Nibley - The Ancient State - The Rulers and the Ruled (1991).pdf 1.88 MB

by user

Category: Documents





Nibley - The Ancient State - The Rulers and the Ruled (1991).pdf 1.88 MB
The Rulers and the Ruled
Hugh Nibley
(c) 1991 by Deseret Book
Table of Figures
Key to Abbreviations
1. The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State
2. Tenting, Toll, and Taxing
3. The Hierocentric State
4. Sparsiones
5. The Unsolved Loyalty Problem: Our Western Heritage
6. Victoriosa Loquacitas: The Rise of Rhetoric and the Decline of Everything Else
7. How to Have a Quiet Campus, Antique Style
8. New Light on Scaliger
9. Three Shrines: Mantic, Sophic, and Sophistic
10. Paths That Stray: Some Notes on Sophic and Mantic
Illustration Sources
Table of Figures
1. Marked arrows of the four quarters, Zuñi Indians of New Mexico, c. 1900. Usually the only
color used was a somber black painted on the wooden shaft, but sometimes the color of the
respective direction was used as well. In more finished arrows, the tail feathers were notched and
tufted to correspond with the bands, serving as mnemonic reminders of the creation myths.
C 2. The earliest surviving fasces, c.600 B.C., is this Etruscan votive model of
iron (A) showing Eastern influence in its use of the labrys, the double-axe of Crete. This venerable
symbol was later adopted by the Romans, who modified it by using their own securis axe first as a
sign of sacrifice and then later of war and capital punishment. On a coin of C. Norbanus (B), 83
B.C., the consular fasces is flanked by a wheat kernel and the snaked-headed caduceus. Our own
dime of 1916 (C) was popular until the symbol was tarnished by the Fascist movement. Here the
arrow shaft comes full circuit, fulfilling its destiny as the ultimate embodiment of power.
C 3. From the famous Han dynasty tombs at Ma Wang Tui, 174-145 B.C., come
these examples of a bamboo "book" (B) listing a tomb inventory as well as a bundle of notched
peach wood sticks (A). An archaic custom even then, each stick represented the individual servant
who accompanied his mistress into the next life. Today, patients wishing to divine the god of
medicine's prescription consult the tsien tung (C) by shaking the quiver-shaped bamboo container
until one of the inscribed sticks "jumps" out.
B 4. The gold-covered portable canopy and furniture of Queen Hetepheres (A) enable
us to see the refined taste of Old Kingdom art, c. 2500 B.C. The same kind of elegant columns
were used centuries later by Thutmose III in his Festival Hall (B) at Karnak, c.1440 B.C., where he
described it as a great ritual tent built to last millions of years.
5. Long before Islam, each Bedouin tribe had its own portable shrine, the focus
of its spiritual life, A dome-shaped shrine (A) rides atop a camel on this stone relief from the
Temple of Bel, Palmyra, Syria, A.D.32. Note the women's full-body veil, a practice still being
debated in the Islamic world. The mahmal camel shrine (B) persisted into the later pilgrimages to
mecca, as shown in this festive manuscript illumination from Baghdad, A.D. 1237. This Egyptian
version of the mahmal (C), destined for Mecca, is shown in an English engraving, c. 1880. The
custom lasted until 1952, when it was abolished as being idolatrous.
H 6. From the earliest example of the wheeled
vehicle in Egypt (A) to its present-day descendant (H), the persistence of these sacred wheeled
boats with their carrying poles demonstrates the critical importance of being able to move across
all types of terrain, both in this life and the next. (A) Funeral sledge on wheels, c. 1700 B.C. (B)
Model barge on wheels, c. 1554-1529 B.C. (C) Funeral wagon, c. 350-300 B.C. Discovered in
Gaza, Israel, a Jewish silver coin (D) of 450-300 B.C. shows a seated figure on a winged, wheeled
throne, a reminder that the throne of God is commonly called the merkabah, wagon or boat, in
Jewish literature. Made under Greek influence, it resembles Dionysius on his winged, wheeled
throne (E) from a Greek vase of 500-400 B.C. Thus the immovable throne of God moves forward
on wheels, as also shown by the Ark of the Covenant on an oxcart (F), Dura Europos Synagogue,
Iraq, c. A.D. 250, as well as the throne of Christ pulled by the beasts of the four quarters (G), apse
painting, Bawit, Egypt, c. A.D. 500-600. (H) Ship-wagon procession in honor of an Islamic saint,
Luxor, Egypt, 1960.
7. With the winged symbol of Ahura Mazda protecting them from above,
Darius sits enthroned with his heir Xerxes standing behind him under a large canopy of tasseled
netting (A). Though apperaring majestically immovable, the kings are being carried forward by
twenty-eight representatives of the Empire supporting a large platform whose feet are carefully
carved to show that it is lifted up off the ground. (A) Palace doorway, Persepolis, c. 500 B.C. This
motif is also used on the five royal tombs nearby (B). In this recently descovered chariot tomb of a
Germanic chieftain (C), 600-550 B.C., a unique bronze couch served him in death as it had in life.
Thought to have been imported from the south, it is supported by eight lady unicyclists (D) lifting
and carrying the king forward as did their Persian counterparts.
B 8. Along with the many replicas of famous places he had seen on his travels, Hadrian
also built uniquely personal stuctures such as the so-called Maritime Theatre at Tivoli, A.D.
117-138. It was actually a private retreat for the Emperor, where he could seal himself off from the
world by pulling in the two-part pivoted bridges after him. Of course, this flight to the center of a
circular island was more symbolic than real, but it demonstrated his understandable desire to
escape from his world.
C 9. Like the famous Roman castra of later centuries, this Assyrian royal camp
(A) has two intersecting avenues dividing it into quadrants with scenes of sacrificing and cooking.
Even the king's horses have their own elaborate tent as preserved on a stone relief from the
throne room of Assurnasirpal II, Nimrod, Iraq, 883- 859 B.C. Millennia later the same ideal
geometry demands that the sacred city of the Jews and Christians must also be perfectly encircled
by battlements, as depicted in this Icelandic map (B), A.D. 1200-1300. It ignores the actual shape
of the outer walls of Jerusalem but accurately depicts its streets in the cardinal directions (C).
10. An 1880 eyewitness sketch of one of the imperial ceremonies at the circular marble
terraces of the Alter of Heaven, Peking. Officials of the Manchu government have erected a
square canopy over wooden tablets representing the ancestors of the Ch'ing Dynasty. It is on this
same sacred center that the Emperor stands at the solstices in his role as the Son of Heaven. In
the distance, at the other end of the sacred axis, is the oft-photographed Hall of Abundant
Harvests with its encircling twelve columns and three-tiered roof.
E 11. This two-storied royal wagon throne shows the Persian king
seated on his couch with the crescent moon on his shoulders as well as below him on this
Sassanian silver plate (A), c. A.D. 300 The cherubs on either side lead the four leaping zebu
upward, identifying the king lumbering along in his wagon with the divine movement of the
heavens. In the same way, a statue of a deceased Roman emperor in a wheeled temple is pulled
by four elephants in a procession commemorating his deification, as shown by the welcoming
reception of the gods above, on this ivory panel (B), A.D. 425-450. The popularity of this circus
parade is shown by the abundance of commemorative coins: (C) brass coin of Faustina Antonini,
(D) sertertius of Titus, (E) coin of Domitian.
12. "Measuring once the breadth between the wheel-ruts of one of their carts, I found it to be
twenty feet over: I counted twenty-two oxen in one team, the axletree of the cart was of huge size,
like the mast of a ship. And a fellow stood in the door of the house, upon the forestall of the cart,
driving the oxen." -- William of Rubruck, c. 1250. In the Background, we can see the various
stages of erecting the traditional yurt, still used today, from the placing of the sacred wheel frame
of the smoke-hole, to the lattice supports of the felt pieces that form the tent itself. All of the work
is done by women, of course.
B 13. On one of the finest congiaria to survive (A), Trajan is shown enthroned with his
deputy seated before him giving handouts. Behind the deputy stands the figure of Liberalitas
holding a tessera The man climbing the ladder represents the people receiving the Imperial
donatives for the third time, as declared by the inscription. We see the curtains of the stagelike
aedicula drawn back, revealing zantine splendor, c. A.D. 350. He is seated on a odd-looking
throne and is showering gold coins with his right hand to the people below.
14. As stepfather of the renowned beauty Nefertiti, Ay enjoyed Pharaoh Akhenaton's
confidence as shown by his titles -- Bearer of the Fan, Master of the Horse, Father of the God
(Father-in-law of the King) as recorded in his tomb at Tel el- Amarna, c. 1350 B.C. He and his wife
Tyi are shown reverently catching the wide variety of gifts being thown to them by the entire royal
family amidst exuberant dancing and rejoicing by the assembled court. Among the usual golden
necklaces we see vases, signet rings, and the earliest-known depiction of gloves, painted red. To
commemorate such an unusual gift, he had himself shown outside the palace showing them off to
his admiring friends (inset).
15. The praefect of the Annonae, his wife, and two children are interspersed with the smaller
figures representing the four seasons -- the full circle of the Annus, or year. Both father and son
make the gesture of speaking.
16. Byzantine sailors squirt Greek fire from bronze syringes in a manusdript illustration of the
tenth century.
D 17. The visual arts of the period recorded the pervasive influence of
rhetoric by its recognized symbol, the upraised two fingers of the right hand. On an ivory panel (A),
c. A.D. 400, a Roman judge dictates the law to his secretaries while acclaimed by two men below,
all three making the oratorical gesture. It was also used by masked actors (B), as in manuscript
Terence, c. A.D. 300, as well as by worshipers of the Eastern god Sabazios (C), who sits making
the sign on a bronze hand in the same position, c. A.D. 200-400. Christian sculptors merely
continued long tradition when they depicted Christ delivering the Sermon on the Mount (D) in this
sarchophagus fragment, c. S.D. 300. The Lord is represented giving the Divine Law, dressed as a
Greek philosopher, making the gesture that will later become known as the benedictio latina.
18. Portrait of Joseph Scaliger
Key to Abbreviations
HZ Historische Zeitschrift
JAOS Journal of the American Oriental Society
JEA Journal of Egyptian Archaeology
JQR Jewish Quarterly Review
PG J.-P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus . . .
Series Graeca (Paris: Migne, 1857-66), 161 vols.
PL J.-P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus . . .
Series Latina/Rom (Paris: Migne, 1844-64), 221 vols.
PO François Nau and René Graffin, eds., Patrologia
Orientalis (Paris: Librairie de Paris, Firmin-Didot,
1903- )
PT Pyramid Text
RE Pauly-Wissowa, Realenzyklopädie der classischen
Altertumswissenschaft (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1894-1972)
RHR Revue de l'histoire des religions
The essays in this volume represent a very significant part of Hugh Nibley's scholarly
corpus. Most of the papers were previously published in academic journals, including
Classical Journal, Western Political Quarterly, and Western Speech, from the early forties
until the midsixties. The only essays in this volume not previously published are "The
Sophic and Mantic," originally a series of lectures delivered in 1963 at Yale University, and
"Paths That Stray," drafted at about the same time.
The topics of these essays range widely: the role of various objects -- the arrow and the tent,
for example -- in archaic state formation; the political ideology and religious and educational
values of ancient states; notes on Joseph Justus Scaliger, one of the outstanding scholars of
the seventeenth -- or any other -- century. The theme -- at root deeply religious in nature -that pervades most of these essays is the power and pretensions of the ancient state. If the
phrase "The Greatest Show on Earth" had not already been preempted and registered as a
trademark by Barnum and Bailey, it would served as an appropriate subtitle to this volume,
since it focuses on a central insight of these essays: however compelling and attractive the
educational values, the royal ideology, and the symbols and artifacts of the state in antiquity
(or in more recent times, for that matter), they represent, at root, a vast fraud -- an endless
and shameless effort at personal and national self-aggrandizement. Statecraft, as it has
generally been practiced, is merely priestcraft in another guise.
There is a legitimate "kingdom," Professor Nibley would remind us, but it is not one that
seeks power in this world. As he notes in "The Hierocentric State," apostolic Christianity
"was keenly conscious of all the imagery of hierocentric rule and ritual and, above all, of the
contrast of the two kingdoms. The Apostles . . . tell us, it is true, that there is a universal
throne -- but it is not on this earth. The devil is the `Prince of this World,' which is no place
for the children of the kingdom -- they sojourn here as pilgrims and as strangers. . . . Our
heritage and kingdom lie beyond: `here we have no abiding kingdom.' " At the center of this
divinely sanctioned kingdom, reflecting in its features a heavenly model, is the temple. Like
the hierocentric state, the temple (the subject of several of Nibley's essays elsewhere in the
Collected Works) is "oriented about a point believed to be the exact center and pivot" of the
cosmos. Further, in many ancient states the tent is inextricably connected with the temple. In
a dozen other ways, features of the ancient state are like those of the temple. In one crucial
respect, however, they differ: the former focuses on the kingdom of this world, while the
latter, though constructed on earth, demands loyalty to a kingdom "not of this world."
Nibley's breathtaking erudition -- reminiscent of the polymathic tradition of scholarship
represented by "the great Joseph Justus Scaliger," as he is fond of calling him -- can be seen
throughout this volume. By turns, he treats the sparsio, a subtle though important feature of
Roman religion (reminding us that Dr. Nibley's early university training was in the Classics
and Ancient History); the arrow, a cultural artifact found in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia,
as well as among ancient Indo-European peoples and the Indians of North America; and the
impact of the rise of rhetoric in the Greco-Roman world and in the ancient Near East.
The essays in this volume reflect Nibley's deep and abiding interest in -- may we even say
passion for? -- the origins of ideas and institutions. In his "Intellectual Autobiography" in
Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless (1978), Nibley writes that, finding English to be
derivative, he "took to Old English to find what was behind it; what was behind it was Latin,
and what was behind that was Greek. In those days we thought that you had reached the
beginning of everything with the Greeks" (p. xx). Soon, however, he came to understand that
"if you really want to get back of reality, science is the thing; and, as Popper assures us, all
science is cosmology: I became a passionate amateur astronomer." Then he discovered that,
while "everybody wanted to be a scientist," few paid attention to "the records of the race."
And so he abandoned the laboratory for the stacks. We can be glad for that decision, since
this book -- and the others in the Collected Works -- are its fruit. Several of these essays
reflect Nibley's quest for origins: he studies the arrow and the tent as two primary artifacts in
ancient state formation; he examines the oldest ideologies of the state (which reflect
conflicts that, as he states, "already exist[ed] in the premortal sphere"); and he investigates
ancient values in learning and education and their subsequent corruption by the Sophists,
who emphasized form over substance and denied the prophetic, providing a prologue to and
explanation for the educational -- and spiritual -- crisis of our own age.
Despite the book's title, these essays are in fact often highly pertinent to our own time.
Astute readers will recognize in these essays many now-familiar themes of Nibley's
trenchant social commentaries. The foibles of our age are nothing new, repeating what has
been done in other eras. For example, "The Unsolved Loyalty Problem," which deals with
loyalty and loyalty oaths in antiquity, was originally written at the time of the McCarthy
hearings in the early 1950s but raises soul-wrenching questions just as relevant today as they
ever were. "How to Have a Quiet Campus, Antique Style," was composed on the occasion of
a visit of a former vice-president to the campus of Brigham Young University, whom Nibley
calls "an authentic Rhetor -- Greek, political, ostentatious, and not overly scrupulous." This
essay, as well as "Victoriosa Loquacitas," "The Sophic and Mantic," and "Paths That Stray,"
speak to our own educational and spiritual malaise as much as to that in the ancient world.
As I read "Sparsiones," where Nibley calls the sparsio "the authentic heritage of the Golden
Age, the sublime economy of which remains throughout antiquity, and indeed in religious
ideology down to the very present," I am reminded of themes developed in some of his
essays on current social and religious issues in Approaching Zion (volume 9 of the Collected
Works), such as "Work We Must, But the Lunch Is Free." The sparsio may be a
manifestation, in a Greco-Roman context, of the "lunch" offered by God that is out of all
proportion to man's own effort and contribution. All of this brings us back to the profound,
implicit message of these essays: wealth, learning (and its imitations), technology, and
assertions of divinely bestowed authority give a false sense of security that are no substitute
for the Gospel.
Some scholars write with the grace of an elephant. It is one of Nibley's virtues to have a
prose style that is both strong and vigorous, while at the same time direct and without
affectation -- something we would expect, given his strong antipathy to the many seductions
of rhetoric. Reading him is a constant pleasure, even where the argument is subtle or a page
studded with details. To benefit most fully from reading Nibley, one must be like a cup,
ready to be filled to the brim, and then some. Reading some of these essays may require
some effort, but that effort is invariably well rewarded.
We wish to express our thanks to those who have contributed to the production of this
volume. Contributors include Glen Cooper, James Fleugel, John Gee, Fran Hafen, Andrew
Hedges, Adam Lamoreaux, Brent McNeely, Tyler Moulton, Phyllis Nibley, Art Pollard,
Shirley Ricks, Mark Simons, Morgan Tanner, James Tredway, John Welch, and the staff at
Deseret Book, particularly Suzanne Brady, Shauna Gibby, and Patricia J. Parkinson. Special
thanks are due to Michael Lyon, who provided the illustrations for this volume.
Stephen D. Ricks
Chapter 1
The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State
In the study of ancient statecraft one is constantly running across references to a gadget that
seems so minor and so mechanical that its great importance is easily overlooked as a key to
the nature and origin of empire. It is the contention of this paper that the marked arrow
supplies decisive evidence for describing the process by which hunters were able to impose a
system of government on the world. The marked arrow not only supports the growing
suspicion that the peasant societies of the great river valleys became conquering empires by
virtue of a discipline forced on them from without, 1 but goes on to show how such a
transformation could take place. Whereas only farmers possess the industry and stability
necessary to sustain a great state, the marked arrow indicates that it was nomad hunters of
the steppe, with their expansive and aggressive ways, who first brought such a state into
existence. Both elements, expansion and stability, must be combined if real empire -- not a
mere adding of fields to fields on the one hand, or the quick plunder of a continent on the
other, but a program and technique of permanent, universal rule -- is to be achieved.
The present study undertakes to show how, by using marked arrows in a peculiar way,
prehistoric hunters solved the problem of exercising dominion over vast and scattered areas
and then applied the same solution to the more difficult problem of welding peasant and
nomad cultures into some sort of union, resulting in the great centralized state of historic
times. Three basic questions only will be treated: what the marked arrow was, how it worked
in exercising its control over the closely knit and widely ranging tribes of the steppes, and
how those tribes used it to coerce the unwilling tillers of the soil to cooperate in bringing
forth the great state.
Modern observers have described how the native hunters of the northwestern coasts of
America secure their harpoons and arrows by putting marks of identification on them, thus
guaranteeing both the return of the weapon to its owner and the right of the latter to possess
the game it has slain.2 In this as in other things these people have preserved the ways of that
Magdalenian hunting culture of which their own has long been held to be the last direct
survival.3 From the same venerable source are descended the marked arrows formerly found
all along the northern steppe of Asia and among those Scandinavian bear -- and whale -hunters who in ancient as in modern times placed their legally registered marks on hunting
arrows and harpoons (which they also called "arrows") to insure their return to their owners
and lawful possession of the kill.4 This practice of marking arrows was once general among
the American Indians5 and still survives among primitive hunters in various parts of the
world.6 Indeed, nothing could be more natural than to put some mark of identification on a
highly prized object designed to be risked in the gamble of the hunt.
But the mark upon the hunter's arrow is more than a mere identification tag; it is a high and
holy object, sharing the "immortal power" of the arrow itself. An arrow in flight is an
awe-inspiring thing: once released (so many a proverb proclaims) the arrow is beyond
human control and finds its mark only by the workings of imponderable fate. Throughout the
world the arrow is a prime instrument of divination and enjoys first place in primitive games
of chance;7 it is the spirit weapon that alone can prevail against the demons or pass through
the absolute void between other worlds and our own.8 The incredible range and accuracy of
the primitive arrow that so astound the civilized observer are proof to the savage himself of
the operation of a supernatural power, as is evident in the prayers that the legendary heroes
of the steppe -- Finnish, Norse, Russian, Kazakh, Turkish, and Yakut -- address to their three
enchanted arrows before releasing them,9 and, for instance, in the arrow-prayers of the
Indian and the Bedouin,10 all eloquently expressing the humility of men about to entrust
their lives and their fate to a power beyond their control.
The problem of the hunter is to enlist this strange power in his own interest. This requires
recourse to the ingenious economy of the hunting-fetish, that go-between without whose aid
a man can neither prevail against the game he chases nor enjoy lawful possession of it once
taken.11 Among a variety of fetishes that achieves these ends, the mark placed upon a shaft
is particularly useful, for not only does it establish legal claim to the kill, but it is "the soul of
the arrow," directing the missile to its prey and endowing it with superhuman force.12 Both
for identification and as hunting magic the sign on an arrow is a preeminently practical
thing; it gets and it proves possession -- a point on which hunters are extremely sensitive.
