
battle of Magnesia (190 B.C.), and drove it out of Asia Minor 
and beyond the Taurus mountains, and how finally in 133 B.C. 
Attalus III, the last king of Pergamum, bowing to his sense of 
an inevitable destiny, made the Roman republic the heir to 
his kingdom, which became then the Roman province of "Asia." 




Nearly all historians are disposed to regard the career of 
Alexander the Great as marking an epoch in human affairs. 
It drew together all the known world, excepting only the west- 
ern Mediterranean, into one drama. But the opinions men 
have formed of Alexander himself vary enormously. They 
fall, most of them, into two main schools. One type of scholar 
is fascinated by the youth and splendour of this young man. 
These Alexander-worshippers seem disposed to take him at his 
own valuation, to condone every crime and folly either as the 
mere ebullience of a rich nature or as the bitter necessity to 
some gigantic scheme, and to regard his life as framed v^pon a 
design, a scheme of statesmanship, such as all the wider knowl- 
edge and wider ideas of these later times barely suffice to bring 
into the scope of our understanding. On the other hand, there 
are those who see him only as a wrecker of the slowly maturing 
possibilities of a free and tranquil Hellenized world. 

Before we ascribe to Alexander or to his father Philip 
schemes of world policy such as a twentieth-century historian- 
philosopher might approve, we shall do well to consider very 
carefully the utmost range of knowledge and thought that was 
possible in those days. The world of Plato, Isocrates, and 
Aristotle had practically no historical perspective at all; there 
had not been such a thing as history in the world, history, that 
is, as distinguished from mere priestly chronicles, until the last 
couple of centuries. Even highly educated men had the most 
circumscribed ideas of geography and foreign countries. For 
most men the world was still flat and limitless. The only sys- 
tematic political philosophy was based on the experiences of 
minute city states, and took no thought of empires. Nobody 
knew anything of the origins of civilization. No one had specu- 
lated upon economics before that time. No one had worked 
out the reaction of one social class upon another. We are too 
apt to consider the career of Alexander as the crown of some 
process that had long been afoot; as the climax of a crescendo. 
In . a sense, no doubt, it was that ; but much more true is it 
that it was not so much an end as a beginning ; it was the first 
revelation to the human imagination of the. oneness of human 
affairs. The utmost reach of the thought of Greece before his 
time was of a Persian empire Hellenized, a predominance in 


the world of Macedonians and Greeks. But before Alexander 
was dead, and much more after he was dead and there had 
been time to think him over, the conception of a world law 
and organization was a practicable and assimilable idea for 
the minds of men. 

Fo-r some generations Alexander the Great was for mankind 
the symbol and embodiment of world order and world dominion. 
He became a fabulous being. His head, adorned with the 
divine symbols of the demi-god Hercules or the god Ammon 
Ra, appears on the coins of such among his successors as could 
claim to be his heirs. Then the idea of world dominion was 
taken up by another great people, a people who for some cen- 
turies exhibited considerable political genius, the Romans ; and 
the figure of another conspicuous adventurer, CaBsar, eclipsed 
for the western half of the old world the figure of Alexander. 

So by the beginning of the third century B.C. we find already 
arisen in the Western civilization of the old world three of the 
great structural ideas that rule the mind of contemporary man- 
kind. We have already traced the escape of writing and knowl- 
edge from the secrets and mysteries and initiations of the old- 
world priesthoods, and the development of the idea of a uni- 
versal knowledge, of a universally understandable and com- 
municable history and philosophy. We have taken the figures 
of Herodotus and Aristotle as typical exponents of this first 
great idea, the idea of science using the word science in its 
widest and properest sense, to include history and signify a 
clear vision of man in relation to the things about him. We 
have traced also the generalization of religion among the Baby- 
lonians, Jews, and other Semitic peoples, from the dark worship 
in temples and consecrated places of some local or tribal god 
to the open service of one universal God of Righteousness, 
whose temple is the whc^e world. And now we have traced 
also the first germination of the idea of a, world polity. The 
rest of the history of mankind is very largely the history of 
those three ideas of science, of a universal righteousness, and 
of a human commonweal, spreading out from the minds of the 
rare and exceptional persons and peoples in which they first 
originated, into the general consciousness of the race, and giving 
first a new colour, then a new spirit, and then a new direction 
to human affairs. 


1. The Science of Alexandria. 2. Philosophy of Alexan- 
dria. 3. Alexandria as a Factory of Religions. 

ONE of the most prosperous fragments of the brief world 
empire of Alexander the Great was Egypt, which fell 
to the share of the Ptolemy whose name we have al- 
ready noted as one of the associates of Alexander whom King 
Philip had banished. The country was at a secure distance 
from plundering Gaul or Parthian, and the destruction of Tyre 
and the Phoenician navy, and the creation of Alexandria gave 
Egypt a temporary naval ascendancy in the Eastern Mediter- 
ranean. Alexandria grew to proportions that rivalled Car- 
thage; eastward she had an overseas trade through the Red Sea 
with Arabia and India ; and westward her traffic competed with 
the Carthaginian. In the Macedonian and Greek governors of 
the Ptolemies, the Egyptians found a government more sympa- 
thetic and tolerable than any they had ever known since they 
ceased to be a self-governing empire. Indeed it is rather that 
Egypt conquered and annexed the Ptolemies politically, than 
that the Macedonians ruled Egypt. 

There was a return to Egyptian political ideas, rather than 
any attempt to Hellenize the government of the country. 
Ptolemy became Pharaoh, the god-king, and his administration 
continued the ancient tradition of Pepi, Thotmes, Rameses, 
and Necho. Alexandria, however, for her town affairs, and 
subject to the divine overlordship of Pharaoh, had a constitu- 
tion of the Greek city type. And the language of the court and 
administration was Attic Greek. Greek became so much the 
general language of educated people in Egypt that the Jewish 
community there found it necessary to translate their Bible into 
the Greek language, many men of their own people being no 



longer able to understand Hebrew. Attic Greek for some cen- 
turies before and after Christ was the language of all educated 
men from the Adriatic to the Persian Gulf. 

Of all Alexander's group of young men, Ptolemy seems to 
have done most to carry out those ideas of a systematic organi- 
zation of knowledge with which Aristotle had no doubt 
familiarized the court of Philip of Macedon. Ptolemy was a 
man of very extraordinary intellectual gifts, at once creative 
and modest, with a certain understandable cynicism towards 
the strain of Olympias in the mind of Alexander. His contem- 
porary history of Alexander's campaigns has perished; but it 
was a source to which all the surviving accounts are deeply 

The Museum he set up in Alexandria was in effect the first 
university in the world. As its name implies, it was dedicated 
to the service of the Muses, which was also the case with the 
Peripatetic school at Athens. It was, however, a religious body 
only in form, in order to meet the legal difficulties of endow- 
ment in a world that had never foreseen such a thing as a 
secular intellectual process. It was essentially a college of 
learned men engaged chiefly in research and record, but also 
to a certain extent in teaching. At the outset, and for two or 
three generations, the Museum at Alexandria presented such a 
scientific constellation as even Athens at its best could not rival. 
Particularly sound and good was the mathematical and geo- 
graphical work. The names of Euclid, familiar to every school- 
boy, Eratosthenes, who measured the size of the earth and came 
within fifty miles of the true diameter, Apollonius, who wrote 
on conic sections, stand out. Hipparchus made the first attempt 
to catalogue and map the stars with a view to checking any 
changes that might be occurring in the heavens. Hero devised 
the first steam engine. Archimedes came to Alexandria to 
study, and remained a frequent correspondent of the Museum. 
The medical school of Alexandria was equally famous. For 
the first time in the world's history a standard of professional 
knowledge was set up. Herophilus, the greatest of the Alexan- 
drian anatomists, is said to have conducted vivisections upon 
condemned criminals. Other teachers, in opposition to Hero- 
philus, condemned the study of anatomy and developed the sci- 
ence of drugs. But this scientific blaze at Alexandria did not 
endure altogether for more than a century. The organization 



of the Museum was not planned to ensure its mental continuity. 
It was a "royal" college ; its professors and fellows (as we may 
call them) were appointed and paid by Pharaoh. "The repub- 
lican character of the 
private corporations 
called the schools or 
academies at Athens 
was far more stable 
and independent." 
Royal patronage was 
all very well so long 
as Pharaoh was Ptol- 
emy I, or Ptolemy 
II, but the strain de- 
generated, and the 
long tradition o f 
Egyptian priestcraft 
presently swallowed 
up the Ptolemies 
and destroyed the 
Aristotelian mental- 
ity of the Museum 
altogether. The 
Museum had not ex- 
isted for a hundred 
years before its sci- 
entific energy was 

Side by side with 
the Museum, Ptol- 
emy I created a more 
enduring monument 
to himself in the 
great library. This 
was a combination of 
state library and 
state publishing upon 
a scale hitherto unheard of. It was to be altogether encyclopa> 
dic. If any stranger brought an unknown book to Egypt, he 
had to have it copied for the collection, and a considerable staff 
of copyists was engaged continually in making duplicates of all 


the more popular and necessary works. The library, like a 
university press, had an outward trade. It was a book-selling 
affair. Under Callimachus, the head of the library during the 
time of Ptolemy II and III, the arrangement and cataloguing 
of the accumulations was systematically undertaken. In those 
days, it must be remembered, books were not in pages, but rolled 
like the music-rolls of the modern piano-player, and in order 
to refer to any particular passage, a reader had to roll back 
or roll forward very tediously, a process which wore out books 
and readers together. One thinks at once of a simple and 
obvious little machine by which such a roll could have been 
quickly wound to and fro for reference, but nothing of the sort 
seems to have been used. Every time a roll was read it was 
handled by two perspiring hands. It was to minimize the waste 
of time and trouble that Callimachus broke up long works, such 
as the History of Herodotus, into "books" or volumes, as we 
should call them, each upon a separate roll. The library of 
Alexandria drew a far vaster crowd of students than the teachers 
of the Museum. The lodging and catering for these visitors 
from all parts of the world became a considerable business 
interest for the Alexandrian population. 

It is curious to note how slowly the mechanism of the in- 
tellectual life improves. Contrast the ordinary library facilities 
of a middle-class English home, such as the present writer is 
now working in, with the inconveniences and deficiencies of 
the equipment of an Alexandrian writer, and one realizes the 
enormous waste of time, physical exertion, and attention that 
went on through all the centuries during which that library flour- 
ished. Before the present writer lie half a dozen books, and 
there are good indices to three of them. He can pick up any 
one of these six books, refer quickly to a statement, verify a 
quotation, and go on writing. Contrast with that the tedious 
unfolding of a rolled manuscript. Close at hand are two 
encyclopaedias, a dictionary, an atlas of the world, a biograph- 
ical dictionary, and other books of reference. They have no 
marginal indices, it is true ; but that perhaps is asking for toe 
much at present. There were no such resources in the world in 
300 B.C. Alexandria had still to produce the first grammar 
and the first dictionary. This present book is being written in 
manuscript; it is then taken by a typist and typewritten very 
accurately. It can then, with the utmost convenience, be read 



over, corrected amply, rearranged freely, retyped, and recor- 
rected. The Alexandrian author had to dictate or recopy every 
word he wrote. Before he could turn back to what he had 
written previously, he had to dry his last words hy waving them 
in the air or pouring sand over them ; he had not even blotting- 

paper. Whatever an author wrote had to be recopied again 
and again before it could reach any considerable circle of 
readers, and every copyist introduced some new error. When- 
ever a need for maps or diagrams arose, there were fresh diffi- 
culties. Such a science as anatomy, for example, depending as 
it does upon accurate drawing, must have been enormously 
hampered by the natural limitations of the copyist. The trans- 
mission of geographical fact again must have been almost in- 
credibly tedious. No doubt a day will come when a private 


library and writing-desk of the year A.D. 1919 wil] seem quaintly 
clumsy and difficult; but, measured by the standards of Alex- 
andria, they are astonishingly quick, efficient, and economical 
of nervous and mental energy. 

No attempt seems to have been made at Alexandria to print 
anything at all. That strikes one at first as a very remarkable 
fact. The world was crying out for books, and not simply for 
books. There was an urgent public need for notices, proclama- 
tions, and the like. Yet there is nothing in the history of 
the Western civilizations that one can call printing until the 
fifteenth century A.D. It is not as though printing was a 
recondite art or dependent upon any precedent and preliminary 
discoveries. Printing is the most obvious of dodges. In prin- 
ciple it has always been known. As we have already stated, 
there is ground for supposing that the Paleolithic men of the 
Magdalenian period may have printed designs on their leather 
garments. The "seals" of ancient Sumeria again were printing 
devices. Coins are print. Illiterate persons in all ages have 
used wooden or metal stamps for their signatures; William I, 
the Norman Conqueror of England, for example, used such a 
stamp with ink to sign documents. In China the classics were 
being printed by the second century A.D. Yet either because of 
a complex of small difficulties about ink or papyrus or the form 
of books, or because of some protective resistance on the part 
of the owners of the slave copyists, or because the script was 
too swift and easy to set men thinking how to write it still more 
easily, as the Chinese character or the Gothic letters did, or 
because of a gap in the social system between men of thought 
and knowledge and men of technical skill, printing was not used 
not even used for the exact reproduction of illustrations. 

The chief reason for this failure to develop printing sys- 
tematically lies, no doubt, in the fact that there was no abundant 
supply of printable material of a uniform texture and con- 
venient form. The supply of papyrus was strictly limited, 
strip had to be fastened to strip, and there was no standard size 
of sheet. Paper had yet to come from China to release the 
mind of Europe. Had there been presses, they would have 
had to stand idle while the papyrus rolls were slowly made. 
But this explanation does not account for the failure to use 
block printing in the case of illustrations and diagrams. 

These limitations enable us to understand why it was that 


Alexandria could at once achieve the most extraordinary intel- 
lectual triumphs for such a feat as that of Eratosthenes, for 
instance, having regard to his poverty of apparatus, is suffi- 
cient to put him on a level with Newton or Pasteur and yet 
have little or no effect upon the course of politics or the lives 
and thoughts of people round about her. Her Museum and 
library were a centre of light, but it was light in a dark lantern 
hidden from the general world. There were no means of carry- 
ing its results even to sympathetic men abroad except by tedious 
letter-writing. There was no possibility of communicating what 
was known there to the general body of men. Students had to 
come at great cost to themselves to this crowded centre because 
there was no other way of gathering even scraps of knowledge. 
At Athens and Alexandria there were bookstalls where manu- 
script note-books of variable quality could be bought at reason- 
able prices, but any extension of education to larger classes and 
other centres would have produced at once a restrictive shortage 
of papyrus. Education did not reach into the masses at all; 
to become more than superficially educated one had to abandon 
the ordinary life of the times and come for long years to live a 
hovering existence in the neighbourhood of ill-equipped and 
overworked sages. Learning was not indeed so complete a 
withdrawal from ordinary life as initiation into a priesthood, 
but it was still something in that nature. 

And very speedily that feeling of freedom, that openness and 
directness of statement which is the vital air of the true intel- 
lectual life, faded out of Alexandria. From the first the patron- 
age even of Ptolemy I set a limit to political discussion. Pres- 
ently the dissensions of the schools let in the superstitions and 
prejudices of the city mob to scholastic affairs. 

Wisdom passed away from Alexandria and left pedantry be- 
hind. For the use of books was substituted the worship of 
books. Very speedily the learned became a specialized queer 
class with unpleasant characteristics of its own. The Museum 
had not existed for half a dozen generations before Alexandria 
was familiar with a new type of human being; shy, eccentric, 
unpractical, incapable of essentials, strangely fierce upon trivi- 
alities of literary detail, as bitterly jealous of the colleague 
within as of the unlearned without, the bent Scholarly Man. 
He was as intolerant as a priest, though he had no altar; as 
obscurantist as a magician, though he had no cave. For him 


no method of copying was sufficiently tedious and no rare book 
sufficiently inaccessible. He was a sort of by-product of the 
intellectual process of mankind. For many precious genera- 
tions the new-lit fires of the human intelligence were to be seri- 
ously banked down by this by-product. 

Right thinking is necessarily an open process, and the only 
science and history of full value to men consist of what is gen- 
erally and clearly known ; this is surely a platitude, but we have 
still to discover how to preserve our centres of philosophy and 
research from the caking and darkening accumulations of nar- 
row and dingy-spirited specialists. We have still to ensure that 
a man of learning shall be none the less a man of affairs, and 
that all that can be thought and known is kept plainly, honestly, 
and easily available to the ordinary men and women who are 
the substance of mankind. 


At first the mental activities of Alexandria centred upon 
the Museum, and were mainly scientific. Philosophy, which in 
a more vigorous age had been a doctrine of power over self and 
the material world, without abandoning these pretensions, be- 
came in reality a doctrine of secret consolation. The stimulant 
changed into an opiate. The philosopher let the world, as the 
vulgar say, rip, the world of which he was a part, and consoled 
himself by saying in very beautiful and elaborate forms that the 
world was illusion and that there was in him something quintes- 
sential and sublime, outside and above the world. Athens, 
politically insignificant, but still a great and crowded mart 
throughout the fourth century, decaying almost imperceptibly 
so far as outer seeming went, and treated with a strange respect 
that was half contempt by all the warring powers and adven- 
turers of the world, was the fitting centre of such philosophical 
teaching. It was quite a couple of centuries before the schools 
of Alexandria became as important in philosophical discussion. 


If Alexandria was late to develop a distinctive philosophy, 
she was early prominent as a great factory and exchange of 
religious ideas. 


The Museum and Library represented only one of the three 
sides of the triple city of Alexandria. They represented the 
Aristotelian, the Hellenic, and Macedonian element. But 
Ptolemy I had brought together two other factors to this strange 
centre. First there was a great number of Jews, brought partly 
from Palestine, but largely also from those settlements in Egypt 
which had never returned to Jerusalem; these latter were the 
Jews of the Diaspora or Dispersion, a race of Jews who, as we 
have already noted in Chapter XIX, had not shared the Baby- 
lonian Captivity, but who were nevertheless in possession of the 
Bible and in close correspondence with their co-religionists 
throughout the world. These Jews populated so great a quarter 
of Alexandria that the town became the largest Jewish city 
in the world, with far more Jews in it than there were in 
Jerusalem. We have already noted that they had found 
it necessary to translate their scriptures into Greek. And, 
finally, there was a great population of native Egyptians, also 
for the most part speaking Greek, but with the superstitious 
temperament of the dark whites and with the vast tradition of 
forty centuries of temple religion and temple sacrifices at the 
back of their minds. In Alexandria three types of mind and 
spirit met, the three main types of the white race, the clear- 
headed criticism of the Aryan Greek, the moral fervour and 
monotheism of the Semitic Jew, and the deep Mediterranean 
tradition of mysteries and sacrifices that we have already seen 
at work in the secret cults and occult practices of Greece, ideas 
which in Hamitic Egypt ruled proudly in great temples in the 
open light of day. 

These three were the permanent elements of the Alexandrian 
blend. But in the seaport and markets mingled men of every 
known race, comparing their religious ideas and customs. It 
is even related that in the third century B.C. Buddhist mis- 
sionaries came from the court of King Asoka in India. Aris- 
totle remarks in his Politics that the religious beliefs of men 
are apt to borrow their form from political institutions, "men 
assimilate the lives no less than the bodily forms of the gods 
to their own/ 7 and this age of Greek-speaking great empires 
under autocratic monarchs was bearing hardly upon those merely 
local celebrities, the old tribal and city deities. Men were 
requiring deities with an outlook at least as wide as the em- 
pires, and except where the interests of powerful priesthood^ 


Iffiff and 


stood in the way, a curious process of assimilation of gods was 
going on. Men found that though there were many gods, they 
were all very much alike. Where there had been many gods, 
men came to think there must be really only one god under a 
diversity of names. He had been everywhere under an alias. 
The Roman Jupiter, the Greek Zeus, the Egyptian Ammon, the 
putative father of Alexander and the old antagonist of Ameno- 
phis IV the Babylonian Bel-Marduk, were all sufficiently sim- 
ilar to be identified. 

"Father of all in every age, in every clime adored 
By saint, by savage and by sage, Jehovah, Jove 
or Lord." 

Where there were distinct differences, the difficulty was met 
by saying that these were different aspects of the same god. 
Bel-Marduk, however, was now a very decadent god indeed, 
who hardly survived as a pseudonym; 
Assur, Dagon, and the like, poor old gods 
of fallen nations, had long since passed 
out of memory, and did not come into the 
amalgamation. Osiris, a god popular 
with the Egyptian commonalty, was al- 
ready identified with Apis, the sacred 
bull in the temple of Memphis, and some- 
what confused with Ammon. Under the 
name of Serapis he became the great 
god of Hellenic Alexandria. He was 
Jupiter-Serapis. The Egyptian cow 
goddess, Hathor or Isis, was also repre- 
sented now in human guise as the wife 
of Osiris, to whom she bore the infant 
Horus, who grew up to be Osiris again. 
These bald statements sound strange, 
no doubt, to a modern mind, but these 
identifications and mixing up of one god 
with another are very illustrative of the 
struggle the quickening human intelligence was making to cling 
still to religion and its emotional bonds and fellowship, while 
making its gods more reasonable and universal. 

This fusing of one god with another is called tlieocrasia, and 
nowhere was it more vigorously going on than in Alexandria. 



Only two peoples resisted it in this period: the Jews, who al- 
ready had their faith in the One God of Heaven and Earth, 
Jehovah, and the Persian who had a monotheistic sun worship. 

It was Ptolemy I who set up 
not only the Museum in Alex- 
andria, but the Serapeum, de- 
voted to the worship of a trinity 
of god which represented the re- 
sult of a process of theocrasia ap- 
plied more particularly to the 
gods of Greece and Egypt. 

This trinity consisted of the 
god Serapis (= Osiris + Apis), 
the goddess Isis (= Hathor, the 
cow-moon goddess), and the child- 
god Horus. In one way or an- 
other almost every other god was 
identified with one or other of 
these three aspects of the one 
God, even the sun god Mithras of 
the Persians. And they were 
each other; they were three, but 
they were also one. They were 
worshipped with great fervour, 
and the jangling of a peculiar in- 
strument, the sistrum, a frame set with bells and used rather 
after the fashion of the tambourine in the proceedings of the 
modern Salvation Army, was a distinctive accessory to the cere- 
monies. And now for the first time we find the idea of immor- 
tality becoming the central idea of a religion that extended be- 
yond Egypt. Neither the early Aryans nor the early Semites 
seem to have troubled very much about immortality, it has af- 
fected the Mongolian mind very little, but the continuation of 
the individual life after death had been from the earliest times 
an intense preccupation of the Egyptians. It played now a 
large part in the worship of Serapis. In the devotional litera- 
ture of his cult he is spoken of as "the saviour and leader of 
souls, leading souls to the light and receiving them again." It 
is stated that "he raises the dead, he shows forth the longed-for 
\ight of the sun to those who see, whose holy tombs contain multi- 
tudes of sacred books' 7 ; and again, "we never can escape him, 



he will save us, after death we shall still be the care of his 
providence." l 

The ceremonial burning, of candles and the offering of ex- 
votos, that is to say of small models of parts of the human body 
in need of succour, was a part of the worship of the Serapeum. 
Isis attracted many devotees, who vowed their lives to her. 
Her images stood in the temple, crowned as the Queen of 
Heaven and bearing the infant Horus in .her arms. The candles 
flared and guttered before her, and the wax ex-votos hung about 
the shrine. The novice was put through a long and careful prep- 
aration, he took vows of celibacy, and when he was initiated his 
head was shaved and he was clad in a linen garment. . . . 

In this worship of Serapis, which spread very widely through- 
out the civilized world in the third and second centuries B.C., 
we see the most remarkable anticipations of usages and forms 
of expression that were destined to dominate the European 
world throughout the Christian era. The essential idea, the 
living spirit, of Christianity was, as we shall presently show, 
a new thing in the history of the mind and will of man; but 
the garments of ritual and symbol and formula that Christianity 
has worn, and still in many countries wears to this day, were 
certainly woven in the cult and temples of Jupiter, Serapis, and 
Isis that spread now from Alexandria throughout the civilized 
world in the age of theocrasia in the second and first centuries 
before Christ. 

1 Legge, Forerunners and Rivals oj Christianity. 



1. The Story of Gautama. 2. Teaching and Legend in 
Conflict. 3. The Gospel of Gautama Buddha, 4. Bud- 
dhism and AsoJca. 1 5. Two Great Chinese Teachers. 6. 
The Corruptions of Buddhism. 7. The Present Range of 

IT is interesting to turn from the mental and moral activities 
of Athens and Alexandria, and the growth of human ideas 
in the Mediterranean world, to the almost entirely separate 
intellectual life of India. Here was a civilization which from 
the first seems to have grown up upon its own roots and with a 
character of its own. It was cut off from the civilizations to 
the west and to the east hy vast mountain barriers and desert 
regions. The Aryan tribes who had come down into the penin- 
sula soon lost touch with their kindred to the west and north, 
and developed upon lines of their own. This was more particu- 
larly the case with those who had passed on into the Ganges 
country and beyond. They found a civilization already scat- 
tered over India, the Dravidian civilization. This had arisen 
independently, just as the Sumerian, Cretan, and Egyptian 
civilizations seem to have arisen, out of that widespread de- 
velopment of the neolithic culture, the heliolithic culture, whose 
characteristics we have already described. They revived and 
changed this Dravidian civilization much as the Greeks did the 
^Egean or the Semites the Sumerian. 

These Indian Aryans were living under different conditions 
from those that prevailed to the north-west. They were living 
in a warmer climate, in which a diet of beef and fermented 
liquor was destructive; they were forced, therefore, to a gen- 
erally vegetarian dietary, and the prolific soil, almost unasked, 
gave them all the food they needed. There was no further 

1 Pronounced Ashoka. 


reason for them to wander; the crops and seasons were trust- 
worthy. They wanted little clothing or housing. They wanted 
so little that trade was undeveloped. There was still land for 
every one who desired to cultivate a patch and a little patch 
sufficed. Their political life was simple and comparatively 
secure ; no great conquering powers had arisen as yet in India, 
and her natural barriers sufficed to stop the early imperialisms 
to the west of her and to the east. Thousands of comparatively 
pacific little village republics and chieftainships were spread 
over the land. There was no sea life, there were no pirate 
raiders, no strange traders. One might write a history of India 
coming down to four hundred years ago and hardly mention 
the sea. 

The history of India for many centuries had been happier, 
less fierce, and more dreamlike than any other history. The 
noblemen, the rajahs, hunted; life was largely made up of love 
stories. Here and there a maharajah arose amidst the rajahs 
and built a city, caught and tamed many elephants, slew many 
tigers, and left a tradition of his splendour and his wonderful 

It was somewhen between 500 and 600 B.C., when Croasus 
was flourishing in Lydia and Cyrus was preparing to snatch 
Babylon from Nabonidus, that the founder of Buddhism was 
born in India. He was born in a small republican 'tribal com- 
munity in the north of Bengal under the Himalayas, in what is 
now overgrown jungle country on the borders of Nepal. The 
little state was ruled by a family, the Sakya clan, of which 
this man, Siddhattha Gautama, was a member. Siddhattha 
was his personal name, like Caius or John; Gautama, or 
Gotama, his family name, like Caesar or Smith ; Sakya his clan 
name, like Julius. The institution of caste was not yet fully 
established in India, and the Brahmins, though they were privi- 
leged and influential, had not yet struggled to the head of the 
system; but there were already strongly marked class distinc- 
tions and a practically impermeable partition between the noble 
Aryans and the darker common people. Gautama belonged to 
the former race. His teaching, we may note, was called the 
Aryan Path, the Aryan Truth. 

It is only within the last half-century that the increasing 
study of the Pali language, in which most of the original sources 
were written, has given the world a real knowledge of the life 


and actual thought of Gautama. Previously his story was over- 
laid by monstrous accumulations of legend, and his teaching 
violently misconceived. But now we have a very human and 
understandable account of him. 

He was a good-looking, capable young man of fortune, and 
until he was twenty-nine he lived the ordinary aristocratic life 
of his time. It was not a very satisfying life intellectually. 
There was no literature except the oral tradition of the Vedas, 
and that was chiefly monopolized by the Brahmins; there was 
even less knowledge. The world was bound by the snowy 
Himalayas to the north and spread indefinitely to the south. 
The city of Benares, which had a king, was about a hundred 
miles away. The chief amusements were hunting and love- 
making. All the good that life seemed to offer, Gautama en- 
joyed. He was married at nineteen to a beautiful cousin. For 
some years they remained childless. He hunted and played and 
went about in his sunny world of gardens and groves and 
irrigated rice-fields. And it was amidst this life that a great 
discontent fell upon him. It was the unhappiness of a fine 
brain that seeks employment. He lived amidst plenty and 
beauty, he passed from gratification to gratification, and his soul 
was not satisfied. It was as if he heard the destinies of the 
race calling to him. He felt that the existence he was leading 
was not the reality of life, but a holiday a holiday that had 
gone on too long. 

While he was in this mood he saw four things that served to 
point his thoughts. He was driving on some excursion of 
pleasure, when he came upon a man dreadfully broken down 
by age. The poor bent, enfeebled creature struck his imagina- 
tion. "Such is the way of life," said Channa, his charioteer, 
and "to that we must all come." While this was yet in his mind 
he chanced upon a man suffering horribly from some loathsome 
disease. "Such is the way of life," said Channa. The third 
vision was of an unburied body, swollen, eyeless, mauled by 
passing birds and beasts and altogether terrible. "That is the 
way of life," said Channa. 

The sense of disease and mortality, the insecurity and the 
unsatisfactoriness of all happiness, descended upon the mind of 
Gautama. And then he and Channa saw one of those wander- 
ing ascetics who already existed in great numbers in India. 
These men lived under severe rules, spending much time in 


meditation and in religious discussion. For many men before 
Gautama in that land of uneventful sunshine had found life 
distressing and mysterious. These ascetics were all supposed 
to be seeking some deeper reality in life, and a passionate desire 
to do likewise took possession of Gautama. 

He was meditating upon this project, says the story, when 
the news was brought to him that his wife had been delivered 
of his first-born son. "This is another tie to break," said 

He returned to the village amidst the rejoicings of his fel- 
low clansmen. There was a great feast and a ISTautch dance 
to celebrate the birth of this new tie, and in the night Gautama 
awoke in a great agony of spirit, "like a man who is told that 
his house is on fire." In the ante-room the dancing girls were 
lying in strips of darkness and moonlight. He called Channa, 
and told him to prepare his horse. Then he went softly to the 
threshold of his wife's chamber, and saw her by the light of a 
little oil lamp, sleeping sweetly, surrounded by flowers, with 
his infant son in her arm. He felt a great craving to take up 
the child in one first and last embrace before he departed, but 
the fear of waking his wife prevented him, and at last he 
turned away and went out into the bright Indian moonshine to 
Channa waiting with the horses, and mounted and stole away. 