Out of sight and beyond the hills, the smitten quarry is still the sacred property of him whose
mark adorns the fatal arrow: why shouldn't such a useful claim to ownership apply to other
things as well? By sticking his arrow in the ground beside any object, the Vedda claims that
object as his own. A natural transition carries the authority of the marked arrow into a wider
economy of human affairs.
Throughout the ancient world a ruler was thought to command everything his arrow could
touch. Thus, whenever a ruler of the North would summon all his subjects to his presence, he
would order an arrow, usually called a "war-arrow" (herör) to be "cut up" and sent out
among them. Upon being touched by this arrow, every man had immediately to "follow the
arrow" (fylgja örum) to the royal presence or suffer banishment from the kingdom.13 The
arrow itself, in fact, was thought to pursue the wretch who failed to heed the king's behest.14
The "cutting" of the arrow was the placing of the royal mark upon it, giving it the force of
the king's seal.15 As often as not the arrow took the form of a simple rod (stefni), bearing
marks of authorization while the message was delivered by word of mouth, a technique
recalling that of Australian and some American primitives in sending their message-sticks.
The summons-arrow is common to the whole northern steppe, where exceedingly archaic
forms of it are to be found and where it has survived until recent times.17 Both as war-arrow
and invitation stick (depending on whether it is rejected or accepted) it appears among the
American Indians, especially of the Northwest.18 But its most significant occurrence is
found in altered but easily recognizable forms in the classical civilizations of the Old World.
The herald of Zeus goes forth to summon his subjects, armed with a golden wand that
subdues all creatures with its touch. Hermes got this staff originally from Apollo, who
brought it with him as an arrow from the land of the Hyperboreans, somewhere in the
northern steppe.19 Hermes' specialty is rushing through the air by means of his
messenger-staff, the caduceus, which is winged at one end like an arrow and pointed at the
other; holding to this the god is able to fly through space, to the upper and lower worlds if
need be, exactly as Abaris, the Hyperborean shaman, flies over all the earth as Apollo's
emissary when he grasps the arrow that the god has given him as a sign of his authority.20 It
is not necessary to multiply parallels to show that in the earliest stratum of Greek legend we
have a typical summons-arrow, wending its way from the far north to impose law and
civilization on the world in the name of Zeus.21 The first message of Rome to Carthage was
a symbolic caduceus and javelin (hastae simulacrum) inviting the Carthaginians to submit or
be subdued by force.22
In Israel the Lord, calling upon a city to declare its allegiance to him, sends his rod to it, and
a herald (a man of tushiah), seeing the name on the rod, calls out to the people: "Hear ye the
rod, and who hath appointed it" (Micah 6:9). That this rod was an arrow will presently
become apparent.23
An impressive demonstration of the authority of the summons-arrow is the early and
widespread rite of the four world-arrows. The Olaf-Tryggvason Saga states a number of
times24 that summons-arrows were sent "in the four directions." For the oldest and greatest
festival of India, the Asvamedha, the king must send messengers in the four directions to
order "all who have been conquered by his arrows" to appear before him. The common use
of the summons-arrow in Aryan India makes the meaning of the rite clear.25 At the creation
of the world, according to Zuñi doctrine, four marked arrows, "the word-painted arrows of
destiny," were carried "to the regions of men, four in number" (cf. fig. 1), an event
resembling a yearly ritual of the Kwakiutls of the Northwest.26 A variant of this is the
shooting of arrows in the four directions, as in the Ghost-dance of the Sioux, where four
sacred arrows were shot into the air towards the cardinal points to symbolize the conquest of
the earth by the tribe.27 A like practice is attributed in Jewish legend to the Emperor Titus
and to Nimrod who, from Jerusalem and Babel respectively, shot arrows in the four
directions and claimed dominion over all that lay within their range.28 The rite appears also
in Indo-Iranian creation myths and in the Sumerian story of Adad and the Zu-bird.29 In the
Old World and the New it is also common to depict the swastika with its four arms formed of
marked arrows -- plainly the four world-arrows.
Related to the world-arrows is the worldwide practice of making a sanctuary by marking off
an area on the ground with the point of an arrow, dividing it into four sections by a cross
with its arms to the cardinal points.30 The Germanic custom of claiming land by shooting a
fiery arrow over it31 may be related to the oldest measurement in India, which was the range
of a throwing-stick, or "measurement by arrow-casts," later supplanted by measurement in
bow-lengths.32 The apportionment of land by the drawing of arrow-lots was common to the
Assyrians and the ancient Norse (whence the expression "lot and scot")33 and recalls the
common medieval custom of transferring the ownership of land baculi more, by the
conveyance of a staff or arrow.34 A marked arrow passed among the guests at a royal
banquet in the North announced the transmission of a man's estate to his heir.35
The ancient and universal concept that God governs the universe and keeps order in it by an
arrow, the swift messenger of his wrath that searches out and blasts any who would
challenge his authority,36 can only have had its rise in a real summons-arrow, for
everywhere this heavenly arrow -- the thunderbolt -- is held to take the tangible actual form
of a prehistoric stone-headed arrow.37 It is the arrow of the summus deus, held on loan by
an earthly king as a gauge of divine support, that everywhere gives the latter his earthly
power and authority, 38 just as the marked arrow of the individual hunter, as a fetish or grant
of supernatural power, gives him might and dominion far beyond his own puny capacity.
The dread offices of the marked arrow were not reserved to kings alone. Throughout the
northern steppe it was the custom to require all who came to the king's assembly to bring
arrows with them and to present them personally to the king. From these arrows a census
was taken, each man submitting but a single shaft, which represented him and bore his mark,
for "both in the Old World and the New, the arrow came to stand as the token and symbol of
a man." 39 To arrows thus used may be applied, for want of a better term, the name
The census-arrow is found among the Scythians,40 Tartars, Persians, Georgians, Norsemen,
and American Indians,41 and it survived in recognizable form in India, Egypt, and the Far
East.42 But like the summons-arrow, it is most frequently met in altered but unmistakable
form among nations that had long given up the hunter's way of life.
One of the oldest Jewish-Christian legends tells how all the men of Israel were required to
attend a great assembly, each bringing his staff, to be handed over to the high priest and used
in a lottery for the distribution of brides.43 In the Qur'anic version of the same story,44 it is
not simply a staff, however, but an arrow that every man must present, and this conforms not
only with the primitive Bedouin usage, but also with the original Jewish custom. For in
Israel it was necessary for every man at a national assembly to be represented by a "rod" with
his name on it (Numbers 17:2); every tribe was a rod as well (Numbers 34:13-29), the tribal
rods being "each one inscribed with the name of the tribe." 45 Now the purpose of these
rods, Gaster has pointed out, was to determine allotments of brides, and the allotment was
performed by throwing rods into the air and reading their message by the manner of their
fall; this, Gaster observes,46 is "tantamount" to the shooting of arrows. It is in fact the
commonest form of arrow divination, and seems to hark back to an older dart, or
throwing-stick, which is commonly identified and interchangeable with the arrow in archaic
divination practices.47 Gaster's interpretation is substantiated when one turns to the northern
steppe to find ancient Scythian, Turkish, Finnish, Mongol, and Ossete tribes regulating their
land- and bride-lotteries by the actual shooting of arrows that were marked, like the rods of
Israel, with the contestants' names. 48 Related practices are found throughout the North.
Thus the winning of Penelope has supplied Homer with a prize nugget, which Finsler has
traced back to the northern steppe.49
The use of all these marked arrows in the making of legal decisions takes us right into the
heliastic courts of the Greeks, where every juror had to present a specially colored wand
(bakteria) for admission, exchanging it for a symbolon, which he would exchange in turn for
his day's subsistence.50 Both the name and the use of the token identify it (as any lexicon
will) with the classical tesserae, or feasting tickets, and the first symbolon, or tessera
hospitalis, on record was the arrow that Apollo gave to Abaris: the scholiast calls this arrow
a symbolon and says that it supplied Abaris with all the food and drink he needed. 51
Another link between the original arrow-token and the classical tesserae is furnished by that
common but enigmatic form of tessera described as a "section of reed."52 For from time
immemorial the Arabs had employed reed arrow-shafts, devoid alike of feathers and heads,
but bearing some marks of individual ownership, "to make division" at their tribal feasts.53
In the Pastor of Hermas,54 all who come to the assembly of the Lord present sections of
willow-reed for admission, each receiving his proper place as designated by certain cuts
(schismata) on his rod. Slips of wood were used also in the North to assign places at
banquets, but these first appear as arrows, with the specification that "every man's arrows
were marked." 55 The red Indian who received an invitation-stick (usually arrow-formed)
was required to keep it and bring it with him as a ticket to the feast.56
Why and how arrows, of all things, came to be used as feasting tickets may be best explained
by an episode from the Orvar-Odds Saga. 57 The text gives an authentic picture58 of a time
when a great hunting culture flourished on the to the east of the Baltic. There is a
tremendous hunt, after which everyone returns to the royal hirthstofa where each guest is
assigned his proper seat. All the game is then brought in and thrown in a heap before the
king (as in the Greek katabolia), who personally examines all the arrows and, as the marking
of each is noted, has his herald give public recognition to its owner for his contribution to
the banquet. The same pleasant rite enlivened the feasts of the heathen Bedouin: Jacob has
pointed out the survival of the arrow-lottery from those tribal meals of the Arabs at which all
the meat was first thrown in a heap and then distributed by portions to each man as his arrow
was drawn and his name called out.59 Various hunting tribes of the Eastern and Western
hemispheres have the same custom,60 whereas the Greek and Roman tesserae follow the
pattern: the tesserae were regarded as lots and distributed by lot, each holder receiving the
right to share in a feast to which he was supposed to have contributed some prize of the hunt.
Marked arrows could, like the Hebrew rods, represent tribes as well as individuals at the
feasts. Each of the fifty-two Tartar tribes in the time of Genghis Khan would bring an arrow
marked with its name to the great assembly, where one man would be chosen king of the
whole nation by a double lottery, first of tribal arrows and then of shafts bearing the names
of individuals belonging to whichever tribe won the first drawing.62 Bundles of fifty-two
rods, bearing individual and tribal markings, also represented the full membership of Indian
tribes in assembly: Culin says these rods were once arrows. 63 Bundles of seven divination
arrows standing for the combined gentes of the Osage 64 recall similar tribal bundles of the
Scythians, Alans, Slavs, and ancient Germans 65 (who also chose their leaders by drawing
willow lots), and these have been compared in turn with the Persian baresma66 and the
Roman fasces (cf. fig. 2), a bundle of twelve rods (the rods of Israel were likewise tied in a
symbolic bundle of twelve),67 standing originally for twelve Etruscan tribes.68 The cosmic
numbers seven, twelve, and fifty-two have astral and divinatory significance and suggest the
modern card deck, which Culin holds is derived from "a quiver made up of the different
arrows of the individuals of a tribe."69 This communal aspect of the marked arrow was
always fundamental to its nature, since arrow-marking was ever as much a bid for public
recognition as for divine support.
The rise of the great state depended, as Moret has recently pointed out, among other things
on the development of writing, by which art alone a ruler can extend his word of command
indefinitely in time and space.70 Such control at a distance was the very function of the
marked arrow, and Hilprecht has given strong arguments for deriving the earliest written
documents, archaic cylinder seals, from "the hollow shaft of an arrow, marked with symbols
and figures." 71 If Hilprecht's theory failed of general acceptance, it was because no one
could see how the arrow fitted into the picture. In view of the uses of the marked arrow by
hunters, however, that should be fairly clear, especially if one considers a few related facts
that may be briefly listed.
1. The earliest gods of writing, Nebo, Cadmus, Hermes, etc., were arrow gods.72
2. Some systems of writing of mysterious origin, such as Ogam,73 Runic, 74 and Himyaritic,
first appear as arrow-marking.
3. In the Far East, according to Culin,75 "the ancestry of the book may be traced to the
bundle of engraved or painted arrow-derived slips used in divination" (cf. fig. 3).
4. The cylinder-seal and the arrow are interchangeable not only as tokens but actually as
weapons (an utterly incongruous equation in itself), the seal serving as an arrow-missile, and
the marked arrow serving as a seal.76
5. The first writing, the first seals, and the marked arrow all spring from the same basic need:
if, as Herzfeld maintains, the idea of property that produced the seals and writing is as old as
humanity itself,77 may we not look for a still older form of property-marking than the
cylinder seal? And is not such a form the marked arrow, which everywhere precedes it and
so strikingly resembles it? That the cylinder seal originated very probably somewhere in the
north of Asia supports the suspicion.78
Whatever its origin, the writing of documents was conceived for the same end as the
marking of arrows, and the two meet on common ground in the archaic cylinder seal; seal
and arrow grew up together, having performed identical functions from the first as
instruments of identification and authority.
Equipped with such an effective tool, the men of the steppes enjoyed a powerful advantage
over the settled agrarians who did not have, because they did not need, anything like it.
Against them it was devastating and achieved a permanent conquest; it was an utterly cynical
form of persuasion to which they had no answer.
The peasants of the Old World tell a remarkably uniform tale of a mad hunter from the North
and East who claimed to rule the world in the insane conviction that he had conquered God
with his arrow. Such a one was the archaic and mysterious Nimrod, the mighty hunter of the
steppes, who shot an arrow into the sky (standard shaman practice)79 and when a shower of
blood ensued believed that he had conquered God and won for himself the universal
kingship. 80 The story is based on a genuine hunting ritual of great antiquity, 81 but the
literary records all chill with horror at the thought of the man who first turned his arrows
from the hunting of beasts to become "a hunter of men," who founded the first great state,
invented organized warfare, and "made all people rebellious against God."82 He it was who
challenged God to a shooting-match with the blasphemous boast, "It is I who kill, and I who
let live!"83 In reply to which his followers were turned to stone by God's arrows, while their
leader was driven mad in the same peculiar manner (by a fly in the brain) as that Roman
Emperor who would destroy God's temple and who shot his arrow in the four directions from
Jerusalem, claiming dominion over the whole world.84
A hundred names might be substituted for that of Nimrod. Japheth, the common ancestor of
the people of the northern steppe (Genesis 10:2-5), as Japetus, challenged the rule of Zeus
and was smitten by the thunderbolt, even as was his son Prometheus, and for that matter all
the other giants. It needs only little research to learn that the crime and the punishment of
Nimrod was repeated in the case of Aesculapius, his father Apollo (the Admetus story), the
Hyperborean Orion, Sisyphus, Salmoneus, the Emperor Julian (who was smitten by St.
Mercurius, the arrow of God), Romulus Silvius, Otos and Ephialtes, Nebuchadnezzar (as
legendary son of Nimrod), Lepreus, Bootes, the Cyclopes, Gog and Magog, Esau, Goliath
and his brother, who had an archery contest with David, 85 Eurotos, Philoctetes, Herakles,
and even Odysseus. 86 The Cannibal Hymn from pre-Dynastic Egypt describes the deceased
Pharaoh as a Mad Hunter who seizes the government of the universe and throws all things
into disorder, just as the equally ancient Vulture Stele describes the great god Ningirsu as "a
beast of prey from the steppe," even while praising him as the author and ruler of all. 87
Folklorists have long identified these terrible hunters of the East with the ubiquitous wild
huntsman, a great lord or lady who will do nothing but hunt, who holds his agrarian hinds in
utter contempt, and publicly announces that he prefers hunting to heaven. Invariably this
monster is in the eyes of the peasantry under a terrible curse, and he usually ends up by
being turned to stone when God's bolt overtakes him.88 Yet his is the rightful rule: "In the
rural life of Europe," write Peake and Fleure, "the waste and hunting rights down to our time
have typically belonged to the 'lords' in a very special and intimate way," and they argue that
this equation of hunting and ruling is the result of prehistoric invasions of Europe by hunting
nomads from the Russo-Turkestan steppe.89 Such a conquest is not a unique event in
history, however, but a characteristic one, as when in the eleventh century Saxon farmers
found themselves saddled with the outrageous hunting laws of an invading Norse
aristocracy.90 It is the monotonous theme of Asiatic history right into the nineteenth century,
when Khazakh, Kalmuk, and Jungar nomads moved in from the east to subject and "govern"
the peasants exactly as they were oppressed and controlled by the Scythians in the days of
The tradition of the Mad Hunter presents the uniform picture of peasant societies enduring
the overlordship of nomad intruders from the perennial reservoirs of central Asia, whose way
of life was utterly abhorrent to them, and to whom their own was quite incomprehensible.92
But may the human race be so neatly divided into men of the steppe and men tilling the soil?
It may indeed, and it is the arrow that does the dividing. Since the bow can be used
effectively only by experts, its general employment ceases whenever hunting is given up as a
way of life, only to be resumed in periods of migration.93 Archery is thus either
all-important or negligible in a culture, and the ancient world is divided sharply into two
camps, those who use the bow and those who do not.94 The division is of course
geographical: when encroaching forests drove the big game out of Europe at the end of the
Paleolithic, the hunters followed their quarry, to preserve on the steppes of Asia a way of life
largely forgotten in their former homelands.95 The resulting cultural dichotomy is a basic
fact of history, since civilization as history knows it is the rather calamitous result of
bringing these two forms together. Here the marked arrow seems to have played a major role.
The civilized people of antiquity had a common tradition that the summus deus at the
beginning of everything won dominion of the universe by smiting a dark adversary with an
arrow.96 As has been seen, God rules the universe by an arrow, and the classic emblems of
authority -- scepter, wand, spear, trident, double axe, crozier, lotus-staff, fleur-de-lis, and so
forth -- may be traced back rather easily to a common identity with the prehistoric
thunderbolt, taking the tangible form of a stone-headed arrow.97 Throughout the vast
reaches of Asia, men were, to use Pliny's expression, "under subjection to the reed." From
the Chinese war-lord in the East to Saladin in the West, the arrow -- a real arrow and a
marked one -- is the ultimate symbol of authority, the banner itself being originally but a
message-strip tied to an arrow. 98
With that arrow go those techniques of empire which no farmers could have invented: even
Rome borrowed her theory and practice of empire whole-cloth from the East, where, so far
as we know, the first man to achieve actual rule of the civilized world was no Egyptian or
Babylonian (though they all dreamed of being Cosmocrator) but Khian, a nomad Hyksos
from the steppes. 99
Symbols of rule and ownership at a lower level were those armorial bearings of the Middle
Ages which, whether copied from the tribal insignia of the East100 or adapted from the
earlier house-marks and landmarks of the West,101 were originally the arrow-marks of
hunters. 102 The aristocracy were hunters, whose arrogant and blasphemous mottoes
(usually proclaiming the bearer's power to maim if offended) and whose weird and unearthly
disguises were designed to inspire paralyzing dread in the simple rustics who by the mere
suspicion of presuming to hunt on their own would incur penalties worse than death.
Whenever the noble strain was threatened with extinction, it could always count on eager
volunteers from the ranks of the bourgeoisie to replenish the blood and maintain the hunting
tradition: add to Froissart's testimony the English glue-manufacturer in his vast, dark
"lodge," or the Russian baron, or the German industrialist of the nineteenth century
diligently cultivating the hunter's way of life in the midst of purely agrarian societies of great
The ways of the hunting nobility with all their social and political implications have been
traced back to the great hunting parks of Asiatic monarchs.103 These "paradises" prove
beyond any doubt that kings must be hunters. The ancients, East and West, visualized power,
glory, and dominion as embodied in the person of the Cosmocrator, earthly counterpart of
the creator, enthroned in the midst of a vast assembly of birds and animals as well as of men
and jinns. The picture of the great king being acclaimed in a single mighty chorus by all
living things assembled before his throne meets us full-blown in Sumerian creation hymns; it
is reflected in accounts of Adam, Yima, Orpheus, Ninurta, and others as Lord of the Animals
and King of the Golden Age; it is a favorite device of the Hellenistic orator and the darling
theme of Jewish and Arabic commentators, whose Solomon sits in the midst of the demons
and animals as ruler of the world; it produced the Physiologus and the Bestiaries and
provides the setting of Reynard the Fox and many a scene in Kalila and Dimna, Babrius, and
Aesop, and it begot the Medieval Parliament of Birds, which is not so far from Aristophanes.
And wherever we are treated to this wonderful spectacle of the world-king and the assembly
of the animals, whether in song, drama, fable, or sermon, it is made to serve as a commentary
on government.104
But the grandiose concept of the universal ruler gathering all the birds and animals in his
presence (the theme of the Reynard and hoopoe stories is that one creature alone fails to
answer the summons) is no mere flight of fancy nor invention of allegory. Eyewitness
accounts of the vast ordered animal parks of the Great Khan, the Mongol emperors at
Peking, and the kings of Persia, Assyria, and Babylonia leave no doubt that the staggering
project was actually carried out as an adjunct of universal rule. 105 The thing was adopted
by the Hellenistic rulers along with their claims to divine authority and copied from them (or
taken over directly from Baghdad) by the Byzantine emperors, who transmitted it in turn to
the kings of Europe -- throne and court everywhere follow the same pattern, which is that of
Solomon enthroned in the midst of men and animals. 106
The royal parks of central Asia (the Chinese call the park the Paradise of the West, and the
Babylonians placed it in the North, cf. Isaiah 14:13-14) were no invention of royal vanity,
for the system of reserving certain areas in which animals are sacrosanct (called by the Arabs
jiwar) is a perfectly practical one. The actual assembly of the animals recalls the great tribal
hunts or animal-drives of the past: al-Biruni has described such a drive taking place in the
immense royal park at Baghdad in the tenth century: it was ritual, of course, but when was
the hunt not a ritual?107 It should be remembered that ritual animal-drives, like the great
dances of the Indians of the Southwest, are aimed at increasing and protecting the game as
well as exploiting it.
But when game is thus protected, and when it is herds of ungulates that one is driving in the
hunt, how close is hunting to herding! Jacob speaks of the tame gazelles that regularly turn
up in the jiwar whenever animals and men meet on a peace footing. Nevertheless, hunting
and not herding is the original motif, though the distinction between them is sometimes very
Though the arrow rules the world, its victory is not final. For over against its claims must be
set the equally valid and venerable claims of the Black-Earth, the Mother of Gods and Men,
inculcating the deep conviction that a man can possess only the earth he "quickens," all other
ownership coming under the head of fraud. To those who work the soil, the holding of more
land than one can exploit is wasteful and meaningless, an offense to God and an affront to
Justice herself.108 The hunter's arrow, on the other hand, marked with his noble "crest,"
gives him, within the limits of a preserve necessarily much vaster than that of any farmer, the
divine right to possess and dominate whatever it can reach. And so the issue is drawn: to
those who held broad lands, baculi more, the arrow was the high and holy symbol of
possession; to those who cultivated those lands it was "looked upon . . . as the appropriate
missile of the robber, or of one who lurked in ambush."109 The antithesis is complete: there
is no understanding between Abraham and Nimrod because each is sure the other is mad.
At present a man's signature performs the offices formerly consigned to his seal and for
which but a few generations back the actual possession of a staff or tally-stick was
indispensable.110 Thus man has taken another step away from the arrow, but that is only
incidental: even the most primitive alteration, the removal of head and feathering, changed
the form of the thing almost beyond recognition. It is the function that remains intact. A
mere mark or symbol still bestows proprietary right, operating through unlimited time and
space, over anything on earth. This is no mere refinement of lawyer's wit, nor is it a universal
human concept: it is rather, as its lineage shows, the hunter's peculiar idea of property and
Since the marked arrow has long since become an antiquarian oddity, it would be wrong to
claim that it still divides the world into two camps as of old. Nevertheless there is no other
teacher that can show so well how our world came to be a perennially divided one. The
marked arrow demonstrates what without it would be a mere surmise: that civilization is the
issue of a forced union between two fundamentally hostile ways of life, a union which
however productive of history has never been a happy one.
This article was originally published in Western Political Quarterly 2/3 (1949):
Chapter 2
Tenting, Toll, and Taxing
Even in the great classic treatises on the state, its image is never without a sinister side. The
combination of unlimited power and limited wisdom can never be a reassuring one, but it is
the actual behavior of sovereign states and princes that is most disturbing. The key to
understanding the behavior of delinquents, we are often told, is an insight into early
background and environment. It is the purpose of this paper to show how the state spent the
most impressionable years of its childhood living as an orphan of the storm in tents of
vagabonds where it acquired many of the habits and attitudes that still condition its
Scene I -- An Open Place: Thunder and Lightning
It was not until early in the present century that H. M. Chadwick pointed out what should
have been obvious to everyone, namely, that epic literature, a large and important segment of
the human record, is the product not of unrestrained poetic fancy but of real years of terror
and gloom through which the entire race has been forced to pass from time to time.1 We now
have good reason to believe, after many years of controversy and discussion, scientific and
otherwise, that the violence of the elements that forms the somber backdrop of the "Epic
Milieu" was more than a literary convention. Many ancient sources recall that after the
waters of the Flood had subsided there came a great "Windflood" which converted large
areas of the world to sandy deserts; A. Haldar considers the Sumerian version of the
Windflood to be "an excellent example of a text describing historical events in terms of
religious language."2 The historical reality is attested by windblown sand deposits from
various and widely separated periods, which can be broadly correlated with some of the
major migrations of peoples. 3
According to S. N. Kramer, "The factors primarily responsible for the more characteristic
features of the Greek, Indian, and Teutonic Heroic Ages" were at work "in the ancient Near
East as a whole" in the earliest recorded times.4 These factors, i.e., a Völkerwanderungszeit
and a general disintegration of civilization, are always accompanied and aggravated if not
caused by violent and prolonged atmospheric disturbances. Wherever we turn, the earliest
records of the race offer the surprisingly uniform portrait of a wandering storm-driven hero
-- a Horus, Enlil, Marduk, Mazda, Zeus, Teshub, Celtic Mercury, or Norse Othinn, to name
but a few -- mounted on his thunder-wagon and leading his toiling hosts across the windy
steppes while the earth trembles and the sky gives forth with appalling electrical displays.5
Biologists today are calling attention to the interesting theory that when man, ages before
any recorded Völkerwanderung, was forced out of whatever tropical paradise his body was
and still is designed to inhabit, it was necessary for him to devise a system of
air-conditioning in order to survive in a hostile alien environment. Within his clothes, as Sir
Dudley Stamp observes, even the Eskimo "is living . . . in the steamy heat of the Amazon
Forest." But the air he breathes must also be tempered, and this is possible only in the
confines of a house which, since its owner must keep moving, is necessarily a portable
house.6 During the crucial migrational phases of their existence, men have had to live in
tents, superbly practical dwellings which, aside from making survival possible, have always
satisfied the two deepest "felt needs" of the race, namely, the yearning for change and
adventure and the equally strong craving for protection and security. The tent of the
migratory chief is, as J. Morgenstern informs us, both the protective palladium of the tribe
and its invitation to journey "through a totally unknown country."7
We have pointed out elsewhere in this volume that the earliest kings or leaders of the people
lived in tents. 8 Pharaoh, who ruled over the least migratory of people, performed every
major function of his ritualized existence in a tent.9 Even the pillars of his palace suggest the
poles of a tent that protects the wanderer by night in a strange land (cf. fig. 4).10 Anu, the
first and highest of Mesopotamian deities, is "the rider of the storms who occupies the dais
nt] of sovereignty." 11 The tent of Moses was a palladium for wandering Israel in "the desert
of darkness." 12 And when the oldest cities were overwhelmed by the great wind, the only
refuge for the Lady Ishtar herself was in the tents of the nomads, which have ever been the
asylum for the outcast and the last redoubt of afflicted humanity under siege by the
elements.13 And if deity and sovereignty dwell in tents, such tents are understandably the
proper place for oracular consultations, solemn counsel, and inspired leadership. 14
The ancient tribal shrines of the Near East known variously as cutfa, markab, mahmal (cf.
fig. 5), qubba, bait, 'aron, tebet, and so forth, all had two characteristics in common: they
were, according to Morgenstern, "all tents or tent-like structures," usually dome-shaped, and
all were mounted on a box-like frame or understructure whose common name of merkab
meant either wagon or ship, and shows that it was meant to provide mobility.15 In an
important study A. Alföldi has recently made it possible for the student to enjoy the
surprising spectacle of great royal tents moving all over the ancient world on their
ceremonial wagons (cf. fig. 12, p. 120),16 while J. Smolian now describes the ritual itinerary
of such vehicula sacra (cf. fig. 6) in Europe and the East as common to both kings and
gods.17 Both studies discuss the cosmic nature of the wheel-borne dome-shaped shrine or
royal baldachin, for paradoxical as it may seem, such symbols of supreme stability as the
throne, temple, holy city, and even sacred world-mountain are often depicted either as
revolving wheels or as mounted and moving on wheels (cf. figs. 7, p. 40, and 11, p. 117).18
Throughout the ancient world divinity and royalty, following the course and example of the
heavenly bodies, moved through the spaces above and below in covered wagons or boats or
in a combination of the two -- the carrus navalis or ship-wagon of the carnival procession.19
Such vehicles were floats, moving through space in a state of suspension between heaven
and earth.20 As the early migrants moved across the empty plains where, as Altheim has
noted, the cleansing winds remove all tracks and landmarks, leaving only the stars as
familiar guide-posts and companions,21 they felt themselves to be moving among the
heavenly bodies, and actually that is what they were doing.22 In ritual and mythology the
distinction between earth-travel and sky-travel often disappears, while the ceaseless play of
lightning in the background is a constant reminder that the tremendous powers of the upper
world are terribly real and not too far away.23
Holy Camp and Holy City
For the nomads the qubba or domed red leather tent of the chief is the qibla by which the
tribe when it camps takes its bearings in space (cf. fig. 5, p. 37), the qubba itself being
oriented with reference to the heavenly bodies.24 For the Asiatics as well as the Romans the
royal tent was a templum or tabernaculum, a sort of sacred observatory, 25 being like the
tabernacle of the camp of Israel and at the same time a kind of planetarium or "model of all
the cosmos."26 The central pole of the tent is commonly identified with the pole of the
heavens,27 and the tent itself with the Weltenmantel or expanse of the firmament;28 other
tent-poles sometimes represent the four cardinal points or the two turning-points of the Sun
at the summer and winter solstices.29 The tent-pole theme is carried over into the pillars of
temples and palaces, and even into the columns of medieval churches and the stately façades
of our own public buildings.30
The orientation of shrines, temples, cities, and countries to represent earthly counterparts of
the cosmos has been the subject of intensive investigation of recent years. The first cities are
now believed to have arisen around sacred shrines, of which the city itself, then the whole
land, and finally the entire earth was thought to be an organic extension.31 It has also
become apparent that the shrine or temple, which in time sought to draw all things into its
orbit, always made its first appearance as a tent.32 The classic example is that portable tent
that sheltered the Ark of the Covenant on its travels, for which Solomon's temple served only
as a sort of temporary resting-place. 33 The archaic ritual tents of the Pharaohs have their
exact counterparts in the cult-huts of the Mandu, which in turn have been shown to be
identical in form and function to the earliest reed-shrines of Mesopotamia as well as to the
oldest Indo-European tent-shrines.34
And if the first temples were tents, the first cities, whether in Asia, Africa, or Europe, were
camps.35 That fact is the key to the whole problem of the Holy City or hierocentric state,
according to Korvin-Krasinski's observation: "The quartered pattern of the world and space
with the cultic shrine in the center as representing a scale-model of the entire creation, is
actually incomparably older than the world capital," having its origin "in the ceremonial
camp," from which the pattern passed over to the city by way of the great Megalithic ritual
complexes.36 We long ago called attention to the ceremonial camps that sprang up around
the great hierocentric shrines during the year-rites, and to the manner in which they gave rise
to certain enduring economic, political, artistic, and religious features of our civilization.37
The most wonderful thing about Jerusalem the Holy City is its mobility: at one time it is
taken up to heaven and at another it descends to earth or even makes a rendezvous with the
earthly Jerusalem at some point in space halfway between.38 In this respect both the city and
the temple are best thought of in terms of a tent, according to Jerome,39 while the Church
itself is also best represented as a tent, at least until the time comes when the saints"will no
longer have to use a movable tent," according to the early Fathers, 40 who get the idea from
the New Testament.41 The Jewish sectaries of the desert referred to the law itself as "the
royal tent,"42 and thought of themselves quite literally as the camp of Israel sharing their
tents with the heavenly hosts. 43 The idea of the heavenly tent or Holy City as a place of
safety suspended above the earth meets us also in the holy mountain and the shrine or city
that stands upon it,44 the holy island of which the circular Atlantis is a type,45 such floating
shrines as Noah's Ark and the moon-boat of the Syrian Goddess,46 and in such mysterious
structures as the Hippodrome, Hadrian's Villa (cf. fig. 8), and the Kacba, all of which were
thought of as floating in their own space remote from contaminating earthly contacts.47 It is
now fairly certain, moreover, that the great temples of the ancients were not designed to be
dwelling-houses of deity but rather stations or landing-places, fitted with inclined ramps,
stairways, passageways, waiting-rooms, elaborate systems of gates, and so forth, for the
convenience of traveling divinities, whose sacred boats and wagons stood ever ready to take
them on their endless junkets from shrine to shrine and from festival to festival through the
cosmic spaces (cf. fig. 6, pp. 38-39).48 The Great Pyramid itself, we are now assured, is the
symbol not of immovable stability but of constant migration and movement between the
worlds;49 and the ziggurats of Mesopotamia, far from being immovable, are reproduced in
the seven-stepped throne of the thundering sky-wagon.50
Tent and City as Survival Outposts
In the oldest records of the race, as Haldar has shown, the desert was a fearful reality, "the
dead-world of the steppe, that began just outside the city wall."51 "The boldness of those
early people who undertook to found permanent settlements in the shifting plains," wrote H.
Frankfort, "had its obverse in anxiety."52 Mowinkel maintains that the very foundation of
religious ritual is man's awareness that "the world of life and blessedness is completely
surrounded by the world of death and damnation, the desert, the wasteland, das E-lend."53
The patch of green won from the desert by the waters of life or the circular clearing in the
forest is a haven of refuge, a shelter and sacred vara in which men and animals seek refuge
from the savage storms and equally savage monsters that range abroad in the vast outer
At the beginning of the second book of his cosmology, al-Kazwini describes the first city as
a sort of survival outpost, set up by determined cooperative effort on an all but uninhabitable
planet. It is like a "space station," hermetically sealed off from the hostile surroundings,
completely self-contained with gardens and pastures included within its protecting walls, and
fully equipped with mosques, markets, baths, and those means of aesthetic and intellectual
fulfillment which keep men from becoming a danger to each other through boredom and
overcrowding.55 More familiar in Oriental literature is the image of the super-palace in its
fortified oasis, whose inhabitants become overconfident in their safety and end their days in
wicked debauchery as the great and spacious building goes down in ruins before the
storm.56 The concept is still with us: "This desire to dwell on a safe little island," writes L.
Vax, "is what we call humanism. It is nothing but the wish to build a city which will shut out
both the sub-human and the super-human." Once safe within the walls we hear "the laugh of
the libertines, . . . meant to give them a feeling of relative security,"57 but in reality an
expression of an inescapable fear of the terrors without.
That it is indeed the externi timor that brings cities into existence and keeps them going is
indicated by what is called "the paradox of the Moslem city," the paradox being that while in
Moslem civilization the city is "the indispensable focal point of all material and spiritual
culture," life within such a city is completely "anorganic and disorganized."58 What
preserves the life of such imperishable communities as Mecca, Damascus, Jerusalem, and so
forth, as Professor Godbey pointed out long ago, is the fact that they never lose their original
significance as shrines and asylums, thanks to the unbroken persistence of the first
conditions under which they were founded, namely the presence of a real and dangerous
wilderness just outside the gates; the holy city is forever a place of refuge in a hostile
The obsessive awareness of constant and lurking danger without, which brought the city into
existence, is no less fundamental in the formation of the state; the transcendent importance
of the king lies in the conviction that with him there is safety, he alone can cope with the
powers of death and outer darkness, meeting them head-on in the yearly ritual-combat and
spending the rest of the year making his rounds in his perennial task of imposing divine
order on the benighted outer fringes of the universe.60
The Royal Progress
In his divine mission of extending the dominion of light and order the king is constantly
leading his embattled hosts into dark and unknown regions on an eternal Royal Progress.
The student of the Royal Progress who confines his attention to the medieval and modern
sources is puzzled to find the practice flourishing in such widely scattered places as Ireland,
Central Africa, and the islands of the South Pacific, while it is absent on the steppes of
Europe and Asia where one would normally expect to find migrating kings. 61 Actually the
Royal Progress is a world-wide institution of great antiquity, which turns up in a few
backward corners of the world in later times precisely because it is only in such places that
the primitive conditions necessary to its existence survive. If, for example, among the
nineteenth-century Baganda there could be no capital because "for each king a new royal
enclosure is built,"62 the same system prevailed in the Old Kingdom of Egypt where,
"paradoxically enough, the capital was less permanent than the towns in the provinces, for in
principle it served for only a single reign. . . . Until the middle of the Second Millennium
B.C. . . . there was no truly permanent capital in Egypt." 63 If the Tartars and Mongols built
no temples or cities because their gods traveled about on wheels, the same held true of the
Hittites and Persians before them.64 In medieval Europe it was the rule for a king to have no
capital but to move continually from place to place with his whole court in a set ceremonial
Progress which never ceased. Such mobility, according to the latest and fullest study of the
subject, was "the very essence of royal existence," prevailing in fact "in any situation
characterized by a typically feudal structure of government," that is, in any Heroic Age or
Epic Milieu.65
The Royal Progress ideally followed the course of the sun, setting out from the scene of the
coronation at the winter solstice and ending up at the same spot exactly a year from the day
of departure; it was so arranged that each of the major solar festivals would be celebrated at
some important shrine along the way, each such celebration being a minor repetition of the
coronation rite itself. 66 The whole operation is astonishingly like that of Egypt, where the
usages of the Royal Progress are well documented from the beginning.67 In Egypt as in the
West the king's purpose in going from place to place is to be recognized and acclaimed as
the bringer of good things, but it is also very apparent that along with the festive and sacral
aspects of the royal parousia (and that word establishes significant ties between eastern and
western, Christian and pagan practices),68 the King's Progress was meant to dramatize the
original seizure and subduing of the land; it is always the triumphal procession of a victor,
pacifying the land, receiving formal submission, suppressing rebellion, rewarding loyalty,
imposing justice and order on the world.69 The Royal Progress goes back originally,
according to Peyer, to the overrunning of "conquered farmers and herdsmen" by
"cattle-owning nomadic tribes. Hence," he concludes, "the journeys and entertainment of the
ruler (Herrscherreise und Gastung) appear as the result of the superimposing of the authority
of nomadic warriors over sedentary agrarians."70 This, we have maintained, is exactly the
situation attested by the evidence of the "marked arrow" in many parts of the world.71 The
Royal Progress is a survival of the Völkerwanderung, an annual repetition of the
Landnahme, with the king receiving the ecstatic (often compulsory) acclamations of the
inhabitants, while long lines of cattle and hostages -- the children of local chiefs who might
make trouble -- were being brought to the "gisting" places as tribute. 72
Wherever the king went the people were expected to "guest" him and his company for three
nights, though it was common practice for them to move on after a night or two. Since the
whole existence of royalty was a brilliant and impressive progress through the lands, kings
were never able to stop the parade without forfeiting their principal glory; and so the
splendid royal junkets, arrogant and benevolent, religious and military in nature, which both
overawed their subjects and alarmed their neighbors, remained right down until World War I
"not an optional policy but an organic need" for the rulers of Europe and Asia.73
In the Saga of Dietrich of Bern, a basic source for the understanding of the way of kings,
ancient and medieval, Asiatic and European alike, we see the great Attila not as a destroyer
but as a beneficent liberator moving ever from one stathr to the next, staying but one night in
each and hunting in between.74 For the Royal Progress is also the Royal Hunt, and animals
are expected to be as compliant as men to the rule of the Cosmocrator.75 In the West the
king was before everything the Lord of the Forest, his sylvan sovereignty resting on his
immemorial rights as a hunter. 76 Hence the royal beneficium to obedient subjects was
originally the king's permission to use his forest for woodcutting and grazing -- not for
hunting;77 and the gradual reduction of the common people to a state of total servility
toward the end of the Middle Ages was effected largely through the manipulation of the
forest laws, first by the barons and then by moneyed investors, whose legalistic legerdemain
in dealing with forest laws resulted, according to Thimme, in the concept of "property and
dominion as we understand them today." 78 But originally there was only one king of the
forest, and he was a hunter. 79
On his progress along the King's Highway or Royal Road,80 the monarch spent his nights at
castles which were not proper dwellings but rather guarded supply-dumps and fortified
camping-places, where one ate, slept, and worked under canopies with rushes and straw
beneath one. "Nearly all the great Seigneurs," writes Peyer, "from the earliest times had no
fixed residence, but moved ceaselessly from castrum to castrum," where the necessary
supplies had been gathered to provide for the guesting of the lord and the support of his
military plans.81 The meaning of the well-known derivatives of castrum -- camp (castra) and
castle -- needs no discussion.82 The stopping-places of the Merovingian and Carolingian
rulers was a Pfalz (palatium, palace), from the old word for a domed tent, designating also
"the celestial vault, the tent of heaven," that is, the age-old qubba of the nomad chief.83 The
basic idea is never lost from sight as kings continue to feast, sleep, and sit in state beneath
gorgeous tents called variously pavilions, canopies, baldachins, heavens, and "states" -- for
the king to sit in state means in the strict sense of the word to be in his statio or
camping-place on the march (cf. fig. 11, p. 117).84
Trespassing Heroes
Since the business of the royal and priestly qubba was "to lead the people upon a migration
through a totally unknown country, to select for them the road which they must travel, and to
indicate for them the place of their ultimate settlement," 85 the problem of possible
trespassing becomes a very serious one for the owner of the tent. "The laws of tenting," says
the Talmud, "are the most difficult and complicated in all the written and oral law." Since the
wanderers are seeking a favored land, they are bound to find the place inhabited if they ever
get there; and in the eyes of the natives, the invaders can only appear as godless and evil
men, the Wild Huntsmen, the feralis exercitus. "The steppe is the underworld," wrote A.