As he rode through the night with Channa, it seemed to him 
that Mara, the Tempter of Mankind, filled the sky and disputed 
with him. "Return," said Mara, "and be a king, and I will 
make you the greatest of kings. Go on, and you will fail. 
Never will I cease to dog your footsteps. Lust or malice or 
anger will betray you at last in some unwary moment; sooner 
or later you will be mine." 

Very far they rode that night, and in the morning he stopped 
outside the lands of his clan, and dismounted beside a sandy 
river. There he cut off his flowing locks with his sword, re- 
moved all his ornaments, and sent them and his horse and sword 
back to his house by Channa. Then going on he presently met 
a ragged man and exchanged clothes with him, and so having 
divested himself of all worldly entanglements, he was free to 
pursue his search after wisdom. He made his way southward 
to a resort of hermits and teachers in a hilly spur running into 
Bengal northward from the Vindhya Mountains, close to the 
town of Rajgir. There a number of wise men lived in a warren 





of caves, going into the town for their simple supplies and 
imparting their knowledge by word of mouth to such as cared 
to come to them. 

This instruction must have been very much in the style of 
the Socratic discussions that were going on in Athens a couple 
of centuries later. Gautama became versed in all the meta- 


physics of his age. But his acute intelligence was dissatisfied 
with the solutions offered him. 

The Indian mind has always been disposed to believe that 
power and knowledge may be obtained by extreme asceticism, 
by fasting, sleeplessness, and self-torment, and these ideas Gau- 
tama now put to the test. He betook himself with five disciple 
companions to the jungle in a gorge in the Vindhya Mountains, 
and there he gave himself up to fasting and terrible penances. 
His fame spread, "like the sound of a great bell hung in the 
canopy of the skies." l But it brought him no sense of truth 
achieved. One day he was walking up and down, trying to 
think in spite of his enfeebled state. Suddenly he staggered 
and fell unconscious. When he recovered, the preposterousness 
of these semi-magic ways of attempting wisdom was plain to 

He amazed and horrified his five companions by demanding 
ordinary food and refusing to continue his self-mortifications. 
He had realized that whatever truth a man may reach is reached 
best by a nourished brain in a healthy body. Such a conception 
was absolutely foreign to the ideas of the land and age. His 
disciples deserted him, and went off in a melancholy state to 
Benares. The boom of the great bell ceased. Gautama the 
wonderful had fallen. 

For a time Gautama wandered alone, the loneliest figure in 
history, battling for light. 

When the mind grapples with a great and intricate problem, 
it makes its advances, it secures its positions step by step, with 
but little realization of the gains it has made, until suddenly, 
with an effect of abrupt illumination, it realizes its victory. So 
it would seem it happened to Gautama. He had seated himself 
under a great tree by the side of a river to eat, when this sense 
of clear vision came to him. It seemed to him that he saw life 
plain. He is said to have sat all day and all night in profound 
thought, and then he rose up to impart his vision to the world. 


Such is the plain story of Gautama as we gather it from a 
comparison of early writings. But common men must have 
their cheap marvels and wonders. 

*The Burmese Chronicle, quoted by Rhys Davids. 


It is nothing to them that this little planet should at last pro- 
duce upon its surface a man thinking of the past and the future 
and the essential nature of existence. And so we must have 
this sort of thing by some worthy Pali scribe, making the most 
of it: 

"When the conflict began between the Saviour of the World 
and the Prince of Evil a thousand appalling meteors fell. . . . 
Rivers flowed back towards their sources ; peaks and lofty moun- 
tains where countless trees had grown for ages rolled crumbling 
to the earth . . . the sun enveloped itself in awful darkness, 
and a host of headless spirits filled the air." * 

Of which phenomena history has preserved no authentication. 
Instead we have only the figure of a lonely man walking towards 

Extraordinary attention has been given to the tree under 
which Gautama had this sense of mental clarity. It was a 
tree of the fig genus, and from the first it was treated with 
peculiar veneration. It was called the Bo Tree. It has long 
since perished, but close at hand lives another great tree which 
may be its descendant, and in Ceylon there grows to this day 
a tree, the oldest historical tree in the world, which we know 
certainly to have been planted as a cutting from the Bo Tree 
in the year 245 B.C. From that time to this it has been care- 
fully tended and watered; its great branches are supported by 
pillars, and the earth has been terraced up about it so that it 
has been able to put out fresh roots continually. It helps us 
to realize the shortness of all human history to see so many 
generations spanned by the endurance of one single tree. Gau- 
tama's disciples unhappily have cared more for the preservation 
of his tree than of his thought, which from the first they mis- 
conceived and distorted. 

At Benares Gautama sought out his five pupils, who were 
still leading the ascetic life. There is an account of their hesi- 
tation to receive him when they saw him approaching. He was 
a backslider. But there was some power of personality in him 
that prevailed over their coldness, and he made them listen to 
his new convictions. For five days the discussion was carried 
on. When he had at last convinced them that he was now 
enlightened, they hailed him as the Buddha. There was already 
in those days a belief in India that at long intervals Wisdom 

1 The Madhurattha Vilasvni, quoted by Rhys Davids. 


returned to the earth and was revealed to mankind through 
a chosen person known as the Buddha. According to Indian 
belief there have been many such Buddhas; Gautama Buddha 
is only the latest one of a series. But it is doubtful if he him- 
self accepted that title or recognized that theory. In his dis- 
courses he never called himself the Buddha. 

He and his recovered disciples then formed a sort of Academy 
in the Deer Park at Benares. They made themselves huts, and 
accumulated other followers to the number of threescore or 
more. In the rainy season they remained in discourse at this 
settlement, and during the dry weather they dispersed about 
the country, each giving his version of the new teachings. All 
their teaching was done, it would seem, by word of mouth. There 
was probably no writing yet in India at all. We must remem- 
ber that in the time of Buddha it is doubtful if even the Iliad 
had been committed to writing. Probably the Mediterranean 
alphabet, which is the basis of most Indian scripts, had not yet 
reached India. The master, therefore, worked out and com- 
posed pithy and brief verses, aphorisms, and lists of "points," 
and these were expanded in the discourse of his disciples. It 
greatly helped them to have these points and aphorisms num- 
bered. The modern mind is apt to be impatient of the tendency 
of Indian thought to a numerical statement of things, the Eight- 
fold Path, the Four Truths, and so on, but this enumeration 
was a mnemonic necessity in an undocumented world. 


The fundamental teaching of Gautama, as it is now being 
made plain to us by the study of original sources, is clear and 
simple and in the closest harmony with modern ideas. It is 
beyond all dispute the achievement of one of the most penetrat- 
ing intelligences the world has ever known. 

We have what are almost certainly the authentic heads of 
his discourse to the five disciples which embodies his essential 
doctrine. All the miseries and discontents of life he traces to 
insatiable selfishness. Suffering, he teaches, is due to the 
craving individuality, to the torment of greedy desire. Until a 
man has overcome every sort of personal craving his life is 
trouble and his end sorrow. There are three principal forms 
the craving of life takes, and all are evil. The first is the desire 


to gratify the senses, sensuousness. The second is the desire 
for personal immortality. The third is the desire for prosperity, 
worldliness. All these must be overcome that is to say, a man 
must no longer be living for himself before life can become 
serene. But when they are indeed overcome and no longer rule 
a man's life, when the first personal pronoun has vanished from 
his private thoughts, then he has reached the higher wisdom, 
Nirvana, serenity of soul. For Nirvana does not mean, as many 
people wrongly believe, extinction, but the extinction of the 
futile personal aims that necessarily make life base or pitiful 
or dreadful. 

Now here, surely we have the completest analysis of the 
problem of the soul's peace. Every religion that is worth the 
name, every philosophy, warns us to lose ourselves in something 
greater than ourselves. " Whosoever would save his life, shall 
lose it ;" there is exactly the same lesson. 

The teaching of history, as we are unfolding it in this book, 
is strictly in accordance with this teaching of Buddha. There 
is, as we are seeing, no social order, no security, no peace or 
happiness, no righteous leadership or kingship, unless men lose 
themselves in something greater than themselves. The study 
of biological progress again reveals exactly the same process 
the merger of the narrow globe of the individual experience in 
a wider being (compare what has been said in Chaps. XI and 
XVI). To forget oneself in greater interests is to escape 
from a prison. 

The self-abnegation must be complete. From the point of 
view of Gautama, that dread of death, that greed for an endless 
continuation of his mean little individual life which drove the 
Egyptian and those who learnt from him with propitiations and 
charms into the temples, was as mortal and ugly and evil a 
thing as lust or avarice or hate. The religion of Gautama is 
flatly opposite to the "immortality" religions. And his teach- 
ing is set like flint against asceticism, as a mere attempt to win 
personal power by personal pains. 

But when we come to the rule of life, the Aryan Path, by 
which we are to escape from the threefold base cravings that 
dishonour human life, then the teaching is not so clear. It is 
not so clear for one very manifest reason, Gautama had no 
knowledge nor vision of history; he had no clear sense of the 
vast and many-sided adventure of life opening out in space and 


time. His mind was confined within the ideas of his age and 
people, and their minds were shaped into notions of perpetual 
recurrence, of world following world and of Buddha following 
Buddha, a stagnant circling of the universe. The idea of man- 
kind as a great Brotherhood pursuing an endless destiny under 
the God of Righteousness, the idea that was already dawning 
upon the Semitic consciousness in Babylon at this time, did not 
exist in his world. Yet his account of the Eightfold Path is, 
nevertheless, within these limitations, profoundly wise. 

Let us briefly recapitulate the eight elements of the Aryan 
Path. First, Right Views ; Gautama placed the stern examina- 
tion of views and ideas, the insistence upon truth as the first 
research of his followers. There was to be no clinging to 
tawdry superstitions. He condemned, for instance, the preva- 
lent belief in the transmigration of souls. In a well-known 
early Buddhist dialogue there is a destructive analysis of the 
idea of an enduring individual soul. Next to Right Views 
came Right Aspirations ; because nature abhors a vacuum, and 
since base cravings are to be expelled, other desires must be 
encouraged love for the service of others, desire to do and 
secure justice and the like. Primitive and uncorrupted Bud- 
dhism aimed not at the destruction of desire, but at the change 
of desire. Devotion to science and art, or to the betterment of 
things manifestly falls into harmony with the Buddhistic Right 
Aspirations, provided such aims are free from jealousy or 
the craving for fame. Right Speech, Right Conduct, and Right 
Livelihood, need no expansion here. Sixthly in this list came 
Right Effort, for Gautama had no toleration for good intentions 
and slovenly application; the disciple had to keep a keenly 
critical eye upon his activities. The seventh element of the 
path, Right Mindfulness, is the constant guard against a lapse 
into personal feeling or glory for whatever is done or not done. 
And, finally, comes Right Rapture, which seems to be aimed 
against the pointless ecstacies of the devout, such witless glory- 
ings, for instance, as those that went to the jingle of the Alex- 
andrian sistrum. 

We will not discuss here the Buddhistic doctrine of Karma, 
because it belongs to a world of thought that is passing away. 
The good or evil of every life was supposed to determine the 
happiness or misery of some subsequent life, that was in some 
inexplicable way identified with its predecessor. Nowadays we 


realize that a life goes on in its consequences for ever, but we 
find no necessity to suppose that any particular life resumes 
again. The Indian mind was full of the idea of cyclic re- 
currence ; everything was supposed to come round again. This 
is a very natural supposition for men to make; so things seem 
to be until we analyze them. Modern science has made clear 
to us that there is no such exact recurrence as we are apt to 
suppose; every day is by an infinitesimal quantity a little 
longer than the day before; no generation repeats the previous 
generation precisely; history never repeats itself; change, we 
realize now, is inexhaustible ; all things are eternally new. But 
these differences between our general ideas and those Buddha 
must have possessed need not in any way prevent us from 
appreciating the unprecedented wisdom, the goodness, and the 
greatness of this plan of an emancipated life as Gautama laid 
it down somewhen in the sixth century before Christ. 

And if he failed in theory to gather together all the wills 
of the converted into the one multifarious activity of our race, 
battling against death and deadness in time and space, he did 
in practice direct his own life and that of all his immediate 
disciples into one progressive adventure, which was to preach 
and spread the doctrine and methods of Nirvana or soul- 
serenity throughout our fevered world. For them at least his 
teaching was complete and full. But all men cannot preach or 
teach ; doctrine is but one of many of the functions of life that 
are fundamentally righteous. To the modern mind it seems at. 
least equally acceptable that a man may, though perhaps against 
greater difficulties, cultivate the soil, rule a city, make roads, 
build houses, construct engines, or seek and spread knowledge, 
in perfect self-forgetfulness and serenity. As much was in- 
herent in Gautama's teaching, but the stress was certainly laid 
upon the teaching itself, and upon withdrawal from rather than 
upon the ennoblement of the ordinary affairs of men. 

In certain other respects this primitive Buddhism differed 
from any of the religions we have hitherto considered. It was 
primarily a religion of conduct, not a religion of observances 
and sacrifices. It had no temples, and since it had no sacrifices, 
it had no sacred order of priests. Nor had it any theology. It 
neither asserted nor denied the reality of the innumerable and 
often grotesque gods who were worshipped in India at that 
time. It passed them by. 



From the very first this new teaching was misconceived. One 
corruption was perhaps inherent in its teaching. Because the 
world of men had as yet no sense of the continuous progressive 
effort of life, it was very easy to slip from the idea of renouncing 
self to the idea of renouncing active life. As Gautama's own 
experiences had shown, it is easier to flee from this world than 
from self. His early disciples were strenuous thinkers and 
teachers, but the lapse into mere monastic seclusion was a very 
easy one, particularly easy in the climate of India, where an 
extreme simplicity of living is convenient and attractive, and 
exertion more laborious than anywhere else in the world. 

And it was early the fate of Gautama, as it has been the fate 
of most religious founders since his days, -to be made into a 
wonder by his less intelligent disciples in their efforts to impress 
the outer world. We have already noted how one devout fol- 
lower could not but believe that the moment of the master's 
mental irradiation must necessarily have been marked by an 
epileptic fit of the elements. This is one small sample of the 
vast accumulation of vulgar marvels that presently sprang up 
about the memory of Gautama. 

There can be no doubt that for the great multitude of human 
beings then as now the mere idea of an emancipation from self 
is a very difficult one to grasp. It is probable that even among 
the teachers Buddha was sending out from Benares there were 
many who did not grasp it and still less were able to convey it to 
their hearers. Their teaching quite naturally took on the aspect 
of salvation not from oneself that idea was beyond them but 
from misfortunes and sufferings here and hereafter. In the 
existing superstitions of the people, and especially in the idea 
of the transmigration of the soul after death, though this idea 
was contrary to the Master's own teaching, they found stuff of 
fear they could work upon. They urged virtue upon the people 
lest they should live again in degraded or miserable forms, or fall 
into some one of the innumerable hells of torment with which 
the Brahminical teachers had already familiarized their minds. 
They represented Buddha as the saviour from almost unlimited 

There seems to be no limit to the lies that honest but stupid 
disciples will tell for the glory of their master and for what they 





regard as the success of their propaganda. Men who would 
scorn to tell a lie in everyday life will become unscrupulous 
cheats and liars when they have given themselves up to propa- 
gandist work; it is one of the perplexing absurdities of our 
human nature. Such honest souls, for most of them were in- 
dubitably honest, were presently telling their hearers of the 
miracles that attended the Buddha's birth they no longer called 
him Gautama, because that was too familiar a name of his 

youthful feats of 
strength, of the marvels 
of his everyday life, 
winding up with a sort 
of illumination of his 
body at the moment of 
death. Of course it was 
impossible to believe 
that Buddha was the 
son of a mortal father. 
He was miraculously 
conceived through his 
mother dreaming of a 
beautiful white ele- 
phant ! Previously he 
had himself been a mar- 
vellous elephant with 
six tusks; he had gen- 
erously given them all 
to a needy hunter 
and even helped him to 
saw them off. And so 

Moreover, a theology 
grew up about Buddha. 
He was discovered to 
be a god. He was one 

of a series of divine beings, the Buddhas. There was an un- 
dying "Spirit of all the Buddhas" ; there was a great series 
of Buddhas past and Buddhas (or Buddisatvas) yet to come. 
But we cannot go further into these complications of Asiatic 
theology. "Under the overpowering influence of these sickly 
imaginations the moral teachings of Gautama have been almost 

[after Toucher] 


hid from view. The theories grew and flourished; each new 
step, each new hypothesis, demanded another; until the whole 
sky was filled with forgeries of the brain, and the nobler and 
simpler lessons of the founder of the religion were smothered 
beneath the glittering mass of metaphysical subtleties." l 

In the third century B.C. Buddhism was gaining wealth and 
power, and the little groups of simple huts in which the teachers 
of the Order gathered in the rainy season were giving place to 
substantial monastic buildings. To this period belong the begin- 
nings of Buddhistic art. Now if we remember how recent was 
the adventure of Alexander, that all the Punjab was still under 
Seleucid rule, that all India abounded with Greek adventurers, 
and that there was still quite open communication by sea and 
land with Alexandria, it is no great wonder to find that this 
early Buddhist art was strongly Greek in character, and that the 
new Alexandrian cult of Serapis and Isis was extraordinarily 
influential in its development. 

The kingdom of Gandhara on the north-west frontier near 
Peshawar, which flourished in the third century B.C., was a typ- 
ical meeting-place of the Hellenic and Indian worlds. Here are 
to be found the earliest Buddhist sculptures, and interwoven 
with them are figures which are recognizably the figures of 
Serapis and Isis and Horus already worked into the legendary 
net that gathered about Buddha. No doubt the Greek artists 
who came to Gandhara were loth to relinquish a familiar theme. 
But Isis, we are told, is no longer Isis but Hariti, a pestilence 
goddess whom Buddha converted and made benevolent. Foucher 
traces Isis from this centre into China, but here other influences 
were also at work, and the story becomes too complex for us 
to disentangle in this Outline. 2 China had a Taoist deity, the 
Holy Mother, the Queen of Heaven, who took on the name 
(originally a male name) of Kuan-yin and who came to re- 
semble the Isis figure very closely. The Isis figures, we feel, 
must have influenced the treatment of Kuan-yin. Like Isis 
she was also Queen of the Seas, Stella Maris. In Japan she 
was called Kwannon. There seems to have been a constant 
exchange of the outer forms of religion between east and west. 
We read in Hue's Travels how perplexing he and his fellow 

a Rhys Davids, Buddhism. 

2 See K. F. Johnston, Buddhist China. L. C. B. 


missionary found this possession of a common tradition of wor- 
ship. "The cross," he says, "the mitre, the dalmatica, the cope, 
which the Grand Lamas wear on their journeys, or when they are 
performing some ceremony out of the temple; the service with 
double choirs, the psalmody, the exorcisms, the censer, suspended 
from five chains, which you can open or close at pleasure; the 
benedictions given by the Lamas by extending the right hand 
over the heads of the faithful ; the chaplet, ecclesiastical celibacy, 
spiritual retirement, the worship of the saints, the fasts, the 
processions, the litanies, the holy water, all these are analogies 
between the Buddhists and ourselves." l 

The cult and doctrine of Gautama, gathering corruptions and 
variations from Brahminism and Hellenism alike, was spread 
throughout India by an increasing multitude of teachers in the 
fourth and third centuries B.C. For some generations at least 
it retained much of the moral beauty and something of the 
simplicity of the opening phase. Many people who have no 
intellectual grasp upon the meaning of self-abnegation and dis- 
interestedness have nevertheless the ability to appreciate a splen- 
dour in the reality of these qualities. Early Buddhism was 
certainly producing noble lives, and it is not only through rea- 
son that the latent response to nobility is aroused in our minds. 
It spread rather in spite of than because of the concessions that 
it made to vulgar imaginations. It spread because many of 
the early Buddhists were sweet and gentle, helpful and noble 
and admirable people, who compelled belief in their sustaining 

Quite early in its career Buddhism came into conflict with 
the growing pretensions of the Brahmins. As we have already 
noted, this priestly caste was still only struggling to dominate 
Indian life in the days of Gautama. They had already great 
advantages. They had the monopoly of tradition and religious 
sacrifices. But their power was being challenged by the de- 
velopment of kingship, for the men who became clan leaders and 
kings were usually not of the Brahminical caste. 

Kingship received an impetus from the Persian and Greek 
invasions of the Punjab. We have already noted the name of 
King Porus whom, in spite of his elephants, Alexander de- 
feated and turned into a satrap. There came also to the Greek 
camp upon the Indus a certain adventurer named Chandra- 

1 Hue's Travels in Tartary, Thibet, and China. 



gupta Maurya, whom the Greeks called Sandracottus, with a 
scheme for conquering the Ganges country. The scheme was 
not welcome to the Macedonians, who were in revolt against 
marching any further into India, and he had to fly the camp. 
He wandered among the tribes upon the north-west frontier, se- 
cured their support, and after Alexander 
had departed, overran the Punjab, ousting 
the Macedonian representatives. He then 
conquered the Ganges country (321 B.C.), 
waged a successful war (03 B.C.) against 
Seleucus (Seleucus I) when the latter at- 
tempted to recover the Punjab, and con- 
solidated a great empire reaching across 
all the plain of northern India from the 
western to the eastern sea. And this King 
Chandragupta came into much the same 
conflict with the growing power of the 
Brahmins, into the conflict between crown 
and priesthood, that we have already noted 
as happening in Babylonia and Egypt and 
China. He saw in the spreading doctrine 
of Buddhism an ally against the growth 
of priestcraft and caste. He supported 
and endowed the Buddhistic Order, and 
encouraged its teachings. 

He was succeeded by his son, who con- 
quered Madras and was in turn succeeded by Asoka (264 to 
227 B.C.), one of the great monarchs of history, whose do- 
minions extended from Afghanistan to Madras. He is the only 
military monarch on record who abandoned warfare after vic- 
tory. He had invaded Kalinga (255 B.C.), a country along the 
east coast of Madras, perhaps with some intention of completing 
the conquest of the tip of the Indian peninsula. The expedi- 
tion was successful, but he was disgusted by what he saw of 
the cruelties and horrors of war. He declared, in certain in- 
scriptions that still exist, that he would no longer seek conquest 
by war, but by religion, and the rest of his life was devoted to 
the spreading of Buddhism throughout the world. 

He seems to have ruled his vast empire in peace and with 
great ability. He was no mere religious fanatic. But in the 




year of his one and only war he joined the Buddhist community 
as a layman, and some years later he became a full member 
of the Order, and devoted himself to the attainment of Nirvana 
by the Eightfold Path. How entirely compatible that way of 
living then was with the most useful and beneficent activities his 
life shows. Right Aspiration, Right Effort, and Right Liveli- 

"Map to illustrate 
tKc .spreacL cf " 


Present extent of 

. (after 1?hys Davids 

hood distinguished his career. He organized a great digging &5 
wells in India, and the planting of trees for shade. He ap- 
pointed officers for the supervision of charitable works. He 
founded hospitals and public gardens. He had gardens made 
for the growing of medicinal herbs. Had he had an Aristotle to 
inspire him, he would no doubt have endowed scientific research 
upon a great scale. He created a ministry for the care of the 
aborigines and subject races. He made provision for the educa- 
tion of women. He made, he was the first monarch to make, 
an attempt to educate his people into a common view of the ends 
and way of life. He made vast benefactions to the Buddhist 
teaching orders, and tried to stimulate them to a better study 
of their own literature. All over the land he set up long inscrip- 


tions rehearsing the teaching of Gautama, and it is the simple 
and human teaching and not the preposterous accretions. Thir- 
ty-five of his inscriptions survive to this day. Moreover, he sent 
missionaries to spread the nohle and reasonable teaching of his 
master throughout the world, to Kashmir, to Ceylon, to the 
Seleucids, and the Ptolemies. It was one of these missions which 
carried that cutting of the Bo Tree, of which we have already 
told, to Ceylon. 

For eight and twenty years Asoka worked sanely for the real 
needs of men. Amidst the tens of thousands of names of mon- 
archs that crowd the columns of history, their majesties and 
graciousnesses and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, 
the name of Asoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star. From 
the Volga to Japan his name is still honoured. China, Tibet, 
and even India, though it has left his doctrine, preserve the 
tradition of his greatness. More living men cherish his memory 
to-day than have ever heard the names of Constantino or 

It is thought that the vast benefactions of Asoka finally cor- 
rupted Buddhism by attracting to its Order great numbers of 
mercenary and insincere adherents, but there can be no doubt 
that its rapid extension throughout Asia was very largely due 
to his stimulus. 

It made its way into Central Asia through Afghanistan and 
Turkestan, and so reached China. Buddhist teaching had 
spread widely in China before 200 B.C. Buddhism found there 
a popular and prevalent religion, Taoism, a development of very 
ancient and primitive magic and occult practices. It was reor- 
ganized as a distinctive cult by Chang Daoling in the days 
of the Han dynasty. Tao means the Way, which corresponds 
closely with the idea of the Aryan Path. The two religions 
spread side by side and underwent similar changes, so that 
nowadays their outward practice is very similar. Buddhism 
also encountered Confucianism, which was even less theological 
and even more a code of personal conduct. And finally it en- 
countered the teachings of Lao Tse, "anarchist, evolutionist, 
pacifist and moral philosopher," l which were not so much a 

1 S. N. Fu. 


religion as a philosophical rule of life. The teachings of this 
Lao Tse were later to become incorporated with the Taoist re- 
ligion by Chen Tuan, the founder of modern Taoism. 

Confucius, the founder of Confucianism, like the great south- 
ern teacher Lao Tse and Gautama, lived also in the sixth cen- 
tury B.C. His life has some interesting parallelisms with that 
of some of the more political of the Greek philosophers of the 
fifth and fourth. The sixth century B.C. falls into the period 
assigned hy Chinese historians to the Chow Dynasty, but in those 
days the rule of that dynasty had become little more than 
nominal ; the emperor conducted the traditional sacrifices of the 
Son of Heaven, and received a certain formal respect. Even 
his nominal empire was not a sixth part of the China of to-day. 
In Chapter XIV we have already glanced at the state of affairs 
in China at this time; practically China was a multitude of 
warring states open to the northern barbarians. Confucius was 
a subject in one of those states, Lu ; he was of aristocratic birth, 
but poor; and, after occupying various official positions, he set 
up a sort of Academy in Lu for the discovery and imparting 
of Wisdom. And we also find Confucius travelling from state 
to state in China, seeking a prince who would make him his 
counsellor and become the centre of a reformed world. Plato, 
two centuries later, in exactly the same spirit, went as ad- 
viser to the tyrant Dionysius of Syracuse, and we have already 
noted the attitudes of Aristotle and Isocrates towards Philip 
of Macedonia. 

The teaching of Confucius centred upon the idea of a noble 
life which he embodied in a standard or ideal, the Aristocratic 
Man. This phrase is often translated into English as the 
Superior Person, but as "superior" and "person," like "re- 
spectable" and "genteel," have long become semi-humorous 
terms of abuse, this rendering is not fair to Confucianism. He 
did present to his time the ideal of a devoted public man. The 
public side was very important to him. He was far more 
of a constructive political thinker than Gautama or Lao Tse. 
His mind was full of the condition of China, and he sought to 
call the Aristocratic Man into existence very largely in order 
to produce the noble state. One of his sayings may be quoted 
here: "It is impossible to withdraw from the world, and asso- 
ciate with birds and beasts that have no affinity with us. With 


whom should I associate hut with suffering men ? The disorder 
that prevails is what requires my efforts. If right principles 
ruled through the kingdom, there would he no necessity for me 
to change its state." 

The political basis of his teaching seems to he characteristic 
of Chinese moral ideas ; there is a much directer reference to 
the State than is the case with most Indian and European moral 
and religious doctrine. For a time he was appointed magis- 
trate in Chung-tu, a city of the dukedom of Lu, and here he 
sought to regulate life to an extraordinary extent, to subdue 
every relationship and action indeed to the rule of an elaborate 
etiquette. "Ceremonial in every detail, such as we are wont 
to see only in the courts of rulers and the households of high 
dignitaries, became obligatory on the people at large^ and all 
matters of daily life were subject to rigid rule. Even the food 
which the different classes of people might eat was regulated; 
males and females were kept apart in the streets ; even the thick- 
ness of coffins and the shape and situation of graves were made 
the subject of regulations. 1 

This is all, as people say, very Chinese. No other people 
have ever approached moral order and social stability through 
the channel of manners. Yet in China, at any rate, the methods 
of Confucius have had an enormous effect, and no nation in the 
world to-day has such a universal tradition of decorum and 

Later on the influence of Confucius over his duke was under- 
mined, and he withdrew again into private life. His last days 
were saddened by the deaths of some of his most promising 
disciples. "~No intelligent ruler," he said, "arises to take me 
as his master, and my time has come to die." . . . 

But he died to live. Says Hirth, "There can be no doubt 
that Confucius has had a greater influence 011 the development 
of the Chinese national character than many emperors taken 
together. He is, therefore, one of the essential figures to be 
considered in connection with any history of China. That he 
could influence his nation to such a degree was, it appears to me, 
due more to the peculiarity of the nation than to that of his 
own personality. Had he lived in any other part of the world, 
his name would perhaps be forgotten. As we have seen, he had 

1 Hirth's The Ancient History of China. 




formed his character and his personal views on man's life from 
a careful study of documents closely connected with the moral 
philosophy cultivated hy former generations. What he preached 
to his contemporaries was, therefore, not all new to them ; hut, 
having himself, in the study of old records, heard the dim voice 
of the sages of the past, he became, as it were, the megaphone 
phonograph through which were expressed to the nation those 
views which he had derived from the early development of the 
nation itself. . . . The great influence of Confucius's person- 
ality on national life in China was due not only to his writings 
and his teachings as recorded by others, but also to his doings. 
His personal character, as described by his disciples and in the 
accounts of later writers, some of which may be entirely legen- 
dary, has become the pattern for millions of those who are bent 
on imitating the outward manners of a great man. . . . What- 
ever he did in public was regulated to the minutest detail by 
ceremony. This was no invention of his own, since ceremonial 
life had been cultivated many centuries before Confucius ; but 
his authority and example did much to perpetuate what he con- 
sidered desirable social practices." 