Jeremias, "and in oriental tales the hunter is the Man of the Underworld."86 The attitude of
the settled dwellers in the land toward their invaders is vividly set forth in a passage from the
early Christian Psalms of Thomas:
I looked into the Abyss and saw the Evil One
With his Seven Companions and Twelve attendants;
I saw them putting up his tent and lighting the fire in it. . . .
I saw their traps and their tents spread out. . . .
And I saw them lying about, drinking their stolen wine and eating their stolen meat.87
But there is something to be said for the other side. The red tent moved into lands only "in
sheer desperation, when the very existence of the . . . tribe was at stake."88 Achilles makes it
clear at the beginning of the Iliad that it was not his idea to leave his own domains to plunder
other men's; the invader is not acting from choice. The nobility of the Epic Hero is that in his
tragic predicament he does what he must, and even his innocent victims amid their cries of
distress never accuse him of base or reprehensible behavior.89 The great folk-heroes such as
Odysseus, Aeneas, Abraham, Siegfried, or Abu Zaid are all homeless wanderers, never sure
of their status or reception in strange places and often reduced to dissembling and even to
begging in situations of almost unbearable tension. Many ancient monarchs sought to relieve
the unpleasant tensions raised by the trespassing issue by simply making a virtue of
necessity, glorying in their irresistible and hence divinely sanctioned might and grabbing
everything they could as if by right.90 Yet even the fiercest of these, such as the Assyrian
monarchs or Genghis Khan, categorically deny that their dominion is held by force alone,
and tirelessly insist that they conquer and rule by an express mandate from heaven -- even
the bloody-minded hero of the Egyptian Cannibal Hymn waves a written document for all to
see, "a warrant of appointment as `Great Mighty One' . . .given him by Orion, Father of the
Surprisingly enough, the apparently academic question of trespassing was of great concern
to the rulers of old. A clear demonstration of that concern is to be found in the well-known
ritual combat of the Year Rite, a showdown between two armed heroes, each claiming to be
the legitimate heir to dominion and accusing his rival of usurpation and fraud in the
long-winded legalistic stichomachia that should always precede a formal duel.92 It is the
classic showdown between the invader and the invaded, each accusing the other of trespass:
for if the defenders of a land have the sacred mission of preserving the established order
from the onslaughts of monsters from the outer darkness, the invaders are led by a knight in
shining armor who finds the land in possession of the Dragon, the Lord of Misrule, from
whose primordial misgovernment it is his sacred duty to deliver it. 93 The theme has
recently been studied by J. Trumpf, who notes that the foundation of an ancient city can
never proceed in peace and order until the local dragon, who has misruled and oppressed the
land from time immemorial, is got out of the way. Trumpf duly observes (as we also have
done) that the nomads of the steppes, that is, the normal invaders, refuse to acknowledge the
humanity of an enemy but can conceive of any opposition to themselves only as some form
of monstrous perversion, the annihilation of which is a holy calling.94 Thus they clear
themselves of the charge of trespassing.
But just who is the trespasser? By what right do the prior inhabitants of the land possess it?
After all, the Trojans had sacked as many cities and stolen as many cattle as the Achaeans
who invaded them. In the old bestiaries it is the animals who claim prior occupancy and
accuse the human race of trespassing upon the earth; the notable treatise on the theme by the
"Chaste Brethren of Basra" depicts all the animals assembled before the throne of Solomon
to sue the human race for trespassing -- they complain that men have driven them from their
homelands and have continued to pursue them even into the deserts without any vestige of
legal right, like Shakespeare's banished nobility who go to the woods to act like "mere
usurpers, tyrants, and what's worse, to fright the animals, and to kill them up in their assign'd
and native dwelling-places."95
Although practically any nomad chief who had both people and cattle at his back considered
himself to be legitimate, 96 all such people, as Tacitus observed, are liable to meet their
nemesis in others of their kind with which occasional collisions are inevitable.97 The result
is a showdown, a trial of arms in the chivalric or horse-rider's manner, which no true ruler
can escape.98 The code of chivalry is not a settlement worked out between farmers and
nomad warriors, between whom there is no real understanding or even communication, but
rather a system of settling the touchy question of possession between parties neither of
whose claims will stand too close an examination.99 The claims of brute force are denied in
favor of the idea that combat itself, if attended by the proper formalities, is a form of
divination which clearly proclaims the will of heaven in the assignment of property.100
Furthermore, what is won by combat must be maintained by combat, and the proud and
truculent mottoes of heraldry were a standing invitation to trial at arms. A noble was
required and expected to invite assault, according to the rules of chivalry, "because everyone
seeks distinction, one mark of which is to offend fearlessly." "An insult," writes F. R.
Bryson, commenting on this, "was regarded as causing one of the two parties to lose honor,"
thereby forcing him to fight to get it back.101 The prince who hesitated to take issue when
another set foot on his lands vi et armis ("by force and by arms," still the official definition
of trespassing) actually forfeited his right to their possession, 102 as did the German rulers
after the death of Charles the Bald who, by failing to expel poaching barons from their forest
lands, forfeited the legal claim on those lands to the barons.103
The Battle for the Tent
The combat between chiefs was no mere brawl but a splendid and formal affair, with time,
place, and procedure stipulated ahead of time. Whether it was a set battle between Pharaoh
and an invading desert chief,104 or a ritual chariot race between rival Vedic princes,105 or a
set-to between Asiatic war lords, played like a game of chess,106 or the elaborately ordered
duels of the sagas or jousts of the Middle Ages, it was understood that the winner was to
take all, usually including the erstwhile loyal retainers of the loser. 107 The correct and
formal method of announcing one's intention of occupying a land was by the pitching of a
red tent upon it, such a tent proclaiming the owner's "unique position as universal ruler -- a
superman and a cosmic being, according to the views of the ancients."108 To the many
examples given by Morgenstern we might add that Adam in the beginning, according to an
old and widespread tradition, took possession of the world as he journeyed through it by
setting up his red leather tent wherever he went.109 How old the tradition may really be can
be surmised from a prehistoric Egyptian festival in which the Besitzergreifung des Landes,
according to W. Helck, was dramatized by the setting up of red and white tents representing
the two worlds in conflict. 110 Everywhere in the ancient world the chief's banner and tent
served together and interchangeably as his flag of defiance wherever he went.111 The
setting up of the tent of the Ark at Gilgal was a formal Landnahme, according to von
Rad;112 and among the Arabs "to pitch one's tent on strange or disputed ground was a deed
of honor."113 The sacred tent and the royal tent when they are not one and the same are
always pitched side by side, as Morgenstern explains, pointing out that the tent of inspiration
makes it possible for "an entire people [to] wander about in a strange and unknown country
with reasonable assurance, and . . . at last find its proper place for resettlement."114 "The
tent of the Lord will not be replaced by a permanent tent," wrote the first of the Christian
Doctors, "until the final combat when the Lord has put all his enemies beneath his feet and
bound the dragon."115 The early sectaries of the desert, as they raise the tent of defiance to
the hosts of Evil, view their own tents as the camp of the hosts of heaven ready to dispute for
the possession of the earth.116
When Alexander had seized the tent of Darius he had achieved his final military victory, for
by that act, following an ageless tradition, all the Great King's holdings were formally
transferred to him.117 And when Eumenes after the death of Alexander "found it useful to
carry with him as a mascot Alexander's tent, which he could represent as still inhabited by
his great master's spirit," he was really announcing to the world that the universal empire
was now his. 118 The Greeks need not have borrowed the chivalric pattern from the Orient,
for already in the Iliad Poseidon, "the owner of the earth," as both his name and his epithet,
Gaie-ochos, show him to be, 119 rushes into the council of the gods in great alarm crying:
O Father Zeus, what mortal upon the boundless earth will ever again credit the gods
with intelligence or ability? Haven't you seen how these long-haired Greeks have actually
built a wall around their ships and dug a ditch, without having paid for the privilege by
appropriate offerings of submission to us? The fame and honor of that deed will spread as far
as the sun shines, while all that Phoebus Apollo and I have won in fair combat from the hero
Laomedon [i.e., the original holder of Ilium] will be forfeited.
The whole concept of chivalry is embraced in those lines.120
Of course the royal tent is surrounded by a camp. At the primordial battle for the possession
of the world the Titans camped on Mount Ortys while over against them on Mount Olympus
stood the camp of the gods.121 In the days before Rome the kings of the Veii, Volsci, Aequi,
and other tribes used to challenge each other by camping on each other's lands, the hosts
being arranged aequo campo conlatisque signis (on a level plain with standards joined
together), in the best Oriental manner, with the avowed intention of carrying off cattle and
everything else unless stopped.122 When the Romans joined in the game their king would
cast a spear into the enemy's land "to claim a place for their tents" (ut castris locum
caperent), with a formal invitation to the owners to submit or fight.123 In northern and
eastern Europe where "the lords of the land established their dominion by open combat," we
have the stirring picture of two imperial tents, landtioldr, pitched in groves on either side of
a fair field, each surrounded by the tents of its retainers um stathinn, as the mobile base from
which the land was to be seized and governed. By herald and trumpet the two rulers
challenge each other to a trial of arms and fight according to strict and formal rules.124
Almost a thousand years later we find the same sport in the great tournament of Calais.
"Three vermillion-coloured pavilions were pitched near the appointed place for the lists,"
Froissart reports, "and before each were suspended two shields, one for peace and one for
war. . . .Any who desired to perform a deed of arms was required to touch one or both of
these shields." Hearing of the challenge on the disputed soil of Calais, the nobility of
England "said they would be blameworthy if they did not cross the sea," which they did in
large numbers -- for not to accept a challenge is as ignoble as not to give one. "Sir John
Holland was the first who sent his squire to touch the war-target of Sir Boucicault who
instantly issued from his tent completely armed," and the tournament was on. The procedure
was faithfully repeated for all the days of the affair; an English knight would touch the
"war-shield" of a French lord sitting fully armed and out of sight in his tent, waiting to rush
forth with great fury at the first hint of a challenge.125
Even more puerile than such antics was the ritual attack on the tent itself. Since set combat
was forbidden after sundown, the wee small hours were reserved for the standard attack on
the rival's tent, a vital maneuver, since once the tent had fallen the enemy's morale, and often
his resistance, was broken.126 A particularly realistic version is the sequel to the brutal
trespassing of the Adversary in the Psalm of Thomas mentioned above: the issue was settled
when the true Lord burst on the scene, "pulled up their tent and threw it over on to the
ground, kicked out their fire, tore open their nets and set free all the captive birds in them."
127 The ultimate in heroic gestures for the Arab was a night-raid on the tent of a chief:
"They suddenly knock down the principal tent-poles," Burckhardt reported 130 years ago,
"and whilst the surprised people are striving to disengage themselves, . . . the cattle [are]
driven off by the assailants," though the main purpose is to get not cattle but honor. 128
Among the nomads the overthrow of a man's tent signifies the dissolution of his fortunes, for
his whole existence centers around the main pole of his tent.129 When Crum, the Great
Khan of the Bulgars, made a night-raid on the tent of the Emperor Nicephorus, he made a
drinking-cup of his rival's skull to commemorate the exploit.130 The tent-raid is by no
means limited to the East. Froissart tells how Lord James Douglas rode into the English
camp by night, "galloped to the King's tent, and cut two or three of its cords, crying at the
same time, 'Douglas! Douglas forever!' " Fauquement did the same thing in the Duke of
Normandy's camp, "cutting down tents and pavilions, and then, seeing that it was time,
collecting his people and retreating most handsomely." 131
Trumpf is puzzled by the peculiar rite with which the oldest Greek founding festival, the
Septrion, commemorated Apollo's victory over the Python and the founding of the
world-center at Delphi. What is peculiar is that there is no dragon in the rite, but that should
not seem strange since Trumpf himself has the acumen to notice that Pytho the dragon
simply represents the original inhabitants of the land. Instead of a dragon-fight there is a
troupe of men bearing torches and led by a youth representing Apollo, who in the dead of
night steal up in perfect silence on a tent or reed booth; suddenly they throw their torches
into the tent, setting it afire, overturn a table that stands in it, and then run away like mad
without looking back.132 An odd type of dragon-fight, to be sure, but one whose
significance should be clear by now; it is particularly interesting because of its great
Alternatives to Fighting: Toll and Taxing
Let us recall that what so alarmed Poseidon the landowner at the sight of a strange camp on
his shores was the failure of the campers to make proper payment for the privilege of setting
up on his land. They were digging in, and unless immediately called to account would cause
the owners to lose both face and property with nothing but glory for themselves -trespassers are not trespassers if they can get away with it. Everywhere certain allowance is
made for campers who are merely passing through a country; all that is demanded of them is
good behavior and a three-day time limit.133 But those who frequented a land for long or
regular periods were required to pay tolls and purchase safe-conduct to keep things from
getting out of hand.
The derivation of the word toll is very doubtful, but on one thing all the authorities are
agreed, that it is derived from Late Latin tolonium, meaning a toll-booth or tent. Toll is
defined as "payment exacted . . . by virtue of sovereignty or lordship . . . for permission to
pass somewhere." Specifically it is "a charge for the privilege of bringing goods for sale to a
market or fair, or setting up a stall. . . . It can only be claimed by a special grant from the
Crown." It was collected at a toll-booth, "formerly, a temporary shed erected at a market,
etc., for payment of tolls . . . a booth, stall, or office at which tolls are collected."134
Wherever the merchants pass, even on the sands of the Gobi desert, the tent of the
toll-collector awaits them. 135 The great fairs of Europe were tent-cities, temporary camps
set up yearly on the king's land, where foreigners were allowed for a set period to camp and
set up their booths.136 The two things to notice about toll are (1) that the word always goes
back to a tent or booth of some kind -- which makes one wonder whether it might not once
have meant "tent-money" (Danish told "toll," teld "tent"),137 and (2) that it is a token
payment only, given in recognition of sovereignty or lordship and never as a business
arrangement between equals; it does not cover damages nor defray expenses but simply
recognizes ownership by a prescribed ritual and solicits as a privilege permission to camp on
another's land at a designated spot and for a limited and specified period of time.
A tax, like a toll, is payment for temporary occupation of another's land, with the difference
that the occupation in this case lasts for a whole year, at the end of which a new tax must be
paid. The oldest taxes on record are those tributes of the produce of the land (a tithe or a
fifth), which were brought to the designated collection centers, the local shrines of the god
who owned the land, as "rent paid for the use of the land." In making the collection and
spending it in pious works the king was the god's agent and the priests were his
assistants.138 Thus the earliest temple "functioned actually as the manor-house on an
estate."139 Since as countless hymns inform us, God owns the earth and all that is in it, any
payments made by men to him are the purest token payments, given not because he needs
them but as a gesture acknowledging his ownership. That is why failure to pay even a trivial
tax calls forth quick and savage reprisals which are out of all proportion to the money
involved but represent the correct official reaction to an act of open defiance.140
For refusal to pay implies willingness to fight and vice versa. From the earliest times a king
might live in peace with another by paying him socage, that is, "money rent. . . not burdened
with any military service," i.e., money paid to avoid fighting. 141 When Sir Robert Knolles
asked the Duke of Picardy, "How much will you pay us in ready money for all this country if
we will not despoil it?" he was not cynically selling the Duke "protection," since the latter
was expected to meet in joyful combat any who came to despoil his lands.142 As explained
in the Oxford English Dictionary, the word tax in its many contexts always retains the basic
idea of a charge brought against an intruder; to be taxed always implies an element of
trespass, and the paying of a tax always has the flavor of appeasement. The only thing sure
about the root meaning of the word according to Skeat is that it signifies "to touch" or tag,
suggesting to the ingenuous mind a possible connection between being taxed and being
tagged: once one's war-shield has been touched one must choose between settling with the
challenger by meeting him in arms or by giving him a token of submission for the luxury of
remaining in one's possessions without a fight.143
The paying of tolls and taxes was not a declaration of loyalty to the recipient and his way of
life, but a bid to be free of both. The zeal with which the peasants of Europe clamored to
have the "irksome personal services" including the picturesque performances of the droit de
gite converted into a money tax or cash payment,144 the eagerness of "the wealthy franklin
[to pay] money rather than be dubbed a knight," and the insistence even of the lesser nobility
on paying socage to enjoy "freedom from scutage," i.e., the obligation of chivalry,145 all
express the basic idea of the money-tax as a settlement defining the limits of obligation
beyond which the payer is free.146 No such area of personal freedom was allowed by the
mystique of feudalism, which was a sacred covenant of total commitment.147 Likewise toll
is paid by strangers in a country not as an act of fealty, but for the express purpose of
remaining strangers without being considered enemies or trespassers. The theory that one
was taxed to support the strong arm of the nobility in return for its protection against
attackers from without was a late and contrived one that effaced the original significance of
the tax as an escape from feudal obligations.148
The Old Order Remaineth
But feudalism has ever been tenacious of its holdings and with the assistance of the lawyer
and the priest has managed to hold its own in the most adverse circumstances. Far from
fading into the past, "absolute monarchies," as H. Kohn puts it, "were the pacemakers of
modern nationalism."149 Far from presenting a gradual unfolding of human liberties, the
passing of the Middle Ages brings only their progressive curtailment as the seizure of the
common forest right by the "ungezügelte[n] Jagdlust der Mächtigen" (the unbridled passion
of the mighty for hunting) is succeeded by the acquisition of those rights by wealthy
commoners who finally exclude the public from the forest altogether.150 At the end of the
Middle Ages Geoffrey Tête-Noire was considered something of a monster because "none
dared ride over his lands"; but it took the modern free world to come up with the absolute
dominion of the No Trespassing sign.151 The survival of the feudal or chivalric way of life
into modern times can be illustrated by Froissart's Chronicle, that "complete body of the
antiquities of the 14th century," in which the king commands respect and loyalty only to that
degree to which he risks his person in single combat and expends the devoted energies of his
people in tireless military campaigning, 152 where the nobility live frankly by pillage, ever
"seeking adventures . . . for by all means, allowed by the laws, of arms, every man ought to
molest his enemy,"153 where the great prelates of the church raided each other's domains in
the perennial manner of the war lords of the steppes. 154 A leading role is played by the
terrible free companies, who played exactly the same game as the nobility and "made war on
every man that was worth robbing."155 Even the common people when they arose in their
might to shake off the oppressor operated in the accepted manner, organizing themselves
into bannered companies and placing (by force if necessary) those of noble birth at their
head, impatient of the lord who sat peacefully at home, but willing to follow to the death any
noble who would lead them to deeds of glory and rapine on others' lands. 156 In short, all
classes aspire to the same glory and think of success in the same terms, because it never
occurs to them that there might be any other standard of achievement. (Even our own society
remains hypnotized by the same goals that drew Froissart's "perfect prince," Caston de Foix,
who "loved earnestly the things he ought to love," namely gold, food, sports, shows, "arms
and amours" and above all a successful business deal.)157 The cities were no exception, but
"during the late Middle Ages . . . grew less democratic and took on more of the coloring of
their aristocratic ambience."158 They achieved independence only to place themselves under
the great war lords or exalt their own leading citizens to noble rank as they sent formal
challenges to each other and raided each other's possessions in the best chivalric manner.159
The long-debated question of whether European cities were founded primarily for protection
or for trade ended with a split decision, 160 since the two advantages are inseparable and at
any rate seem to yield priority to religion, for early markets and towns grew out of "seasonal
meetings of hunters" devoted to ancient religious observances. 161 But whether it began as a
shrine, market, or fortified place of refuge, the city always starts out as a camp, to judge by
the root meanings of the various words for it: civitas from *kei-, "camp," Stadt from Old
German stedir, "Landungsplatz"; Statt (our state) from statio, a stopping-place on the march;
burg from phyrkos, the hastily built fence surrounding a fortified camp (town refers to the
same fence, as does the Slavic gorod).162 The Arabic mahalla is also a stopping-place on the
march, and it has been shown that madina, long thought to come from din, a place of
judgment, is to be related to maidan, a campground or jousting-field.163
The rising cities of the Middle Ages naturally resented the archaic claims and method of the
lords in their castles, but they resented them out of envy as they aspired to the same rights
and privileges. Gastrecht, Schutzzoll, and Stapelrecht were urban versions of tenting-rights,
toll, and taxing respectively, and as such were administered with a severity that only the
most tyrannical baron would have risked. The cities offered Pfahlbürgertum or shanty-town
citizenship to those who deserted their lords to settle in tent-cities outside the city walls,
where they continued to pay a tax for camping on the city's land.164 City merchants
complained loudly against the onerous toll charger of the barons even while they levied a
high Schutzzoll on goods passing through their own territories.165 And while the droit de
gite was steadily whittled away for the king, the cities used their Gastrecht and Stapelrecht to
forbid transients to acquire property or engage in any business while in the city.166 What the
cities most resented was the baronial courts of law, yet whenever they gained power, the
leading property-owners of the town held a tight monopoly on all judicial offices. 167
Stadtluft macht frei (the city air makes one free) not only by offering shelter and anonymity
to the refugee, but no less by opening the doors of aggrandizement and even nobility to the
The Rights of Man
But what of human rights, the rights of man? Do they not break away at last from the old
ideology? They do not. They are a product of the Enlightenment, which put nature in the
place of God and made man a child not of heaven but of earth. Naturalism and Humanism
find man's origin in the earth and its elements: it is as a literal excrescence of the planet that
mankind has an inalienable right to its substance and its living-space.168 Baconian science,
the founding fathers, French revolutionaries, Physiocrats, English liberals, pragmatic
philosophers and educationists, free-enterprising capitalists and Marxists all see eye to eye
on one basic point and share with each other and the ancient lords of the steppes the
fundamental gospel of One World: it is here below in "the things of this world" that a man
must seek his fulfillment. Instead of putting an end to the wild dreams of Nimrod, the mad
hunter of old who aspired to bring all creatures under his sway and in the best chivalric
manner challenged God to a duel for possession of the world,169 modern scientific thinking
tends to confirm man's forlorn hope of seizing the earth for himself.170
The monarchs of the past in their search for permanent tenure went to spectacular extremes
to convince themselves and the public that it was their calling to reign here below as Lords
of Eternity in the Garden of Delights: from prehistoric Egypt to modern England the Master
of the King's Tents and Revels has exerted himself to present to the eyes of men majesty
benignly reclining in a garden bower as he presides over a feast of abundance to which all
the world is invited.171 This royal mummery was the greatest tent-show on earth, according
to Alföldi,172 and it was staged all over the ancient world in rites which "represent[ed] a
harmony between man and the divine which is beyond our boldest dreams."173 And yet the
great garden party soon becomes a great bore, as king and caliph discover in countless
popular tales and legends; this world can offer but a peep-show paradise after all. The whole
thing, aside from being enormously expensive, is too strenuous and contrived for real delight
-- it is vanity fair, the tent-city from which the robber Pilgrim is only too glad to escape even
with empty pockets, provided, of course, that he has some other world, some New Jerusalem,
to escape to.174
The Other Nomads
The yearning for such a world and the faith in its existence, or even the mere possibility of
its existence, has always offered an alternative to the heavy-handed warrior's solution to the
problem of survival in a hostile world. Pilgrims, like all nomads, have a deep distrust of
anything that might tie them down or hamper their freedom of movement.175 The city
especially, designed to make man forget the marginal and nomadic nature of life on earth
and hence lose sight of the distant Celestial City, is to the pious pilgrim an object of loathing
and suspicion.176 Not only do the early Jews and Christians think of themselves as das
wandernde Gottesvolk (the wandering people of God), 177 and not only does the dogmatic
constitution of the church (1964) adopt for Roman Catholics the surprising title of "The
Wayfaring Church,"178 but obsession with the idea of life as a pilgrimage is no less
conspicuous in Islam, the religions of the Far East, and classical antiquity -- was there ever a
more Passionate Pilgrim than Pindar? How do the pilgrim bands make out with the jealous,
suspicious, and insecure lords of the earth?