The Chinese speak of Buddhism and the doctrines of Lao 
Tse and Confucius as the Three Teachings. Together they con- 
stitute the basis and point of departure of all later Chinese 
thought. Their thorough study is a necessary preliminary to 
the establishment of any real intellectual and moral commu- 
nity between the great people of the East and the Western 

There are certain things to be remarked in common of all 
these three teachers, of whom Gautama was indisputably the 
greatest and profoundest, whose doctrines to this day dominate 
the thought of the great majority of human beings ; there are 
certain features in which their teaching contrasts with the 
thoughts and feelings that were soon to take possession of the 
Western world. Primarily they are personal and tolerant doc- 
trines; they are doctrines of a Way, of a Path, of a Nobility, 
and not doctrines of a church or a general rule. And they 
offer nothing either for or against the existence and worship 
of the current gods. The Athenian philosophers, it is to be 
noted, had just the same theological detachment ! Socrates was 
quite willing to bow politely or sacrifice formally to almost any 
divinity, reserving his private thoughts. This attitude is flatly 


antagonistic to the state of mind that was growing up in the 
Jewish communities of Judea, Egypt, and Babylonia, in 
which the thought of the one God was first and foremost, Neither 
Gautama nor Lao Tse nor Confucius had any inkling of thin 
idea of a jealous God, a God who would have "none other gods," 
a God of terrible Truth, who would not tolerate any lurking be- 
lief in magic, witchcraft, or old customs, or any sacrificing to 
the god-king or any trifling with the stern unity of things. 


The intolerance of the Jewish mind did keep its essential faith 
clear and clean. The theological disregard of the great Eastern 
teachers, neither assenting nor denying, did on the other hand 
permit elaborations of explanation and accumulations of ritual 
from the very beginning. Except for Gautama's insistence 
upon Right Views, which was easily disregarded, there was no 
self -cleansing element in either Buddhism, Taoism, or Confu- 
cianism. There was no effective prohibition of superstitious 
practices, spirit raising, incantations, prostrations, and sup- 
plementary worships. At an early stage a process of encrusta- 
tion began, and continued. The new faiths caught almost every 
disease of the corrupt religions they sought to replace; they 
took over the idols and the temples, the altars and the censers. 

Tibet to-day is a Buddhistic country, yet Gautama, could he 
return to earth, might go from end to end of Tibet seeking his 
own teaching in vain. He would find that most ancient type 
of human ruler, a god-king, enthroned, the Dalai Lama, the 
"living Buddha." At Lhassa he would find a huge temple filled 
with priests, abbots, and lamas he whose only buildings were 
huts and who made no priests and above a high altar he would 
behold a huge golden idol, which he would learn was called 
"Gautama Buddha" ! He would hear services intoned before 
this divinity, and certain precepts, which would be dimly famil- 
iar to him, murmured as responses. Bells, incense, prostrations, 
would play their part in these amazing proceedings. At one 
point in the service a bell would be rung and a mirror lifted up, 
while the whole congregation, in an access of reverence, bowed 
lower. . . . 

About this Buddhist countryside he would discover a num- 
ber of curious little mechanisms, little wind-wheels and water- 




wheels spinning, on which brief prayers were inscribed. Every 
time these things spin, he would learn, it counts as a prayer. 
"To whom ?" he would ask. Moreover, there would be a number 
of flagstaffs in the land carrying beautiful silk flags, silk flags 
which bore the perplexing inscription, "Om Mani padme hum/' 
"the jewel is in the lotus." Whenever the flag flaps, he would 
learn, it was a prayer also, very beneficial to the gentleman who 
paid for the flag and to the land generally. Gangs of workmen, 
employed by pious persons, would be going about the country 
cutting this precious formula on cliff and stone. And this, he 
would realize at last, was what the world had made of his re- 
ligion ! Beneath this gaudy glitter was buried the Aryan Way 
to serenity of soul. 

We have already noted the want of any progressive idea in 
primitive Buddhism. In that again it contrasted with Judaism. 
The idea of a Promise gave to Judaism a quality no previous 
or contemporary religion displayed ; it made Judaism historical 
and dramatic. It justified its fierce intolerance because it 
pointed to an aim. In spite of the truth and profundity of the 
psychological side of Gautama's teaching, Buddhism stagnated 
and corrupted for the lack of that directive idea. Judaism, it 
must be confessed, in its earlier phases, entered but little into 
the souls of men ; it let them remain lustful, avaricious, worldly 
or superstitious ; but because of its persuasion of a promise and 
of a divine leadership to serve divine ends, it remained in 
comparison with Buddhism bright and expectant, like a cared- 
for sword. 

For some time Buddhism flourished in India. But Brahmin- 
ism, with its many gods and its endless variety of cults, always 
flourished by its side, and the organization of the Brahmins grew 
more powerful, until at last they were able to turn upon this 
caste-denying cult and oust it from India altogether. The story 
of that struggle is not to be told here; there were persecutions 
and reactions, but by the eleventh century, except for Orissa, 
Buddhist teaching was extinct in India. Much of its gen- 
tleness and charity had, however, become incorporated with 

Over great areas of the world, as our map has shown, it still 
survives; and it is quite possible that in contact with western 


science, and inspired by the spirit of history, the original teach- 
ing of Gautama, revived and purified, may yet play a large part 
in the direction of human destiny. 

But with the loss of India the Aryan Way ceased to rule the 
lives of any Aryan peoples. It is curious to note that while the 
one great Aryan religion is now almost exclusively confined to 
Mongolian peoples, the Aryans themselves are under the sway of 
two religions, Christianity and Islam, which are, as we shall see, 
essentially Semitic. And both Buddhism and Christianity wear 
garments of ritual and formula that seem to be derived through 
Hellenistic channels from that land of temples and priestcraft, 
Egypt, and from the more primitive and fundamental mentality 
of the brown Hamitic peoples. 



1. The Beginnings of the Latins. 2. A New Sort of 
State. 3. The Carthaginian Republic of Rich Men. 4. 
The First Punic War.- 5. Cato the Elder and the Spirit 
of Cato. 6. The Second Punic War. 7. The Third 
Punic War. 8. How the Punic War Undermined Roman 
Liberty. 9. Comparison of the Roman Republic with a, 
Modern State. 

IT is now necessary to take up the history of the two great 
republics of the Western Mediterranean, Rome and Car- 
thage, and to tell how Rome succeeded in maintaining for 
some centuries an empire even greater than that achieved by 
the conquests of Alexander. But this new empire was, as we 
shall try to make clear, a political structure differing very pro- 
foundly in its nature from any of the great Oriental empires 
that had preceded it. Great changes in the texture of human 
society and in the conditions of social interrelations had been 
going on for some centuries. The flexibility and transferability 
of money was becoming a power and, like all powers in inexpert 
hands, a danger in human affairs. It was altering the relations 
of rich men to the state and to their poorer fellow citizens. This 
new empire, the Roman empire, unlike all the preceding em- 
pires, was not the creation of a great conqueror. No Sargon, 
no Thothmes, no Nebuchadnezzar, no Cyrus nor Alexander nor 
Chandragupta, was its fountain head. It was made by a repub- 
lic. It grew by a kind of necessity through new concentrating 
and unifying forces that were steadily gathering power in human 

But first it is necessary to give some idea of the state of affairs 
in Italy in the centuries immediately preceding the appearance 
of Rome in the world's story. 




Before 1200 B.C., that is to say before the rise of the Assyrian 
empire, the siege of Troy, and the final destruction of Cnossos, 
but after the time of Amenophis IV, Italy, like Spain, was 
probably still inhabited mainly by dark white people of the 
more fundamental Iberian or Mediterranean race. This ab- 
original population was probably a thin and backward one. 
But already in Italy, as in Greece, the Aryans were coming 
southward. By 1000 B.C. immigrants from the north had set- 
tled over most of the north and centre of Italy, and, as in 
Greece, they had intermarried with their darker predecessors 



Latins & other 



R. C A 

and established a group of Aryan languages, the Italian group, 
more akin to the Keltic (Gaelic) than to any other, of which the 
most interesting from the historical point of view was that 
spoken by the Latin tribes in the plains south and east of the 
river Tiber. Meanwhile the Greeks had been settling down in 
Greece, and now they were taking to the sea and crossing over 
to South Italy and Sicily and establishing themselves there. 
Subsequently they established colonies along the French Riviera 
and founded Marseilles upon the site of an older Phoenician 
colony. Another interesting people also had come into Italy by 
sea. These were a brownish sturdy people, to judge from the 



pictures they have left of themselves ; very probably they were 
a tribe of those ^Egean "dark whites" who were being driven out 
of Greece and Asia Minor and the islands in between by the 
Greeks. We have already told the tale of Cnossos (Chapter 
XV) and of the settlement of the kindred Philistines in Pales- 
tine (Chapter XIX, 1). These Etruscans, as they were 


called in Italy, were known even in ancient times to be of 
Asiatic origin, and it is tempting, but probably unjustifiable, to 
connect this tradition with the JEneid, the sham epic of the 
Latin poet Virgil, in which the Latin civilization is ascribed 
to Trojan immigrants from Asia Minor. (But the Trojans 
themselves were probably an Aryan people allied to the Phry- 
gians.) These Etruscan people conquered most of Italy north 
of the Tiber from the Aryan tribes who were scattered over 
that country. Probably the Etruscans ruled over a subjugated 
Italian population, so reversing the state of affairs in Greece^ 
in which the Aryans were uppermost. 


Our map, which may be taken to represent roughly the state 
of affairs about 750 B.C., also shows the establishments of the 
Phoenician traders, of which Carthage was the chief, along 
the shores of Africa and Spain. 

Of all the peoples actually in Italy, the Etruscans were by 
far the most civilized. They built sturdy fortresses of the 
Mycaenean type of architecture; they had a metal industry; 
they used imported Greek pottery of a very fine type. The 
Latin tribes on the other side of the Tiber were by comparison 

The Latins were still a rude farming people. The centre of 
their worship was a temple to the tribal god Jupiter, upon the 
Alban Mount. There they gathered for their chief festivals 
very much after the fashion of the early tribal gathering we 
have already imagined at Avebury. This gather ing- place was 
not a town. It was a high place of assembly. There was no 
population permanently there. There were, however, twelve 
townships in the Latin league. At one point upon the Tiber 
there was a ford, and here there was a trade between Latins 
and Etruscans. At this ford Rome had its beginnings. Trad- 
ers assembled there, and refugees from the twelve towns found 
an asylum and occupation at this trading centre. Upon the 
seven hills near the ford a number of settlements sprang up, 
which finally amalgamated into one city. 

Most people have heard the story of the two brothers Romulus 
and Remus, who founded Rome, and the legend of how they 
were exposed as infants and sheltered and suckled by a wolf. 
Little value is now attached to this tale by modern historians. 
The date 753 B.C. is given for the founding of Rome, but there 
are Etruscan tombs beneath the Roman Forum of a much 
earlier date than that, and the so-called tomb of Romulus bears 
an indecipherable Etruscan inscription. 

The peninsula of Italy was not then the smiling land of 
vineyards and olive orchards it has since become. It was still 
a rough country of marsh and forest, in which the farmers grazed 
their cattle and made their clearings. Rome, on the boundary 
between Latin and Etruscan, was not in a very strong position 
for defence. At first there were perhaps Latin kings in Rome, 
then it would seem the city fell into the hands of Etruscan 
rulers whose tyrannous conduct led at last to their expulsion, 
and Rome became a Latin-speaking republic. The Etruscan 


kings were expelled from Rome in the sixth century B.C., while 
the successors of Nebuchadnezzar were ruling by the sufferance 
of the Medes in Babylon, while Confucius was seeking a king 
to reform the disorders of China, and while Gautama was 
teaching the Aryan Way to his disciples at Benares. 

Etruscan painting of a. CecemordaiL Burning- of tha. Pcad~" 

Of the struggle between the Romans and the Etruscans we 
cannot tell in any detail here. The Etruscans were the better 
armed, the more civilized, and the more numerous, and it would 
probably have gone hard with the Romans if they had had to 
fight them alone. But two disasters happened to the Etruscans 
which so weakened them that the Romans were able at last to 
master them altogether. The first of these was a war with 
the Greeks of Syracuse in Sicily which destroyed the Etruscan 
fleet (474 B.C.)-, and the second was a great raid of the Gauls 
from the north into Italy. These latter people swarmed into 
N'orth Italy and occupied the valley of the Po towards the end 
of the fifth century B.C., as a couple of centuries later their 
kindred were to swarm down into Greece and Asia Minor and 
settle in Galatia. The Etruscans were thus caught between 
hammer and anvil, and after a long and intermittent war the 
Romans were able to capture Veil, an Etruscan fortress, a few 
miles from Rome, which had hitherto been a great threat and 
annoyance to them. 

It is to this period of struggle against the Etruscan monarchs, 
the Tarquins, that Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome, familiar 
to every schoolboy, refer. 

But the invasion of the Gauls was one of those convulsions 
of the nations that leave nothing as it has been before. They 


carried their raiding right down the Italian peninsula, devastat- 
ing all Etruria. They took and sacked Rome (390 B.C.). 
According to Roman legends an which doubt is thrown -the 
citadel on the Capitol held out, and this also the Gauls would 
have taken by surprise at night, if certain geese had not been 
awakened by their stealthy movements and set up such a cack- 
ling as to arouse the garrison. After that the Gauls, who were 
ill-equipped for siege operations, and perhaps suffering from dis- 
ease in their camp, were bought off, and departed to the north- 
ward again, and, though they made subsequent raids, they never 
again reached Rome. 

The leader of the Gauls who sacked Rome was named Bren- 
nus. It is related of him that as the gold of the ransom was 
being weighed, there was some dispute about the justice of the 
counterpoise, whereupon he flung his sword into the scale, saying, 
"Vce viciisl" ("Woe to the vanquished!") a phrase that has 
haunted the discussions of all subsequent ransoms and indem- 
nities down to the present time. 

For half a century after this experience Rome was engaged 
in a series of wars to establish herself at the head of the Latin 
tribes. For the burning of the chief city seems to have stim- 
ulated rather than crippled her energies. However much she 
had suffered, most of her neighbours seem to have suffered 
more. By 290 B.C. Rome was the mistress city of all Central 
Italy from the Arno to south of Naples. She had conquered 
the Etruscans altogether, and her boundaries marched with 
those of the Gauls to the north and with the regions of Italy 
under Greek dominion (Magna Graecia) to the south. Along 
the Gaulish boundary she had planted garrisons and colonial 
cities, and no doubt it was because of that, line of defence that 
the raiding enterprises of the Gauls were deflected eastward 
into the Balkans. 

After what we have already told of the history of Greece 
and the constitutions of her cities, it will not surprise the reader 
to learn that the Greeks of Sicily and Italy were divided up 
into a number of separate city governments, of which Syracuse 
and Tarentum (the modern Taranto) were the chief, and that 
they had no common rule of direction or policy. But now, 
alarmed at the spread of the Roman power, they looked across 
the Adriatic for help, and found it in the ambitions of Pyrrhus, 



the king of Epirus. Between the Romans and Pyrrhus these 
Greeks of Magna Grfecia were very much in the same position 
that Greece proper had been in, between the Macedonians and 
the Persians half a century before. 

The reader will remember that Epirus, the part of Greece 

POWER a&r the SAMIsTI' ; g WARS 

[Beginning of tin. 

Century.. Compare with. 

contemporary map of 

the. Break-op of Alex- 

amdzr's Empire J 

that is closest to the heel of Italy, was the native land of 
Olympias, the mother of Alexander. In the kaleidoscopic 
changes of the map that followed the death of Alexander, 
Epirus was sometimes swamped by Macedonia, sometimes in- 
dependent. This Pyrrhus was a kinsman of Alexander the 
Great, and a monarch of ability and enterprise, and he seems 
to have planned a career of conquest in Italy and Sicily. He 
commanded an admirable army, against which the compara- 



tively inexpert Roman levies could at first do little. His army 
included all the established military devices of the time, an 
infantry phalanx, Thessalian cavalry, and twenty fighting ele- 
phants from the east. He routed the Romans at Heraclea (280 
B.C.), and, pressing after them, defeated them again at Auscu- 

lum (279 B.C.) in their own territory. Then, instead of pursu- 
ing the Romans further, he made a truce with them, turned his 
attention to the subjugation of Sicily, and so brought the sea 
power of Carthage into alliance against him. For Carthage 
could not afford to have a strong power established so close to 
her as Sicily. Rome in those days seemed to the Carthaginians 
a far less serious threat than the possibility of another Alexan- 
der the Great ruling Sicily. A Carthaginian fleet appeared off 
the mouth of the Tiber, therefore, to encourage or induce the 


Romans to renew the struggle, and Rome and Carthage were 
definitely allied against the invader. 

This interposition of Carthage was fatal to Pyrrhus. With- 
out any decisive battle his power wilted, and, after a disastrous 
repulse in an attack upon the Roman camp of Beneventum, he 
had to retire to Epirus (275 B.C.). 

It is recorded that when Pyrrhus left Sicily, he said he left 
it to be the battleground of Rome and Carthage. He was 
killed three years later in a battle in the streets of Argos. The 
war against Pyrrhus was won by the Carthaginian fleet, and 
Rome reaped a full half of the harvest of victory. Sicily fell 
completely to Carthage, and Rome came down to the toe and 
heel of Italy, and looked across the Straits of Messina at her 
new rival. In eleven years' time (264 B.C.) the prophecy of 
Pyrrhus was fulfilled, and the first war with Carthage, the first 
of the three Punic 1 Wars, had begun. 


But we write "Rome" and the "Romans," and we have still 
to explain what manner of people these were who were playing 
a role of conquest that had hitherto been played only by able 
and aggressive monarchs. 

Their state was, in the fifth century B.C., a republic of the 
Aryan type very similar to a Greek aristocratic republic. The 
earliest accounts of the social life of Rome give us a picture 
of a very primitive Aryan community "In the second half 
of the fifth century before Christ, Rome was still an aristocratic 
community of free peasants, occupying an area of nearly 400 
square miles, with a population certainly not exceeding 150,000, 
almost entirely dispersed over the country-side and divided into 
seventeen districts or rural tribes. Most of the families had a 
small holding and a cottage of their own, where father and 
sons lived and worked together, growing corn for the most part, 
with here and there a strip of vine or olive. Their few head of 
cattle were kept at pasture on the neighbouring common land ; 
their clothes and simple implements of husbandry they made 
for themselves at home. Only at rare intervals and on special 

1 Latin Pceni Carthaginians. Punicus ( adj. ) = Carthaginian, i.e. 




occasions would they make their way into the fortified town, 
which was the centre at once of their religion and their govern- 
ment. Here were the temples of the gods, the houses of the 
wealthy, and the shops of the 
artizans and traders, where 
corn, oil, or wine could he 
hartered in small quantities 
for salt or rough tools and 
weapons of iron." * 

This community followed 
the usual tradition of a di- 
vision into aristocratic and 
common citizens, who were 
called in Rome patricians 
and plebeians. These were the citizens; the slave or out- 
lander had no more part in the state than he had in Greece. 
But the constitution differed from any Greek constitution in the 
fact that a great part of the ruling power was gathered into 
the hands of a body called the Senate, which was neither purely 
a body of hereditary members nor directly an elected and rep- 
resentative one. It was a nominated one, and in the earlier 
period it was nominated solely from among the patricians. It 
existed before the expulsion of the kings, and in the time of the 
kings it was the king who nominated the senators. But after 
the expulsion of the kings (510 B.C.), the supreme government 
was vested in the hands of two elected rulers, the consuls; and 
it was the consuls who took over the business of appointing 
senators. In the early days of the Republic only patricians 
were eligible as consuls or senators, and the share of the plebeians 
in the government consisted merely in a right to vote for the 
consuls and other public officials. Even for that purpose their 
votes did not have the same value ag. those of their patrician 
fellow citizens. But their votes had at any rate sufficient 
weight to induce many of the patrician candidates to profess 
a more or less sincere concern for plebeian grievances. In the 
early phases of the Roman state, moreover, the plebeians were 
not only excluded from public office, but from intermarriage 
with the patrician class. The administration was evidently 
primarily a patrician affair. 

1 Ferrero, The Greatness and Decline of Rome. 


The early phase of Roman affairs was therefore an aristocracy 
of a very pronounced type, and the internal history of Rome 
for the two centuries and a half between the expulsion of the 
last Etruscan king, Tarquin the Proud, and the beginning of 
the first Punic War (264 B.C.), was very largely a struggle for 
mastery between those two orders, the patricians and the plebe- 
ians. It was, in fact, closely parallel with the struggle of 
aristocracy and democracy in the city states of Greece, and, 
as in the case of Greece, there were whole classes in the com- 
munity, slaves, freed slaves, unpropertied free men, outlanders, 
and the like, who were entirely outside and beneath 
the struggle. We have already noted the essential differ- 
ence of Greek democracy and what is called democracy in 
the world to-day. Another misused word is the Roman term 
proletariat, which in modern jargon means all the unpropertied 
people in a modem state. In Rome the proletarii were a vot- 
ing division of fully qualified citizens whose property was less 
than 10,000 copper asses (= 275). They were an enrolled 
class ; their value to the state consisted in their raising families 
of citizens (proles = offspring), and from their ranks were 
drawn the colonists who went to form new Latin cities or to 
garrison important points. But the proletarii were quite dis- 
tinct in origin from slaves or freedmen or the miscellaneous 
driftage of a town slum, and it is a great pity that modern po- 
litical discussion should be confused by an inaccurate use of a 
term which has no exact modern equivalent and which expresses 
nothing real in modern social classification. 

The mass of the details of this struggle between patricians 
and plebeians we can afford to ignore in this outline. It was 
a struggle which showed the Romans to be a people of a 
curiously shrewd character, never forcing things to a destruc- 
tive crisis, but being within the limits of their discretion grasp- 
ing hard dealers. The patricians made a mean use of their 
political advantages to grow rich through the national conquests 
at the expense not only of the defeated enemy, but of the poorer 
plebeian, whose farm had been neglected and who had fallen 
into debt during his military service. The plebeians were ousted 
from any share in the conquered lands, which the patricians 
divided up among themselves. The introduction of money 
probably increased the facilities of the usurer and the difficulties 
of the borrowing debtor. 



rom a "Roman 

Three sorts of pressure won the plebeians a greater share in 
the government of the country and the good things that were 
coming to Rome as she grew powerful. The first of these (1) 
was the general strike of plebeians. Twice they actually 
marched right out of Rome, threatening to make a new city 
higher up the Tiber, and 
twice this threat proved con- 
clusive. The second method 
of pressure (2) was the threat 
of a tyranny. Just as in 
Attica (the little state of 
which Athens was the capi- 
tal), Peisistratus raised him- 
self to power on the support 
of the poorer districts, so 
there was to be found in most 
periods of plebeian discontent 
some ambitious man ready to 
figure as a leader and wrest 
power from the Senate. For 
a long time the Roman patri- 
cians were clever enough to 
beat every such potential tyrant by giving in to a certain extent 
to the plebeians. And finally (3) there were patricians big- 
minded and far-seeing enough to insist upon the need of 
reconciliation with the plebeians. 

Thus in 509 B.C., Valerius Poplicola (3), the consul, enacted 
that whenever the life or rights of any citizen were at stake, 
there should be an appeal from the magistrates to the general 
assembly. This Lex Valeria was "the Habeas Corpus of 
Rome," and it freed the Roman plebeians from the worst dan- 
gers of class vindictiveness in the law courts. 

In 494 B.C. occurred a strike (1). "After the Latin war the 
pressure of debt had become excessive, and the plebeians saw 
with indignation their friends, who had often served the state 
bravely in the legions, thrown into chains and reduced to 
slavery at the demand of patrician creditors. War was raging 
against the Volscians; but the legionaries, on their victorious 
return, refused any longer to obey the consuls, and marched, 
though without any disorder, to the Sacred Mount beyond the 
Anio (up the Tiber). There they prepared to found a new city, 


since the rights of citizens were denied to them in the old one. 
The patricians were compelled to give way, and the plebeians, 
returning to Rome from the "First Secession," received the privi- 
lege of having officers of their own, tribunes and sediles." l 

In 486 B.C. arose Spurius Cassius (2), a consul who carried 
an Agrarian Law securing public land for the plebeians. But 
the next year he was accused of aiming at ryal power, and 
condemned to death. His law never came into operation. 

There followed a long struggle on the part of the plebeians 
to have the laws of Rome written down, so that they would 
no longer have to trust to patrician memories. In 451-450 B.C. 
the law of the Twelve Tables was published, the basis of all 
Roman law. 

But in order that the Twelve Tables should be formulated, 
a committee of ten (the decemvirate) was appointed in the 
place of the ordinary magistrates. A second decemvirate, ap- 
pointed in succession to the first, attempted a sort of aristocratic 
counter-revolution under Appius Claudius. The plebeians 
withdrew again a second time to the Sacred Mount, and Appius 
Claudius committed suicide in prison. 

In 440 came a famine, and a second attempt to found a pop- 
ular tyranny upon the popular wrongs, by Spurius Ma3lius, a 
wealthy plebeian, which ended in his assassination. 

After the sack of Rome by the Gauls (390 B.C.), Marcus 
Manlius, who had been in command of the Capitol when the 
geese had saved it, came forward as a popular leader. The 
plebeians were suffering severely from the after-war usury and 
profiteering of the patricians, and were incurring heavy debts 
in rebuilding and restocking their farms. Manlius spent his 
fortune in releasing debtors. He was accused by the patricians 
of tyrannous intentions, condemned, and suffered the fate of 
condemned traitors in Rome, being flung from the Tarpeian 
Rock, the precipitous edge of that same Capitoline Hill he 
had defended. 

In 376 B.C., Licinius, who was one of the ten tribunes for 
the people, began a long struggle with the patricians by making 
certain proposals called the Licinian Rogations, that there 
should be a limit to the amount of public land taken by any 
single citizen, so leaving some for everybody, that outstanding 
*5. Wells, Short History of Rome to the Death of Augustus. 


debts should be forgiven without interest upon the repayment 
of the principal, and that henceforth one at least of the two con- 
suls should be a plebeian. This precipitated a ten-year strug- 
gle. The plebeian power to stop business by the veto- of their 
representatives, the tribunes, was fully exercised. In cases of 
national extremity it was the custom to set all other magistrates 
aside and appoint one leader, the Dictator. Rome had done 
such a thing during times of military necessity before, but now 
the patricians set up a Dictator in a time of profound peace, 
with the idea of crushing Licinius altogether. They appointed 
Camillus, who had besieged and taken Veii from the Etruscans. 
But Camillus was a wiser man than his supporters ; he brought 
about a compromise between the two orders in which most of 
the demands of the plebeians were conceded (366 B.C.), dedi- 
cated a temple to Concord, and resigned his power. 

Thereafter the struggle between the orders abated. It abated 
because, among other influences, the social differences between 
patricians and plebeians were diminishing. Trade was coming 
to Rome with increasing political power, and many plebeians 
were growing rich and many patricians becoming relatively 
poco". Intermarriage had been rendered possible by a change 
in the law, and social intermixture was going on. While the 
rich plebeians were becoming, if not aristocratic, at least oligar- 
chic in habits and sympathy, new classes were springing up 
in Rome with fresh interests and no political standing. Par- 
ticularly abundant were the freedmen, slaves set free, for the 
most part artisans, but some of them traders, who were grow- 
ing wealthy. And the Senate, no longer a purely patrician 
body since various official positions were now open to plebe- 
ians, and such plebeian officials became senators was becoming 
now an assembly of all the wealthy, able, energetic, and influen- 
tial men in the state. The Roman power was expanding, and 
as it expanded these old class oppositions of the early Latin 
community were becoming unmeaning. They were being re- 
placed by new associations and new antagonisms. Rich men 
of all origins were being drawn together into a common interest 
against the communistic ideas of the poor. 

In 390 B.C. Rome was a miserable little city on the borders 
of Etruria, being sacked by the Gauls ; in 275 B.C. she was ruling 
and unifying all Italy, from the Arno to the Straits of Mes- 


sina. The compromise of Camillas (367 B.C.) had put an end 
to internal dissensions, and left her energies free for expansion. 
And the same queer combination of sagacity and aggressive 
selfishness that had distinguished the war of her orders at home 
and enabled her population to worry out a balance of power 
without any catastrophe, marks her policy abroad. She under- 
stood the value of allies; she could assimilate; abroad as at 
home she could in those days at least "give and take" with a 
certain fairness and sanity. There lay the peculiar power of 
Rome. By that it was she succeeded where Athens, for example, 
had conspicuously failed. 

The Athenian democracy suffered much from that narrow- 
ness of "patriotism," which is the ruin of all nations. Athens 
was disliked and envied by her own empire because she domi- 
nated it in a spirit of civic egotism ; her disasters were not felt 
and shared as disasters by her subject-cities. The shrewder, 
nobler Roman senators of the great years of Rome, before 
the first Punic War overstrained her moral strength and began 
her degeneration, were not only willing in the last resort to 
share their privileges with the mass of their own people, but 
eager to incorporate their sturdiest antagonists upon terms of 
equality with themselves. They extended their citizenship 
cautiously but steadily. Some cities became Roman, with even 
a voting share in the government. Others had self-government 
and the right to trade or marry in Rome, without full Roman 
citizenship. Garrisons of full citizens were set up at strategic 
points, and colonies with variable privileges established amidst 
the purely conquered peoples. The need to keep communica- 
tions open in this great and growing mass of citizenship was 
evident from the first. Printing and paper were not yet avail- 
able for intercourse, but a system of high roads followed the 
Latin speech and the Roman rule. The first of these, the Appian 
Way, ran from Rome ultimately into the heel of Italy. It was 
begun by the censor Appius Claudius (who must not be con- 
fused with the decemvir Appius Claudius of a century earlier) 
in 312 B.C. 

According to a census made in 265 B.C., there were already in 
the Roman dominions, that is to say in Italy south of the Arno, 
-300,000 citizens. They all had a common interest in the wel- 
fare of the state ; they were all touched a little with the diffused 


kingship of the republic. This was, we have to note, an abso- 
lutely new thing in the history of mankind. All considerable 
states and kingdoms and empires hitherto had been communities 
by mere obedience to some head, some monarch, upon whose 
moods and character the public welfare was helplessly depend- 
ent. No republic had hitherto succeeded in being anything more 
than a city state. The so-called Athenian "empire" was simply 
a city state directing its allies and its subjugated cities. In a 
few decades the Roman republic was destined to extend its 
citizenship into the valley of the Po, to assimilate the kindred 
Gauls, replacing their language by Latin, and to set up a Latin 
city, Aquileia, at the very head of the Adriatic Sea. In 89 B.C. 
all free inhabitants of Italy became Roman citizens ; in 212 A.D. 
the citizenship was extended to all free men in the empire. 

This extraordinary political growth was manifestly the pre- 
cursor of all modern states of the western type. It is as inter- 
esting to the political student, therefore, as a carboniferous 
amphibian or an archceopteryx to the student of zoological de- 
velopment. It is the primitive type of the now dominant order. 
Its experiences throw light upon all subsequent political history. 