In rendering to Caesar what was Caesar's (cf. Matthew 22:21), the early Christian was not
recognizing divine sovereignty but buying his way out; a sharp distinction was made
between paying Caesar tax-money that was his (and there is no question of excessive
taxation since what Caesar owns is nothing less than the orbis terrarum itself), and giving
him the homage of a pinch of incense. The latter act was an acknowledgment of divinity, and
a good Christian died sooner than make the concession, while the former was merely a
recognition of ownership. The early Christians were urged to "make . . . friends of the
mammon of unrighteousness" (Luke 16:9) as the best way to be rid of him, paying quickly
and gladly whatever fees the masters of the earth imposed on them.179 Then they went their
way, resolutely refusing to own lands or houses of their own which, they felt, would
encumber them with worldly obligations and vitiate their status as strangers and pilgrims.180
It is understandable that the lords temporal and spiritual looked upon popular pilgrimages as
dangerous and unnecessary. For the pilgrim is unattached, with a knowing and superior sort
of aloofness inherited from the sectaries of the desert, that cool detachment that has ever
brought down upon the heads of the Jews the baffled wrath and fury of the lords of the earth.
For unless the feudal mystique with appurtenances is taken seriously, it becomes high
comedy and its authority collapses. What more deadly threat to the whole system than
refusal to enter into the spirit of the thing? And pilgrims do refuse; they are not to be bought
off, and though they are sometimes skillful at procuring safe-conducts for themselves in
spite of the determined efforts of the lords of the land to deny them all freedom of
movement, such passports are, like the payment of tolls, a declaration not of allegiance but
of independence. 181
The Crusades were a grandiose attempt to combine the two types of nomadism. It was the
great lords themselves who after bringing economic, political, and moral collapse on Europe
by their violent and irresponsible ways offered to lead the people of the West back to the
Holy City,182 and when they got there affected to establish the perfect model of feudalism
in the Assizes of Jerusalem.183 In this document we have the supreme attempt of men of
violence to put the stamp of holiness on their possessions, enlisting the awful sanctions of
religion to secure for themselves the holdings which they had seized from each other in total
disregard of any right, and imposing an eternal and inviolable stability upon an order
established by wild and tumultuous brawling. In the Crusades the whole legal and
ecclesiastical fiction of feudalism, laboriously contrived and stunningly staged, soon
degenerated into a sordid free-for-all in which those who sought to possess this world and
the other at once, wearing the armor of conquest beneath the sacrosanct robes of unworldly
pilgrims, ended up possessing neither. 184
The Return to Outer Space
Philosophy today is much concerned with the feelings of loneliness and insecurity that beset
modern man. He is depicted as a displaced person, allergic to his environment, adapted "by
at least five hundred million years of vertebrate evolution" to one type of life, but forced to
settle for an entirely different one.185 Man is so far from home, indeed, that biologists
profess themselves at a loss to discover to just what type of environment he is really
suited.186 In his present parlous state he behaves as harassed and insecure animals do, as
many studies are now discovering. 187 We find in both human and animal communities two
fundamental types of social hierarchy, an "absolute hierarchy," represented by the
now-classic pecking-orders, and a "territorial hierarchy," in which men and beasts alike
possess and defend given territories according to strict and formal rules. A creature's
territory is "not so much . . . a solid area as . . . a number of places," which the owner visits
in regular rounds; if in his rounds he discovers that an alien has invaded any part of his
territory the owner is under obligation to fight or submit as a vassal to the aggressor.188 At
once the heroic feudal pattern springs to mind; and it is reinforced by the important rule that
these highly formal hierarchies of status and possession come into existence only when the
animals are all under pressure, that is, where optimum living conditions no longer prevail
due to overcrowding or other factors, or in other words, where there has been a "Fall," the
creature having been forced out of its original paradise.189
Strangely enough, the idea now being put forth by scientists of a long human preexistence in
a world quite different from the one in which man now finds himself is basic in the early
Jewish190 and Christian, 191 as well as Oriental192 and Platonic thinking,193 all of which
have a strongly nostalgic other-worldly orientation. Science and religion now join
philosophy in asking, "Why does man feel himself a stranger in the world of nature?" It is
not only the desperate hero of the epic who feels out of place; even the easy-living Victorian
romantic resents his earthly environment and hints at his kinship with a higher world.194 If
this is indeed our only home, as the prevailing philosophy teaches, if this is the only world
we have ever known, and if conditions have been constant enough to allow "five hundred
million years" of survival without a break, why are we perpetually ill at ease in our
environment instead of being beautifully adapted to it? Why are we constantly beset by
yearnings for paradise?195 And why do we look upon those who claim to be happily at
home in the present setting as either sick souls, cretins, or hypocrites? 196
It is a significant thing that those societies which have most emphatically renounced any
belief in another world have been the most eager in the exploration of space. It would seem
that as soon as men become convinced that their whole existence is to be limited to this
planet they begin to feel an urge to get away from it, yearning like the Greeks with a strange
pothos for the deliverance of great distances and spaces, no matter to what unknown doom it
might lead them.197 The rediscovery of outer space in our time puts us in much the same
position as our ancestors on the eve of the great Völkerwanderung. 198 Our first reaction has
been the same as theirs: in his "monstrous deracinement," a Dutch philosopher comments,
"man has surrounded himself with a protective cocoon against reality."199 The conquest of
the earth by the closed car and its extension, the mobile home -- a streamlined, hermetically
sealed capsule, air-conditioned against the rude elements and totally insulated from any
contaminating contact with mother earth -- is the expression of an ideal which is most fully
realized in jet transportation, combining the snug security of a private world with an
exhilarating sense of enterprise and power, and offering in incongruous combination the
supreme satisfaction of relaxing in embryonic coziness while moving with incredible and
effortless speed through an almost perfect vacuum. 200
The mobile tents of the ancients were no contemptible step toward the achievement of this
ideal. Ancient and modern travelers do not know which to admire the more in the dwellings
of felt and goat's-hair, the skill with which they are transported from place to place or the
efficiency with which they meet every challenge of the elements. By their ingenious
insulation and mobility these dwellings of the highest and lowest mortals have made it
possible for their owners to survive in deadly outer spaces.
If it comes as a surprise to learn that the clothes we wear today were designed thousands of
years ago for the comfort of riders on the windy steppes of Asia,201 one is no less bemused
at the thought that our basic political philosophy comes from the same world. Our
storm-driven ancestors met the challenge of their predicament with two solutions: the one
sought to make the earth a permanent home and possess it wholly; the other to move on to
some happier home, whatever and wherever that might be. The one philosophy is based on
the firm belief that this is our only world, the other on the equally convincing and far more
easily demonstrable proposition that we are transients who "here have no abiding
kingdom."202 The paying of tolls and taxes has made it possible for the two ideologies to
coexist in the world; it is an arrangement by which each side humors the other: the payer of
taxes concedes to the recipient the right to imagine himself as the owner of the earth, while
the other in return for this recognition allows his client the luxury of imagining himself the
citizen of another world. The one while ceaselessly ranging abroad in the earth thinks of
himself as lord of an immovable possession, while the other, tied to his patch of glebe or
dingy workshop, thinks of himself as a courser through the endless expanses of heaven. The
common symbol of both, the sign both of possession and of wandering, is the tent.
Living in an atmosphere of emergency and uncertainty, the state has always been obliged to
tax to preserve its identity. Taxes are viewed by those who are asked to pay the most as a
personal insult and an affront to the sacredness of property. That is exactly what they are,
and what they were originally meant to be. An ancient tax-notice, an imperious tap on the
shield, was nothing less than an invitation to a sojourner in a land to justify his presence
there either by satisfying the claims of the owner to recognition or by meeting him in open
combat for possession. We may deplore taxes, but we may not resent them.
This article was originally published in Western Political Quarterly 19/4 (1966):
Chapter 3
The Hierocentric State
In his great history of Greek religion, Professor Nilsson comments on the neglect by scholars
of an institution of first importance in the development of civilization and the state.1 That is
the panegyris, the great assembly of the entire race to participate in solemn rites essential to
the continuance of its corporate and individual well-being. The meeting was a tremendous
affair (Pindar leaves us in no doubt about that), yet it was paralleled by equally great and
imposing assemblies of other nations all over the ancient world. At hundreds of holy shrines,
each believed to mark the exact center of the universe and represented as the point at which
the four quarters of the earth converged -- "the navel of the earth" -- one might have seen
assembled at the New Year -- the moment of creation, the beginning and ending of time -vast concourses of people, each thought to represent the entire human race in the presence of
all its ancestors and gods.
A visitor to any of these festivals would have found a market or fair in progress, the natural
outcome of bringing people together from wide areas in large numbers, and the temple of the
place functioning as an exchange or bank. He could have witnessed ritual contests: foot,
horse, and wagon races, odd kinds of wrestling, choral competitions, the famous Troy game,
beauty contests, and what not. He would note that all came to the celebration as pilgrims,
often traversing immense distances over prehistoric sacred roads, and dwelt during the
festival in booths of green boughs.
What would most command a visitor's attention to the great assembly would be the main
event, the now famous ritual year-drama for the glorification of the king. In most versions of
the year-drama, the king wages combat with his dark adversary of the underworld, emerging
victorious after a temporary defeat from his duel with death, to be acclaimed in a single
mighty chorus as the worthy and recognized ruler of the new age.2 The New Year was the
birthday of the human race, and its rites dramatized the creation of the world; all who would
be found in "the Book of Life opened at the creation of the World" must necessarily attend
this event. There were coronation and royal marriage rites, accompanied by a ritual
representing the sowing or begetting of the human race; and the whole celebration wound up
in a mighty feast in which the king as lord of abundance gave earnest of his capacity to
supply his children with all the good things of the earth. The stuff for this feast was supplied
by the feasters themselves, for no one came "to worship the King" without bringing his tithes
and first fruits.3
Volumes would not suffice to trace the survival of present-day institutions throughout the
world from the practices and rites of the ancient national assemblies. They were the general
reservoir into which the myriad culture-streams of an earlier day eventually found their way,
and from which are supplied in turn the mainstreams of our civilization. Space will not allow
us to examine these magnificent gatherings one by one, nor is it necessary to draw the same
identical picture a score of times; however, since no work on the subject has to our
knowledge yet appeared (though the evidence is neither suspect nor difficult of access), it
will be necessary to reinforce our claims by passing quickly from west to east over the
ancient world, pointing out as we go some of the more important sources to which the
student might turn for a description of a score of the more illustrious assemblies.
Beginning in the far northwest, we may take the great Things of Iceland as typical of the
primitive assemblies of the whole Germanic North. The meeting place was a mound (the
holy logberg, mountain of the law) in the center of a stone circle where the four quarters of
the island met; the president of the meeting was a ritual king (the Gothi); attendance was
compulsory; booths, feasting, games, markets, and the rest were never lacking.4 Identical
though more imposing were the rites at Uppsala5 and at various Teutonic shrines on the
continent. 6 Typical of all Celtic nations was the Beltene fair of the Irish at Usenech, held "at
the turn of the year," at the hill where stood "the stone and umbilicus of Ireland . . . regarded
as being in medio et meditullio terrae positus" (situated in the center and middle of the
land).7 There the king of the new age was established and the creation of the world was
rehearsed.8 An inscription from Ancyra recording just such a fair of the ancient Galatians9
reminds us that we are dealing with no medieval innovations in the Irish fairs or in those of
Britain10 and Gaul, 11 which follow the same pattern.
In moving terms, Cicero has described the immemorial rites at Enna in Sicily: "It is the exact
center of the island, and is called the navel of Sicily" where, at a sacred lake in the top of a
mountain, there congregates once a year "a renowned assemblage of people not only from
Sicily but from other nations and races."12 Rome itself was originally, and forever remained,
a place of universal assembly. The old Roma quadrata was, or contained, a circular enclosure
divided into four equal parts, at the center of which stood the lapis manalis, the seal of the
underworld, marking the mundus -- a term held by some to be identical with the Greek
kosmos.13 At the end of the sacred roads stood the king's house on the holy mount. Hither
repaired the whole human race for the ludi saeculares, the universal birthday party from
which no human being was permitted to be absent. On this occasion, the king acted as host
to all the world; and having won a ritual contest with the powers of darkness, the king was
hailed as father and king of the race for a hundred years.14
The panegyris of the Greeks has already been mentioned. Delphi furnishes the best known,
but by no means the only, example. There the god sat on his holy mound, "the middle
omphalos, the navel of the earth," to bestow his blessing on the multitudes that came along
the sacred roads to pay him homage on his birthday15 and to live in booths and hold their
feasts, games, and markets.16 Jane Harrison and others have fully demonstrated the royal
combat, victory, and coronation to be the original kernel of the rites.17
Scholars have long noted the remarkable parallel between the Greek rites at Eleusis and
those at the great Slavic shrine of Svantevit: aside from the death-and-resurrection motif of
the mysteries, the Slavic assemblies resemble those of other nations in every particular. 18
The great Egyptian assemblies that astonished the Greeks by their size and splendor were
from the beginning New Year's gatherings to celebrate the coronation of the king;19 the
place was the mountain of creation at the center of the universe,20 and all the essential
aspects of the panegyris were conspicuous.21 The Kacba at Mecca is still thought to mark
the exact middle of the earth and hub of the universe; it is surrounded by special shrines
marking the cardinal points, and the roads that lead to it are holy, the main one being called
the Royal Road.22 There at a set time the whole human race must assemble in one
tremendous concourse, as it shall assemble on the Day of Judgment before the throne of
God.23 It was common in the Middle Ages to represent Jerusalem on maps as the exact
center of the earth and to depict the city itself as a quartered circle (fig. 9). Long before the
days of the prophets, that place was the seat of a great assembly and of the royal year-drama,
of which many echoes still survived in the Bible. 24 The records from Ras Shamra describe
the same type of rites in ancient Syria, 25 and early Christian writers tell of other great
assemblies in the desert. 26
The most complete descriptions of the year-rites, as of the hierocentric doctrine, have been
supplied by the Babylonian investigators, to one of whom (Father Burrows) we are beholden
for the term hierocentric as that which best describes those cults, states, and philosophies
that were oriented about a point believed to be the exact center and pivot of the universe.27
Dumont and Albright have collaborated to demonstrate the essential -- prehistoric -- identity
of the earliest Babylonian rite with the greatest festival of India, the Asvamedha.28 But
perhaps the most brilliant of all the great assemblies took place at the Persian Nauroz -continuing the very ancient practices described in the Avesta and the Vedas -- when all the
world followed the Royal Road to the presence of the king to present their gifts and feast as
his guests on his birthday, the New Year, the only day on which his glory was visible.29 The
great annual assemblies at the courts of the Mongol khans and the Chinese emperors (cf. fig.
10), to which we shall refer below, follow the identical pattern. It also occurs in the New
World and among primitive tribes.30
The Kingly Calling
But granted that these great assemblies did take place, and that the rites were far too peculiar
and elaborate to have been independently invented in a hundred different places, what then?
The dominant position of the king in the hierocentric rites suggests the kingly office as the
natural point of departure for further examination of the origin and survival of the system.
Within recent years a number of important studies have appeared treating the sacral kingship
as a single uniform institution throughout the ancient East.31 The orthodox conceptions of
kingship are not legion but only one. This conception is clearly restated by each monarch in
his turn.