One natural result of this growth of a democracy of hun- 
dreds of thousands of citizens scattered over the greater part of 
Italy was the growth in power of the Senate. There had been 
in the development of the Roman constitution a variety of 
forms of the popular assembly, the plebeian assembly, the 
assembly by tribes, the assembly by centuries, and the like, into 
which variety we cannot enter here with any fullness ; but the 
idea was established that with the popular assembly lay the 
power of initiating laws. It is to be noted that there was a sort 
of parallel government in this system. The assembly by tribes 
or by centuries was an assembly of the whole citizen body, 
patrician and plebeian together; the assembly of the plebeians 
was of course an assembly only of the plebeian class. Each as- 
sembly had its own officials ; the former, the consuls, etc. ; the 
latter, the tribunes. While Rome was a little state, twenty 
miles square, it was possible to assemble something like a repre- 
sentative gathering of the people, but it will be manifest that 
with the means of communication existing in Italy at that time, 
it was now impossible for the great bulk of the citizens even 
to keep themselves informed of what was going on at Rome, 


much less to take any effective part in political life there. 
Aristotle in his Politics had already pointed out the virtual 
disenfranchisement of voters who lived out of the city and were 
preoccupied with agricultural pursuits, and this sort of disen- 
franchisement by mechanical difficulties applied to the vast 
majority of Eoman citizens. With the growth of Eome an 
unanticipated weakness crept into political life through these 
causes, and the popular assembly became more and more a 
gathering of political hacks and the city riffraff, and less and 
less a representation of the ordinary worthy citizens. The 
popular assembly came nearest to power and dignity in the 
fourth century B.C. From that period it steadily declined in 
influence, and the new Senate, which was no longer a patrician 
body, with a homogeneous and on the whole a noble tradition, 
but a body of rich men, ex-magistrates, powerful officials, bold 
adventurers and the like, pervaded by a strong disposition to 
return to the idea of hereditary qualification, became for three 
centuries the ruling power in the Roman world. 

There are two devices since known to the world which might 
have enabled the popular government of Rome to go on de- 
veloping beyond its climax in the days of Appius Claudius the 
Censor, at the close of the fourth century B.C., but neither of 
them occurred to the Roman mind. The first of these devices 
was a proper use of print. In our account of early Alexandria 
we have already remarked upon the strange fact that printed 
books did not come into the world in the fourth or third cen- 
tury B.C. This account of Roman affairs forces us to repeat 
that remark. To the modern mind it is clear that a widespread 
popular government demands, as a necessary condition for 
health, a steady supply of correct information upon public 
affairs to all the citizens and a maintenance of interest. The 
popular governments in the modern states that have sprung 
up on either side of the Atlantic during the last two centuries 
have been possible only through the more or less honest and 
thorough ventilation of public affairs through the press. But 
in Italy the only way in which the government at Rome could 
communicate with any body of its citizens elsewhere was by 
sending a herald, and with the individual citizen it could hold 
no communication by any means at all. 

The second device, for which the English are chiefly respon- 


sible in the history of mankind, which the Romans never used, 
was the almost equally obvious one of representative govern- 
ment. For the old Popular Assembly (in its threefold form) it 
would have been possible to have substituted a gathering of 
delegates. Later on in history, the English did, as the state 
grew, realize this necessity. Certain men, the Knights of the 
Shire, were called up to Westminster to speak and vote for 
local feeling, and were more or less formally elected for that 
end. The Roman situation seems to a modern mind to have 
called aloud for such a modification. It was never made. 

The method of assembling the comitia tinbuia (one of the 
three main forms of the Popular Assembly) was by the proc- 
lamation of a herald, who was necessarily inaudible to most of 
Italy, seventeen days before the date of the gathering. The 
augurs, the priests of divination whom Rome had inherited from 
the Etruscans, examined the entrails of sacrificial beasts on the 
night before the actual assembly, and if they thought fit to say 
that these gory portents were unfavourable, the comitia tributa 
dispersed. But if the augurs reported that the livers were 
propitious, there was a great blowing of horns from the Capitol 
and from the walls of the city, and the assembly went on. It 
was held in the open air, either in the little Forum beneath the 
Capitol or in a still smaller recess opening out of the Forum, 
or in the military exercising ground, the Campus Martius, now 
the most crowded part of modern Rome, but then an open space. 
Business began at dawn with prayer. There were no seats, 
and this probably helped to reconcile the citizen to the rule that 
everything ended at sunset. 

After the opening prayer came a discussion of the measures 
to be considered by the assembly, and the proposals before the 
meeting were read out. Is it not astonishing that there were no 
printed copies distributed ? If any copies were handed about, 
they must have been in manuscript, and each copy must have 
been liable to errors and deliberate falsification. K"o questions 
seem to have been allowed, but private individuals might ad- 
dress the gathering with the permission of the presiding magis- 

The multitude then proceeded to go into enclosures like cattle- 
pens according to their tribes, and each tribe voted upon the 
measure under consideration. The decision was then taken 


not by the majority of the citizens, but by the majority of tribes, 
and it was announced by the heralds. 

The Popular Assembly by centuries, comitia centuriata, was 
very similar in its character, except that instead of thirty-five 
tribes there were, in the third century B.C., 373 centuries, and 
there was a sacrifice as well as prayer to begin with. The cen- 
turies, originally military (like the "hundreds" of primitive 
English local government), had long since lost any connection 
with the number one hundred. Some contained only a few 
people; some very many. There were eighteen centuries of 
knights (equites), who were originally men in a position to 
maintain a horse and serve in the cavalry, though later the 
Roman knighthood, like knighthood in England, became a vul- 
gar distinction of no military, mental, or moral significance. 
(These equites became a very important class as Rome traded 
and grew rich ; for a time they were the real moving class in the 
community. There was as little chivalry left among them at 
last as there is in the "honours list" knights of England of 
to-day. The senators from about 200 B.C. were excluded from 
trade. The equites became, therefore, the great business men, 
negotiator es f and as publicani they farmed the taxes.) There 
were, in addition, eighty ( !) centuries of wealthy men (worth 
over 100,000 asses), twenty-two of men worth over 75,000 asses, 
and so on. There were two centuries each of mechanics and 
musicians, and the proletarii made up one century. The deci- 
sion in the comitia centuriata was by the majority of centuries. 

Is it any wonder that with the growth of the Roman state 
and the complication of its business, power shifted back from 
such a Popular Assembly to the Senate, which was a compara- 
tively compact body varying between three hundred as a mini- 
mum, and, at the utmost, nine hundred members (to which 
it was raised by Caesar), men who had to do with affairs and 
big business, who knew each other more or less, and had a 
tradition of government and policy ? The power of nominating 
and calling up the senators vested in the Republic first with the 
consuls, and when, some time after, "censors" were created, and 
many of the powers of the consuls had been transferred to 
them, they were? also given this power. Appius Claudius, one 
of the first of the censors to exercise it, enrolled freedmen in 
the tribes and called sons of freedmen to the Senate. But this 


was a shocking arrangement to the conservative instincts of the 
time ; the consuls would not recognize his Senate, and the next 
censors (304 B.C.) set aside his invitations. His attempt, how- 
ever, serves to show how far the Senate had progressed from 
its original condition as a purely patrician body. Like the con- 
temporary British House of Lords, it had become a gathering 
of big business men, energetic politicians, successful adven- 
turers, great landowners, and the like ; its patrician dignity was 
a picturesque sham; but, unlike the British House of Lords, 
it was unchecked legally by anything but the inefficient Popular 
Assembly we have already described, and by the tribunes elected 
by the plebeian assembly. Its legal control over the consuls 
and proconsuls was not great; it had little executive power; 
but in its prestige and experience lay its strength and influence. 
The interests of its members were naturally antagonistic to 
the interests of the general body of citizens, but for some genera- 
tions that great mass of ordinary men was impotent to express 
its dissent from the proceedings of this oligarchy. Direct pop- 
ular government of a state larger than a city state had already 
failed therefore in Italy, because as yet there was no public 
education, no press, and no representative system ; it had failed 
through these mere mechanical difficulties, before the first Punic 
War. But its appearance is of enormous interest, as the first 
appearance of a set of problems with which the whole political 
intelligence of the world wrestles at the present time. 

The Senate met usually in a Senate House in the Forum, 
but on special occasions it would be called to meet in this or 
that temple ; and when it had to deal with foreign ambassadors 
or its own generals (who were not allowed to enter the city 
while in command of troops), it assembled in the Campus 
Martius outside the walls. 


It has been necessary to deal rather fully with the political 
structure of the Roman republic because of its immense im- 
portance to this day. The constitution of Carthage need not 
detain us long. 

Italy under Rome was a republican country; Carthage was 
that much older thing, a republican city. She had an "em- 
pire," as Athens had an "empire," of tributary states which 



did not love her, and she had a great and naturally disloyal 
industrial slave population. 

In the city there were two elected "kings," as Aristotle calls 
them, the suffetes, who were really equivalent to the Roman 

censors ; their Sem- 
itic name was the 
same as that used 
for the Jewish 
judges. There was 
an impotent public 
assembly and a sen- 
ate of leading per- 
sonages ; but two 
committees of this 
senate, nominally 
elected, but elected 
by easily controlled 
methods, the Hun- 
dred and Four and 
the Thirty, really 
constituted a close 
oligarchy of the rich- 
est and most influen- 
tial men. They told as little as they could to their allies and 
fellow citizens, and consulted them as little as possible. They 
pursued schemes in which the welfare of Carthage was no 
doubt subordinated to the advantage of their own group. They 
were hostile to new men or novel measures, and confident that 
a sea ascendancy that had lasted two centuries must be in the 
very nature of things. 


It would be interesting, and not altogether idle, to speculate 
what might have happened to mankind if Rome and Carthage 
could have settled their differences and made a permanent 
alliance in the Western world. If Alexander the Great had 
lived, he might have come westward and driven these two pow- 
ers into such a fusion of interests. But that would not have 
suited the private schemes and splendours of the Carthaginian 
oligarchy, and the new Senate of greater Rome was now grow- 
ing fond of the taste of plunder and casting covetous eyes across 


the Straits of Messina upon the Carthaginian possessions in 
Sicily. ^ They were covetous, but they were afraid of the 
Carthaginian sea-power. Roman popular "patriotism," how- 
ever, was also jealous and fearful of these Carthaginians, and 
less inclined to count the cost of a conflict. The alliance 
Pyrrhus had forced upon Rome and Carthage held good for 
eleven years, but Rome was ripe for what is cabled in modern 
political jargon an "offensive defensive" war. The occasion 
arose in 264 B.C. 

At that time Sicily was not completely in Carthaginian hands. 
The eastward end was still under the power of the Greek king 
of Syracuse, Hiero, a successor of that Dionysius to whom 
Plato had gone as resident court philosopher. A band of 
mercenaries who had been in the service of Syracuse seized 
upon Messina (289 B.C.), and raided the trade of Syracuse so 
that at last Hiero was forced to take measures to suppress them 
(270 B.C.). Thereupon Carthage, which was also vitally con- 
cerned in the suppression of piracy, came to his aid, and put 
in a Carthaginian garrison at Messina. This was an alto- 
gether justifiable proceeding. Now that Tyre had been de- 
stroyed, the only capable guardian of sea law in the Mediter- 
ranean was Carthage, and the suppression of piracy was her 
task by habit and tradition. 

The pirates of Messina appealed to Rome, and the accumu- 
lating jealousy and fear of Carthage decided the Roman people 
to help them. An expedition was dispatched to Messina under 
the consul Appius Claudius (the third Appius Claudius we 
have had to mention in this history). 

So began the first of the most wasteful and disastrous series 
of wars that has ever darkened the history of mankind. But 
this is how one historian, soaked with the fantastic political 
ideas of our times, is pleased to write of this evil expedition. 
"The Romans knew they were entering on war with Carthage ; 
but the political instincts of the people were right, for a Car- 
thaginian garrison on the Sicilian Straits would have been a 
dangerous menace to the peace of Italy." So they protected 
the peaee of Italy from this "menace" by a war that lasted 
nearly a quarter of a century. They wrecked their own slowly 
acquired political the process. 

The Romans captured Messina, and Hiero deserted from 
the Carjhaginians to the Romans. Then for some time the 


struggle centred upon the town Agrigentum. This the Romans 
besieged, and a period of trench warfare ensued. Both sides 
suffered greatly from plague and irregular supplies; the 
Eomans lost 30,000 men; but in the end (261 B.C.) the Car- 
thaginians evacuated the place and retired to their fortified 
towns on the western coast of the island of which Lilybseum 
was the chief. These they could supply easily from the African 
mainland, and, as long as .their sea ascendancy held, they could 
exhaust any Roman effort against them. 

And now a new and very extraordinary phase of the war 
began. The Romans came out upon the sea, and to the aston- 
ishment of the Carthaginians and themselves defeated the 
Carthaginian fleet. Since the days of Salamis there had been 
a considerable development of naval architecture. Then the 
ruling type of battleship was a trireme, a galley with three 
banks (rows) of oars; now the leading Carthaginian battleship 
was a quinquereme, a much bigger galley with five banks of 
oars, which could ram jr shear the oars of any feebler vessel. 
The Romans had come into the war with no such shipping. NOW 
they set to work to build quinqueremes, being helped, it is said, 
in their designing by one of these Carthaginian vessels coming 
ashore. In two months they built a hundred quinqueremes and 
thirty triremes. But they had no skilled navigators, no experi- 
enced oarsmen, and these deficiencies they remedied partly 
with the assistance of their Greek allies and partly by the in- 
vention of new tactics. Instead of relying upon ramming or 
breaking the oars of the adversary, which demanded more sea- 
manship than they possessed, they decided to board the enemy, 
and they constructed a sort of long draw-bridge on their ships, 
held up to a mast by a pulley and with grappling-hooks and 
spikes at the end. They also loaded their galleys with soldiers. 
Then as the Carthaginian rammed or swept alongside, this 
corpus, as it was called, could be let down and the boarders 
could swarm aboard him. 

Simple as this device was, it proved a complete success. It 
changed the course of the war and the fate of the world. The 
small amount of invention needed to counteract the corvus 
was not apparently within the compass of the Carthaginian 
rulers. At the battle of Mylse (260 B.C.) the Romans gained 
their firt naval victory and captured or destroyed fifty vessels. 


At the great battle of Ecnomus (256 B.C.), "probably the 
greatest naval engagement of antiquity/' 1 in which seven or 
eight hundred big ships were engaged, the Carthaginians 
showed that they had learnt nothing from their former dis- 
aster. According to rule they outmanoeuvred and defeated the 
Romans, but the corvus again defeated them. The Romans 
sank thirty vessels and captured sixty-four. 

Thereafter the war continued with violent fluctuations of 
fortune, but with a continuous demonstration of the greater 
energy, solidarity, and initiative of the Romans. After 
Ecnomus the Romans invaded Africa by sea, and sent an in- 
sufficiently supported army, which after many successes and 
the capture of Tunis (within ten miles of Carthage) was com- 
pletely defeated. They lost their sea ascendancy through a 
storm, and regained it by building a second fleet of two hun- 
dred and twenty ships within three months. They captured 
Palermo, and defeated a great Carthaginian army there (251 
B.C.), capturing one hundred and four elephants, and making 
such a triumphal procession into Rome as that city had never 
seen before. They made an unsuccessful siege of Lilybseum, 
the chief surviving Carthaginian stronghold in Sicily. They 
lost their second fleet in a great naval battle at Drepanum (249 
B.C.), losing one hundred and eighty out of two hundred and 
ten vessels ; and a third fleet of one hundred and twenty battle- 
ships and eight hundred transports was lost in the same year 
partly in battle and partly in a storm. 

For seven years a sort of war went on between the nearly 
exhausted combatants, a war of raids and feeble sieges, during 
which the Carthaginians had the best of it at sea. Then by a 
last supreme effort Rome launched a fourth fleet of two hun- 
dred keels, and defeated the last strength of the Carthaginians 
at the battle of the J^gatian Isles (241 B.C.), after which Car- 
thage (240 B.C.) sued for peace. 

By the terms of this peace, all Sicily, except for the do- 
minions of Hiero of Syracuse, became an "estate" of the Roman 
people. There was no such process of assimilation as had been 
practised in Italy ; Sicily became a conquered province, paying 
tribute and yielding profit like the provinces of the older em- 
pires. And, in addition, Carthage paid a war indemnity of 
3,200 talents (=788,000). 

J. Wells, op. tit. 




For twenty-two years there was peace between Rome and 
Carthage. It was peace without prosperity. Both combatants 
were suffering from the want and disorganization that follow 
naturally and necessarily upon all great wars. The territories 
of Carthage seethed with violent disorder; the returning sol- 
diers could not get their pay, and mutinied and looted ; the 
land went uncultivated. We read of horrible cruelties in the 
suppression of these troubles by Hamilcar, the Carthaginian 

general; of men 
being crucified 
by the thousand. 
Sardinia and 
Corsica revolted. 
The "peace of 
Italy" was 
scarcely happier. 
The Gauls rose 
and marched 
south; they were 
defeated, and 
40,000 of them 

killed at Telamon. It is manifest that Italy was incomplete 
until it reached the Alps. Roman colonies were planted in 
the valley of the Po, and the great northward artery, the Via 
Flaminia, was begun. But it shows the moral and intellectual 
degradation of this post-war period that when the Gauls were 
threatening Rome, human sacrifices were proposed and carried 
out. The old Carthaginian sea law was broken up it may 
have been selfish and monopolistic, but it was at least orderly 
the Adriatic swarmed with Illyrian pirates, and as the result 
of a quarrel arising out of this state of affairs, Illyria, after 
two wars, had to be annexed as a second "province." By send- 
ing expeditions to annex Sardinia and Corsica, which were 
Carthaginian provinces in revolt, the Romans prepared the way 
for the Second Punic War. 

The First Punic War had tested and demonstrated the rela- 
tive strength of Rome and Carthage. With a little more wis- 
dom on either side, with a little more magnanimity on the part 
of Rome, there need never have been a renewal of the struggle. 
But Rome was an ungracious conqueror. She seized Corsica 


and Sardinia on no just grounds, she increased the indemnity 
by 1,200 talents, she set a limit, the Ebro, to Carthaginian de- 
velopments in Spain. There was a strong party in Carthage, 
led by Hanno, for the propitiation of Home ; but it was natural 
that many Carthaginians should come to regard their national 
adversary with a despairing hatred. 

Hatred is one of the passions that can master a life, and 
there is a type of temperament very prone to it, ready to see 
life in terms of vindictive melodrama, ready to find stimulus 
and satisfaction in frightful demonstrations of " justice" and 
revenge. The fears and jealousies of the squatting-place and 
the cave still bear their dark blossoms in our lives ; we are not 
four hundred generations yet from the old Stone Age. Great 
wars, as all Europe knows, give this "hating" temperament the 
utmost scope, and the greed and pride and cruelty that the First 
Punic War had released were now producing a rich crop of 
anti-foreign monomania. The outstanding figure upon the 
side of Carthage was a great general and administrator, Hamil- 
car Barca, who now set himself to circumvent and shatter 
Rome. He was the father-in-law of Hasdrubal and the father 
of a boy Hannibal, destined to be the most dreaded enemy that 
ever scared the Roman Senate. The most obvious course be- 
fore Carthage was the reconstruction of its fleet and naval 
administration, and the recovery of sea power, but this, it 
would seem, Hamilcar could not effect. As an alternative he 
resolved to organize Spain as the base of a land attack upon 
Italy. He went to Spain as governor in 236 B.C., and Hannibal 
related afterwards that his father then he was a boy of eleven 
made him vow deathless hostility to the Roman power. 

This quasi-insane concentration of the gifts and lives of the 
Barca family upon revenge is but one instance of the narrow- 
ing and embitterment of life that the stresses and universal 
sense of insecurity of this great struggle produced in the minds 
of men. A quarter of a century of war had left the whole 
western world miserable and harsh. While the eleven-year-old 
Hannibal was taking his vow of undying hatred, there was run- 
ning about a farmhouse of Tusculum a small but probably very 
disagreeable child of two named Marcus Porcius Cato. This 
boy lived to be eighty-five years old, and his ruling passion 
seems to have been hatred for any human happiness but his 
own. He was a good soldier, and had a successful political 


career. He held a command in Spain, and distinguished him- 
self by his cruelties. He posed as a champion of religion and 
public morality, and under this convenient cloak carried on a 
lifelong war against everything that was young, gracious, or 
pleasant. Whoever roused his jealousy incurred his moral dis- 
approval. He was energetic in the support and administration 
of all laws against dress, against the personal adornment of 
women, against entertainments and free discussion. He was 
so fortunate as to be made censor, which gave him great power 
over the private lives of public people. He was thus able to 
ruin public opponents through private scandals. He expelled 
Manlius from the Senate for giving his wife a kiss in the day- 
time in the sight of their daughter. He persecuted Greek 
literature, about which, until late in life, he was totally igno- 
rant. Then he read and admired Demosthenes. He wrote in 
Latin upon agriculture and the ancient and lost virtues of 
Rome. From these writings much light is thrown upon his 
qualities. One of his maxims was that when a slave was not 
sleeping he should be working. Another was that old oxen 
and slaves should be sold off. He left the war horse that had 
carried him through his Spanish campaigns behind him when 
he returned to Italy in order to save freight. He hated other 
people's gardens, and cut off the supply of water for garden 
use in Rome. After entertaining company, when dinner was 
over he would go out to correct any negligence in the service 
with a leather thong. He admired his own virtues very greatly, 
and insisted upon them in his writings. There was a battle at 
Thermopylae against Antiochus the Great, of which he wrote, 
"those who saw him charging the enemy, routing and pursuing 
them, declared that Cato owed less to the people of Rome, than 1 
the people of Rome owed to Cato." 1 In his old age Cato be- 
came lascivious and misconducted himself with a woman slave. 
Finally, when his son protested against this disorder of their 
joint household, he married a young wife, the daughter of 
his secretary, who was not in a position to refuse his offer. 
(What became of the woman slave is not told. Probably he 
sold her.) This compendium of all the old Roman virtues 
died at an advanced age, respected and feared. Almost his 
last public act was to urge on the Third Punic War and the 
final destruction of Carthage. He had gone to Carthage as a 

Plutarch, Life of Cato. 


commissioner to settle certain differences between Carthage 
and Numidia, and he had been shocked and horrified to find 
some evidences of prosperity and even of happiness in that 

From the time of that visit onward Cato concluded every 
speech he made in the Senate by croaking out "Dele-nda est 
Carthago" ("Carthage must be destroyed"). 

Such was the type of man that rose to prominence in Home 
during the Punic struggle, such was the protagonist of Hanni- 
bal and the Carthaginian revanche, and by him and by Hannibal 
we may judge the tone and quality of the age. 

The two groat western powers, and Rome perhaps more 
than Carthage, were strained mentally and morally by the 
stresses of the First War. The evil side of life was uppermost. 
The history of the Second and Third Punic Wars (219 to 201 
and 149 to 146 B.C.), it is plain, is not the history of perfectly 
sane peoples. It is nonsense for historians to write of the 
"political instincts'' of the Romans or Carthaginians. Quite 
other instincts were loose. The red eyes of the ancestral ape 
had come back into the world. It was a time when reasonable 
men were howled down or murdered; the true spirit of the 
age is shown in the eager examination for signs and portents 
of the still quivering livers of those human victims who were 
sacrificed in Rome during the panic before the battle of 'Tela- 
mon. The western world was indeed black with homicidal 
monomania. Two great peoples, both very necessary to the 
world's development, fell foul of one another, and at last Rome 
succeeded in murdering Carthage. 


We can only tell very briefly here of the particulars of the 
Second and Third Punic Wars. We have told how Hamilcar 
began to organize Spain, and how the Romans forbade him 
to cross the Ebro. He died in 228 B.C., and was followed by 
his son-in-law Hasdrubal, who was assassinated in 221 B.C. and 
succeeded by Hannibal, who was now twenty-six. The actual 
war was precipitated by the Romans making a breach of their 
own regulations, and interfering with affairs south of the Ebro. 
Whereupon Hannibal marched straight through the south of 
Gaul, and crossed the Alps (218 B.C.) into Italy. 


The history of the next fifteen years is the story of the most 
brilliant and futile raid in history. For fifteen years Hannibal 
held out in Italy, victorious and unconquered. The Roman 
generals were no match for the Carthaginian, and whenever 
they met him they were beaten. But one Roman general, P. 
Cornelius Scipio, had the strategic sense to take a course that 
robbed all Hannibal's victories of fruit. At the outbreak of 
the war he had been sent by sea to Marseilles to intercept 
Hannibal ; he arrived three days late, and, instead of pursuing 
him, he sent on his army into Spain to cut up Hannibal's sup- 
plies and reinforcements. Throughout all the subsequent war 
there remained this Roman army of Spain between Hannibal 
and his base. He was left "in the air," incapable of conducting 
sieges or establishing conquests. 

Whenever he met the Romans in open fight he beat them. 
He gained two great victories in North Italy, and won over 
the Gauls to his side. He pressed south into Etruria, and am- 
bushed, surrounded, and completely destroyed a Roman army 
at Lake Trasimene. In 216 B.C. he was assailed by a vastly 
superior Roman force under Yarro at Canna3, and destroyed 
it utterly. Fifty thousand men are said to have been killed 
and ten thousand prisoners taken. He was, however, unable to 
push on and capture Rome because he had no siege equipment. 

But Cannae produced other fruits. A large part of Southern 
Italy came over to Hannibal, including Capua, the city next 
in size to Rome, and the Macedonians allied themselves with 
him. Moreover, Hiero of Syracuse, the faithful ally of Rome, 
was now dead, and his successor Hieronymus turned over to 
the Carthaginians. The Romans carried on the war, however, 
with great toughness and resolution ; they refused to treat with 
Hannibal after Canna?, they pressed a slow but finally suc- 
cessful blockade and siege of Capua, and a Roman army set 
itself to reduce Syracuse. The siege of Syracuse is chiefly 
memorable for the brilliant inventions of the philosopher Archi- 
medes, which long held the Romans at bay. We have already 
named this Archimedes as one of the pupils and correspondents 
of the school of the Alexandrian Museum. He was killed 
in the final storm of the town. Tarentum (209 B.C.), Hanni- 
bal's chief port and means of supply from Carthage, at last fol- 
lowed Syracuse (212 B.C.) and Capua (211 B.C.), and his com- 
munications became irregular. 


Spain also was wrested bit by bit from the Carthaginian 
grip. When at last reinforcements for Hannibal under his 
brother Hasdrubal (not to be confused with his brother-in- 
law of the same name who was assassinated) struggled through 
into Italy, they were destroyed at the battle of the Metaurus 
(207 B.C.), and the first news that came to Hannibal of the 
disaster was the hacked-off head of his brother thrown into his 

Thereafter Hannibal was blockaded into Calabria, the heel 
of Italy. He had no forces for further operations of any magni- 
tude, and he returned at last to Carthage in time to command 
the Carthaginians in the last battle of the war. 

This last battle, the battle of Zama (202 B.C.), was fought 
close to Carthage. 

It was the first defeat Hannibal experienced and so it is 
well to give a little attention to the personality of his con- 
queror, Scipio Africanus the Elder, who stands out in history 
as a very fine gentleman indeed, a great soldier and a generous 
man. We have already mentioned a certain P. Cornelius Scipio 
who struck at Hannibal's base in Spain ; this was his son ; until 
after Zama this son bore the same name of P. Cornelius Scipio, 
and then the surname of Africanus was given him. (The 
younger Scipio Africanus, Scipio Africanus Minor, who was 
later to end the Third Punic War, was the adopted son of the 
son of this first Scipio Africanus the Elder. ) Scipio Africanus 
was everything that aroused the distrust, hatred, and opposi- 
tion of old-fashioned Romans of the school of Cato. He was 
young, he was happy and able, he spent money freely, he was 
well versed in Greek literature, and inclined rather to Phrygian 
novelties in religion than to the sterner divinities of Rome. 
And he did not believe in the extreme discretion that then ruled 
Roman strategy. 

After the early defeats of the Second Punic War, Roman 
military operations were dominated by the personality of a 
general, Fabius, who raised the necessity of avoiding battle 
with Hannibal into a kind of sacred principle. For ten years 
"Fabian tactics" prevailed in Italy. The Romans blockaded, 
cut up convoys, attacked stragglers, and ran away whenever 
Hannibal appeared. ~No doubt it was wise for a time after their 
first defeats to do this sort of thing, but the business of the 
stronger power, and Rome was the stronger power throughout 


the Second Punic War, is not to tolerate an interminable war, 
but to repair losses, discover able generals, train better armies, 
and destroy the enemy power. Decision is one of the duties 
of strength. 

To such men as young Scipio, the sly, ineffective artfulness 
of Fabianism, which was causing both Italy and Carthage to 
bleed slowly to death, was detestable. He clamoured for an 
attack upon Carthage itself. 

"But Fabius, on this occasion, filled the city with alarms, 
as if the commonwealth was going to be brought into the most 
extreme danger by a rash and indiscreet young man; in short, 
he scrupled not to do or say anything he thought likely to dis- 
suade his countrymen from embracing the proposal. With the 
Senate he carried his point. But the people believed that his 
opposition to Scipio proceeded either from envy of his success, 
or from a secret fear that if this young hero should perform 
some signal exploit, put an end to the war, or even remove it 
out of Italy, his own slow proceedings through the course of 
so many years might be imputed to indolence or timidity. . . . 
He applied to Crassus, the colleague of Scipio, and endeavoured 
to persuade him not to yield that province to Scipio, but, if 
he thought it proper to conduct the war in that manner, to go 
himself against Carthage. Nay, he even hindered the raising 
of money for that expedition, so that Scipio was obliged to find 
the supplies as he could. . . . He endeavoured to prevent the 
young men who offered to go as volunteers from giving in their 
names, and loudly declared, both in the Senate and Forum, 
'That Scipio did not only himself avoid Hannibal, but intended 
to carry away with him the remaining strength of Italy, per- 
suading the young men to abandon their parents, their wives, 
and native city, while an unsubdued and potent enemy was 
still at their doors.' With these assertions he so terrified the 
people, that they allowed Scipio to take with him only the 
legions that were in Sicily, and three hundred of those men 
who had served him with so much fidelity in Spain. . . . After 
Scipio was gone over into Africa, an account was soon brought 
to Rome of his glorious and wonderful achievements. This 
account was followed by rich spoils, which confirmed it. A 
Xumidian king was taken prisoner; two camps were burned 
and destroyed ; and in them a vast number of men, arms, and 
horses; and the Carthaginians sent orders to Hannibal to quit 


his fruitless hopes in Italy, and return home to defend his 
own country. Whilst every tongue was applauding these ex- 
ploits of Scipio, Fabius proposed that his successor should be 
appointed, without any shadow of reason for it, except what 
this well-known maxim implies: viz., 'That it is dangerous to 
trust affairs of such importance to the fortune of one man, 
because it is not likely that he will be always successful.' . . . 
Nay, even when Hannibal embarked his army and quitted 
Italy, Fabius ceased not to disturb the general joy and to damp 
the spirits of Rome, for he took the liberty to affirm, 'That the 
commonwealth was now come to her last and worst trial; that 
she had the most reason to dread the efforts of Hannibal when 
he should arrive in Africa, and attack her sons under the walls 
of Carthage; that Scipio would have to do with an army yet 
warm with the blood of so many Roman generals, dictators, 
and consuls.' The city was alarmed with these declamations, 
and though the war was removed into Africa, the danger seemed 
to approach nearer Rome than ever." 