From the beginning Pharaoh is "ruler of all that which is encircled by the sun,"32 he is "the
son of God, none can resist him; all people are subject to him, his bounds are set at the ends
of the earth," to him the gods "have promised world dominion."33 In Babylonia where "the
earthly was a counterpart of the heavenly monarchy, but distinct,"34 Naramsin called
himself "King of the Four Regions" and "King of the Universe." Goetze says that the
Weltreich-Idee was first carried out in practice by those Semitic conquerors who made
Akkad the Mittelpunkt der Welt (center of the world) at about 2600 B.C. Whether or not this
actually was the first world empire, from that time on every state in the East "erstrebt für sich
theoretisch die Weltmacht" (theoretically aspires to world dominion).35 The Assyrian king
duly called himself "King of the four quarters of the world, the sun of all peoples . . .
conqueror of the faithless . . . whose hand conquered all who refused him submission . . .
whose priesthood in the temple and rule over all peoples, Enlil made great from days of
old";36 and described his divine calling and mission as that of forcing all the world "from
the rising of the sun unto the setting of the same . . . to acknowledge one supremacy."37 The
earliest kings of Elam and Susa also described themselves as "King of the four regions," and
"exalted messenger and high-commissioner of heaven," 38 even as the later Achaemenids,
"lords of all people, from sunrise to sunset," felt obliged to conquer all the world for Ahura
Mazda, to whose rule every enemy was invited to submit before being attacked. 39 As late as
1739 a Persian shah could stamp upon his money: "O coin, announce to all the earth the
reign of Nadir, the King who conquers the world."40
The Roman emperor is, from the first, "virtutum rector" (instructor in virtues) of the world,
"salus orbis, Romae decus . . . magnus parens mundi" (the salvation of the world, the glory
of Rome . . . the mighty father of the earth),41 and so forth, after the pattern of the old sacral
kings.42 The basic doctrine of Hellenistic kings is that every true king is a universal king;
the divine urge of kings cannot be satisfied with anything less than the world because Zeus
the world-king is the only model for them.43 The Byzantine emperor, bearing the titles and
insignia of the Persian kings in conscious imitation, was "by definition the master of the
universe." "Il a pour devoir . . . de propager la foi orthodoxe à travers toute la terre habitée,
dont Dieu . . . lui promet la domination" (he has as his duty . . . spreading the orthodox faith
throughout the whole inhabited world, whose rule God promises him); 44 and he tells his
son that God has placed his throne "like the sun before Him. . . .He hath given to thee as
worthy His own dominion over all men."45
"Abscondat solem, qui vult abscondere regem" (whoever wishes to hide the king may as well
try to hide the sun)! cries a medieval panegyrist of the French king,46 who claimed to be the
true successor of the emperor and nothing less than "king of kings and the greatest of princes
under heaven."47 The great Attila called himself totius mundi principem (the lord of the
whole earth) in the firm conviction that the miraculous finding of the sword of Mars that he
bore was a sign from heaven that he should rule the world.48 He was greatly incensed when
he learned that a Roman ambassador had declared him to be only a man, whereas Theodosius
was a god. 49 In the sixth century, the Khagan of the Turks declared that "all the earth from
the rising to the setting of the sun is his inheritance, and all who have dared oppose the
Turks have been duly enslaved." 50 A thousand years before, when Darius demanded that a
Scythian king bring him earth and water, the latter replied that as a descendant of God he
was the only legitimate ruler.51 The ninth and tenth centuries of our era saw an epidemic of
world-kings in higher India, Cambodia, and Java, all of whom "ambitionnaient d'être
souverains universels" (sought to be lords of the earth), mystically identical with the
universal God himself, for whom they sent out their missionaries to win the world.52
When the papal legate Ezzelino announced at the court of the Great Khan that his master was
"placed high above all the kings and princes of the world, and . . . is honored by them as
their Lord and Father," his Mongol hosts held their sides with laughter; the nonentity in the
West was claiming to be exactly what their Khan obviously was in reality.53 "The Sky had
ordered me to rule all nations," was the sincere pronouncement of Chingis Khan,
Ssuto-Bogdo, the God-sent, "whose word was heaven's will."54 To his successor, he says:
"Emirs, Khans, and all persons shall know that I have delivered over to you the whole face
of the earth from sunrise to sunset. All who . . .oppose . . . shall be annihilated." 55 At the
same time the pontiffs of Rome were stating like claims in like words, and when the Pope's
messenger told Kuyuk that all princes were subjected to his master, the latter answered: "The
might of the Eternal Heaven had given the Khagan all lands from sunrise to sunset, and
failure to obey his commands was a crime against God. . . . Any who made the slightest
resistance would be annihilated and exterminated." His seal bore the inscription: "God in
heaven, and Kuyuk Khan upon earth, the power of God: the seal of the emperor of all
When the Khan's emissaries bore this doctrine to the court of the Caliph (as the pope's
legates had to his), the latter countered with the identical doctrine: "You have become in
your own eyes the Lord of the Universe, and think that your commands are the decisions of
fate. . . . Do you not know that from East to West those who worship God, from kings to
beggars, are all slaves of this court?" 57 The corollary to this is the doctrine that "war against
those who are not Moslems is a solemn obligation to God. . . . It is a duty to attack the
infidels, even though they may have committed no act of aggression." All the world must be
repeatedly invited to accept Islam, and whoever refuses must be wiped out by all possible
means. 58 By the end of the tenth century the Caliphs had under Turkish influence and with
the aid of the court theologians preempted the tremendous title of the Persian kings and
announced that "all the world must follow the guidance of the Commander of the
In China, the Ming emperors after the expulsion of the Mongols "took over the claim to
world dominion" and"sent embassies to every country over which Kublai Khan had once
held sway, demanding instant submission."60 At the other end of the Mongol world,
Tamerlane sought to fulfill the prophecy that he "with the might of his sword, will conquer
the whole world, converting all men to Islam."61 Even then the Grand Prince of Muscovy
was preparing to assume the might and glory of the Golden Horde and to call himself God's
chosen one and "the only orthodox sovereign in the world."62
All these sample claims, it will be noted, are one and the same. There is no variety among
them, no nuances or fine distinctions and shadings such as one might expect. There are other
royal claims, but this is the common doctrine of the great conquerors. It is clear and
unequivocal in each case: (1) the monarch rules over all men; (2) it is God who has ordered
him to do so and, significantly, none claims authority as originating with himself, but even
the proudest claims to be but the humble instrument of heaven; 63 (3) it is thus his sacred
duty and mission in the world to extend his dominion over the whole earth, and all his wars
are holy wars; and (4) to resist him is a crime and sacrilege deserving no other fate than
extermination. The most obvious corollary of this doctrine is that there can be only one true
ruler on earth. "The eternal command of God is this," wrote Mangu Khan to Louis IX, "in
heaven there is but one eternal God; on earth, there is no other master than Chingis Khan, the
Son of God." 64
In the great "provincial" cultures of Egypt,65 India, 66 China,67 and, as we shall see, of
Europe also, this doctrine of kingship appears not as a local invention but clearly as an
importation from the steppes of Asia. That is true even of Islam. When, in A.D. 979, the king
of the Turks and Deilemites kissed the earth before the feet of a newly elected caliph, a
Moslem general by cried out in horror: "O King, is that God?" But the new caliph was much
pleased by this custom of the plains, and in time this Central Asiatic king-worship became a
permanent fixture in Islam as in Byzantium.68
This peculiar but universal conception of kingship may be traced ultimately to Central Asia
through, among other things, its close association in theory and practice with the hierocentric
point. The universal type of hierocentric shrine bears many marks of its origin.
Mountain and Palace
At every hierocentric shrine stood a mountain or artificial mound and a lake or spring from
which four streams flowed out to bring the life-giving waters to the four regions of the
earth.69 The place was a green paradise, a carefully kept garden, a refuge from drought and
heat. Elaborate waterworks figure conspicuously in the appointments and the rites of the
holy place. The long ritualized wandering of the pilgrims through the desert, thirsting for the
waters of life; the idea that the sacred place is a Vara outside of which all is a howling
desert; the groves and the cultivated gardens where all creatures are at peace; the mighty
central tree that gives shelter to all the creatures of heaven; the stories of a great snake
(dragon) that haunts the place and frightens off those who come for the blessed water70 -- all
such things make it clear that our hierocentric shrines are supposed to represent an oasis, and
forcibly bring to mind Pumpelly's theory that world civilization originated in the oases of
Central Asia.
It is the water-mountain combination, artificially produced at so many important shrines, that
most strongly suggests Central Asia, where the cattle-dependent nomads have always
escaped the deadly drought of summer by driving their beasts to ancestral campgrounds at
the source of a sacred river high in the valleys of a holy mountain. It is there that they elect
their and it is from there that their world empires take their rise.71 Throughout the world,
those who come to the great assembly are supposed to drive cattle with them. The rites at
Olympia and Rome were founded when Heracles drove his cattle, dying of thirst, to those
places.72 The Babylonian counterpart of this hero is himself a seeker for water and is shown
on early seals watering his cattle from an overflowing vase.73 In the north the cow
Authumla stands on the mountain at the source of the four world-rivers. The Koran74
specifically states that the rites of Mecca and all great assemblies are "over the cattle" which
God has given men for sustenance; and, indeed, the common cult symbol of the archaic
assembly is the bull's head.75 We are reminded of the wonderful prehistoric rock pictures
which, all over the world, depict the driving of great herds of cattle to holy water holes.
The seasonal aspect of the great assembly is but the beginning. The interval of a year
between meetings was too much to assure firm government, and the sacred place was often
too awkwardly located. So throughout the world we have a multiplication of "law-days" and
"crown-days" which are but the duplication of the year rite,76 while new and more useful
assembly places supplant the old. Thus the stone of Tara to which the ancient Irish would
drive their cattle at the New Year was moved to Tailtiu when that became the capital, as the
shrine of Delphi to which all men drove their hecatombs was later moved to Delos. 77
William of Rubruck78 tells us that while the real holy center of the Mongols was the
Ononkulitai (the ancestral burial and assembly place on the holy Altai beside the equally
holy Onon River), for purposes of administration it had been supplanted by Karakorum, a
centrally located roundup center to which the tribute animals could be most conveniently
driven from all parts of the empire. Chingis Khan's great minister Yeliu-Ch'uts'ai had
"insisted that such a fixed point was essential, so that the tribes might know to what place to
send tribute, and come to regard it as a centre of administration."79 Chingis Khan himself
"fully realized the necessity of finding himself a safe refuge, a definite, if movable, center,
that might become a rallying point, a citadel, as it were, of his nascent empire," from which
he might send out the "arrow messengers" with his orders to all the world.80 Baghdad, says
Al-Fakhri, was founded in a holy place by the "Khalif of all men" to be "the blessed city,"
and "the house of salvation"; but it was chosen as the most central spot in the empire to be
reached with equal ease from all directions, and the tribes of the four regions were admitted
to it, each by the appropriate gate.81 Thousands of years before, the Babylonian and
Assyrian kings had observed the identical practice: "I founded a city in the desert, in a waste,
and from its foundation to its top I completed it. A temple I builded and placed a shrine of
the great gods in it . . . and I opened a road to it." Here we have a point where the king on his
throne could "receive the heavy tribute of the four regions in the city of Assur, son of
Shalmaneser, King of the Universe." "I opened a palace in the city of Tushhan; the tribute of
the land of Nidrun . . . I received in the city of Tushhan." "I opened a palace in the city of
Tiluli and received the tribute of the land of Kutmuhi."82 The names of the gates of such
places -- always facing "the four winds" -- tell what they are for: when they are not
proclaiming an abundance of water, they have such titles as "Bringing the Products of the
Mountains," "The Gifts of the Sumu'anite and the Temite Enter through It," "Door of the
Products of the Lands," and so forth.83 The oldest temple complexes in the world, at Ur and
Mohenjo Daro, were such places of gathering, it is supposed.
The Persians kept the system, covering the world with scale-models of the royal palace to
serve as local collection centers. 84 The oldest of such shrines and collection points would
seem to go back to early hunters. Xenophon tells of visiting a shrine of the Asiatic hunting
goddess, where hunters would come to sacrifice and the lady would feast all who brought
their tithes with bread, wine, and meat as they camped in their booths in the sacred
enclosure. 85 This shrine, he says, was an exact replica of the great central temple of the
goddess at Ephesus. The picture of the prehistoric Anahita (the same goddess to whom
Xenophon refers) is a genuine piece of steppe-lore: clothed in magnificent furs and gold, the
lady rides in her great wagon from one of her thousand castles to the next, each castle having
a hundred windows and a throne for Anahita and standing in a cultivated oasis.86
Eyewitnesses have at wide intervals of time reported the activities of just such great ladies of
the steppes, riding upon their wagons from castle to castle. 87
In Asia, whoever will found an empire must first have a palace and a city. Xenophon himself
was suspected of planning to have his soldiers settle down and found a city which would be
named after him, from which he could spread abroad his dynamis in all directions. 88 This
was long before Alexander the Great did the same thing. It is the immemorial Asiatic pattern.
We are told that patriarchs of the race did it in the beginning;89 and, as late as the 1920s, the
holy man Dambin Jansang built a mighty fortress in the midst of the Gobi from which he
actually dominated all of Central Asia.90 The "characteristic Central Asiatic city," according
to a modern observer, is a cluster of buildings and tents about a super-palace, built to be the
administrative center of all the vast empty spaces around. 91 Archaeology has shown this to
have been the normal order in prehistoric times, when the city was already but an appendage
of the palace, and the palace was a combination fort, shrine, and trading center, like any real
hierocentric point.92 All organized society was centered at that place which bore the name
of "the god, the tribe, and the capitol, where the ancestral power was concentrated."93 When
this fell, the empire fell too; and so we have the concept of Babylon, founded by Nimrod, the
mad hunter, the plunderer and enslaver of all the earth, full of "beasts and sheep, and horses,
and chariots, and slaves and the souls of men," that perishes in a day.
Kings as Hunters and Nomads
We have remarked elsewhere that "Kings must be Hunters."94 The royal hunt of Asia is a
great battue in which all the animals are driven by a converging ring of soldiers to that spot
in the very center of the contracting circle where the king sits on his throne on a green
mound. There the king slays the beasts he chooses and gives his "peace" to the rest, which
thereby become sacrosanct under his protection.95 Human beings are treated in exactly the
same way. A Persian king after viewing a tremendous animal drive significantly remarks to
his officers: "And when people regard us as enemies and neither send up soldiers nor tribute,
we hunt them with all our might!"96 Xenophon loves to dwell on the absolute identity of
war and hunting in the Asiatic economy (a doctrine dear to the Mongols): the ruling nation is
simply a moving army in the field; when it is not hunting men, it is hunting animals, and vice
versa. Carpini tells how Chingis Khan "became a mighty hunter. He learned to steal men,
and to take them for prey. He ranged into other countries taking as many captives as he
could, and join[ed] them unto him,"97 and so conquered the world. That is exactly how the
kings of Babylonia and Assyria describe their own activities. There is no contradiction,
incidentally, in a people being at the same time hunters and cattle raisers. Ammianus notes,
for example, that though the Persians, Scythians, and Alans drove their huge herds before
them wherever they went "like perpetual fugitives," they still lived by hunting animals and
plundering humans. 98 Certainly the oldest kings of the East described their wars as super
cattle and slave raids, in which wild beasts, domestic cattle, and human beings are driven in
common herds to the holy palace and shrine of the god. 99
This is the old story of Nimrod, who revolted against God, "became a hunter of men," and
founded that abominable state from which all the kings of the earth take their authority.100
Even Apollo was in the beginning a deadly hunter who came from the steppes of Asia (the
land of the Hyperboreans) and slew the great serpent that guarded the holy spring of Delphi,
so that he could gain control of the spot to which all the Greeks brought their tribute, and
thereby became their ruler. 101 So, too, Othinn is pictured in the beginning as a conquering
nomad from the East, who rides into new lands to conquer them, hold games, and receive
tribute; joining with the Asia-manna, "formerly called the Aesir" (the As or Alans), he built
the castle, Sigtunir, and held his great assembly where those twelve judges officiated "who
before had been at Troy and were of the Turkish race."102 All of which points again to the
A nomad origin alone can account for the most paradoxical aspect of all the hierocentric
shrines, namely their universal mobility. Every great shrine, while claiming to be the very
point of origin of all things, had its founding legend telling how it was transferred through
the air from some distant place.
Furthermore, the doctrine that the seat of world dominion, ever since it was sent down in the
beginning from heaven, has moved from place to place among the nations, now centered in
one city and now in another, is stated in one of the earliest Sumerian texts; and, following
Persian patterns, enjoys great popularity among Jewish and Christian apocryphal writers.
Related to this concept is the universal custom requiring the king at his coronation to found a
new palace and a new city to be the center of the earth. This, again, seems the direct
antithesis of belief in an ageless holy shrine marking the one and only center of the universe;
but, again, it is a doctrine that the nomads of the steppes must subscribe to. If palace-temple
complexes must be built as the only way of "binding down" the conquered and organizing
the empire, the necessary mobility of the nomad conquerors would force them to shift their
main center from time to time, thus producing duplication. "Les tribus allaient de place en
place, tandis que les dieux restaient dans les sanctuaires. Il fallait s'y rendre" (tribes went
from place to place, while the gods remained in the sanctuaries);103 hence, of course,
pilgrimage is still a general and natural institution and not merely a ritual in Central Asia.
That all visitors to all hierocentric shrines must dress and act as pilgrims from afar is a clear
enough indication of the nomadic nature of the institution.
As is well known, the oldest temples were tents or huts of reed matting or some other light
material. The nomads of Asia still employ these light tent-temples which, like the ark of
Israel, move about with them on their wanderings. As soon as such a temple is set up, it
promptly becomes a center of pilgrimage.104 Here we have a practical explanation for what,
in the rest of the world, is purely ritual; namely, the setting up of a sacred booth to serve as
the main shrine during the year-rites. Again, the fact that the Jewish writers describe the
throne of God (certainly the most stable thing in the universe) as mounted on wheels is
indeed perplexing, until one reads that the thrones of the Great Khans were likewise on
wheels, so that they could be drawn along by horses or oxen when it came time to move the
camp (cf. fig. 11).105 The apocryphal picture of God entering paradise perfectly reproduces
the scene of the khagan arriving at the summer kuriltai. The Almighty rides into the glorious
meadows on a huge wagon which comes to a halt under the great central tree of life, while
all the people sing joyful hymns of welcome.106
Paradoxically enough, the idea of a hierocentric point is far more often brought to the minds
of nomads than of sedentary people. The royal court of the Mongols is "called in their
language horda," says William of Rubruck, "which signifies, the middle; because the
governor or chieftain among them dwells always in the middle of his people."107 Every
schoolboy knows (or once knew) that the Northern king who went into battle surrounded by
concentric rings of warriors -- the "shield-wall" -- was an object of sacred trust; also that
such an order of battle is a tactical absurdity -- except on the open plains, where it has
always been standard with the kings of Asia.108 Many observers have described the
meticulous care with which the Asiatic nomads orient their camps to the four cardinal points
-- the basic hierocentric idea. And what is more natural than that wanderers over the
featureless plains should be ever concerned with taking their bearings in the universe?
Herodotus tells us that when Asiatic colonists went out at the command of Delphi to found
the kingdom of Libya, their leader pointed to the spot where the new capitol was to stand
with the order: "Here we must stop for here is the axis of heaven!" 109
The institution of the Royal Progress in which the monarch moves like the beneficent sun in
a tireless round among his people is another Asiatic practice. The Persian kings were
constantly on the move between their various summer and winter palaces, and medieval
travelers have described how all of Central Asia migrated with the seasons. This is simply
the necessary seasonal nomadism of the grass-seeking cattle people, and the Royal Progress
is really royal nomadism.110
The proper business of all kings, when not sitting on the throne, is war and the hunt, both
requiring the nomadic way of life. Tournaments and fairs are no less an occasion for
camping out; and even when the king must live indoors, his palace walls, covered with
tapestries and skins, are made to look as tentlike as possible.111 Indeed the royal throne, like
the royal bed (which in Asia is identical with it),112 ordinarily stands under a canopy which
is nothing but a "Turkish" tent.113 "A recent discovery," writes Gadd, "has revealed that the
later Assyrians described their earliest princes as `kings living in tents,' and the same phrase,
occurring at the end of Babylonian history . . . indicates that this means chieftains of desert
tribes."114 This background the kings never lost. To the kings of Asia the royal tent is as
much a part of the insignia as is the crown. Tamerlane in the West and the Chinese emperors
in the East115 built their magnificent palaces to resemble their ancestral tents (cf. fig. 10, p.
105). The tentlike character of the Achaemenid palaces was carried over into the mosques of
the Near East and the cathedrals of Europe, so that the great domed structures that sprang up
all over the world in the Middle Ages appear both in form and decoration to be
reproductions of the great royal yurts of the plains (cf. fig. 12).116
The arts and treasures that royalty has always coveted are the arts and treasures of the
nomads -- textiles, jewelry, arms, animals, and slaves -- all highly portable and instantly
redeemable.117 Louis XI, for all his absolutism, was despised by other monarchs as being
"not royal," because as a European he saw where his true wealth lay. An Asiatic king, who
must spend his whole life on the move, must carry the wealth of his kingdom on his back, so
to speak, if he is to enjoy it; and this is the type of royal display that passed throughout the
world as kingly. The highest expression of royal splendor is the court with its endless
feasting and hunting and its display of gorgeous bric-a-brac looted by a nobility whose
whole life is a military campaign. It might even be said that the Renaissance was the
rediscovery of the sedentary arts -- painting, sculpture, pottery, books, architecture -- as
against the nomadic arts of the Middle Ages, such as bardic poetry, weaving, jewelry, arms,
pageantry, and so forth.
It is in Central Asia alone that chivalry and feudalism, like court ritual, have survived to our
day. 118 And they are found there in the beginning. From the first, the conquerors of Asia
brought the conquered under control by forcing them to farm and by building castles to
watch them. The only free men are the lords, who alone may hunt or even mount a horse.119
They are allowed freedom of motion because they are bound to the monarch by solemn oaths
-- the code of chivalry is an arrangement by which a nomadic aristocracy is recruited (often
from conquered enemies) and kept in leash while being allowed its freedom and enjoying the
service and support of grounded serfs. Goetze has shown that chivalry and feudalism are the
normal products of Central Asian economy, whence all the great empires of the second
millennium B.C. adopted them.120 The system was taken over in the West, along with the
chivalric and heraldic devices that still betray their origin by their Asiatic nomenclature, at
the time when Europe, overrun by the wild hordes of Asia, was itself simply a western
extension of the great Asiatic system. It never worked very well in Europe, however, as
Tennyson wistfully observes, and whenever the Europeans came in contact with the real
Asiatics, the latter were shocked and disgusted at the laxness, treachery, jangling, and
hypocrisy that made European chivalry, even for intelligent Europeans, a most obvious farce.
The typical royal court is Asiatic in its rites and appointments. In the Western world those
hunting parks which may not be missing from the seats of royalty are but feeble imitations at
best of the stupendous paradises of the East. Europeans, familiar with the courts of the West,
were simply overawed in the presence of the Great Khans. Their courts were crude and
barbaric, but they were the real thing. The khan himself sat utterly majestic and aloof on his
high throne in the dim half-light of the great dome (and what else could have inspired the
Byzantine emperors to have their thrones hoisted up by derricks to the ceiling?). "Upon the
right hand of the great Khan sits his first-begotten son and heir . . . and under him sit all the
nobles of blood royal. There are also four secretaries, which put all things in writing that the
emperor speaks. In his presence likewise stand barons and others of his nobility, with great
trains of followers after them, of whom none dare speak so much as one word . . . except his
jesters and stage-players, who are appointed of purpose to solace their lord. . . . All his
barons present themselves before him, with wreaths and crowns upon their heads . . . some
of them are in green, namely the principal; the second are in red, and third in yellow, and
they hold each man in his hand a little ivory tablet of elephant's tooth, and they are girt with
golden girdles half a foot broad, and they stand upon their feet keeping silence." At a given
signal, all fall upon their faces and touch their foreheads to the earth. Around the walls the
nobility are arranged in tiers of thrones or benches, proximity to the emperor being
proportionate to rank. A host of musicians hymn the monarch's praise with ceaseless and
terrifying din. 121
If the king on his throne is doing his best to imitate God on His,122 we must allow the khans
of Asia first prize among earthly monarchs. Here is no sad and puerile Byzantine
masquerading, but an expression of tangible power: the mechanical lions of Constantinople
were real lions before the throne of the khan. There can be no doubt that it is the Asiatic
model that is followed in the apocryphal descriptions of the heavenly court, and the
Byzantine court that served as the model for all of Europe was itself consciously copied from
the East. The livery, for example, which is little more than a pretty conceit in the courts of
Europe, has a profound significance among the nomads, as do the chivalric banners that go
with it.123 When the Easter chorus in Constantinople joyfully announces that the heads of
the emperor's enemies are heaped up before his feet, it is not difficult to detect a wishful
imitation of the Grand Khan, for the collection of heads and scalps for the king was
immemorial routine on the steppes.
As the king sits in state at the New Year (and every throne-day is but a repetition of the New
Year's rites), 124 all the world must bring its tribute and lay it at his feet. In return the king
must pour out rich gifts without measure, for he is the lord of abundance and all things are
his. The staggering turnover of property in the form of gifts received and bestowed has been
the ruin of many a European court; but it is sound economic policy in a nation whose whole
existence is an endless campaign of looting and where it is convenient to dispose of recent
plunder to another in all possible haste. The normal economy of the "barbarians" runs down,
says Jordanes, as soon as loot stops coming in;125 and Bar Hebraeus has given a vivid
description of the ruin of a court when its noble members abandoned their customary raids
and filibusters.126
The Two Kingdoms
Highly characteristic of the hierocentric doctrine is an utter abhorrence of all that lies outside
the system. The world inevitably falls into two parts, the heavenly kingdom and the outer
darkness, a world of monsters and abortions. Whoever is not of the frithr is a nithung,
without rights and without humanity. All who do not willingly submit to Alexander or
Constantine are, according to Dio Chrysostom and Eusebius, mad beasts to be hunted down
and exterminated. For the Roman, all the world is either ager pacatus or ager hosticus, says
Varro, 127 the only alternative to submission being outrageous rebellion. Anyone who
resents the Roman yoke is a guilty slave, says Claudian,128 who should be consumed by
remorse of conscience. For the Moslem, all the world is either Dar al-Islam or Dar al-Harb,
the latter being any spot in the world that has refused to pay tribute and thereby made itself
guilty of rebellion, because everything in the world without exception is the legitimate
property of the Moslems.129 We have already noted the claim of the khans that whoever
resisted them was guilty of crime against God. To Attila, those who resisted his yoke were
runaway slaves, 130 and the Assyrian kings constantly declare that whoever will not take
and keep an oath to them must needs be exterminated as "wicked people" and "rebels." In a
word, "the world without the `Kingdom' remains in its state of primordial rebellion," and all
who do not recognize the divine king are truly "children of destruction." 131
Here we have the root of that dualism so characteristic of Asian theology and commonly
associated with Persia. The doctrine is no mere abstraction, however; it is a condition of
survival among the nomads of the steppes. Farmers may and must live in pax, i.e.,
agreement, pact, compromise;132 and, when they occupy a region, they divide off the land -annually and by lot, as a rule -- and each proceeds to cultiver son jardin (tend his garden) in
a way that absorbs all his thought and energy. But when nomads clash on the open steppe,
one or the other must be utterly subjected. A beaten enemy at large is free to recoup his
strength, bide his time, and by a lucky chance or ruse overthrow his erstwhile conqueror -- a
thing that has happened a thousand times in the history of the tribes. An independent chief is
therefore aut Caesar aut nihil; the alternative to conquering is to be a slave. "Instant
submission or annihilation" is the formula, and every pastoral lord sends forth his challenge
to all the world: "either fight me or submit to me." By absorbing the armies of the enemy,
enslaving some and binding others to him by sacred oaths, the world conqueror builds up his
world-host; "I counted them among my people," is the Assyrian expression. For there must
be one people only: "With the Mongols," says Bar Hebraeus, "there is neither slave nor free;
neither believer nor pagan; neither Christian nor Jew; but they regard all men as belonging to
one and the same stock. . . . All they demand is strenuous service and submission which is
beyond the power (of man to render)."133 The alternative to one rule on the steppes is not
only chaos but sheer nonsense. Nomads cannot be held to boundaries, and where more than
one ruler exists, they follow whom they will and life becomes the intolerable anarchy to
which each great conqueror boasts that he has at last put an end -- invariably describing
himself as the liberator of the human race from depraved pretenders and the restorer of order
in the world.
A natural product of this necessary absolutism is the notorious cruelty of the Asiatic princes
which, often found in men of magnanimous and even gentle nature, seems to the Western
mind nothing short of pathological. But what is one to do when a foe is not beaten until he
has lost his mobility? Where oaths can be trusted, they suffice; where adequate supervision
is possible, it is enough. For the rest, the only sure ways of immobilizing a dangerous enemy
are by beheading, maiming, blinding, or mass transportation. The remarkable thing is that
the great conquerors rarely harm a hair of anyone of whose submission they are certain and
always protest their preference for gentle and philanthropic methods. It is invariably the
revolted cities and tribes, who have violated the trust and forfeited the faith of the king, that
pay the terrible penalties. Moreover, the kings of Asia were sincere in believing that those
who opposed them were less than human,134 and ages of experience justified their
conviction that no creature on the loose is to be regarded as harmless while it is free to do
harm if it will.
The conquering nomad must of necessity either carry all his loot with him or deposit it at
guarded stations, in either case involving a serious problem of transportation and manpower.
Yet whatever is left behind and unguarded may, and almost surely will, be used against the
conqueror by some rival or rebel; so there is nothing for it but to destroy the stuff. The
Mohammedan law orders that prisoners and loot of war may not be left behind or mutilated,
but if they cannot be carried home, they must be destroyed -- killed or burned. 135 The Huns
"obliterated and smashed everything that lay in their route," but they did so reluctantly, for
they almost lost a battle with the Goths rather than give up the vast burden of looted goods
that was impeding their motions.136 Many have commented on the inconsistency of princes
in combining a passion for collecting beautiful things with an absolute indifference to the
destruction of beautiful things. It is clearly a heritage of the steppes, where the apparent
paradox makes perfectly good sense. All observers have commented on the single-minded
devotion of the Asiatic nomads to the accumulation of treasures (as nomads they are hungry
for such things); but when their own survival is at stake, the stuff becomes dangerous
impedimenta to be destroyed out of hand.
At any period of history the two top hierocentric states may be seen damning each other as
Antichrist and resembling each other like two peas. In the classic duel between Justinian and
Chosroes, George of Pisidia describes the court ceremonial of Persia as a carbon copy of that
of Constantinople, with the explanation that the Oriental version is but a hideous parody of
the real thing. Chosroes replied in kind. 137 This doctrine of the Two Kingdoms is already
full-blown in the old Babylonian New Year's hymn, Enuma Elish, in which the evil court of
Tiamat is described as a perfect reflection -- in reverse -- of the heavenly court of Anu.
Emperors, caliphs, shahanshahs, grand khans, popes, and kings were all at one time or
another paired off against each other as rival world rulers; while each, within his own
sphere, "had to eliminate rival contenders" for his office. Always, the drama is described by
their constituents as the cosmic combat between light and darkness, heaven and hell,
between two opposing ideologies, antithetical ways of life while, in reality, they are
They are identical because they are hierocentric -- and that is a concept which seems almost
incapable of any variety: it is always the same.
A Western Heritage
With the decline of the Roman Empire, Europe became a battleground of the tribes: "propter
Gallorum terras graviter inter se decertati sunt" (they fought bitterly among themselves for
the lands of the Gauls).139 Gibbon has told best of all the story of how the "pastoral kings"
of the steppes fought each other for the control of the newly opened lands of the West,
exactly as they had fought for their Asiatic grazing lands; and how the native populations
were either driven like cattle (a favorite term with contemporary writers) or allowed to live
on as serfs, meekly submitting to one haughty lord after another. The most powerful of these
tribes, the Huns -- "expeditum indomi-tumque hominum genus" (an unencumbered and
untamed race of men) 140 -- under the mighty Attila, "barbariam totam tenens" (master of
the whole non-Roman world),141 treated Europe simply as a western province of their
Asiatic empire. Attila's son Dinzio did, on European soil, exactly what every Asiatic aspirant
had done before him in Asia; he rallied the remnants of the tribes about him, and tried to
seize a city in Pannonia in an attempt to restore his father's Imperium. 142 A later
descendant of Attila, Mundo, is even more typical, for he went into the most desert part of
Europe and there, like Tamerlane and Chingis Khan, gathered a band of outcasts about him,
no doubt making the most of his descent. He had them proclaim him king and declared war
on the world, choosing as his base of operations a tower on the Danube which was called
Herta -- obviously the later Mongol Horda, "the center" of dominion.143 These men, typical
feudal barons, were transplanting the ways of the steppes into the West.
The West had long been preparing to receive them, too. Generations of fighting against
Alans, Gepids, Goths, and Huns, and of fighting with them shoulder to shoulder, in alliance
now with one and now with the other, had transformed the Roman military state into the
thing it had been fighting. Narses consciously and successfully employed not Roman but
Hunnish tactics against the Franks, and the closing chapters of Jordanes show a Roman army
indistinguishable from any barbarian horde. The last chapter of all makes the significant
remark that the ultimate victor to emerge from the world shambles was "victor gentium
diversarum Justinianus Imperator" (the Emperor Justinian, conqueror of diverse peoples). It
was in this man Justinian that the Huns won a great and abiding victory over the West.
The Emperor Justinian displayed at all times a single-minded devotion to the Huns that
puzzles and dismays historians. 144 Apparently there was nothing he would not do to please
the Huns, even to the wrecking of his own foreign policy145 and the ruination of trade and
agriculture throughout the empire.146 A passionate devotee of the factionists, he had worn
their Persian beards, Hunnish hair-do, Hunnish cloaks, Hunnish shirts, and Hunnish
shoes,147 the girdles and brooches of the steppes having already supplanted the more
civilized styles of the West. 148 "The greatest destroyer of established institutions that ever
lived," 149 Justinian was determined to make the Western world "completely change its
clothes";150 and he succeeded.
All the absurdities and contradictions in his policies vanish if we consider that this Illyrian,
who hated Greek things, was set upon becoming a grand khan. Justinian handed over the
wealth of the state to the Huns "who were always turning up" at court (a significant note) in
ever increasing numbers.151 He would claim for himself all the private property of the
citizens, either charging the Romans with a crime or pretending that it was all being brought
in to him as gifts, 152 and then promptly give it all away again to the Hunnish lords before
his throne: 153 a thing that made perfectly good sense to his visitors from the steppes but
appeared to his Roman subjects as "a thing that had never happened since the beginning of
time."154 What he did not thus throw away to the barbarians, says Procopius, he wasted on
absurd buildings, 155 constructed simply to outshine all other emperors -- a thing that any
khan would have understood. This Hun-worship actually amounted to the enslaving of the
empire, says Procopius and Agathias, but that was how Justinian wanted it. He insisted that
all his subjects, from top to bottom, be called his slaves,156 and instituted the strictly Central
Asiatic style of prostration and foot-kissing.157 He was not averse to giving the impression
of being a sort of super-shaman and apparently even adopted the well-known Mongol
custom of making those who entered his presence step clear of the threshold.158 In short,
"instead of acting like a Roman Emperor, he was the complete barbarian in language, dress,
and thought." 159 What more could one ask? The welcome barbarians poured into court
from all directions, to the immense delight of the emperor, who never failed to send them
away loaded with gold, 160 till presently "the barbarians in general became complete
masters of the wealth of the Romans."161 In the end, all the offices and officials of the state
were supplanted by one office -- the royal court, and by two persons -- the emperor and
empress,162 for the new ascendancy of the empress, intensely resented by Procopius, was
the crowning Asiatic touch.
Justinian's weird innovations were no ephemeral thing. They were but the culmination of
that process of Asianizing which had been deplored by the poets of the Republic. And they
were there to stay. Diehls, and indeed the ancients themselves, see in Justinian the perfect
type and model of the true Byzantine monarch, and his court became the model for every
court of Europe. The sedentary populations of the empire, strictly forbidden to adopt the
wandering ways of the conquerors, were permanently saddled with an adventurous hunting
and campaigning nobility. How utterly unworkable the system was is vividly described by
Fulcher, who shows how in time it led inevitably to the Crusades.163 In the Crusades we
find the nobility of the West employing all the devices and insignia of the Asiatics with
accustomed familiarity, so that Edward I can arrange for a coordinated invasion operation
with his Mongol allies down to the smallest detail. The Europeans fully understood all the
gadgets of the East and were as enthusiastic for a life of raiding and adventure as any
Bedouin. But the good side of the Asiatic system completely escaped them.
Christianity added nothing to the hierocentric doctrine as such. The early Christian theology
was keenly conscious of all the imagery of hierocentric rule and ritual and, above all, of the
contrast of the two kingdoms. The Apostles, the Apostolic Fathers, Diognetus, Tertullian,
and the Shepherd of Hermas tell us, it is true, that there is a universal throne -- but it is not
on this earth. The devil is the "Prince of this World," which is no place for the children of the
kingdom -- they sojourn here as pilgrims and as strangers. The conflict is not between
contending parties here below, but between "this world" and the other. Our heritage and
kingdom lie beyond: "here we have no abiding kingdom."
Later Christian teaching adopted the old hierocentric doctrine with enthusiasm; but it did
not, as Ferrero boasts, 164 make it more spiritual and intellectual: the lofty ideal of the
sacred universal empire is as abstract and intellectual in Horace and Vergil as it is in Dante.
The vision of the universal ruler seated at the center of the cosmos had been fully
appreciated and ecstatically proclaimed by the theoreticians of Alexandria in whose steps
Roman emperors and Christian thinkers willingly followed.165 Gilson, commenting on Pope
John VIII's concept of the church, says that it was identical with the Roman Empire, having
the same capital and the same idea, only plus vaste. 166 But what could be more vaste than
the urbs aequaeva polo (city coeval with the heavens) of the pagan panegyrists, equal to the
universe itself? Diehl sees in Christianity the addition of a profoundly religious element to
the old concept of the Imperium: the prince is "transformed into the elect of God." But what
Cosmocrator was ever anything but just that?
In describing the new world church as an improvement on the old system, each of these three
authorities admits the Church's indebtedness to that system. The absolute predominance of
the emperor, "equal to the Apostles" (isapostolos), God on earth, the supreme head of the
church as well as the state;167 the great imperial councils, a thing new in the church but, as
Gelzer and Batiffol have shown, established usage in the empire; the investiture of
churchmen by the emperor with insignia originally confined to the secular administration
and borrowed from the East;168 the new ritual and liturgy so closely akin to old court
ceremonies -- the laudes echoing the old imperial acclamation and the liturgies praising God
in the same set terms which the panegyrists declaimed before the emperor; the emergence of
Christ, the ever-victorious crusher of his foes, as an object of terror and dread169 -- such are
a few of the well-documented indications that the world church of the fourth century was
built upon the firm foundation of the old sacral kingship. The Armenian monk Vartan says
the Christians prostrated themselves before God as the Mongols did before the Grand Khan.
170 A trip to Constantinople would have shown him that this pious prostration was not
reserved for the Invisible God but was really the old emperor-worship of Central Asia.
To Conclude
That it was the people of the steppes, engulfing the great "peripheral" civilizations in wave
after wave, who imposed government upon the world, Oppenheimer long ago made clear.
What he failed to observe is that hunters do not always "work best alone or in small groups,"
but on the boundless plains have been wont to operate in vast communal battues from the
beginning. More recently Goetze has completed the picture in describing how the Hurrians
and their kind came out of the regions of the North at the end of the third millennium and
taught the old city-states to become world empires, supplying them with the equipment for
the task: the horse, the chariot, the mounted archer, and a thoroughgoing feudalism.171
In China, India, Egypt, and Europe the successive waves of nomad invasion have been like
recurrent attacks of a disease, each effecting a permanent change in the organism and leaving
a permanent deposit behind it. The invaded civilizations, having absorbed institutions and
traditions of the invaders, become increasingly susceptible to the romantic appeal of the
same, and in some cases (e.g., Russia) contact between the two worlds is never broken
During the darkest period of its history, when all the works of established civilization were
virtually destroyed, the West reverted to a state of primordial chaos indistinguishable from
that which normally prevails on the steppes of Asia. At that fatal moment the liquefied
resources of the West were poured, as they had often been before, into the Asian mold. The
obvious solution to the Asiatic predicament was the classic Asiatic solution: with appalling
meekness the officials of the empire literally kissed the earth before the feet of worthless and
arrogant emperors, while pastoral conquerors settled down to establish their accustomed
economy of theft and tribute on the newly won soil of Europe.
This is the dangerous heritage of the hierocentric state. Removed from those boundless
land-spaces which gave it rise and which alone offer boundless empire, the hierocentric ideal
becomes in practice a pretentious ritual, pontificale et vide (pretentious and empty); but in
theory a noble dogma, a pure idea of such compelling logic, simplicity, boldness, and
universal appeal as to appear nothing short of a revelation from heaven. The great Greeks,
like the prophets and apostles, saw through the imposing fraud: "God never meant that one
man should rule all of cattle-raising Asia," says the ghost of Darius, addressing at once the
Eastern and Western worlds from the stage of Athens. But the shallower minds of the
schoolmen were lost in ecstatic contemplation of the universal king around whom all things
revolve in perfect circles. No less so the schoolmen of the Middle Ages, "cabined in the
Absolute," hypnotized by the overwhelming authority of the One. And so, too, the
schoolmen of our own day. Toynbee is confident that "religion is likely to be the plane on
which this coming centripetal [we would say, hierocentric] counter-movement will first
declare itself," and recommends above all else the study of "the part which the west has
played in the unification of mankind."172
In the last chapter of his Histoire des Croisades, Grousset has shown how Western Europe, at
the peak of its intellectual splendor, utterly failed to comprehend the enlightened world
views of the Mongol khans who, strongly favoring Christianity in their own lands, were all
but begging for an alliance with the Christian West by which the two could crush Islam.
Significantly enough, it was the vision of world-rule itself that frustrated action. The
cardinals who cross-examined Rabban Sauma would not hear of an alliance that might seem
to march against the Antichrist under any other banner -- Nestorian or Mongol -- than their
own. In A.D. 297, the Emperor Galerius haughtily rejected a generous offer of the Persians
to divide the rule of the world as equals, East and West, and thus preserve the peace; the
Romans, says Petrus Patricius, simply could not conceive of such a proposition as anything
but sarcasm or malice. When the Persian ambassadors pointed out the risk and folly of
rejecting such a golden offer, the furious emperor shouted: "The custom of my ancestors has
been to spare those who submit and make war on those who don't!"173 That was all. It
would seem that nothing can so effectively block "the unification of mankind" as that very
religious "centripetal counter movement" for which Toynbee yearns, and that the West has
been less the author of such unification than its consistent wrecker.
Men seem unable to leave the dream of a hierocentric state alone. To recapitulate the
sections given above, we cannot blame people if they yearn for (1) the grandeur, color, and
unity of the great assembly, (2) the lofty and uncompromising certainty of universal
kingship, (3) the sense of refuge and well-being in the holy shrine, (4) the high and
independent life of a chivalrous aristocracy, (5) the luxury of hating all opposition with a
holy hatred, and (6) the sheer authority of the institutions established and maintained by
force. These are the strengths of the hierocentric state. Its weakness is that it doesn't exist.
That "son of the morning" who went up into the North, placed his throne upon the mountain
of the assembly, and said, "I will be like the most High," only succeeded, we are told in
"weaken[ing] the nations" (Isaiah 14:14, 12).
This article was originally published in Western Political Quarterly 4/2 (1951):
Chapter 4
The Roman practice, best described as sparsio, of bestowing public donatives by throwing
things among the multitude to be scrambled for in scenes of wild disorder has never received
the attention which its strangeness solicits and its significance for the study of Roman
politics and economics deserves.1 Though a preliminary view of a neglected and highly
speculative field cannot but raise more questions than it answers, the nature and importance
of the sparsiones may, we believe, be adequately demonstrated by consideration of three
points: (1) what was distributed by sparsio, (2) by whom and on what occasions, and (3) by
what particular methods.