Before the battle of Zama there were a brief truce and 
negotiations, which broke down through the fault of the Car- 
thaginians. As with the battle of Arbela, so the exact day of 
the battle of Zama can be fixed by an eclipse, which in this 
case occurred during the fighting. The Romans had been 
joined by the Numidians, the hinterland people of Carthage, 
under their king Massinissa, and this gave them for the first 
time in any battle against Hannibal a great superiority of 
cavalry. Hannibal's cavalry wings were driven off, while at 
the same time the sounder discipline of Scipio's infantry en- 
abled them to open lanes for the charge of the Carthaginian 
war elephants without being thrown into confusion. Hannibal 
attempted to extend his infantry line to envelop the Roman in- 
fantry mass, but while at CannaB all the advantage of training 
and therefore of manoeuvring power had been on his side, and 
he had been able to surround and massacre a crowd of infantry, 
he now found against him an infantry line better than his own. 
His own line broke as it extended, the Roman legion charged 
home, and the day was lost. The Roman cavalry came back 
from the pursuit of Hannibal's horse to turn what was already 
a defeat into a disastrous rout. 

Carthage submitted without any further struggle. The 
terms were severe, but they left it possible for her to hope for 


an honourable future. She had to abandon Spain to Rome, 
to give up all her war fleet except ten vessels, to pay 10,000 
talents (2,400,000), and, what was the most difficult condi- 
tion of all, to agree not to wage war without the permission of 
Rome. Finally a condition was added that Hannibal, as the 
great enemy of Rome, should be surrendered. But he saved his 
countrymen from this humiliation by flying to Asia. 

These were exorbitant conditions, with which Rome should 
have been content. But there are nations so cowardly that they 
dare not merely conquer their enemies ; they must mak siccar 
and destroy them. The generation of Romans that saw great- 
ness and virtue in a man like Cato the Censor, necessarily 
made their country a mean ally and a cowardly victor. 


The history of Rome for the fifty-six years that elapsed be- 
tween the battle of Zama and the last act of the tragedy, the 
Third Punic War, tells of a hard ungracious expansion of 
power abroad and of a slow destruction, by the usury and greed 
of the rich, of the free agricultural population at home. 

The spirit of the nation had become harsh and base; there 
was no further extension of citizenship, no more generous at- 
tempts at the assimilation of congenial foreign populations. 
Spain was administered badly and settled slowly and with great 
difficulty. Complicated interventions led to the reduction of 
Illyria and Macedonia to the position of tribute-paying prov- 
inces; Rome, it was evident, was going to "tax the foreigner" 
now and release her home population from taxation. After 
168 B.C. the old land tax was no longer levied in Italy, and the 
only revenue derived from Italy was from the state domains 
and through a tax on imports from overseas. The revenues 
from the province of "Asia" defrayed the expenses of the 
Roman state. At home men of the Cato type were acquiring 
farms by loans and foreclosure, often the farms of men 
impoverished by war service; they were driving the 
free citizens off their land, and running their farms with 
the pitilessly driven slave labour that was made cheap and 
abundant. Such men regarded alien populations abroad merely 
as unimported slaves. Sicily was handed over to the greedy 
enterprise of tax-farmers. Corn could be grown there by rich 


men using slaves, and imported very profitably into Rome, and 
so the home land could be turned over to cattle and sheep feed- 
ing. Consequently a drift of the uprooted Italian population 
to the towns, and particularly to Rome, began. 

Of the first conflicts of the spreading power of Rome with 
the Seleucids, and how she formed an alliance with Egypt, we 
can tell little here, nor of the tortuous fluctuations of the Greek 
cities under the shadow of her advance until they fell into 
actual subjugation. A map must suffice to show the extension 
of her empire at this time. 

The general grim baseness of the age was not without its 
protesting voices. We have already told how the wasting dis- 
ease of the Second Punic War, a disease of the state which was 
producing avaricious rich men exactly as diseases of the body 
will sometimes produce great pustules, was ended by the vigour 
of Scipio Africanus. When it had seemed doubtful whether 
the Senate would let him go as the Roman general, he had 
threatened an appeal to the people. Thereafter he was a 
marked man for the senatorial gang, who were steadily chang- 
ing Italy from a land of free cultivators to a land of slave- 
worked cattle ranches; they attempted to ruin him before ever 
he reached Africa; they gave him forces insufficient, as they 
hoped, for victory; and after the war they barred him strictly 
from office. Interest and his natural malice alike prompted 
Cato to attack him. 

Scipio Africanus the Elder seems to have been of a generous 
and impatient temperament, and indisposed to exploit the popu- 
lar discontent with current tendencies and his own very great 
popularity to his own advantage. He went as subordinate to 
his brother Lucius Scipio, when the latter commanded the first 
Roman army to pass into Asia. At Magnesia in Lydia a great 
composite army under Antiochus III, the Seleucid monarch, 
suffered the fate (190 B.C.) of the very similar Persian armies 
of a hundred and forty years before. This victory drew down 
upon Lucius Scipio the hostility of the Senate, and he was 
accused of misappropriating moneys received from Antiochus. 
This filled Africanus with honest rage. As Lucius stood up 
in the Senate with his accounts in his hands ready for the 
badgering of his accusers, Africanus snatched the documents 
from him, tore them up, and flung the fragments down. His 
brother, he said, had paid into the treasury 200,000 sestertia 




(= 2,000,000). Was he now to be pestered and tripped up 
upon this or that item ? When, later on, Lucius was prosecuted 
and condemned, Africanus rescued him by force. Being im- 
peached, he reminded the people that the day was the anni- 
versary of the battle of Zama, and defied the authorities amidst 
the plaudits of the crowd. 

The Roman people seem to have liked and supported Scipio 
Africanus, and, after an interval of two thousand years, men 
must like him still. He was able to throw torn paper in the 
face of the Senate, and when Lucius was attacked again, one 
of the tribunes of the people interposed his veto and quashed 
the proceedings. But Scipio Africanus lacked that harder 
alloy which makes men great democratic leaders. He was no 
Caesar. He had none of the qualities that subdue a man to 
the base necessities of political life. After these events he 
retired in disgust from Rome to his estates, and there he died 
in the year 183 B.C. 

In the same year died Hannibal. He poisoned himself in 
despair. The steadfast fear of the Roman Senate had hunted 
him from court to court. In spite of the indignant protests of 
Scipio, Rome in the peace negotiations had demanded his sur- 
render from Carthage, and she continued to make this demand 
of every power that sheltered him. When peace was made with 
Antiochus III, this was one of the conditions. He was run to 
earth at last in Bithynia; the king of Bithynia detained him 
in order to send him to Rome, but he had long carried the 
poison he needed in a ring, and by this he died. 

It adds to the honour of the name of Scipio that it was an- 
other Scipio, Scipio ISTasica, who parodied Cato's Delenda est 
Carthago by ending all his speeches in the Senate with "Car- 
thage must stand." He had the wisdom to see that the exist- 
ence and stimulus of Carthage contributed to the general pros- 
perity of Rome. 

Yet it was the second Scipio Africanus, grandson by adoption 
of Scipio Africanus the Elder, who took and destroyed Car- 
thage. The sole offence of the Carthaginians, which brought 
about the third and last Punic War, was that they continued 
to trade and prosper. Their trade was not a trade that com- 
peted with that of Rome ; when Carthage was destroyed, much 
of her trade died with her, and North Africa entered upon a 
phase of economic retrogression; but her prosperity aroused 


that passion of envy which was evidently more powerful even 
than avarice in the "old Roman" type. The rich Equestrian 
order resented any wealth in the world but its own. Rome 
provoked the war by encouraging the Numidians to encroach 
upon Carthage until the Carthaginians were goaded to fight in 
despair. Rome then pounced upon Carthage, and declared 
she had broken the treaty! She had made war without 

The Carthaginians sent the hostages Rome demanded, they 
surrendered their arms, they prepared to surrender territory. 
But submission only increased the arrogance of Rome and the 
pitiless greed of the rich Equestrian order which swayed her 
counsels. She now demanded that Carthage should be aban- 
doned, and the population removed to a spot at least ten miles 
from the sea. This demand they made to a population that sub- 
sisted almost entirely by overseas trade! 

This preposterous order roused the Carthaginians to despair. 
They recalled their exiles and prepared for resistance. The 
military efficiency of the Romans had been steadily declining 
through a half-century of narrow-minded and base-spirited gov- 
ernment, and the first attacks upon the town in 149 B.C. almost 
ended in disaster. Young Scipio, during these operations, dis- 
tinguished himself in a minor capacity. The next year was also 
a year of failure for the incompetents of the Senate. That 
august body then passed from a bullying mood to one of ex- 
treme panic. The Roman populace was even more seriously 
scared. Young Scipio, chiefly on account of his name, although 
he was under the proper age, and in other respects not qualified 
for the office, was made consul, and bundled off to Africa to 
save his precious country. 

There followed the most obstinate and dreadful of sieges. 
Scipio built a mole across the harbour, and cut off all supplies 
by land or sea. The Carthaginians suffered horribly from 
famine; but they held out until the town was stormed. The 
street fighting lasted for six days, and when at last the citadel 
capitulated, there were fifty thousand Carthaginians left alive 
out of an estimated population of half a million. These sur- 
vivors went into slavery, the whole city was burnt, the ruins 
were ploughed to express final destruction, and a curse was 
invoked with great solemnities upon anyone who might attempt 
to rebuild it. 


In the same year (146 B.C.) the Roman Senate and Eques- 
trians also murdered another great city that seemed to limit 
their trade monopolies, Corinth. They had a justification, for 
Corinth had been in arms against them, but it was an inade- 
quate justification. 


We must note here, in a brief section, a change in the mili- 
tary system of Rome, after the Second Punic War, that was of 
enormous importance in her later development. Up to that 
period the Roman armies had been levies of free citizens. 
Fighting power and voting power were closely connected ; the 
public assembly by centuries followed the paraphernalia of a 
military mobilization, and marched, headed by the Equestrian 
centuries, to the Campus Martius. The system was very like 
that of the Boers before the last war in South Africa. The 
ordinary Roman citizen, like the ordinary Boer, was a farmer ; 
at the summons of his country he went "on commando." The 
Boers were, indeed, in many respects, the last survivors of 
Aryanism. They fought extraordinarily well, but at the back 
of their minds was an anxious desire to go back to their farms. 
For prolonged operations, such as the siege of Veii, the Romans 
reinforced and relieved their troops in relays; the Boers did 
much the same at the siege of Ladysmith. 

The necessity for subjugating Spain after the Second Punic 
War involved a need for armies of a different type. Spain 
was too far off for periodic reliefs, and the war demanded a 
more thorough training than was possible with these on and off 
soldiers. Accordingly men were enlisted for longer terms and 
paid. So the paid soldier first appeared in Roman affairs. 
And to pay was added booty. Cato distributed silver treasure 
among his command in Spain ; and it is also on record that he 
attacked Scipio Africanus for distributing booty among his 
troops in Sicily. The introduction of military pay led on to a 
professional army, and this, a century later, to the disarma- 
ment of the ordinary Roman citizen, who was now drifting in 
an? impoverished state into Rome and the larger towns. The 
great wars had been won, the foundations of the empire had 
been well and truly laid by the embattled farmers of Rome 


before 200 B.C. In the process the embattled fanners of Rome 
had already largely disappeared. The change that began after 
the Second Punic War was completed towards the close of 
the century in the reorganization of the army by Marius, as 
we will tell in its place. After his time we shall begin to write 
of "the army/' and then of "the legions/' and we shall find 
we are dealing with a new kind of army altogether, no longer 
held together in the solidarity of a common citizenship. As 
that tie fails, the legions discover another in esprit de corps, 
in their common difference from and their common interest 
against the general community. They begin to develop a 
warmer interest in their personal leaders, who secure them pay 
and plunder. Before the Punic Wars it was the tendency of 
ambitious men in Eome to court the plebeians ; after that time 
they began to court the legions. 

The history of the Roman Republic thus far, is in many 
respects much more modern in flavour, especially to the Ameri- 
can or Western European reader, than anything that has pre- 
ceded it. For the first time we have something like a self-gov- 
erning "nation," something larger than a mere city state, 
seeking to control its own destinies. For the first time we 
have a wide countryside under one conception of law. We get 
in the Senate and the popular assembly a conflict of groups and 
personalities, an argumentative process of control, far more 
stable and enduring than any autocracy can be, and far more 
flexible and adaptable than any priesthood. For the first time 
also we encounter social conflicts comparable to our own. 
Money has superseded barter, and financial capital has become 
fluid and free ; not perhaps so fluid and free as it is to-day, but 
much more so than it had ever been before. The Punic Wars 
were wars of peoples, such as were no other wars we have yet 
recorded. Indubitably the broad lines of our present world, 
the main ideas, the chief oppositions, were appearing in those 

But, as we have already pointed out, certain of the elem^n- 
tary facilities and some of the current political ideas of our 
time were still wanting in the Rome of the Punic Wars. There 


were no newspapers, 1 and there was practically no use of 
elected representatives in the popular assemblies. And an- 
other deficiency, very understandable to us nowadays, but quite 
beyond the scope of anyone then, was the absence of any general 
elementary political education at all. The plebeians of Rome 
had shown some glimmering of the idea that without knowledge 
votes cannot make men free, when they had insisted upon the 
publication of the law of the Twelve Tables; but they had 
never been able, it was beyond the possibilities of the time, to 
imagine any further extension of knowledge to the bulk of the 
people. It is only nowadays that men are beginning to under- 
stand fully the political significance of the maxim that "knowl- 
edge is power." Two British Trade Unions, for example, have 
recently set up a Labour College to meet the special needs of 
able working-men in history, political and social science, and 
the like. But education in republican Rome was the freak of 
the individual parent, and the privilege of wealth and leisure. 
It was mainly in the hands of Greeks, who were in many cases 
slaves. There was a thin small stream of very fine learning 
and very fine thinking up to the first century of the monarchy, 
let Lucretius and Cicero witness, but it did not spread into the 
mass of the people. The ordinary Roman was not only blankly 
ignorant of the history of mankind, but also of the conditions 
of foreign peoples ; he had no knowledge of economic laws nor 
of social possibilities. Even his own interests he did not 
clearly understand. 

Of course, in the little city states of Greece and in that early 
Roman state of four hundred square miles, men acquired by 
talk and observation a sufficient knowledge for the ordinary 
duties of citizenship, but by the beginning of the Punic Wars 
the business was already too big and complicated for illiterate 
men. Yet nobody seems to have observed the gap that was 

1 Julius Csesar (60 B.C.) caused the proceedings of the Senate to be pub- 
lished by having them written up upon bulletin boards, in albo (upon 
the white). It had been the custom to publish the annual edict of the 
praetor in this fashion. There were professional letter-writers who sent 
news by special courier to rich country correspondents, and these would 
copy down the stuff upon the Album (white board). Cicero, while he 
was governor in Cilicia, got the current news from such a professional 
correspondent. He complains in one letter that it was not what he 
wanted; the expert was too full of the chariot races and other sporting 
intelligence, and failed to give any view of the political situation. Ob- 
viously this news-letter system was available only for public men in pros- 
perous circumstances. 


opening between the citizen and his state, and so there is no 
record at all of any attempt to enlarge the citizen by instruc- 
tion to meet his enlarged duties. Prom the second century B.C. 
and onward everyone is remarking upon the ignorance of the 
common citizen and his lack of political wisdom, everything is 
suffering from the lack of political solidarity due to this igno- 
rance, but no one goes on to what we should now consider the 
inevitable corollary, no one proposes to destroy the ignorance 
complained of. There existed no means whatever for the in- 
struction of the masses of the people in a common political and 
social ideal. It was only with the development of the great 
propagandist religions in the Eoman world, of which Chris- 
tianity was the chief and the survivor, that the possibility of 
such a systematic instruction of great masses of people became 
apparent in the world. That very great political genius, the 
Emperor Constantine the Great, six centuries later, was the 
first to apprehend and to attempt to use this possibility for the 
preservation and the mental and moral knitting-together of the 
world community over which he ruled. 

But it is not only in these deficiencies of news and of educa- 
tion and of the expedient of representative government that 
this political system of Rome differed from our own. True, 
it was far more like a modern civilized state than any other 
state we have considered hitherto, but in some matters it was 
strangely primordial and "sub-civilized." Every now and then 
the reader of Roman history, reading it in terms of debates 
and measures, policies and campaigns, capital and labour, 
comes upon something that gives him much the same shock 
he would feel if he went down to an unknown caller in his 
house and extended his hand to meet the misshapen, hairy paw 
of Homo N eandertlialensis and looked up to see a chinless, 
bestial face. We have noted the occurrence of human sacrifice 
in the third century B.C., and much that we learn of the religion 
of republican Rome carries us far back beyond the days of 
decent gods, to the age of shamanism and magic. We talk of a 
legislative gathering, and the mind flies to Westminster; but 
how should we feel if we went to see the beginning of a session 
of the House of Lords, and discovered the Lord Chancellor, 
with bloody fingers, portentously fiddling about among the 
entrails of a newly killed sheep ? The mind would recoil from 
Westminster to the customs of Benin. And the slavery of 


Rome was a savage slavery, altogether viler than the slavery of 
Babylon. We have had a glimpse of the virtuous Cato among 
his slaves in the second century B.C. Moreover, in the third 
century B.C., when King Asoka was ruling India in light and 
gentleness, the Romans were reviving an Etruscan sport, the 
setting on of slaves to fight for their lives. One is reminded 
of West Africa again in the origin of this amusement ; it grew 
out of the prehistoric custom of a massacre of captives at the 

(from, a waZI-pain&ig' at Pompezi) 

burial of a chief. There was a religious touch about this sport ; 
the slaves with hooks, who dragged the dead bodies out of the 
arena, wore masks to represent the infernal ferryman-god, 
Charon. In 264 B.C., the very year in which Asoka began to 
reign and the First Punic War began, the first recorded gladia- 
torial combat took place in the forum at Rome, to celebrate 
the funeral of a member of the old Roman family of Brutus. 
This was a modest display of three couples, but soon gladiators 
were fighting by the hundred. The taste for these combats 
grew rapidly, and the wars supplied an abundance of captives. 
The old Roman moralists, who were so severe upon kissing and 
women's ornaments and Greek philosophy, had nothing but 
good to say for this new development. So long as pain was 
inflicted, Roman morality, it would seem, was satisfied. 

If republican Rome was the first of modern self-governing 
national communities, she was certainly the "Neanderthal" 
form of them. 

In the course of the next two or three centuries the gladia- 
torial shows of Rome grew to immense proportions. To begin 


with, while wars were frequent, the gladiators were prisoners 
of war. They came with their characteristic national weapons, 
tattooed Britons, Moors, Scythians, negroes, and the like, and 
there was perhaps some military value in these exhibitions. 
Then criminals of the lower classes condemned to death were 
also used. The ancient world did not understand that a crimi- 
nal condemned to death still has rights, and at any rate the use 
of a criminal as a gladiator was not so bad as his use as "mate- 
rial" for the vivisectors of the Museum at Alexandria. But 
as the profits of this sort of show business grew and the demand 
for victims increased, ordinary slaves were sold to the trainers 
of gladiators, and any slave who had aroused his owner's spite 
might find himself in an establishment for letting out gladia- 
tors. And dissipated young men who had squandered their 
property, and lads of spirit would go voluntarily into the trade 
for a stated time, trusting to their prowess to survive. As the 
business developed, a new use was found for gladiators as 
armed retainers; rich men would buy a band, and employ it 
as a bodyguard or hire it out for profit at the shows. The 
festivities of a show began with a ceremonial procession 
(pompa) and a sham fight (prcelusio}. The real fighting was 
heralded by trumpets. Gladiators who objected to fight for any 
reason were driven on by whips and hot irons. A wounded 
man would sometimes call for pity by holding up his forefinger. 
The spectators would then either wave their handkerchiefs in 
token of mercy, or condemn him to death by holding out their 
clenched fists with the thumbs down. 1 The slain and nearly 
dead were dragged out to a particular place, the spoliarium, 
where they were stripped of their arms and possessions, and 
those who had not already expired were killed. 

This organization of murder as a sport and show serves to 
measure the great gap in moral standards between the Roman 
community and our own. No doubt cruelties and outrages 
upon human dignity as monstrous as this still go on in the 
world, but they do not go on in the name of the law and without 
a single dissentient voice. For it is true that until the time 
of Seneca (first century A.D.) there is no record of t any plain 
protest against this business. The conscience of mankind was 

1 Authorities differ here. Mayor says thumbs up (to the breast) meant 
death and thumbs down meant "Lower that sword." The popular per- 
suasion is that thumbs down meant death. 


weaker and less intelligent then than now. Presently a new 
power was to come into the human conscience through the 
spread of Christianity. The spirit of Jesus in Christianity 
became the great antagonist in the later Eoman state of these 
cruel shows and of slavery, and, as Christianity spread, these 
two evil things dwindled and disappeared. 1 

1 "A little more needs to be said on this matter. The Greeks cited gladia- 
torial shows as a reason for regarding the Romans as Barbaroi, and there 
were riots when some Roman proconsul tried to introduce them in Corinth. 
Among Romans, the better people evidently disliked them, but a sort of 
shyness prevented them from frankly denouncing them as cruel. For 
instance, Cicero, when he had to attend the Circus, took his tablets and 
his secretary with him, and didn't look. He expresses particular disgust 
at the killing of an elephant; and somebody in Tacitus (Drusus, Ann. 1. 
76) was unpopular because he was too fond of gladiatorial bloodshed 
'quamquam vili sanguine nimis gaudens' ('rejoicing too much in blood, 
worthless blood though it was'). The games were unhesitatingly con- 
demned by Greek philosophy, and at different times two Cynics and one 
Christian gave their lives in the arena, protesting against them, before 
they were abolished. 

"I do not think Christianity had any such relation to slavery as is 
here stated. St. Paul's action in sending back a slave to his master, and 
his injunction, 'Slaves, obey your masters,' were regularly quoted on the 
pro-slavery side, down to the nineteenth century; on the other hand, both 
the popular philosophies and the Mystery religions were against slavery 
in their whole tendency, and Christianity of course in time became the chief 
representative of these movements. Probably the best test is the number 
of slaves who occupied posts of honour in the religious and philosophic 
systems, like Epictetus, for instance, or the many slaves who hold offices 
in the Mithraic Inscriptions. I do not happen to know if any slaves 
were made Christian bishops, but by analogy I should think it likely that 
some were. In all the Mystery religions, as soon as you entered the 
community, and had communion with God. earthly distinctions shrivelled 
away." G. M. 



1. The Science of Thwarting the Common Man. 2, 
Finance in the Roman State. 3. The Last Years of Re- 
publican Polictics. 4. The Era of the Adventurer Gen- 
erals. 5. The End of the Republic. 6. The Coming of 
the Princeps. 7. Why the Roman Republic Failed. 

WE have already twice likened the self-governing com- 
munity of Rome to a "Neanderthal" variety of the 
modern "democratic" civilized state, and we shall 
recur again to this comparison. In form the two things, the 
first great primitive essay and its later relations, are extraordi- 
narily similar; in spirit they differ very profoundly. Roman 
political and social life, and particularly Roman political and 
social life in the century between the fall of Carthage and the 
rise of Caesar and Csesarism, has a very marked general re- 
semblance to the political and social life in such countries as 
the United States of America or the British Empire to-day. 
The resemblance is intensified by the common use, with a cer- 
tain inaccuracy in every case, of such terms as "senate," "democ- 
racy," "proletariat," and the like. But. everything in the 
Roman state was earlier, cruder, and clumsier; the injustices 
were more glaring, the conflicts harsher. There was compara- 
tively little knowledge and few general ideas. Aristotle's sci- 
entific works were only beginning to be read in Rome in the 
first century B.C. ; Ferrero, 1 it is true, makes Caasar familiar 
with the Politics of Aristotle, and ascribes to him the dream 
of making a "Periclean Rome," but in d@ing so, Ferrero seems 
to be indulging in one of those lapses into picturesque romanc- 

* Greatness and Decline of Rome, bk. i. ch. xi. 


ing which are at once the joy and the snare of all historical 

Attention has already heen drawn to the profound difference 
between Koman and modern conditions due to the absence of a 
press, of any popular education or of the representative idea 
in the popular assembly. Our world to-day is still far from 
solving the problem of representation and from producing a 
public assembly which will really summarize, crystallize, and 
express the thought and will of the community ; our elections 
are still largely an ingenious mockery of the common voter who 
finds himsef helpless in the face of party organizations which 
reduce his free choice of a representative to the less unpalatable 
of two political hacks, but, even so, his vote, in comparison 
with the vote of an ordinary honest Roman citizen, is an effec- 
tive instrument. Too many of our histories dealing with this 
period of Roman history write of "the popular party," and of 
the votes of the people and so forth, as though such things 
were as much working realities as they are to-day. But the 
senators and politicians of Rome saw to it that such things 
never did exist as clean and wholesome realities. These modern 
phrases are very misleading unless they are carefully qualified. 

We have already described the gatherings of the popular 
comitia ; but that clumsy assembly in sheep pens does not con- 
vey the full extent to which the gerrymandering of popular 
representation could be carried in Rome. Whenever there was 
a new enfranchisement of citizens in Italy, there would be the 
most elaborate trickery and counter-trickery to enrol the new 
voters into as few or as many of the thirty eld "tribes" as possi- 
ble, or to put them into as few as possible new tribes. Since 
the vote was taken by tribes, it is obvious that however great 
the number of new additions made, if they were all got to- 
gether into one tribe, their opinion would only count for one 
tribal vote, and similarly if they were crowded into just a few 
tribes, old or new. On the other hand, if they were put into 
too many tribes their effect in any particular tribe might be 
inconsiderable. Here was the sort of work to fascinate every 
smart knave in politics. The comitia tributa could be worked 
at times so as to vote right counter to the general feeling of 
the people. And as we have already noted, the great mass of 
voters in Italy were also disenfranchised by distance. About 
the middle period of the Carthaginian wars there were upwards 


of 300,000 Roman citizens; about 100 B.C. there were more 
than 900,000, but in effect the voting of the popular assembly 
was confined to a few score thousand resident in and near 
Rome, and mostly men of a base type. And the Roman voters 
were "organized'' to an extent that makes the Tammany ma- 
chine of New York seem artless and honest. They belonged 
to clubs, collegia sodaUcia-, having usually some elegant re- 
ligious pretensions; and the rising politician working his way 
to office went first to the usurers and then with the borrowed 
money to these clubs. If the outside voters were moved enough 
by any question to swarm into the city, it was always possible 
to put off the voting by declaring the omens unfavourable. If 
they came in unarmed, they could be intimidated; if they 
brought in arms, then the cry was raised that there was a plot 
to overthrow the republic, and a massacre would be organized. 

There can be no doubt that all Italy, all the empire was 
festering with discomfort, anxiety, and discontent in the cen- 
tury after the destruction of Carthage; a few men were grow- 
ing very rich, and the majority of people found themselves 
entangled in an inexplicable net of uncertain prices, jumpy 
markets, and debts ; but yet there was no way at all of stating 
and clearing up the general dissatisfaction. There is no record 
of a single attempt to make the popular assembly a straightfor- 
ward and workable public organ. Beneath the superficial ap- 
pearances of public affairs struggled a mute giant of public 
opinion and public will, who sometimes made some great po- 
litical effort a rush to vote or such like, and sometimes broke 
into actual violence. So long as there was no actual violence, 
the Senate and the financiers kept on in their own disastrous 
way. Only when they were badly frightened would governing 
cliques or parties desist from some nefarious policy and heed 
the common good. The real method of popular expression in 
Italy in those days was not the comitia inbuta, but the strike 
and insurrection, the righteous and necessary methods of all 
cheated or suppressed peoples. We have seen in our own days 
in Great Britain a decline in the prestige of parliamentary 
government and a drift towards unconstitutional methods on 
the part of the masses through exactly the same cause, through 
the incurable disposition of politicians to gerrymander the elec- 
toral machine until the community is driven to explosion. 

For insurrectionary purposes a discontented population needs 


a leader, and the political history of the concluding century of 
Roman republicanism is a history of insurrectionary leaders 
and counter-revolutionary leaders. Most of the former are 
manifestly unscrupulous adventurers who try to utilize the 
public necessity and unhappiness for their own advancement. 
Many of the historians of this period betray a disposition to 
take sides, and are either aristocratic in tone or fiercely demo- 
cratic; but, indeed, neither side in these complex and intricate 
disputes has a record of high aims or clean hands. The Senate 
and the rich Equestrians were vulgar and greedy spirits, hostile 
and contemptuous towards the poor mob; and the populace 
was ignorant, unstable, and at least equally greedy. The 
Scipios in all this record shine by comparison, a group of gentle- 
men. To the motives of one or the other figures of the time, 
to Tiberius Gracchus, for example, we may perhaps extend 
the benefit of the doubt But for the rest, they do but demon- 
strate how clever and cunning men may be, how subtle in con- 
tention, how brilliant in pretence, and how utterly wanting in 
wisdom or grace of spirit. "A shambling, hairy, brutish, but 
probably very cunning creature with a big brain behind;" so 
someone, I think it was Sir Harry Johnston, has described 
Homo NeandertJialensis. 

To this day we must still use similar terms to describe the 
soul of the politician. The statesman has still to oust the 
politician from his lairs and weapon heaps. History has still 
to become a record of human dignity. 


Another respect in which the Roman system was a crude 
anticipation of our own, and different from any preceding 
political system we have considered, was that it was a cash 
and credit-using system. Money had been in the world as yet 
for only a few centuries. But its use had been growing; it 
was providing a fluid medium for trade and enterprise, and 
changing economic conditions profoundly. In republican Rome, 
the financier and the "money" interest began to play a part 
recognizably similar to their roles to-day. 

We have already noted in our account of Herodotus that 
a first effect of money was to give freedom of movement and 
leisure to a number of people who could not otherwise have 


enjoyed these privileges. And that is the peculiar value of 
money to mankind. Instead of a worker or helper being paid 
in kind and in such a way that he is tied as much in his en- 
joyment as in his labour, money leaves him free to do as he 
pleases amidst a wide choice of purchasable aids, eases, and 
indulgences. He may eat his money or drink it or give it to a 
temple or spend it in learning something or save it against 
some unforeseen occasion. That is the good of money, the free- 
dom of its universal convertibility. But the freedom money 
gives the poor man is nothing to the freedom money has given 
the rich man. With money rich men ceased to be tied to 
lands, houses, stores, flocks and herds. They could change the 
nature and locality of their possessions with an unheard-of 
freedom. In the third and second century B.C., this release, 
this untethering of wealth, began to tell upon the general eco- 
nomic life of the Roman and Hellenized world. People began 
to buy land and the like not for use, but to sell again at a profit ; 
people borrowed to buy, speculation developed. No doubt there 
were bankers in the Babylon of 1000 B.C., but they lent 
in a far more limited and solid way, bars of metal and stocks 
of goods. That earlier world was a world of barter and pay- 
ment in kind, and it went slowly and much more staidly and 
stably for that reason. In that state the vast realm of China 
has remained almost down to the present time. 

The big cities before Rome were trading and manufacturing 
cities. Such were Corinth and Carthage and Syracuse. But 
Rome never produced a very considerable industrial popula- 
tion, and her warehouses never rivalled those of Alexandria. 
The little port of Ostia was always big enough for her needs. 
Rome was a political and financial capital, and in the latter 
respect, at least, she was a new sort of city. She imported 
profits and tribute, and very little went out from her in return. 
The wharves of Ostia were chiefly busy unloading corn from 
Sicily and Africa and loot from all the world. 

After the fall of Carthage the Roman imagination went wild 
with the hitherto unknown possibilities of finance. Money, 
like most other inventions, had "happened" to mankind, and 
men had still to develop to-day they have still to perfect 
the science and morality of money. One sees the thing "catch- 
ing on" in the recorded life and the writings of Cato the Censor. 


In his early days he was bitterly virtuous against usury; in 
his later he was devising ingenious schemes for safe usury. 

In this curiously interesting century of Roman history we 
find man after man asking, "What has happened to Rome?" 
Various answers are made a decline in religion, a decline from 
the virtues of the Roman forefathers, Greek "intellectual 
poison," and the like. We who can look at the problem with a 
large perspective, can see that what had happened to Rome 
was "money" the new freedoms and chances and opportunities 
that money opened out. Money floated the Romans off the 
firm ground, everyone was getting hold of money, the majority 
by the simple expedient of running into debt ; the eastward ex- 
pansion of the empire was very largely a hunt for treasure in 
strong rooms and temples to keep pace with the hunger of the 
new need. The Equestrian order, in particular, became the 
money power. Everyone was developing property. Farmers 
were giving up corn and cattle, borrowing money, buying 
slaves, and starting the more intensive cultivation of oil and 
wine. Money was young in human experience and wild, no- 
body had it under control. It fluctuated greatly. It was now 
abundant and now scarce. Men made sly and crude schemes 
to corner it, to hoard it, to send up prices by releasing hoarded 
metals. A small body of very shrewd men was growing im- 
mensely rich. Many patricians were growing poor and irritated 
and unscrupulous. Among the middle sort of peoples there was 
much hope, much adventure, and much more disappointment. 
The growing mass of the expropriated was permeated by that 
vague, baffled, and hopeless sense of being inexplicably bested, 
which is the preparatory condition for all great revolutionary 


The first conspicuous leader to appeal to the gathering revolu- 
tionary feeling in Italy was Tiberius Gracchus. He looks more 
like an honest man than any other figure in this period of 
history, unless it be Scipio Africanus the Elder. At first 
Tiberius Gracchus was a moderate reformer of a rather reac- 
tionary type. He wished to restore the yeoman class to prop- 
erty, very largely because he believed that class to be the back- 
bone of the army, and his military experience in Spain before 


and after the destruction of Carthage had impressed upon him 
the declining efficiency of the legions. He was what we should 
call nowadays a "Back-to-the-land" man. He did not under- 
stand and few people understand to-day, how much easier it is 
to shift population from the land into the towns, than to return 
it to the laborious and simple routines of agricultural life. He 
wanted to revive the Licinian laws, which had been established 
when Camillus built his temple of Concord nearly two centuries 
and a half before (see Chap, xxvi, 2), so far as they broke up 
great estates and restrained slave labour. 

These Licinian laws had repeatedly been revived and re- 
peatedly lapsed to a dead letter again. It was only when the 
big proprietors in the Senate opposed this proposal that Tibe- 
rius Gracchus turned to the people and began a furious agitation 
for popular government. He created a commission to inquire 
into the title of all landowners. In the midst of his activities 
occurred one of the most extraordinary incidents in history. 
Attains, the king of the rich country of Pergamum in Asia 
Minor, died (133 B.C.), and left his kingdom to the Roman 

It is difficult for us to understand the motives of this bequest. 
Pergamum was a country allied to Rome, and so moderately 
secure from aggression; and the natural consequence of such 
a will was to provoke a violent scramble among the senatorial 
gangs and a dispute between them and the people for the spoils 
of the new acquisition. Practically Attains handed over his 
country to be looted. There were of course many Italian busi- 
ness people established in the country and a strong party of 
native rich men in close relations with Rome. To them, no 
doubt, a coalescence with the Roman system would have been 
acceptable. Josephus bears witness to such a desire for an- 
nexation among the rich men of Syria, a desire running counter 
to the wishes of both king and people. This Pergamum bequest, 
astonishing in itself, had the still more astonishing result of 
producing imitations in other quarters. In 96 B.C. Ptolemy 
Apion bequeathed Cyrenaica, in North Africa, to the Roman 
people; in 81 B.C. Alexander II, King of Egypt, followed suit 
with Egypt, a legacy too big for the courage if not for the 
appetite of the Senators, and they declined it; in 74 B.C. 
Nicomedes, King of Bithynia, demised Bithynia. Of these 
latter testamentary freaks we will say no more here. But it 


will be manifest how great an opportunity was given Tiberius 
Gracchus by the bequest of Attalus, of accusing the rich of 
greed and of proposing to decree the treasures of Attalus to 
the commonalty. He proposed to use this new wealth to provide 
seed, stock, and agricultural implements for the resettlement 
of the land. 

His movement was speedily entangled in the complexities of 
the Eoman electoral system without a simple and straight- 
forward electoral method, all popular movements in all ages 
necessarily become entangled and maddened in constitutional 
intricacies, and almost as necessarily lead to bloodshed. It was 
needed, if his work was to go on, that Tiberius Gracchus should 
continue to be tribune, and it was illegal for him to be tribune 
twice in succession. He overstepped the bounds of legality, and 
stood for the tribuneship a second time; the peasants who 
came in from the countryside to vote for him came in armed; 
the cry that he was aiming at a tyranny, the cry that had long 
ago destroyed Mselius and Manlius, was raised in the Senate, 
the friends of "law and order" went to the Capitol in state, ac- 
companied by a rabble of dependents armed with staves and 
bludgeons; there was a conflict, or rather a massacre of the 
revolutionaries, in which nearly three hundred people were 
killed, and Tiberius Gracchus was beaten to death with the 
fragments of a broken bench by two Senators. 

Thereupon the Senators attempted a sort of counter-revolu- 
tion, and proscribed many of the followers of Tiberius Gracchus ; 
but the state of public opinion was so sullen and threatening 
that this movement was dropped and Scipio Nasica, who was 
implicated in the death of Tiberius, though he occupied the 
position of pontifex maximus and should have remained in 
Rome for the public sacrifices which were the duties of that 
official, went abroad to avoid trouble. 

The uneasiness of Italy next roused Scipio Africanus the 
Younger to propose the enfranchisement of all Italy. But he 
died suddenly before he could carry the proposal into effect. 

Then followed the ambiguous career of Caius Gracchus, the 
brother of Tiberius, who followed some tortuous "policy" that 
still exercises the mind of historians. He increased the burthens 
of taxation laid upon the provinces, it is supposed with the idea 
of setting the modern financiers (the Equites) against the sena- 
torial landowners. He gave the former the newly bequeathed 


taxes of Asia to farm, and, what is worse, he gave them control 
of the special courts set up to prevent extortion. He started 
enormous public works and particularly the construction of 
new roads, and he is accused of making a political use of the 
contracts. He revived the proposal to enfranchise Italy. He 
increased the distribution of subsidized cheap corn to the Roman 
citizens. . . . Here we cannot attempt to disentangle his 
schemes, much less to judge him. But that his policy was offen- 
sive to the groups that controlled the Senate there can be no 
doubt whatever. He was massacred by the champions of "law 
and order/ 7 with about three thousands of his followers, in 
the streets of Rome in 121 B.C. His decapitated head was 
carried to the Senate on the point of a pike. 

(A reward of its weight in gold, says Plutarch, had been 
offered for this trophy : and its captor, acting in the true spirit 
of a champion of "big business," filled the brain-case with lead 
on its way to the scales.) 

"In spite of these prompt firm measures the Senate was not 
to enjoy the benefits of peace and the advantages of a control 
of the imperial resources for long. Within ten years the people 
were in revolt again. 

In 118 B.C. the throne of Numidia, the semi-barbaric king- 
dom that had arisen in North Africa upon the ruins of the 
civilized Carthaginian power, was seized by a certain able 
Jugurtha, who had served with the Roman armies in Spain, and 
had a knowledge of the Roman character. He provoked the 
military intervention of Rome. But the Romans found that 
their military power, under a Senate of financiers and land- 
lords, was very different from what it had been even in the days 
of the younger Scipio Africanus. " Jugurtha bought over the 
Commissioners sent out to watch him, the Senators charged 
with their prosecution, and the generals in command against 
him." l There is a mistaken Roman proverb : "pecunia non 
olet" (money does not stink), for the money of Jugurtha stank 
even in Rome. There was an angry agitation; and a capable 
soldier of lowly origin, Marius, was carried to the consulship 
(107 B.C.) on the wave of popular indignation. Marius made 
no attempt on the model of the Gracchi to restore the backbone 
of the army by rehabilitating the yeoman class. He was a 
professional soldier with a high standard of efficiency and a 

1 Ferrero. 


disposition to take short cuts. He simply raised troops from 
among the poor, whether countrymen or townsmen, paid them 
well, disciplined them thoroughly, and (106 B.C.) ended the 
seven years' war with Jugurtha by bringing that chieftain in 
chains to Rome. It did not occur to anybody that incidentally 
Marius had also created a professional army with no interest 
to hold it together but its pay. He then held on to the consul- 
ship more or less illegally for several years, and in 102 and 101 
B.C. repelled a threatening move of the Germans (who thus 
appear in our history for the first time), who were raiding 
through Gaul towards Italy. He gained two victories ; one on 
Italian soil. He was hailed as the saviour of his country, a 
second Camillus (100 B.C.). 

The social tensions of the time mocked that comparison with 
Camillus. The Senate benefited by the greater energy in for- 
eign affairs and the increased military efficiency that Marius 
had introduced, but the sullen, shapeless discontent of the mass 
of the people was still seeking some effective outlet. The rich 
grew richer and the poor poorer. It was impossible to stifle 
the consequences of that process for ever by political trickery. 
The Italian people were still unenfranchised. Two extreme 
democratic leaders, Saturninus and Glaucia, were assassinated, 
but that familiar senatorial remedy failed to assuage the popu- 
lace on this occasion. In 92 B.C. an aristocratic official, Eutilius 
Rufus, who had tried to restrain the exactions of the financiers 
in Asia Minor, was condemned on a charge of corruption so 
manifestly trumped up that it deceived no one; and in 91 B.C., 
Livius Drusus, a newly elected tribune of the people, who was 
making capital out of the trial of Rutilius Rufus, was assassi- 
nated. He had proposed a general enfranchisement of the 
Italians, and he had foreshadowed not only another land law, 
but a general abolition of debts. Yet for all this vigour on 
the part of the senatorial usurers, landgrabbers, and forestallers, 
the hungry and the anxious were still insurgent. The murder 
of Drusus was the last drop in the popular cup ; Italy blazed into 
a desperate insurrection. 

There followed two years of bitter civil war, the Social War. 
It was a war between the idea of a united Italy and the idea of 
the rule of the Roman Senate. It was not a "social" war in 
the modern sense, but a war between Rome and her Italian 
allies (allies Socii). "Roman generals, trained in the tradi- 


tions of colonial warfare, marched ruthlessly up and down Italy, 
burning farms, sacking towns, and carrying off men, women, 
and children, to sell them in the open market or work them 
in gangs upon their estates." l Marius and an aristocratic gen- 
eral, Sulla, who had been with him in Africa and who was 
his bitter rival, both commanded on the side of Rome. But 
though the insurgents experienced defeats and looting, neither 
of these generals brought the war to an end. It was ended in 
a manner (89 B.C.) by the practical surrender of the Roman 
Senate to the idea of reform. The spirit was taken out of the 
insurrection by the concession of their demands "in principle" ; 
and then as soon as the rebels had dispersed, the usual cheating 
of the new voters, by such methods as we have explained in 1 
of this chapter, was resumed. 

By the next year (88 B.C.) the old round had begun again. It 
was mixed up with the personal intrigues of Marius and Sulla 
against each other ; but the struggle had taken on another com- 
plexion through the army reforms of Marius, which had created 
a new type of legionary, a landless professional soldier with no 
interest in life but pay and plunder, and with no feeling of loy- 
alty except to a successful general. A popular tribune, Sul- 
picius, was bringing forward some new laws affecting debt, and 
the consuls were dodging the storm by declaring a suspension 
of public business. Then came the usual resort to violence, and 
the followers of Sulpicius drove the consuls from the forum. 
But here it is that the new forces which the new army had 
made possible came into play. King Mithridates of Pontus, 
the Hellenized king of the southern shores of the Black Sea 
east of Bithynia, was pressing Rome into war. One of the 
proposed laws of Sulpicius was that Marius should command 
the armies sent against this Mithridates. Whereupon Sulla 
marched the army he had commanded throughout the Social 
War to Rome, Marius and Sulpicius fled, and a new age, an 
age of military pronunciamentos, began. 

Of how Sulla had himself made commander against Mithri- 
dates and departed, and of how legions friendly to Marius then 
seized power, how Marius returned to Italy and enjoyed a 
thorough massacre of his political opponents and died, sated, 
of fever, we cannot tell in any detail. But one measure dur- 
ing the Marian reign of terror did much to relieve the social 

1 Ferrero. 


tension, and that was the abolition of three-quarters of all out- 
standing debts. Nor can we tell here how Sulla made a dis- 
creditable peace with Mithridates (who had massacred a 
hundred thousand Italians in Asia Minor) in order to bring his 
legions back to Rome, defeat the Marians at the battle of the 
Colline Gate of Home, and reverse the arrangements of Marius. 
Sulla restored law and order by the proscription and execu- 
tion of over five thousand people. He desolated large parts of 
Italy, restored the Senate to power, repealed many of the 
recent laws, though he was unable to restore the cancelled 
burden of debt, and then, feeling bored by politics and having 
amassed great riches, he retired with an air of dignity into 
private life, gave himself up to abominable vices, and so pres- 
ently died, eaten up with some disgusting disease produced 
by debauchery. 1 


Political life in Italy was not so much tranquillized as 
stunned by the massacres and confiscations of Marius and Sulla. 
The scale upon which this history is planned will not permit us 
to tell here of the great adventurers who, relying more and 
more on the support of the legions, presently began to scheme 
and intrigue again for dictatorial power in Rome. In 73 B.C. 
all Italy was terrified by a rising of the slaves, and particularly 
of the gladiators, led by a gladiator from Thessaly, Spartacus. 
He and seventy others had fled out from a gladiatorial "farm" 
at Capua. Similar risings had already occurred in Sicily. 
The forces under Spartacus necessarily became a miscellaneous 
band drawn from east and west, without any common idea 
except the idea of dispersing and getting home ; nevertheless, he 
held out in southern Italy for two years, using the then ap- 
parently extinct crater of Vesuvius for a time as a natural 
fortress. The Italians, for all their love of gladiatorial display, 
failed to appreciate this conversion of the whole country into 
an arena, this bringing of the gladiatorial sword to the door, 
and when at last Spartacus was overthrown, their terror changed 
to frantic cruelty, six thousand of his captured followers were 

1 Plutarch. To which, however, G. M. adds the following note: "It is 
generally believed that Sulla died through bursting a blood-vessel in a fit 
of temper. The story of abominable vices seems to be only the regular 
slander of the Roman mob against anyone who did not live in public." 


crucified long miles of nailed and drooping victims along 
the Appian Way. 

Here we cannot deal at any length with Lucullus, who in- 
vaded Pontus and fought Mithridates, and brought the culti- 
vated cherry-tree to Europe; nor can we tell how ingeniously 
Pompey the Great stole the triumph and most of the prestige 
Lucullus had won in Armenia beyond Pontus. Lucullus, like 
Sulla, retired into an opulent private life, but with more ele- 
gance and with a more gracious end. We cannot relate in any 
detail how Julius Caesar accumulated reputation in the west, 
by conquering Gaul, defeating the German tribes upon the 
Rhine, and pushing a punitive raid across the Straits of Dover 
into Britain. More and more important grow the legions; 
less and less significant are the Senate and the assemblies of 
Rome. But there is a certain grim humour about the story 
of Crassus that we cannot altogether neglect. 

This Crassus was a great money-lender and forestaller. He 
was a typical man of the new Equestrian type, the social equiva- 
lent of a modern munition profiteer. He first grew rich by 
buying up the property of those proscribed by Sulla. His 
earliest exploits in the field were against Spartacus, whom 
finally he crushed by great payments and exertions after a 
prolonged and expensive campaign. He then, as the outcome of 
complicated bargains, secured the command in the east and 
prepared to emulate the glories of Lucullus, who had pushed east 
from Pergamum and Bithynia into Pontus, and of Pompey, 
who had completed the looting of Armenia. 

His experiences serve to demonstrate the gross ignorance 
with which the Romans were conducting their affairs at that 
time. He crossed the Euphrates, expecting to find in Persia 
another Hellenized kingdom like Pontus. But, as we have 
already intimated, the great reservoirs of nomadic peoples that 
stretched round from the Danube across Russia into Central 
Asia, had been raining back into the lands between the Caspian 
Sea and the Indus that Alexander had conquered for Hellenism. 
Crassus found himself against the "Scythian" again; against 
mobile tribes of horsemen led by a monarch in Median costume. 1 
The particular variety of " Scythian" he encountered was called 
the Parthian. It is possible that in the Parthians a Mongo- 
lian (Turanian) element was now mingled with the Aryan 

1 Plutarch. 


strain; but the campaign of Crassus beyond the Euphrates is 
curiously like the campaign of Darius beyond the Danube ; there 
is the same heavy thrusting of an infantry force against elu- 
sive light horsemen. But Crassus was less quick than Darius 
to realize the need of withdrawal, and the Parthians were bet- 
ter bowmen than the Scythians Darius met. They seem to 
have had some sort of noisy projectile of unusual strength and 
force, something different from an ordinary arrow. 1 The cam- 
paign culminated in that two days' massacre of the hot, thirsty, 
hungry, and weary Roman legions which is known as the 
battle of Carrha3 (53 B.C.). They toiled through the sand, charg- 
ing an enemy who always evaded their charge and rode round 
them and shot them to pieces. Twenty thousand of them were 
killed, and ten thousand marched on eastward as prisoners into 
slavery in Iran. 

What became of Crassus is not clearly known. There is a 
story, probably invented for our moral benefit and suggested 
by his usuries, that he fell alive into the hands of the Parthians 
and was killed by having molten gold poured down his throat. 

But this disaster has a very great significance indeed to our 
general history of mankind. It serves to remind us that from 
the Rhine to the Euphrates, all along to the north of the Alps 
and Danube and Black Sea, stretched one continuous cloud 
of nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples, whom the statescraft 
of imperial Rome was never able to pacify and civilize, nor 
her military science subdue. We have already called atten- 
tion to a map showing how the Second Babylonian Empire, 
the Chaldean Empire, lay like a lamb in the embrace of the 
Median power. In exactly the same way the Roman Empire 
lay like a lamb in the embrace of this great crescent of outer 
barbarians. Not only was Rome never able to thrust back 
or assimilate that superincumbent crescent, but she was never 
able to organize the Mediterranean Sea into a secure and 

1 The bow was probably the composite bow, so-called because it is made 
of several plates (five or so) of horn, like the springs of a carriage: it 
discharges a high-speed arrow with a twang. This was the bow the Mon- 
gols used. This short composite bow (it was not a long bow) was quite 
old in human experience. It was the bow of Odysseus; the Assyrians had 
it in a modified form. It went out in Greece, but it survived as 
the Mongol bow. It was quite short, very stiff to pull, with a flat 
trajectory, a remarkable range, and a great noise (cp. Homer's 
reference to the twang of the bow). It went out in the Mediterranean 
because the climate was not good for it, and because there were insuffi- 
cient animals to supply the horn. J. L. M. 




orderly system of communication between one part of her em- 
pire and another. Quite unknown as yet to Rome, the Mon- 
golian tribes from North-eastern Asia, the Huns and their 
kin, walled back and driven out from China by the Tsi and 
Han dynasties, were drifting and pressing westward, mixing 
with the Parthians, the Scythians, the Teutons and the like, 
or driving them before them. 

Never at any time did the Romans succeed in pushing their 
empire beyond Mesopotamia, and upon Mesopotamia their hold 
was never very secure. Before the close of the republic that 
power of assimilation which had been the secret of their success 
was giving way to "patriotic" exclusiveness and "patriotic" 
greed. Rome plundered and destroyed Asia Minor and Baby- 
lonia, which were the necessary basis for an eastward extension 
to India, just as she had destroyed and looted Carthage and 
so had no foothold for extension into Africa, and just as she had 
destroyed Corinth and so cut herself off from an easy way into 
the heart of Greece. Western European writers, impressed 
by the fact that later on Rome Romanized and civilized Gaul 
and South Britain and restored the scene of her earlier devasta- 
tions in Spain to prosperity, are apt to ignore that over far 
greater areas to the south and east her influence was to weaken 
and so restore to barbarism the far wider conquests of Hellenic 


But among the politicians of Italy in the first century B.C. 
there were no maps of Germany and Russia, Africa and Cen- 
tral Asia, and no sufficient intelligence to study them had they 
existed. Rome never developed the fine curiosities that sent 
Hanno and the sailors of Pharaoh Necho down the coasts of 
Africa. When, in the first century B.C., the emissaries of the 
Han dynasty reached the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea, they 
found only stories of a civilization that had receded. The 
memory of Alexander still lived in these lands, but of Rome 
men only knew that Pompey had come to the western shores 
of the Caspian and gone away again, and that Crassus had 
been destroyed. Rome was pre-occupied at home. What men- 
tal energy remained over in the Roman citizen from the at- 
tempt to grow personally rich and keep personally safe was 


intent upon the stratagems and strokes and counter-strokes of 
the various adventurers who were now manifestly grappling for 
the supreme power. 

It is the custom of historians to treat these struggles with 
extreme respect. In particular the figure of Julius Caesar 
is set up as if it were a star of supreme brightness and impor- 
tance in the history of mankind. Yet a dispassionate considera- 
tion of the known facts fails altogether to justify this demi- 
god theory of Ca?sar. Not even that precipitate wrecker of 
splendid possibilities, Alexander the Great, has been so magni- 
fied and dressed up for the admiration of careless and uncritical 
readers. There is a type of scholar who, to be plain, sits and 
invents marvellous world policies for the more conspicuous 
figures in history with the merest scraps of justification or with 
no justification at all. We are told that Alexander planned 
the conquest of Carthage and Rome and the complete subjuga- 
tion of India and that only his death shattered these schemes. 
What we know for certain is that he conquered the Persian 
Empire, and never went far beyond its boundaries ; and that 
when he was supposed to be making these vast and noble plans, 
he was in fact indulging in such monstrous antics as his mourn- 
ing for his favourite Hephaestion, and as his main occupation he 
was drinking himself to death. So, too, Julius Caesar is cred- 
ited with the intention of doing just that one not impossible 
thing which would have secured the Roman Empire from its 
ultimate collapse namely, the systematic conquest and civiliza- 
tion of Europe as far as the Baltic and the Dnieper. He was 
to have marched upon Germany, says Plutarch, through Par- 
thia and Scythia, round the north of the Caspian and Black Seas. 
Yet the fact we have to reconcile with this wise and magnificent 
project is that at the crest of his power, Caesar, already a bald, 
middle-aged man, past the graces and hot impulses of youthful 
love, spent the better part of a year in Egypt, feasting and 
entertaining himself in amorous pleasantries with the Egyptian 
queen, Cleopatra. And afterwards he brought her with him to 
Rome, where her influence over him was bitterly resented. 
Such complications with a woman mark the elderly sensualist 
or sentimentalist he was fifty-four at the commencement of 
the affaire rather than the master-ruler of men. 

On the side of the superman idea of Caesar, we have to count 
a bust in the Naples Museum. It represents a fine and in- 


tellectual face, very noble in its expression, and we can couple 
with that the story that his head, even at birth, was unusually 
large and finely formed. But there is really no satisfying 
evidence that this well-known bust does represent Caesar, and 
it is hard to reconcile its austere serenity with the reputation 
for violent impulse and disorderliness that clung to him. Other 
busts of a quite different man are also, with more probability, 
ascribed to him. 

There can be little doubt that he was a dissolute and extrava- 
gant young man the scandals cluster thick about his sojourn 
in Bithynia, whither he fled from Sulla; he was the associate 
of the reprobate Clodius and the conspirator Catiline, and 
there is nothing in his political career to suggest any aim 
higher or remoter than his own advancement to power, and all 
the personal glory and indulgence that power makes possible. 
We will not attempt to tell here of the turns and devices of his 
career. Although he was of an old patrician family, he came 
into politics as the brilliant darling of the people. He spent 
great sums and incurred heavy debts to provide public festivals 
on the most lavish scale. He opposed the tradition of Sulla, and 
cherished the memory of Marius, who was his uncle by mar- 
riage. For a time he worked in conjunction with Crassus and 
Pompey, but after the death of Crassus he and Pompey came 
into conflict. By 49 B.C. he and Pompey, with their legions, 
he from the west and Pompey from the east, were fighting 
openly for predominance in the Eoman state. He had broken 
the law by bringing his legions across the Rubicon, which was 
the boundary between his command and Italy proper. At the 
battle of Pharsalos in Thessaly (48 B.C.), Pompey was routed, 
and, fleeing to Egypt, was murdered, leaving Csesai more 
master of the Roman world than ever Sulla had been. 

He was then created dictator for ten years in 46 B.C., and 
early in 45 B.C. he was made dictator for life. This was mon- 
archy ; if not hereditary monarchy, it was at least electoral life 
monarchy. It was unlimited opportunity to do his best for the 
world. And by the spirit and quality of his use of this dicta- 
torial power during these four years we are bound to judge 
him. A certain reorganization of local administration he ef- 
fected, and he seems to have taken up what was a fairly obvi- 
ous necessity of the times, a project for the restoration of the 
two murdered seaports of Corinth and Carthage, whose destruc- 



tion had wrecked the sea-life of the Mediterranean. But much 
more evident was the influence of Cleopatra and Egypt upon 
his mind. Like Alexander before him, his head seems to have 
been turned by the king-god tradition, assisted no doubt in his 
case by the adulation of that charming hereditary goddess, 
Cleopatra. We find evidence of exactly that same conflict upon 
the score of divine pretensions, between him and his personal 
friends, that we have already recorded in the case of Alexander. 
So far as the Hellenized east was concerned, the paying of divine 

honours to rulers 
was a familiar idea; 
but it was still re- 
pulsive to the linger- 
ing Aryanism of 

Antony, who had 
been his second in 
command at Phar- 
salos, was one of the 
chief of his flat- 
terers. Plutarch de- 
scribes a scene at the 
public games in 
which Antony tried 
to force a crown 
upon Caeear, which 
Caesar, after a little 
coyness and in face 
of the manifested 
displeasure of the 
crowd, refused. But 
he had adopted the 
ivory sceptre and throne, which were the traditional insignia 
of the ancient kings of Rome. His image was carried amidst 
that of the gods in the opening pompa of the arena, and his 
statue was set up in a temple with an inscription, "To the 
Unconquerable God !" Priests even were appointed for his 
godhead. These things are not the symptoms of great-minded- 
ness, but of a common man's megalomania. Caesar's record 
of vulgar scheming for the tawdriest mockeries of personal 
worship is a silly and shameful record ; it is incompatible with 



the idea that he was a wise and wonderful superman setting 
the world to rights. 

Finally (44 B.C.) he was assassinated by a group of his own 
friends and supporters, to whom these divine aspirations had 
become intolerable. He was beset in the Senate, and stabbed 
in three and twenty places, dying at the foot of the statue of 
his fallen rival Pompey the Great. The scene marks the com- 
plete demoralization of the old Roman governing body. Brutus, 
the ringleader of the murderers, would have addressed the 
senators, but, confronted by this crisis, they were scuttling gff 
in every direction. For the best part of a day Rome did not 
know what to make of this event; the murderers marched 
about with their bloody weapons through an undecided city, 
with no one gainsaying them and only a few joining them; 
then public opinion turned against them, some of their houses 
were attacked, and they had to hide and fly for their lives. 


But the trend of things was overwhelmingly towards mon- 
archy. For thirteen years more the struggle of personalities 
went on. One single man is to be noted as inspired by broad 
ideas and an ambition not entirely egoistic, Cicero. He was a 
man of modest origin, whose eloquence and literary power had 
won him a prominent place in the Senate. He was a little 
tainted by the abusive tradition of Demosthenes, nevertheless 
he stands out, a noble and pathetically ineffective figure, plead- 
ing with the now utterly degenerate, base, and cowardly Sen- 
ate for the high ideals of the Republic. He was a writer of 
great care and distinction, and the orations and private letters 
he has left us make him one of the most real and living figures 
of this period to the modern reader. He was proscribed and 
killed in 43 B.C., the year after the murder of Julius Caesar, 
and his head and hands were nailed up in the Roman forum. 
Octavian, who became at last the monarch of Rome, seems to 
have made an effort to save Cicero; that murder was certainly 
not his crime. 

Here we cannot trace out the tangle of alliances and be- 
trayals that ended in the ascendancy of this Octavian, the 
adopted heir of Julius Caesar. The fate of the chief figures 
is interwoven with that of Cleopatra. 


After the death of Caesar, she set herself to capture the emo- 
tions and vanity of Antony, a much younger man than Caesar, 
vith whom she was probably already acquainted. For a time 
Octavian and Antony and a third figure, Lepidus, divided the 
Roman world just as Caesar and Pompey had divided it before 
their final conflict. Octavian took the hardier west, and con- 
solidated his power; Antony had the more gorgeous east 
and Cleopatra. To Lepidus fell that picked bone, Carthaginian 
Africa. He seems to have been a good man of good traditions, 
set upon the restoration of Carthage rather than upon wealth 
or personal vanities. The mind of Antony succumbed to those 
same ancient ideas of divine kingship that had already proved 
too much for the mental equilibrium of Julius Caesar. In the 
company of Cleopatra he gave himself up to love, amusements, 
and a dream of sensuous glory, until Octavian felt that the time 
was ripe to end these two Egyptian divinities. 

In 32 B.C. Octavian induced the Senate to depose Antony 
from the command of the east, and proceeded to attack him. A 
great naval battle at Actium (31 B.C.) was decided by the un- 
expected desertion of Cleopatra with sixty ships in the midst of 
the fight. It is quite impossible for us to decide now whether 
this was due to premeditated treachery or to the sudden whim 
of a charming woman. The departure of these ships threw 
the fleet of Antony into hopeless confusion, which was in- 
creased by the headlong flight of this model lover in pursuit. 
He went, off in a swift galley after her without informing his 
commanders. He left his followers to fight and die as they 
thought fit, and for a time they were incredulous that he had 
gone. The subsequent encounter of the two lovers and their 
reconciliation is a matter for ironical speculation on the part 
of Plutarch. 

Octavian's net closed slowly round his rival. It is not im- 
probable that there was some sort of understanding between 
Octavian and Cleopatra, as perhaps in the time of Julius Caesar 
there may have been between the queen and Antony. Antony 
gave way to much mournful posturing, varied by love scenes, 
during this last stage of his little drama. For a time he posed 
as an imitator of the cynic Timon, as one who had lost all 
faith in mankind, though one may think that his deserted 
sailors at Actium had better reason for such an attitude. Fi- 
nally he found himself and Cleopatra besieged by Octavian in 


Alexandria. There were some sallies and minor successes, and 
Antony was loud with challenges to Octavian to decide the mat- 
ter by personal combat. Being led to believe that Cleopatra 
had committed suicide, this star of romance stabbed himself, 
but so ineffectually as to die lingeringly, and he was carried 
off to expire in her presence (30 B.C.). 

Plutarch's account of Antony, which was derived very 
largely from witnesses who had seen and known him, describes 
him as of heroic mould. He is compared to the demigod Her- 
cules, from whom indeed he claimed descent, and also to the 
Indian Bacchus. There is a disgusting but illuminating de- 
scription of a scene in the Senate when he attempted to speak 
while drunk, and was overtaken by one of the least dignified 
concomitants of intoxication. 

For a little while Cleopatra still clung to life, and perhaps 
to the hope that she might reduce Octavian to the same divine 
role that had already been played by Julius Caesar and Antony. 
She had an interview with Octavian, in which she presented 
herself as beauty in distress and very lightly clad. But when 
it became manifest that Octavian lacked the godlike spark, 
and that his care for her comfort and welfare was dictated 
chiefly by his desire to exhibit her in a triumphal procession 
through the streets of Rome, she also committed suicide. An 
asp was smuggled to her past the Roman sentries, concealed in 
a basket of figs, and by its fangs she died. 

Octavian seems to have been almost entirely free from the 
divine aspirations of Julius Caesar and Antony. He was neither 
God nor romantic hero; he was a man. He was a man of far 
greater breadth and capacity than any other player in this last 
act of the Republican drama in Rome. All things considered, 
he was perhaps the best thing that could have happened to Rome 
at that time. He "voluntarily resigned the extraordinary pow- 
ers which he had held since 43, and, to quote his own words, 
'handed over the republic to the control of the senate and the 
people of Rome.' The old constitutional machinery was once 
more set in motion; the senate, assembly, and magistrates re- 
sumed their functions, and Octavian himself was hailed as the 
'restorer of the commonwealth and the champion of freedom. 7 
It was not so easy to determine what relation he himself, the 
actual master of the Roman world, should occupy towards 
this revived republic. His abdication, in any real sense of 


the word, would have simply thrown everything back into 
confusion. The interests of peace and order required that he 
shohild retain at least the substantial part of his authority ; and 
this object was in fact accomplished, and the rule of the em- 
perors founded in a manner which has no parallel in history. 
Any revival of the kingly title was out of the question, and 
Octavian himself expressly refused the dictatorship. Nor was 
any new office created or any new official title invented for his 
benefit. But by senate and people he was invested according 
to the old constitutional forms with certain powers, as many 
citizens had been before him, and so took his place by the side 
of the lawfully appointed magistrates of the republic; only, 
to mark his pre-eminent dignity, as the first of them all, the 
senate decreed that he should take as an additional cognomen 
that of 'Augustus/ while in common parlance he was hence- 
forth styled Princeps, a simple title of courtesy, familiar to 
republican usage and conveying no other idea than that of a 
recognized primacy and precedence over his fellow-citizens. 
The ideal sketched by Cicero in his De Republica, of a constitu- 
tional president of a free republic, was apparently realized; 
but it was only in appearance. For in fact the special preroga- 
tives conferred upon Octavian gave him back in substance the 
autocratic authority he had resigned, and as between the re- 
stored republic and its new princeps the balance of power was 
overwhelmingly on the side of the latter." * 


In this manner it was that Roman republicanism ended in a 
princeps or ruling prince, and the first great experiment in a 
self-governing community on a scale larger than that of tribe 
or city, collapsed and failed. 

The essence of its failure was that it could not sustain unity. 
In its early stages its citizens, both patrician and plebeian, had 
a certain tradition of justice and good faith, and of the loyalty 
of all citizens to the law, and of the goodness of the law for all 
citizens ; it clung to this idea of the importance of the law and 
of law-abidingness nearly into the first century B.C. But the 
unforeseen invention and development of money, the tempta- 
tions and disruptions of imperial expansion, the entanglement of 
1 H. S. Jones in The Encyclopaedia Britannica, article "Rome." 


electoral methods, weakened and swamped this tradition by pre- 
senting old issues in new disguises under which the judgment 
did not recognize them, and by enabling men to be loyal to the 
professions of citizenship and disloyal to its spirit. The bond 
of the Roman people had always been a moral rather than a 
religious bond ; their religion was sacrificial and superstitious ; 
it embodied no such great ideas of a divine leader and of a 
sacred mission as Judaism was developing. As the idea of 
citizenship failed and faded before the new occasions, there 
remained no inner, that is to say no real, unity in the system 
at all. Every man tended more and more to do what was right 
in his own eyes. 

Under such conditions there was no choice between chaos and 
a return to monarchy, to the acceptance of some chosen in- 
dividual as the one unifying will in the state. Of course in 
that return there is always hidden the expectation that the 
monarch will become as it were magic, will cease to be merely 
a petty human being, and will think and feel as something 
greater and more noble, as indeed a state personage; and of 
course monarchy invariably fails to satisfy that expectation. 
We shall glance at the extent of this failure in the brief review 
we shall presently make of the emperors of Rome. We shall 
find at last one of the more constructive of these emperors, 
Constantine the Great, conscious of his own inadequacy as a 
unifying power, turning to the faith, the organization, and 
teaching network of one of the new religious movements in 
the empire, to supply just that permeating and correlating 
factor in men's minds that was so manifestly wanting. 

With Caesar, the civilization of Europe and Western Asia 
went back to monarchy, and, through monarchy, assisted pres- 
ently by organized Christianity, it sought to achieve peace, 
righteousness, happiness, and world order for close upon eighteen 
centuries. Then almost suddenly it began reverting to repub- 
licanism, first in one country and then in another, and, assisted 
by the new powers of printing and the press and of organized 
general education, and by the universalist religious ideas in 
which the world had been soaked for generations, it seems now 
to have resumed again the effort to create a republican world- 
state and a world-wide scheme of economic righteousness which 
the Romans had made so prematurely and in which they had 
so utterly and disastrously failed. 




Certain conditions, we are now beginning to perceive, are 
absolutely necessary to such a creation; conditions which it is 
inconceivable that any pre-Christian Koman could have regarded 
as possible. We may still think the attainment of these condi- 
tions a vastly laborious and difficult and uncertain undertaking, 
but we understand that the attempt must be made because no 
other prospect before us gives even a promise of happiness or 
self-respect or preservation of our kind. The first of these con- 
ditions is that there should be a common political idea in the 
minds of all men, an idea of the state thought of as the personal 
possession of each individual and as the backbone fact of his 
scheme of duties. In the early days of Rome, when it was a 
little visible state, twenty miles square, such notions could be 
and were developed in children in their homes, and by what 
they saw and heard of the political lives of their fathers ; but in 
a larger country such as Rome had already become before the 
war with Pyrrhus, there was a need of an organized teaching 
of the history, of the main laws, and of the general intentions 
of the state towards everyone if this moral unity was to be 
maintained. But the need was never realized, and no attempt 
at any such teaching was ever made. At the time it could 
not have been made. It is inconceivable that it could have 
been made. The knowledge was not there, and there existed 
no class from which the needed teachers could be drawn and 
no conception of an organization for any such systematic moral 
and intellectual training as the teaching organization of Chris- 
tianity, with its creeds and catechisms and sermons and con- 
firmations, presently supplied. 

Moreover, we know nowadays that even a universal education 
of this sort supplies only the basis for a healthy republican 
stat-e. JSText to education there must come abundant, prompt, 
and truthful information of what is going on in the state, and 
frank and free discussion of the issues of the time. Even nowa- 
days these functions are performed only very imperfectly and 
badly by the press we have and by our publicists and politicians ; 
but badly though it is done, the thing is done, and the fact 
that it is done at all argues that it may ultimately be done well. 
In the Roman state it was not even attempted. The Roman 
citizen got his political facts from rumour and the occasional 
orator. He stood wedged in the forum, imperfectly hearing a 


distant speaker. He probably misconceived every issue upon 
which he voted. 

And of the monstrous ineffectiveness of the Roman voting 
system we have already written. 

Unable to surmount or remove these obstacles to a sane and 
effective popular government, the political instincts of the Ro- 
man mind turned towards monarchy. But it was not monarchy 
of the later European type, not hereditary monarchy, which 
was now installed in Rome. The princeps was really like an 
American war-time president, but he was elected not for four 
years but for life, he was able to appoint senators instead of 
being restrained by an elected senate, and with a rabble pop- 
ular meeting in the place of the house of representatives. He 
was also pontifex maximus, chief of the sacrificial priests, a 
function unknown at Washington; and in practice it became 
usual for him to designate and train his successor and to select 
for that honour a son or an adopted son or a near relation whom 
he could trust The power of the princeps was in itself enor- 
mous to entrust to the hands of a single man without any ade- 
quate checks, but it was further enhanced by the tradition of 
monarch-worship which had now spread out from Egypt over 
the entire Hellenized east, and which was coming to Rome in 
the head of every Oriental slave and immigrant. By natural 
and imperceptible degrees the idea of the god-emperor came 
to dominate the whole Romanized world. 

Only one thing presently remained to remind the god-emperor 
that he was mortal, and that was the army. The god-emperor 
was never safe upon the Olympus of the Palatine Hill at Rome. 
He was only secure while he was the beloved captain of his 
legions. And as a consequence only the hardworking emperors 
who kept their legions active and in close touch with themselves 
had long reigns. The sword overhung the emperor and spurred 
him to incessant activity. If he left things to his generals, one 
of those generals presently replaced him. This spur was per- 
haps the redeeming feature of the Roman Imperial system. In 
the greater, compacter, and securer empire of China there was 
not the same need of legions, and so there was not the same 
swift end for lazy or dissipated or juvenile monarchs that over- 
took such types in Rome. 



1. A Short Catalogue of Emperors. 2. Roman Civiliza- 
tion at its Zenith. 3. Limitations of the Roman Mind. 
4. The Stir of the Great Plains. 5. The Western (true 
Roman) Empire Crumples Up. 6. The Eastern (revived 
Hellenic) Empire. 

WESTERN writers are apt, through their patriotic pre- 
dispositions, to overestimate the organization, civiliz- 
ing work, and security of the absolute monarchy that 
established itself in Rome after the accession of Augustus Csesar. 
From it we derive the political traditions of Britain, France, 
Spain, Germany, and Italy, and these countries loom big in the 
perspectives of European writers. By the scale of a world his- 
tory the Roman Empire ceases to seem so overwhelmingly im- 
portant. It lasted about four centuries in all before it was com- 
pletely shattered. The Byzantine Empire was no genuine con- 
tinuation of it ; it was a resumption of the Hellenic Empire of 
Alexander ; it spoke Greek ; its monarch had a Roman title no 
doubt, but so for that matter had the late Tsar of Bulgaria. 
During its four centuries of life the empire of Rome had phases 
of division and complete chaos ; its prosperous years, if they are 
gathered together and added up, do not amount in all to a 
couple of centuries. Compared with the quiet steady expan- 
sion, the security, and the civilizing task of the contemporary 
Chinese Empire, or with Egypt between 4000 and 1000 B.C., 
or with Sumeria before the Semitic conquest, this amounts to 
a mere incident in history. The Persian Empire of Cyrus 
again, which reached from the Hellespont to the Indus, had as 
high a standard of civilization ; and its homelands remained un- 
conquered and fair]^ prosperous for over two hundred years. 



Its predecessor, the Median Empire, had endured for half a 
century. After a brief submergence by Alexander the Great, 
it rose again as the Seleucid Empire, which endured for some 
centuries. The Seleucid dominion shrank at last to the west 
of the Euphrates, and became a part of the Koman Empire; 
but Persia, revived by the Parthians as a new Persian Empire, 
first under the Arsacids and then under the Sassanids, outlived 
the empire of Rome. The Sassanids repeatedly carried war 
into the Byzantine Empire, and held the line of the Euphrates 
steadfastly. In 616 A.D. under Chosroes II, they were holding 
Damascus, Jerusalem, and Egypt, and threatening the Helles- 
pont. But there has been no tradition to keep alive the glories 
of the Sassanids. The reputation of Rome has flourished 
through the prosperity of her heirs. The tradition of Rome 
is greater than its reality. 

History distinguishes two chief groups of Roman emperors 
who were great administrators. The first of these groups 
began with: 

Augustus Caesar (27 B.C. to 14 A.D.), the Octavian of the 
previous section, who worked hard at the reorganization of the 
provincial governments and at financial reform. He estab- 
lished a certain tradition of lawfulness and honesty in the 
bureaucracy, and he restrained the more monstrous corruptions 
and tyrannies by giving the provincial citizen the right to ap- 
peal to Caesar. But he fixed the European boundaries of the 
empire along the Rhine and Danube, so leaving Germany, which 
is the necessary backbone of a safe and prosperous Europe, to 
barbarism ; and he made a similar limitation in the east at the 
Euphrates, leaving Armenia independent, to be a constant bone 
of contention with the Arsacids and Sassanids. It is doubtful 
whether he considered that he was fixing the final boundaries 
of the empire along these lines, or whether he thought it desir- 
able to consolidate for some years before any further attempts 
at expansion. 

Tiberius' (14 to 37 A.D.) is also described as a capable ruler, 
but he became intensely unpopular in Rome, and it would seem 
that he was addicted to gross and abominable vices. But his 
indulgence in these and his personal tyrannies and cruelties did 
not interfere with the general prosperity of the empire. It is 
difficult to judge him ; nearly all our sources of information are 
manifestly hostile to him. 



Caligula (37 to 41 A.D.) was insane, but the empire carried 
on during four years of eccentricity at its head. Finally he 
was murdered in his palace hy his servants, and there seems to 
have been an attempt to restore the senatorial government, an 
attempt which was promptly suppressed by the household 

Claudius (41 to 54 A.D.), the uncle of Caligula, upon whom 
the choice of the soldiers fell, was personally uncouth, but he 
seems to have been a hardworking and fairly capable admin- 
istrator. He advanced the westward boundary of the empire by 
annexing the southern half of Britain. He was poisoned by 
Agrippina, the mother of his adopted son, Nero, and a woman 
of great charm and force of character. 

Nero (54 to 68 A.D.), like Tiberius, is credited with mon- 
strous vices and cruelties, but the empire had acquired sufficient 
momentum to carry on through his fourteen years of power. 
He certainly murdered his devoted but troublesome mother and 
his wife, the latter as a mark of devotion to a lady, Poppsea, 
who then married him; but the domestic infelicities of the 
Caesars are no part of our present story. The reader greedy 
for criminal particulars must go to the classical source, Sue- 
tonius. These various Caesars and their successors and their 
womenkind were probably no worse essentially than most weak 
and passionate human beings, but they had no real religion, 
being themselves gods; they had no wide knowledge on which 
to build high ambitions, their women were fierce and often 
illiterate, and they were under no restraints of law or custom. 
They were surrounded by creatures ready to stimulate their 
slightest wishes and to translate their vaguest impules into 
action. What are mere passing black thoughts and 
angry impulses with most of us became therefore deeds 
with them. Before a man condemns Nero as a different 
species of being from himself, he should examine his own secret 
thoughts very carefully. Nero became intensely unpopular in 
Rome, and it is interesting to note that he became unpopular 
not because he murdered and poisoned his intimate relations, 
but because there was an insurrection in Britain under a 
certain Queen Boadicea, and the Roman forces suffered a great 
disaster (61 A.D.), and because there was a destructive earth- 
quake in Southern Italy. The Roman population, true to its 
Etruscan streak, never religious and always superstitious, did 


not mind a wicked Caesar, but it did object strongly to an 
unpropitious one. The Spanish legions rose in insurrection 
under an elderly general of seventy-three, Galba, whom they 
acclaimed emperor. He advanced upon Rome carried in 
a litter. Nero, hopeless of support, committed suicide 
(68 A.D.). 

Galba, however, was only one of a group of would-be em- 
perors. The generals in command of the Rhine legions, the 
Palatine troops, and the eastern armies, each attempted to 
seize power. Rome saw four emperors in a year, Galba, Otho, 
Vitellus, and Vespasian; the fourth, Vespasian (69-79 A.D.), 
from the eastern command, had the firmest grip, and held and 
kept the prize. But with Nero the line of Caesars born or 
adopted ended. Caesar ceased to be the family name of the 
Roman emperors and became a title, Divus Caesar, the Caesar 
god. The monarchy took a step forward towards orientalism by 
an increased insistence upon the worship of the ruler. 

Vespasian (69 to 79 A.D.) and his sons Titus (79 A.D.) and 
Domitian (81 A.D.) constitute, as it were, a second dynasty, 
the Flavian; then after the assassination of Domitian came 
a group of emperors related to one another not by blood, but 
by adoption, the adoptive emperors. Nerva (96 A.D.) was the 
first of this line, and Trajan (98 A.D.) the second. They were 
followed by the indefatigable Hadrian (117 A.D.), Antoninus 
Pius (138 A.D.), and Marcus Aurelius (161 to 180 A.D.). 
Under both the Flavians and the Antonines the boun- 
daries of the empire crept forward again. North Britain 
was annexed in 84 A.D., the angle of the Rhine and 
Danube was filled in, and what is now Transylvania was made 
into a new province, Dacia. Trajan also invaded Parthia 
and annexed Armenia, Assyria, and Mesopotamia. Under his 
rule the empire reached its maximum extent. Hadrian, his 
successor, was of a cautious and retractile disposition. He aban- 
doned these new eastern conquests of Trajan's, and he also 
abandoned North Britain. He adopted the Chinese idea of 
the limiting wall against barbarism, an excellent idea so long 
as the pressure of population on the imperial side of the wall 
is greater than the pressure from without, but worthless other- 
wise. He built Hadrian's wall across Britain, and a palisade 
between the Rhine and the Danube. The full tide of Roman 
expansion was past, and in the reign of his successor the North 


European frontier was already actively on the defensive against 
the aggression of Teutonic and Slavic tribes. 

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus is one of those figures in history 
about which men differ widely and intensely. To some critics 
he seems to have been a priggish person; he dabbled in re- 
ligions, and took a pleasure in conducting priestly ceremonies 
in priestly garments a disposition offensive to common men 
and they resent his alleged failure to restrain the wickedness 
of his wife Faustina. The stories of his domestic infelicity, 
however, rest on no very good foundations, though certainly 
his son Commodus was a startling person for a good home to 
produce. On the other hand, he was unquestionably a devoted 
and industrious emperor, holding social order together through 
a series of disastrous years of vile weather, great floods, failing 
harvests and famine, barbaric raids and revolts, and at last a 
terrible universal pestilence. Says F. W. Farrar, quoted in the 
Encyclopedia Britannica, "He regarded himself as being, in 
fact, the servant of all. The registry of the citizens, the sup- 
pression of litigation, the elevation of public morals, the care 
of minors, the retrenchment of public expenses, the limitation 
of gladiatorial games and shows, the care of roads, the restora- 
tion of senatorial privileges, the appointment of none but worthy 
magistrates, even the regulation of street traffic, these and 
numberless other duties so completely absorbed his attention 
that, in spite of indifferent health, they often kept him at 
severe labour from early morning till long after midnight. His 
position, indeed, often necessitated his presence at games and 
shows; but on these occasions he occupied himself either in 
reading, or being read to, or in writing notes. He was one 
of those who held that nothing should be done hastily, and 
that, few crimes were worse than waste of time." 

But it is not by these industries that he is now remembered. 
He was one of the greatest exponents of the Stoical philosophy, 
and in his Meditations, jotted down in camp and court., he has 
put so much of a human soul on record as to raise up for 
himself in each generation a fresh series of friends and admirers. 

With the death of Marcus Aurelius this phase of unity and 
comparatively good government came to an end, and his son 
Commodus inaugurated an age of disorder. Practically the 
empire had been at peace within itself for two hundred years. 


Now for a hundred years the student of Roman history must 
master the various criminology of a number of inadequate em- 
perors, while the frontier crumbled and receded under bar- 
barian pressure. One or two names only seem to be the names 
of able men : such were Septimius Severus, Aurelian, and Pro- 
bus. Septimius Severus was a Carthaginian, and his sister 
was never able to master Latin. She conducted her Roman 
household in the Punic language, which must have made Cato 
the elder turn in his grave. The rest of the emperors of this 
period were chiefly adventurers too unimportant to the general 
scheme of things for us to note. At times there were separate 
emperors ruling in different parts of the distracted empire. 
From our present point of view the Emperor Decius, who was 
defeated and killed during a great raid of the Goths into 
Thrace in 251 A.D., and the Emperor Valerian, who, togethel 
with the great city of Antioch, was captured by the Sassanid 
Shah of Persia in 260 A.D., are worthy of notice because they 
mark the insecurity of the whole Roman system, and the char- 
acter of the outer pressure upon it. So, too, is Claudius, "the 
Conqueror of the Goths," because he gained a great victory 
over these people at Nish in Serbia (270 A.D.), and because he 
died, like Pericles, of the plague. 

Through all these centuries intermittent pestilences were 
playing a part in weakening races and altering social condi- 
tions, a part that has still to be properly worked out by histo- 
rians. There was, for instance, a great plague throughout the 
empire between the years 164 and 180 A.D. in the reign of the 
Emperor Marcus Aurelius. It probably did much to disor- 
ganize social life and prepare the way for the troubles that fol- 
lowed the accession of Commodus. This same pestilence dev- 
astated China, as we shall note in 4 of this chapter. Con- 
siderable fluctuations of climate had also been going on in the 
first and second centuries, producing stresses and shiftings of 
population, whose force historians have still to appraise. But 
before we go on to tell of the irruptions of the barbarians and 
the attempts of such later emperors as Diocletian (284 A.D.) 
and Constantine the Great (312 A.D.) to hold together the heav- 
ing and splitting vessel of the state, we must describe something 
of the conditions of human life in the Roman Empire during 
its two centuries of prosperity. 



The impatient reader of history may be disposed to count 
the two centuries of order between 27 B.C. and 180 A.D. as 
among the wasted opportunities of mankind. It was an age 
of spending rather than of creation, an age of architecture and 
trade in which the rich grew richer and the poor poorer and 
the soul and spirit of man decayed. Looked at superficially, 
as a man might have looked at it from an aeroplane a couple 
of thousand feet in the air, there was a considerable flourish 
of prosperity. Everywhere, from York to Cyrene and from 
Lisbon to Antioch, he would have noted large and well-built 
cities, with temples, theatres, amphitheatres, markets, and the 
like ; thousands of such cities, supplied by great aqueducts and 
served by splendid high roads, whose stately remains astonish 
us to this day. He would have noted an abundant cultivation, 
and have soared too high to discover that this cultivation was 
the grudging work of slaves. Upon the Mediterranean and the 
Red Sea a considerable traffic would be visible ; and the sight of 
two ships alongside each other would not at that altitude reveal 
the fact that one was a pirate and plundering the other. 

And even if the observer came down to a closer scrutiny, 
there would still be much accumulated improvement to note. 
There had been a softening of manners and a general refinement 
since the days of Julius Caesar. With this there had been a 
real increase of humane feeling. During the period of the 
Antonines, laws for the protection of slaves from extreme cruelty 
came into existence, and it was no longer permissible to sell them 
to the gladiatorial schools. Not only were the cities outwardly 
more splendidly built, but within the homes of the wealthy 
there had been great advances in the art of decoration. The 
gross feasting, animal indulgence, and vulgar display of the 
earlier days of Roman prosperity were now tempered by a 
certain refinement. Dress had become richer, finer, and more 
beautiful. There was a great trade in silk with remote China, 
for the mulberry-tree and the silkworm had not yet begun to 
move west. By the time silk had ended its long and varied 
journey to Rome it was worth its weight in gold. Yet it was 
used abundantly, and there was a steady flow of the precious 
metals eastward in exchange. There had been very considerable 
advances in gastronomy and the arts of entertainment. Petro- 


nius describes a feast given by a wealthy man under the early 
Caesars, a remarkable succession of courses, some delicious, some 
amazing, exceeding anything that even the splendours and 
imagination of modern New York could produce; and the 
festival was varied by music and by displays of tight-rope 
dancing, juggling, Homeric recitations, and the like. There 
was a considerable amount of what we may describe as "rich 
men's culture" throughout the empire. Books were far more 
plentiful than they had been before the time of the Caesars. 
Men prided themselves upon their libraries, even when the cares 
and responsibilities of property made them too busy to give 
their literary treasures much more than a passing examination. 
The knowledge of Greek spread eastward and of Latin west- 
ward, and if the prominent men of this or that British or 
Gallic city lacked any profound Greek culture themselves, they 
could always turn to some slave or other, whose learning had 
been guaranteed of the highest quality by the slave-dealer, to 
supply the deficiency. 

The generation of Cato had despised Greeks and the Greek- 
language, but now all that was changed. The prestige of Greek 
learning of an approved and settled type was as high in the 
Rome of Antoninus Pius as it, was in the Oxford and Cam- 
bridge of Victorian England. The Greek scholar received the 
same mixture of unintelligent deference and practical contempt. 
There was a very considerable amount of Greek scholarship, 
and of written criticism and commentary. Indeed there was so 
great an admiration for Greek letters as almost completely 
to destroy the Greek spirit; and the recorded observations of 
Aristotle were valued so highly as to preclude any attempt to 
imitate his organization of further inquiry. It is noteworthy 
that while Aristotle in the original Greek fell like seed upon 
stony soil in the Roman world, he was, in Syrian and Arabic 
translations, immensely stimulating to the Arabic civilization 
of a thousand years later. N"or were the aesthetic claims of 
Latin neglected in this heyday of Greek erudition. As Greece 
had her epics and so forth, the Romans felt that they, too, must 
have their epics. The age of Augustus was an age of imitative 
literature. Virgil in the ^Eneid set himself modestly but reso- 
lutely, and with an elegant sort of successfulness, to parallel 
the Odyssey and Iliad. 

All this wide-spread culture of the wealthy householder is to 


the credit of the early Eoman Empire, and Gihbon makes the 
most of it in the sunny review of the age of the Antonines with 
which he opens his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. His 
design for that great work demanded a prelude of splendour anA 
tranquillity. But he was far too shrewd and subtle not to 
qualify his apparent approval of the conditions he describes. 
"Under the Roman Empire/ 7 he writes, "the labour of an in- 
dustrious and ingenious people was variously but incessantly 
employed in the service of the rich. In their dress, their table, 
their houses, and their furniture, the favourites of fortune united 
every refinement of convenience, of elegance, and of splendour, 
whatever could soothe their pride, or gratify their sensuality. 
Such refinements, under the odious name of luxury, have been 
severely arraigned by the moralists of every age ; and it might 
perhaps be more conducive to the virtue, as well as happiness, 
of mankind, if all possessed the necessaries, and none the super- 
fluities of life. But in the present imperfect condition of 
society, luxury, though it may proceed from vice or folly, seems 
to be the only means that can correct the unequal distribution 
of property. The diligent mechanic and the skilful artist, 
who have obtained no share in the division of the earth, receive 
a voluntary tax from the possessors of land; and the latter are 
prompted, by a sense of interest, to improve those estates, with 
whose produce they may purchase additional pleasure. This 
operation, the particular effects of which are felt in every soci- 
ety, acted with much more diffuse energy in the Roman world. 
The provinces would soon have been exhausted of their wealth, 
if the manufactures and commerce of luxury had not insen- 
sibly restored to the industrious subjects the sums which were 
exacted from them by the arms and authority of Rome." 
And so on, with a sting of satire in every fold of the florid 

If we look a little more widely than a hovering aeroplane can 
do at the movement of races upon the earth, or a little more 
closely than an inspection of streets, amphitheatres, and ban- 
quets goes, into the souls and thoughts of men, we shall find 
that this impressive display of material prosperity is merely 
the shining garment of a polity blind to things without and 
things within, and blind to the future. If, for instance, we 
compare the two centuries of Roman ascendancy and opportu- 
nity, the first and second centuries A.D., with the two centuries 


of Greek and Hellenic life beginning about 466 B.C. with the 
supremacy of Pericles in Athens, we are amazed by we can- 
not call it an inferiority, it is a complete absence of science. The 
incuriousness of the Roman rich and the Roman rulers was more 
massive and monumental even than their architecture. 

In one field of knowledge particularly we might have ex- 
pected the Romans to have been alert and enterprising, and 
that was geography. Their political interests demanded a 
steadfast inquiry into the state of affairs beyond their fron- 
tiers, and yet that inquiry was never made. There is prac- 
tically no literature of Roman travel beyond the imperial limits, 
no such keen and curious accounts as Herodotus gives of the 
Scythians, the Africans, and the like. There is nothing in 
Latin to compare with the early descriptions of India and 
Siberia that are to be found in Chinese. The Roman legions 
went at one time into Scotland, yet there remains no really 
intelligent account of Picts or Scots, much less any glance 
at the seas beyond. Such explorations as those of Hanno or 
Pharaoh Necho seem to have been altogether beyond the scope 
of the Roman imagination. It is probable that after the de- 
struction of Carthage the amount of shipping that went out 
into the Atlantic through the Straits of Gibraltar fell to incon- 
siderable proportions. Still more impossible in this world of 
vulgar wealth, enslaved intelligence, and bureaucratic rule was 
any further development of the astronomy and physiography of 
Alexandria. The Romans do not seem even to have inquired 
what manner of men wove the silk and prepared the spices or 
collected the amber and the pearls that came into their mar- 
kets. Yet the channels of inquiry were open and easy; path- 
ways led in every direction to the most convenient "jumping-off 
places'' for explorers it is possible to imagine. 

"The most remote countries of the ancient world were ran- 
sacked to supply the pomp and delicacy of Rome. The forests 
of Scythia afforded some valuable furs. Amber was brought 
overland from the shores of the Baltic to the Danube, and the 
barbarians were astonished at the price which they received in 
exchange for so useless a commodity. There was a considerable 
demand for Babylonian carpets and other manufactures of the 
East ; but the most important branch of foreign trade was car- 
ried on with Arabia and India. Every year, about the time of 
the summer solstice, a fleet of a hundred and twenty vessels 


sailed from Myos-hormos, a port of Egypt on the Red Sea. By 
the periodical assistance of the monsoons, they traversed the 
ocean in about forty days. The coast of Malabar, or the island 
of Ceylon, was the usual term of their navigation, and it was 
in those markets that the merchants from the more remote 
countries of Asia expected their arrival. The return of the 
fleet to Egypt was fixed to the months of December or January, 
and as soon as their rich cargo had been transported, on the 
backs of camels, from the Red Sea to the Nile, and had de- 
scended that river as far as Alexandria, it was poured, without 
delay, into the capital of the empire." x 

Yet Rome was content to feast, exact, grow rich, and watch 
its gladiatorial shows without the slightest attempt to learn 
anything of India, China, Persia or Scythia, Buddha or Zoro- 
aster, or about the Huns, the Negroes, the people of Scandi- 
navia, or the secrets of the western sea. 

When we realize the uninspiring quality of the social atmos^ 
phere which made this indifference possible, we are able to 
account for the failure of Rome during its age of opportunity 
to develop any physical or chemical science, and as a conse- 
quence to gain any increased control over matter. Most of the 
physicians in Rome were Greeks and many of them slaves for 
the Roman wealthy did not even understand that a bought mind 
is a spoilt mind. Yet this was not due to any want of natural 
genius among the Roman people; it was due entirely to their 
social and economic conditions. From the Middle Ages to the 
present day Italy has produced a great number of brilliant 
scientific men. And one of the most shrewd and inspired of 
scientific writers was an Italian, Lucretius, who lived between 
the time of Marius and Julius Caesar (about 100 B.C. to about 
55 B.C.). This amazing man was of the quality of Leonardo da 
Vinci (also an Italian) or Newton. He wrote a long Latin poem 
about the processes of Nature, De Rerum Naturia, in which he 
guessed with astonishing insight about the constitution of mat- 
ter and about the early history of mankind. Osborn in his Old 
Stone Age quotes with admiration long passages from Lucretius 
about primitive man, so good and true are they to-day. But this 
was an individual display, a seed that bore no fruit. Roman 
science was still-born into a suffocating atmosphere of vile 
wealth and military oppression. The true figure to represent 



the classical Roman attitude to science is not Lucretius, but 
that Roman soldier who hacked Archimedes to death at the 
storming of Syracuse. 

And if physical and biological science wilted and died on 
the stony soil of Roman prosperity, political and social science 
never had a chance to germinate. Political discussion would 
have been treason to the emperor, social or economic inquiry 
would have threatened the rich. So Rome, until disaster fell 
upon her, never examined into her own social health, never 
questioned the ultimate value of her hard officialism. Conse- 
quently, there was no one who realized the gravity of her failure 
to develop any intellectual imagination to hold her empire 
together, any general education in common ideas that would 
make men fight and work for the empire as men will fight and 
work for a dear possession. But the rulers of the Roman 
Empire did not want their citizens to fight for anything in. any 
spirit at all. The rich had eaten the heart out of their general 
population, and they were content with the meal they had 
made. The legions were filled with Germans, Britons, JsTumid- 
ians, and the like; and until the very end the wealthy Romans 
thought they could go on buying barbarians to defend them 
against the enemy without and the rebel poor within. How 
little was done in education by the Romans is shown by an 
account of what was done. Says Mr. H. Stuart Jones, "Julius 
Caesar bestowed Roman citizenship on 'teachers of the liberal 
arts'; Vespasian endowed professorships of Greek and Latin 
oratory at Rome; and later emperors, especially Antoninus 
Pius, extended the same benefits to the provinces. Local enter- 
prise and munificence were also devoted to the cause of educa- 
tion; we learn from the correspondence of the younger Pliny 
that public schools were founded in the towns of Northern Italy. 
But though there was a wide diffusion of knowledge under the 
empire, there was no true intellectual progress. Augustus, it is 
true, gathered about him the most brilliant writers of his 
time, and the debut of the new monarchy coincided with the 
Golden Age of Roman literature ; but this was of brief duration, 
and the beginnings of the Christian era saw the triumph of 
classicism and the first steps in the decline which awaits all 
literary movements which look to the past rather than the 

There is a diagnosis of the intellectual decadence of the age 


in a treatise upon the sublime by a Greek writer who wrote 
somewhen in the second, third, or fourth century A.D., and 
who may possibly have been Longinus Philologus, which states 
very distinctly one manifest factor in the mental sickness of the 
Roman world. He is cited by Gibbon : "The sublime Longinus, 
who, in somewhat a later period and in the court of a Syrian 
queen, Zenobia, preserved the spirit of ancient Athens, ob- 
serves and laments the degeneracy of his contemporaries, which 
debased their sentiments, enervated their courage, and depressed 
their talents. 'In the same manner,' says he, 'as some children 
always remain pigmies, whose infant limbs have been too closely 
confined, thus our tender minds, fettered by the prejudices and 
habits of a just servitude, are unable to expand themselves or 
to attain that well-proportioned greatness which we admire in 
the ancients, who, living under a popular government, wrote 
with? all the same freedom as they acted. 7 ? 

But this critic grasped only one aspect of the restraints 
upon mental activity. The leading-strings that kept the Roman 
mind in a permanent state of infantilism constituted a double 
servitude ; they were economic as well as political. The account 
Gibbon gives of the life and activities of a certain Herodes 
Atticus, who lived in the time of Hadrian, shows just how 
little was the share of the ordinary citizen in the outward mag- 
nificence of the time. This Atticus had an immense fortune, 
and he amused himself by huge architectural benefactions to 
various cities. Athens was given a racecourse, and a theatre of 
cedar, curiously carved, was set up there to the memory of his 
wife ; a theatre was built at Corinth, a racecourse was given to 
Delphi, baths to Thermopylae, an aqueduct to Canusium, and so 
on and so on. One is struck by the spectacle of a world of 
slaves and common people who were not consulted and over 
whose heads, without any participation on their part, this rich 
man indulged in his displays of "taste." Numerous inscrip- 
tions in Greece and Asia still preserve the name of Herodes 
Atticus, "patron and benefactor/ 7 who ranged about the empire 
as though it was his private garden, commemorating himself 
by these embellishments. He did not confine himself to splendid 
buildings. He was also a philosopher, though none of his wis- 
dom has survived. He had a large villa near Athens, and there 
philosophers were welcome guests so long as they convinced their 
patron of the soundness of their pretensions, received his ciis- 


courses with respect, and did not offend him by insolent 

The world, it is evident, was not progressing during these two 
centuries of Roman prosperity. But was it happy in its stagna- 
tion? There are signs of a very unmistakable sort that -the 
great mass of human beings in the empire, a mass numbering 
something between a hundred and a hundred and fifty millions, 
was not happy, was probably very acutely miserable, beneath 
its outward magnificence. True there were no great wars and 
conquests within the empire, little of famine or fire or sword 
to afflict mankind ; but, on the other hand, there was a terrible 
restraint by government, and still more by the property of 
the rich, upon the free activities of nearly everyone. Life for 
the great majority who were neither rich nor official, nor the 
womankind and the parasites of the rich and official, must have 
been laborious, tedious, and lacking in interest and freedom 
to a degree that a modern mind can scarcely imagine. 

Three things in particular may be cited to sustain the opinion 
that this period was a period of widespread unhappiness. The 
first of these is the extraordinary apathy of the population to 
political events. They saw one upstart pretender to empire 
succeed another with complete indifference. Such things did 
not seem to matter to them ; hope had gone. When presently 
the barbarians poured into the empire, there was nothing but the 
legions to face them. There was no popular uprising against 
them at all. Everywhere the barbarians must have been out- 
numbered if only the people had resisted. But the people did 
not resist. It is manifest that to the bulk of its inhabitants the 
Roman Empire did not seem to be a thing worth fighting for. 
To the slaves and common people the barbarian probably seemed 
to promise more freedom and less indignity than the pompous 
rule of the imperial official and grinding employment by the 
rich. The looting and burning of palaces and an occasional 
massacre did not shock the folk of the Roman underworld as it 
shocked the wealthy and cultured people to whom we owe such 
accounts as we have of the breaking down of the imperial sys- 
tem. Great numbers of slaves and common people probably 
joined the barbarians, who knew little of racial or patriotic 
prejudices, and were openhanded to any promising recruit. No 
doubt in many cases the population found that the barbarian 
was a worse infliction even than the tax-gatherer and the slave- 


driver. But that discovery came too late for resistance or the 
restoration of the old order. 

And as a second symptom that points to the same conclusion 
that life was hardly worth living for the poor and the slaves and 
the majority of people during the age of the Antonines, we 
must reckon the steady depopulation of the empire. People 
refused to have children. They did so, we suggest, because 
their homes were not safe from oppression, "because in the case 
of slaves there was no security that the husband and wife would 
not be separated, because there was no pride nor reasonable 
hope in children any more. In modern states the great breed- 
ing-ground has always been the agricultural countryside where 
there is a more or less secure peasantry ; but under the Koman 
Empire the peasant and the small cultivator was either a wor- 
ried debtor, or he was held in a network of restraints that made 
him a spiritless serf, or he had been ousted altogether by the 
gang production of slaves. 

A third indication that this outwardly flourishing period was 
one of deep unhappiness and mental distress for vast multitudes, 
is to be found in the spread of new religious movements through- 
out the population. We have seen how in the case of the little 
country of Judea a whole nation may be infected by the persua- 
sion that life is unsatisfactory and wrong, and that something 
is needed to set it right. The mind of the Jews, as we know, 
had crystallized about the idea of the Promise of the One True 
God and the coming of a Saviour or Messiah. Rather different 
ideas from these were spreading through the Roman Empire. 
They were but varying answers to one universal question: 
"What must we do for salvation?" A frequent and natural 
consequence of disgust with life as it is, is to throw the imagina- 
tion forward to an after-life, which is to redeem all the miseries 
and injustices of this one. The belief in such compensation is 
a great opiate for present miseries. Egyptian religion had long 
been saturated with anticipations of immortality, and we have 
seen how central was that idea to the cult of Serapis and Isis 
at Alexandria. The ancient mysteries of Demeter and Orpheus, 
the mysteries of the Mediterranean race, revived and made a 
sort of iJieocrasia with these new cults. 

A second great religious movement was Mithraism, a de- 
velopment of Zoroastrianism, a religion of very ancient Aryan 
origin, traceable back to the Indo-Iranian people before they 


split into Persians and Hindus. We cannot here examine its 
mysteries in any detail. 1 Mithras was a god of light, a Sun 
of Righteousness, and in the shrines of the cult he was always 
represented as slaying a sacred bull whose blood was the seed of 
life. Suffice it that, complicated with many added ingredients, 
this worship of Mithras came into the Roman Empire about 
the time of Pompey the Great, and began to spread very widely 
under the Caesars and Antonines. Like the Isis religion, it 
promised immortality. Its followers were mainly slaves, sol- 
diers, and distressed people. In its methods of worship, in the 
burning of candles before the altar and so forth, it had a certain 
superficial resemblance to the later developments of the ritual 
of the third great religious movement in the Roman world, 

Christianity also was a doctrine of immortality and salvation, 
and it, too, spread at first chiefly among the lowly and unhappy. 
Christianity has been denounced by modern writers as a "slave 
religion." It was. It took the slaves and the downtrodden, and 
it gave them hope and restored their self-respect, so that they 
stood up for righteousness like men and faced persecution and 
torment. But of the origins and quality of Christianity we will 
tell more fully in a later chapter. 


We have already shown reason for our statement that the 
Roman imperial system was a very unsound political growth 
indeed. It is absurd to write of its statecraft ; it had none. At 
its best it had a bureaucratic administration which kept the 
peace of the world for a time and failed altogether to secure it. 

Let us note here the main factors in its failure. 

The clue to all its failure lies in the absence of any free 
mental activity and any organization for the increase, develop- 
ment, and application of knowledge. It respected wealth and 
it despised science. It gave government to the rich, and im- 
agined that wise men could be bought and bargained for in the 
slave markets when they were needed. It was, therefore, a 
colossally ignorant and unimaginative empire. It foresaw 

It had no strategic foresight, because it was blankly ignorant 
1 See Legge, Forerunners and Rivals of Christianity. 


of geography and ethnology. It knew nothing of the conditions 
of Russia, Central Asia, and the East. It was content to keep 
the Khine and Danube as its boundaries, and to make no effort 
to Romanize Germany. But we need only look at the map of 
Europe and Asia showing the Roman Empire to see that a will- 
ing and incorporated Germany was absolutely essential to the 
life and security of Western Europe. Excluded, Germany be- 
came a wedge that needed only the impact of the Hunnish ham- 
mer to split up the whole system. 

Moreover, this neglect to push the boundaries northward to 
the Baltic left that sea and the North Sea as a region of ex- 
periment and training and instruction in seamanship for the 
Northmen of Scandinavia, Denmark, and the Frisian coast. 
But Rome went on its way quite stupidly, oblivious to the growth 
of a newer and more powerful piracy in the north. 

The same unimaginative quality made the Romans leave the 
seaways of the Mediterranean- undeveloped. When presently 
the barbarians pressed down to the warm water, we read of no 
swift transport of armies from Spain or Africa or Asia to the 
rescue of Italy and the Adriatic coasts. Instead, we see the 
Vandals becoming masters of the western Mediterranean with- 
out so much as a naval battle. 

The Romans had been held at the Euphrates by an array of 
mounted archers. It was clear that as the legion was organized 
it was useless in wide open country, and it should have been 
equally clear that sooner or later the mounted nomads of east 
Germany, south Russia or Parthia were bound to try conclu- 
sions with the empire. But the Romans, two hundred years 
after Caesar's time, were still marching about, the same drilled 
and clanking cohorts they had always been, easily ridden round 
and shot to pieces. The empire had learnt nothing even from 

The incapacity of the Roman imperialism for novelty in 
methods of transport again is amazing. It was patent that their 
power and unity depended upon the swift movement of troops 
and supplies from one part of the empire to another. The re- 
public made magnificent roads; the empire never improved 
upon them. Four hundred years before the Antonines, Hero 
of Alexandria had made the first steam-engine. Beautiful 
records of such beginnings of science were among the neglected 
treasures of the rich men's libraries throughout the imperial 


domains. They were seed lying on stony ground. The armies 
and couriers of Marcus Aurelius drudged along the roads ex- 
actly as the armies of Scipio Africanus had done three centuries 
before them. 

The Roman writers were always lamenting the effeminacy 
of the age. It was their favourite cant. They recognized that 
the free men of the forest and steppes and desert were harder 
and more desperate fighters than their citizens, but the natural 
corollary of developing the industrial power of their accumula- 
tions of population to make a countervailing equipment never 
entered their heads. Instead they took the barbarians into 
their legions, taught them the arts of war, marched them about 
the empire, and returned them, with their lesson well learnt, 
to their own people. 

In view of these obvious negligences, it is no wonder that 
the Romans disregarded that more subtle thing, the soul of the 
empire, altogether, and made no effort to teach or train or win 
its common people into any conscious participation with its 
life. Such teaching or training would indeed have run counter 
to all the ideas of the rich men and the imperial officials. They 
had made a tool of religion; science, literature, and education 
they had entrusted to the care of slaves, who were bred and 
trained and sold like dogs or horses; ignorant, pompous, and 
base, the Roman adventurers of finance and property who cre- 
ated the empire, lorded it with a sense of the utmost security 
while their destruction gathered without the empire and within. 

By the second and third centuries A.D. the overtaxed and 
overstrained imperial machine was already staggering towards 
its downfall. 


And now it is necessary, if we are to understand clearly the 
true situation of the Roman Empire, to turn our eyes to the 
world beyond its northern and eastern borders, the world of 
the plains, that stretches, with scarcely a break, from Holland 
across Germany and Russia to the mountains of Central Asia 
and Mongolia, and to give a little attention to the parallel em- 
pire in China that was now consolidating and developing a 
far tougher and more enduring moral and intellectual unity 
than the Romans ever achieved. 


"It is the practice," says Mr. E. H. Parker, "even amongst 
our most highly educated men in Europe, to deliver sonorous 
sentences about being 'masters of the world/ 'bringing all na- 
tions of the earth under her sway/ and so on, when in reality 
only some corner of the Mediterranean is involved, or some 
ephemeral sally into Persia and Gaul. Cyrus and Alexander, 
Darius and Xerxes, Caesar and Pompey, all made very interest- 
ing excursions, but they were certainly not on a larger scale 
or charged with greater human interest than the campaigns 
which were going on at the other end of Asia. Western civiliza- 
tion possessed much in art and science for which China never 
cared, but, on the other hand, the Chinese developed a historical 
and critical literature, a courtesy of demeanour, a luxury of 
clothing, and an administrative system of which Europe might 
have been proud. In one word, the history of the Ear East is 
quite as interesting as that of the Far West. It only requires 
to be able to read it. When we brush away contemptuously 
from our notice the tremendous events which took place on the 
plains of Tartary, we must not blame the Chinese too much for 
declining to interest themselves in the doings of what to them 
appear insignificant states dotted round the Mediterranean and 
Caspian, which, at this time, was practically all the world of 
which we knew in Europe." * 

We have already mentioned (in Chap. XIV and elsewhere) 
the name of Shi Hwang-ti, who consolidated an empire much 
smaller, indeed, than the present limits of China, but still 
very great and populous, spreading from the valleys of the 
Hwang-ho and the Yang-tse. He became king of Ch'in in 246 
B.C. and emperor in 220 B.C., and he reigned until 210 B.C., 
and during this third of a century he effected much the same 
work of consolidation that Augustus CaBsar carried out in Rome 
two centuries later. At his death there was dynastic trouble 
for four years, and then (206 B.C.) a fresh dynasty, the Han, 
established itself and ruled for two hundred and twenty-nine 
years. The opening quarter century of the Christian era was 
troubled by a usurper; then what is called the Later Han 
Dynasty recovered power and ruled for another century and a 
half until China, in the time of the Antonines, was so dev- 
astated by an eleven-year pestilence as to fall into disorder. 
This same pestilence, we may note, also helped to produce a 
J E. H. Parker, A Thousand Yews of the Tartars. 



century of confusion in the Western world (see 1). But 
altogether until this happened, for more than four hundred 
years Central China was generally. at peace, and on the whole 
well governed, a cycle of strength and prosperity unparalleled 
by anything in the experience of the Western world. 

Only the first of the Han monarchs continued the policy of 
Shi Hwang-ti against the literati. His successor restored the 
classics, for the old separatist tradition was broken, and in the 
uniformity of learning throughout the empire lay, he saw, the 
cement of Chinese unity. While the Roman world was still 
blind to the need of any universal mental organization, the Han 
emperors were setting up a uniform system of education and 
of literary degrees throughout China that has maintained the 
intellectual solidarity of that great and always expanding coun- 
try into modern times. The bureaucrats of Rome were of the 
most miscellaneous origins and traditions; the bureaucrats of 
China were, and are still, made in the same mould, all mem- 
bers of one tradition. Since the Han days China has experi- 
enced great vicissitudes of political fortune, but they have never 
changed her fundamental character; she has been divided, but 
she has always recovered her unity; she has been conquered, 
and she has always absorbed and assimilated her conquerors. 

But from our present point of view, the most important conse- 
quences of this consolidation of China under Shi Hwang-ti and 
the Hans was in its reaction upon the unsettled tribes of the 
northern and western border of China. Throughout the disor- 
dered centuries before the time of Shi Hwang-ti, the Hiung- 
nu or Huns had occupied Mongolia and large portions of North- 
ern China, and had raided freely into China and interfered 
freely in Chinese politics. The new power and organization of 
the Chinese civilization began to change this state of affairs 
for good and all. 

We have already, in our first account of Chinese beginnings, 
noted the existence of these Huns. It is necessary now to ex- 
plain briefly who and what they were. Even in using this word 
Hun as a general equivalent for the Hiung-nu, we step on to 
controversial ground. In our accounts of the development of 
the Western world we have had occasion to name the Scythians, 
and to explain the difficulty of distinguishing clearly between 
Cimmerians, Sarmatians, Medes, Persians, Parthians, Goths, 
and other more or less nomadic, more or less Aryan peoples 


who drifted to and fro in a great arc between the Danube and 
Central Asia. While sections of the Aryans were moving south 
and acquiring and developing civilization, these other Aryan 
peoples were developing mobility and nomadism ; they were 
learning the life of the tent, the wagon, and the herd. They 
were learning also to use milk as a food basis, and were prob- 
ably becoming less agricultural, less disposed to take even 
snatch crops, than they had been. Their development was 
being aided by a slow change in climate that was replacing the 
swamps and forests and parklands of South Russia and Central 
Asia by steppes, by wide grazing lands that is, which 
favoured a healthy, unsettled life, and necessitated an an- 
nual movement between summer and winter pasture. These 
peoples had only the lowest political forms; they split up, 
they mingled together; the various races had identical social 
habits ; and so it is that the difficulty, the impossibility of sharp 
distinctions between them arises. Now the case of the Mon- 
golian races to the north and north-west of the Chinese civiliza- 
tion is very parallel. There can be little doubt that the Hiung- 
nu, the Huns, and the later people called the Mongols, were 
all very much the same people, and that the Turks and Tartars 
presently branched off from this same drifting Mongolian popu- 
lation. Kalmucks and Buriats are later developments of the 
same strain. Here we shall favour the use of the word "Hun" 
as a sort of general term for these tribes, just as we have been 
free and wide in our use of "Scythian" in the West. 

The consolidation of China was a very serious matter for 
these Hunnish peoples. Hitherto their overflow of population 
had gone adventuring southward into the disorders of divided 
China as water goes into a sponge. Now they found a wall 
built against them, a firm government, and disciplined armies 
cutting them off from the grass plains. And though the wall 
held them back, it did not hold back the Chinese. They were 
increasing and multiplying through these centuries of peace, 
and as they increased and multiplied, they spread steadily with 
house and plough wherever the soil permitted. They spread 
westward into Tibet and northward and north-westwardly, per- 
haps to the edge of the Gobi desert. They spread into the homes 
and pasturing and hunting-grounds of the Hunnish nomads, 
exactly as the white people of the United States spread west- 
ward into the hunting-grounds of the Red Indians. And in 


spite of raid and massacre, they were just as invincible because 
they had the pressure of numbers and a strong avenging gov- 
ernment behind them. Even without the latter support the 
cultivating civilization of China has enormous powers of 
permeation and extension. It has spread slowly and continu- 
ously for three thousand years. It is spreading in Manchuria 
and Siberia to-day. It roots deeply where it spreads. 

Partly the Huns were civilized and assimilated by the Chi- 
nese. The more northerly Huns were checked and their super- 
abundant energies were turned westward. The southern Huns 
were merged into the imperial population. 

If the reader will examine the map of Central Asia, he will 
see that very great mountain barriers separate the Southern, 
Western, and Eastern peoples of Asia. (But he should be 
wary of forming his ideas from a map upon Mercator's projec- 
tion, which enormously exaggerates the areas and distances of 
Northern Asia and Siberia.) He will find that from the cen- 
tral mountain masses three great mountain systems radiate east- 
ward ; the Himalayas going south-eastward, south of Tibet, the 
Kuen Lun eastward, north of Tibet, and the Thien Shan north- 
eastward to join the Altai mountains. Further to the north is 
the great plain, still steadily thawing and drying. Between 
the Thien Shan and the Kuen Lun is an area, the Tarim Basin 
(= roughly Eastern Turkestan), of rivers that never reach 
the sea, but end in swamps and intermittent lakes. This basin 
was much more fertile in the past than it is now. The moun- 
tain barrier to the west of this Tarim Basin is high, but not 
forbidding; there are many practicable routes downward into 
Western Turkestan, and it is possible to travel either along the 
northern foothills of the Kuen Lun or by the Tarim valley 
westward from China to Kashgar (where the roads converge), 
and so over the mountains to Kokand, Samarkand, and Bok- 
hara. Here then is the natural meeting-place in history of 
Aryan and Mongolian. Here or round by the sea. 

We have already noted how Alexander the Great came to 
one side of the barrier in 329 B.C. High among the mountains 
of Turkestan a lake preserves his name. Indeed, so living is 
the tradition of his great raid, that almost any stone ruin in 
Central Asia is still ascribed to "Iskander." After this brief 
glimpse, the light of history upon this region fades again, and 
when it becomes bright once more it is on the eastern and not 


upon the western side. Far away to the east Shi Hwang-ti had 
routed the Huns and walled them out of China proper. A por- 
tion of these people remained in the north of China, a remnant 
which was destined to amalgamate with Chinese life under the 
Hans, but a considerable section had turned westward and 
(second and first centuries B.C.) driven before them a kindred 
people called the Yueh-Chi, driving them from the eastern to 
the western extremity of the Kuen Lun, and at last right over 
the barrier into the once Aryan region of Western Turkestan. 1 
These Yueh-Chi conquered the slightly Hellenized kingdom of 
Bactria, and mixed with Aryan people there. Later on these 
Yueh-Chi became, or were merged with Aryan elements into, a 
people called the Indo-Scythians, who went on down the Khyber 
Pass and conquered northern portions of India as far as Benares 
(100-150 A.D.), wiping out the last vestiges of Hellenic rule 
in India. This big splash over of the Mongolian races west- 
ward was probably not the first of such splashes, but it is the 
first recorded splash. In the rear of the Yueh-Chi were the 
Huns, and in the rear of the Huns and turning them now north- 
ward was the vigorous Han Dynasty of China. In the reign 
of the greatest of the Han monarchs, Wu-Ti (140-86 B.C.), the 
Huns had been driven northward out of the whole of Eastern 
Turkestan or subjugated, the Tarim Basin swarmed with Chi- 
nese settlers, and caravans were going over westward with 
silk and lacquer and jade to trade for the gold and silver of 
Armenia and Rome. 

The splash over of the Yueh-Chi is recorded, but it is fairly 
evident that much westward movement of sections of the Hun- 
nish peoples is not recorded. From 200 B.C. to 200 A.D. the 
Cninese Empire maintained a hard, resolute, advancing front 
towards nomadism, and the surplus of the nomads drifted 
steadily west. There was no such settling down behind a final 
frontier on the part of the Chinese as we see in the case of the 
Romans at the Rhine and Danube. The drift of the nomads 
before this Chinese thrust, century by century, turned south- 
ward at first towards Bactria. The Parthians of the first cen- 
tury B.C. probably mingled Scythian and MongoliaH elements. 
The "singing arrows" that destroyed the army of Crassus came, 

'Even in Eastern Turkestan there are still strong evidences of Nordic 
blood in the physiognomy of the people. EIJa and Percy Sykes, Through 
Deserts and Oases of Central Asia. 


it would seem, originally from the Altai and the Thien Shan. 
After the first century B.C. the line of greater attraction and 
least resistance lay for a time towards the north of the Caspian. 
In a century or so all the country known as Western Turkestan 
was "Mongolized," and so it remains to this day. A second 
great thrust by China began about 75 A.D., and accelerated the 
westward drift of the nomads. In 102, Pan Chau, a Chinese 
general, was sending explorers from his advanced camp upon 
the Caspian (or, as some authorities say, the Persian Gulf) 
to learn particulars of the Roman power. But their reports 
decided him not to proceed. 

By the first century A.D. nomadic Mongolian peoples were 
in evidence upon the eastern boundaries of Europe, already 
greatly mixed with Nordic nomads and with uprooted Nordic 
elements from the Caspian-Pamir region. There were Hunnish 
peoples established between the Caspian Sea and the Urals. 
West of them were the Alans, probably also a Mongolian peo- 
ple with Nordic elements; they had fought against Pompey 
the Great when he was in Armenia in 65 B.C. These were as 
yet the furthest westward peoples of the new Mongolian ad- 
vance, and they made no further westward push until the fourth 
century A.D. To the north-west the Finns, a Mongolian people, 
had long been established as far west as the Baltic. 

West of the Huns, beyond the Don, there were purely Nordic 
tribes, the Goths. These Goths had spread south-eastward 
from their region of origin in Scandinavia. They were a Teu- 
tonic people, and we have already marked them crossing the 
Baltic in the map we have given of the earlier distribution of 
the Aryan-speaking people. These Goths continued to move 
south-eastward across Russia, using the rivers and never for- 
getting their Baltic watercraft. No doubt they assimilated 
much Scythian population as they spread down to the Black 
Sea. In the first century A.D. they were in two main divisions, 
the Ostrogoths, the east Goths, who were between the Don and 
the Dnieper, and the Visigoths, or west Goths, west of the 
Dnieper. During the first century there was quiescence over 
the great plains, but population was accumulating and the tribes 
were fermenting. The second and third centuries seem to have 
been a phase of comparatively moist seasons and abundant 
grass. Presently in the fourth and fifth centuries the weather 



grew drier and the grass became scanty and the nomads stirred 

But it is interesting to note that in the opening century of 
the Christian era, the Chinese Empire was strong enough to 
expel and push off from itself the surplus of this Mongolian 
nomadism to the north of it which presently conquered North 
India and gathered force and mingled with Aryan nomadism, 
and fell at last like an avalanche upon the weak-backed Roman 

Before we go on to tell of the blows that now began to fall 
upon the Roman Empire and of the efforts of one or two great 
men to arrest the collapse, we may say a few words about the 
habits and quality of these westward-drifting barbaric Mon- 
golian peoples who were now spreading from the limits of 
China towards the Black and Baltic Seas. It is still the Euro- 
pean custom to follow the lead of the Roman writers and write 
of these Huns and their associates as of something incredibly 
destructive and cruel. But such accounts as we have from the 
Romans were written in periods of panic, and the Roman could 
lie about his enemies with a freedom and vigour that must 
arouse the envy even of the modern propagandist. He could 
talk of "Punic faith" as a byword for perfidy while committing 
the most abominable treacheries against Carthage, and his rail- 
ing accusations of systematic cruelty against this people or 
that were usually the prelude and excuse for some frightful 
massacre or enslavement or robbery on his own part. He had 
quite a modern passion for self-justification. We must remem- 
ber that these accounts of the savagery and frightfulness of 
the Huns came from a people whose chief amusement was 
gladiatorial shows, and whose chief method of dealing with in- 
surrection and sedition was nailing the offender to a cross to 
die. From first to last the Roman Empire must have killed 
hundreds of thousands of men in that way. A large portion 
of the population of this empire that could complain of the 
barbarism of its assailants consisted of slaves subject prac- 
tically to almost any lust or ca