What was distributed by sparsio? The articles scattered to the Roman multitude have long
been the object of careful study. They fall into two classes, tokens and gifts "in kind." The
tokens -- tesserae, coins, little balls, sections of reed, and such bizarre objects as figurines
and inscribed spoons -- are such by virtue of their designated exchange value.2 As gifts "in
kind" may be classed figs, dates, nuts, sweets, and cookies, as well as such less appetizing
bits as vegetables, fruits, grain, chick-peas, beans, birds, and flowers.3 The solid sparsio was
often accompanied by a liquid one of water, wine, perfume, or oil.4 Meal, blood, and ashes
were also strewn abroad in rites in which the public scrambling played a conspicuous part.5
The tokens in question were of course "symbols" (the word originates with them, in fact),6
but no more so than the other gifts. Figs, nuts, fruits, meal, flowers, and so forth are
well-known symbols of fertility, possessing in the sparsio the broader signification of a
"general blessing."7 The ancients tell us that a shower of chick-peas and beans stands for
omnia semina (all kinds of seeds),8 and that Janus's scattering of sweets is but an earnest of
sweet things to follow through the year.9 The same motif of abundance is evident in the
tokens and figurines,10 which were interchangeable with gifts in kind and could represent
omne genus rerum (every sort of thing)11 -- it was not just bread that the emperor scattered;
it was "perpetual daily bread."12 The keynote is abundance -- abundance of everything
good, the plouthygeia of the Greek sparsio 13 as it appears in the gifts of the Hygeia,
Thalysia, Panspermia, Thargelos, and so forth, when mixtures of grain and fruits were
scattered over the heads of the recipients to impart all the blessings of life, 14 and life
itself.15 With such a mixture the Romans showered their archaic Vortumnus, god of the
annus vertens at his festival,16 and were themselves showered at the year-feast of the
Floralia,17 when "omnia semina super populum spargebant" (they strewed every kind of
seed on the people), as well as nuts, flowers, and beans, in primitive chthonian-agricultural
rites.18 But the true Roman equivalent of plouthygeia is the strena, the king's gift at the New
Year, which in its primitive form of laurel branch seems to have figured in sparsiones, 19 as
it certainly does in its other forms.20 Whether the original sparsio was a scattering over the
people and fields of Zeugungskraft (reproductive power) in the form of blood, ashes, or fresh
remains of the dismembered year-god,21 or whether it was a strewing of bloodless offerings
such as honey-cakes or mola salsa, it would be useless to inquire, since both forms are found
together from the earliest time.23
Who gave the sparsiones, and on what occasions? So far we are on familiar ground. No one
will deny that some sparsiones followed a New Year's pattern. But were there any that did
not? The answer is in the negative. In maintaining that the great public distributions were
simply the extension of unpretentious private festivities,24 scholars have ignored the
essential aspect of the latter, especially where sparsiones are concerned; namely, that they
were not private at all. Private sparsiones were for celebrations marking some rite de passage
in a family -- a birth, death, marriage, coming-of-age, or the like. 25 These are precisely the
occasions on which the individual's case, overpassing the bounds of everyday life to
establish contact with the spirit world, becomes a concern of great moment to the entire
society. 26 The Roman funeral was a public affair;27 the Roman people could in fact
commandeer the funeral of anyone at will,28 and compel the dead, through his heir, to make
that public distribution which belonged to a funeral.29 If the defunct could not afford this
donative, a public collection would be taken, a "shower" which the heir would presently
redistribute as the dead man's gift to the people.30 At marriages it was the same story, and
bride and groom could no more evade the obligation of scattering presents to the populace
than they could avoid the meal that the populace threw at them.31 Likewise, the triumphator
both received and gave a shower; 32 indeed, Lord Raglan has recently called attention to the
obvious fact that triumph, wedding, and funeral are in all essentials ritually identical.33
Alike they mark the beginning and end of a life-period; for the individual they are little New
Year's days, celebrated with the same feasting, games, greetings, and sparsiones as mark the
regular New Year,34 a time when public and private rites seem to be wholly mingled and
confounded.35 The giver of a sparsio, furthermore, ceased by that act to be a mere private
individual, for he received a statue in his memory,36 and was annually glorified in a public
feast of his own providing.37
The striking resemblance of various important Roman festivals to each other has been
explained by referring them to a single common prototype.38 This was the Secular
celebration, the inauguration of the Great Year, marking the life-cycle of the Roman people,
individually and collectively.39 And this Secular rite was before everything the great
sparsio, deriving its name from the primitive *se-tlo-m, "was das Sen ermglicht" (that which
sowing makes possible) -- the sowing, specifically, of men and animals, the begetting of the
race.40 The central act of the celebration was the redistribution to all the people by the king
(the emperor in the revived version) of praemitiae -- beans, barley, corn -- which they had
brought in as year-offerings.41 Much the same thing took place at Delphi originally "on the
birthday of the god":42 all over the ancient world, in fact, a royal sparsio dramatized the
begetting of the race on the day of creation, the New Year. 43 It is quite proper that the chief
patron of the sparsiones should have been Janus, first king and father of the race, and that the
hero-kings of the first age -- Janus, Saturn, Semo-Sancus, Cereus, Lupercus, Faunus, and so
forth -- should uniformly figure in the role of the sower.44 If private sparsiones had to be
given by one who was mactus (honored, glorified) by virtue of standing for the moment
between one world and another (for such is the rite de passage), the king was always mactus:
he was the type and model of the one who gives the sparsio. 45
During the Republic, for example, a magistrate giving grain on a lavish scale could be
charged with trying to play king to the people, 46 which clearly betrays the origin of the
system. The public donative as a royal but at the same time very popular survival was a
source both of power and embarrassment to the oligarchs. Cicero has only praise for a
system which enables great men to win all but regal acclaim,47 yet he is quite aware how ill
the usage suits a republican order and insists that public liberality is a royal, not a private,
virtue.48 It is impossible indeed to conceive of a system less compatible to the good order of
the Republic, or more plainly and fatally designed to beget corruption in it, than that of the
Roman collections and distributions,49 or any more blatant offense to every idea of order
and decorum (so dear to the Republic) than a public scramble. 50 The distribution,
particularly the sparsiones, it is safe to say, could hardly have arisen and taken root under the
very noses of the conscript fathers without their knowledge and consent: if they were not
suppressed along with newfangled cults and luxuries, it is because they were classified
among the sacrosanct and ineradicable survivals of an earlier day. 51 Their immense vitality
and popularity carried them right through the Republic, in fact, to become the very
cornerstone of imperial authority.
From the first the emperor was careful to reserve to himself the sole right of making
donatives (cf. fig. 13). 52 Not only was this his exclusive and inescapable office, 53 it was
also his one sufficient claim to rule if all else failed. 54 A reading of Dio, Suetonius, or
Tacitus will suffice to show that a ruler at Rome was popular in that degree to which he
resembled a Saturnalian king, and that from the first every emperor made a determined effort
to play that strange and hilarious role.55 It was the people who insisted on this: even though
he forbade it, they persisted in giving the emperor that popular title of Dominus,56 the
specific fixture of public feasts,57 which proclaimed to the scandalized world that he was
dominus et deus, nothing less than the old festive king, dominus convivii, giver of all good
things, 58 the equivalent of the Greek basileus,59 the despotes who in the Old Comedy
bursts on the scene with a shower of gifts and a clamorous invitation to all the world to come
and feast at his house.60
It was with this festive office of year-king, with its boundless popular appeal,61 that the
political rivals of the late Republic played so dangerously. It was as praefectus annonae that
Pompey earned his title of The Great and the right to wear royal insignia at festivals.62
When a Crassus, Sulla, or Lucullus gave a feast of abundance, it was at the very Ara Maxima
where Hercules, as type and model of the victorious year-king, had set the example.63
Brutus and Octavian bid desperately against each other for the right to play year-king,64 and
Antony with equal presumption could take the role of King Lupercus at Rome or Dionysus
at Athens.65 Caesar's Clodius posed as the New Numa, 66 and Caesar's own regalia was that
of the festive king. 67 It was, moreover, as lord of peace and plenty that both he and his
successor enjoyed the grant of sovereign power68 by a popular consent which recalls the
manner in which Cyrus became king of the Persians in return for a timely feast.69 Indeed, it
was an established procedure in ancient times for an ambitious man to seize a throne simply
by getting himself made King of the Festival and then, by exercising his ceremonial right to
demand year-gifts and to redistribute them, reorganize the state while refusing to yield up his
royal office.70 It was for that matter at the Ludi Saeculares that Augustus himself assumed
rule of the world.71 An unbroken tradition binds the imperial bounty to the Saturnia regna of
the fabled priest-kings: to the end the emperor remains the magnus parens mundi, the lord of
peace and plenty, the New Hercules, King of the Golden Age,72 "sowing his gifts broadcast
as a sower his seeds." 73
What was the method employed in the sparsiones, and why? On tokens used in the
distributions are found representations of the emperor handing out gifts, or of Liberalitas
shaking out the contents of her cornucopia, from a raised platform. 74 Heliogabalus is
described as acting Phoenicio ritu when, dressed as the Sun, he mounts a specially built
platform to shower gold and silver cups on the people.75 Certainly the picture of Gaius
flinging gold and silver from the palace roof76 suggests the famous scene from the tomb of
Ay (cf. fig. 14), in which Amenophis IV throws gold from a palace balcony while above his
head, to make the meaning clear, the Sun with outstretched hands showers his gifts at the
same time.77 But, while it has notable archaic affinities,78 the custom of casting gifts from a
high platform is no late Oriental importation at Rome, for the old Republican usage was to
scatter nummos (coins) from the rostra, 79 apparently the survival of a very primitive native
sparsio. 80
Likewise the chariot from which the emperor would fling his gold at the New Year,81 while
it has striking Oriental parallels in the heavenly car or plow from which the year-god
showered blessings over men and fields,82 has just as definite counterparts in the North and
West among the Scythians, 83 Celts,84 Greeks, 85 and Germans,86 all of whom remember
in their oldest ritual and legend the gold that fell from the wagon or plow of the god at the
turn of the year. The holy vehicle also appears in Rome as the chariot of the sparsio-giving
triumphator (cf. fig. 11B, p. 117),87 the quadriga in the Vulcanal,88 or that heavenly car
mounted upon the topmost part of the Capitol, upon which the fertility of the Roman fields
was believed to depend.89
Besides the platform and chariot, one must consider the linea, stretched high overhead, from
which, in some endlessly puzzling fashion, sweets and tokens were shaken down over the
crowd in what the ancients refer to as imber, pluviae, grando, nubilia, and so forth. 90 This is
more than a poet's fancy. The sparsio that fell from on high was actually thought of as falling
from heaven. Throughout the ancient world one meets in legend and ritual the golden shower
that descends upon the world to fructify it on the day of creation.91 The Roman version of
this is King Janus's sweet rain of honey and gold; it is the sparsio, from the golden chariot92
or gilded platform,93 of gilt tokens and golden grain, of crocus, saffron, powdered chrysolite
or bean-straw, gilt figs, dates, and cookies -- the golden color predominates in the
sparsiones:94 as in the year-rites of India, everything that is scattered is thought of as golden
because or est semence (gold is seed). 95 What is more natural than that such a shower
should usher in the aureum tempus (Golden Age) at the Saturnalia?96
The golden shower belongs to the familiar hieros gamos: it is the fructifying of the earth by
the shower, thought of both as seed and as water, that falls from heaven.97 This treasure is
stored in the inner chamber of the Earth-Goddess98 -- represented at Rome both by the
temple of Vesta 99 and the treasury of Ceres, that immemorial shrine of the plebs, wherein
was kept both the yellow grain and the yellow gold of the state,100 both being scattered
abroad at the proper time under her sponsorship.101 It was Flora, the Terra Mater, who
"prima per immensas sparsit nova semina gentes" (first scattered new seeds among countless
peoples).102 But, though it reposes by right in the bins of the goddess, the ultimate source of
this wealth is her heavenly spouse. 103
This concept is familiar to the whole ancient world. In the common Egyptian formula "all
things good and pure" are "given of heaven, formed by the earth, conveyed by the Nile."104
"From heaven shall abundance come down upon thee," is the Sumerian version,105 while
Babylonian Marduk filled the land with feasts of plenty when he "poured out abundance
over Shidlam,"106 even as the God of Israel "commanded the clouds from above, and
opened the doors of heaven, and had rained down manna . . . and had given them of the corn
of heaven: man did eat angels' food; He sent them meat to the full; . . . He rained down flesh
upon them as dust," etc. 107 Though early Easter ceremonies furnish some of the most
striking instances of sparsio,108 it was not through Christian channels that the idea of the
heavenly donative reached Rome; for when the boys of the city gathered beneath the Pope's
window to sing for a largess at the New Year, it was "quomodo qui ad Caesarem" that they
called to him to appear at his high window like the sun, moon, and cloud, to scatter good
things over them.109 This donative is the equivalent of the English "singing cakes" or
"singing silver," which, as in the Sarum usage, "must be caste out of the steple, that all the
boyes in the parish must lie scrambling by the eares."110 It recalls the office of Augustus,
who, upon becoming patron of the iuventus, all over Italy supervised such youthful
scrambles for tokens and sweets.111 There is an ancient representation of the linea in action
which clearly portrays its heavenly nature. It is from a lost glass vase of the fourth century
and depicts the distribution of the annonae: high above a group of people with birds, flowers,
and festive mappae in their hands fly two winged genii, each holding a string of bellaria in
either hand -- they are plainly heavenly purveyors of heavenly gifts (fig. 15). 112
The Romans not only received year-gifts by sparsio, but made them in the same way; that is,
by throwing cakes, coins, tokens, flowers, etc., into pits or waters leading to the other
world.113 Though this practice is found among ancient peoples everywhere,114 none make
more of it than the Romans. The original Roman stips was food or a coin that was tossed or
thrown to the god; only later was it laid on the sacra mensa. 115 Archaic Roman offerings to
chthonian deities had to be thrown or tossed in some way before being burned,116 quite like
the Jewish heave- and wave-offerings, 117 and the burning itself was a kind of sparsio.118
Though throwing is a well-known way of banishing evil, and the act of sparsio may have
been designed "both to get rid of the evil and to distribute the good fertility charm over the
fields,"119 the main thing about throwing objects, good or bad (and who shall see evil in
honey-cakes and lucky coins?) is that thereby the gift or curse is passed through the void,
from one world to another, as it were, with careful avoidance of physical contact between
giver and receiver. 120 The spirits are fed -- at a safe distance -- by sparsio. 121 If food fell
from the hand or the table by accident it could not be retrieved, for it had passed to the
spirits122 -- to Hecate, who would redistribute it to the poor (earthly counterpart of the
spirits) by sparsio.123
New Year's gifts are both given and received through the void. They fall in some
unaccountable way into one's shoe or stocking, or they are suddenly thrown in through the
window or chimney; they are not transmitted directly, but descend mysteriously in the night,
like manna124 -- it is even dangerous to recognize the giver. 125 This avoidance of contact
is the idea behind royal sparsiones among certain backward peoples of antiquity, where the
king, living aloof from the world of men, took his meals behind a partition, removed only at
the New Year,126 or in a secret room,127 or at a table set apart as if for a spirit from the
other world.128 The world was thought of as living on the crumbs from his table,129 and he
gave his portions by throwing them to his subjects, who would scramble after them "like
One cannot sufficiently admire the mentality which, having introduced the tesserae into
Rome as a means, for so we are assured, 131 of procuring good order and regularity in the
grain distributions, chose to dispense the same in mad, universal scrambles.132 The sparsio
does not of itself call for a scramble -- there was more than enough for all, and no one was
allowed to be disappointed.133 Plainly the undignified rixa, direptio, rapina, tumultus, and
so forth were a regular and necessary part of the business. 134
What the scramble represented was a sort of grab bag, for the sparsio was a kind of
lottery.135 The element of chance plays a most important role in the distributions: the
fundamental principle even of the highly regulated annona was at all times simply luck,
admission to the grain-lists being determined solely by lot.136 Everything about the
Saturnalia smacks of divination -- the very food of the year-feast is prophetic. 137 A gift
received by sparsio falls into one's hands by the imponderable working of fate; it is a
providential thing, a present for which one is beholden to no man; it is a boon from heaven,
given with majestic impartiality in bewildering abundance and unrestrained disorder.138 It is
a sign and a promise, a communication from on high.
How far the ancients went in this interpretation of the sparsio can be seen if one considers
the objects of the rixae. They were sortes. 139 The word comes from sero, "set in rows," i.e.,
"strung on a line," and goes back to the oracular shrines of prehistoric Italy,140 where at the
New Year the Earth Goddess (as Fortuna)141 would tell people their fortunes by means of
lots and dice. 142 The lots -- sortes -- were hung on a line, a linea, and "devenaient proph
tiques par le seul fait qu'elles taient tires sort" (became prophetic for the simple reason that
they were cast).143 All this fits with the sortes of the sparsio, which also came from an
oracular shrine, were perforated for hanging on a line, were given out at the New Year,144
and bore the name of Fortuna, 145 whose gifts, moreover, were commonly thought of as
coming by sparsio. 146 In form as well as name the tokens are thus seen to be real sortes.
Quite as specific is the borrowed term for sortes, tesserae, which means simply "dice" or
"tablets."147 Dice and tablets were used together at the primitive divination shrines, where
one would compare marks on dice with those on tablets to learn his fortune.148 Just so the
value of a tessera could be realized only by matching it with other symbols, the original
tessera being employed as a ticket of identification which admitted the holder to a feast when
it matched a like token kept by the giver of the feast.149 For admission to public feasts every
holder of a tessera had to have his name on the bronze tablets or incisi kept on the Capitol.
150 The interesting custom of admission to public feasts by ticket, though it has been
ignored by scholars, is found at archaic year-festivals everywhere, from the festival tablets of
the Sumerians 151 and the arrows of the Asiatics (serving both as tickets and as gaming
pieces) 152 to the wooden tags of the Scandinavian North153 and the laurel leaf tickets of
the primitive Greeks and Romans -- which, incidentally, bring us back to the strena. 154
Also widespread is the idea of registration in a great list of incisi, a "Book of Life" opened at
the foundation of the world, containing the names of those to whom life is given for the new
age. 155 To be written down in this book is to be admitted to the banquet of life, to receive a
tessera, "a white stone, and in the stone a new name written," and with it a share in the feast
of the "hidden manna" (Revelation 2:17), the food that falls from heaven.
Such was the economy of the mystery feasts, which present indeed the closest affinity to the
rites of the ludi saeculares, the sowing festival,156 including tesserae157 and sparsio.158 At
the Saturnalia feast of the Arval Brethren a gold coin was presented to each of the guests as
the gift of life itself.159 The sparsio of life-giving stones in the Deucalion legend follows
upon a casting of dice, which determines the method by which the race is to be created and
also the lot in life of the persons thus begotten.160 By a like sowing Cadmus, at the
beginning of the "Great Year," produced a race of men fittingly called Sparti.161 It is only
natural, as Wissowa points out in the case of Fortuna,162 that people should come to think
of one who gives certain assurance of a boon as the actual giver of the boon, and regard
those tokens which merely promise life and prosperity as the very gift itself: the die or sors
which indicates the blessings of life to follow is not to be distinguished from the seed from
which those blessings spring. The tessera, like the Oriental seal, gave one a place and a
status in the world of men: it was the gift of a grain tessera that assigned a slave his freedom
and his place in a tribe.163 As seal and tessera witness solemn contracts between men and
gods,164 the sparsio of itself is such a contract: on the giver's part it promised a golden age
of peace and prosperity -- this the sparsiones songs make clear. 165 As to the one who
caught the falling gold, he accepted a contract on his part 166 and recognized the rule and
dominion of his benefactor in formal acclamations, found sometimes actually written on the
While the tesserae may be described variously as tickets, tablets, coins, or seals,168 they are
particularly interesting as dice. They actually take the form of gaming pieces in many
instances, 169 and on some of them the iactus venerius is indicated. 170 This last opens up a
wide vista into the background of the sparsio, for it recalls the old Roman custom of
choosing a rex bibendi at feasts (the "king" being the first guest to throw the Venus), 171 a
practice which can have been inspired only by the example and tradition of choosing the rex
Saturnalius, King of the Great Feast, by lot.172 Dicing, it should be remembered, was legal
at Rome only during the Saturnalia.173 The Venus also indicates the archaic background of
those tesserae lasciviae, which have shocked scholars as symbols of Roman degeneracy and
decline,174 for it recalls a very widespread and ancient legend of how the king during the
New Year's feast casts dice with a stranger from the underworld for the hand of a fair lady
and the possession of the kingdom. 175 This legend appears in the oldest stratum of Roman
tradition as the story of Hercules and Acca Larentia, in which the hero wins the lady and a
feast by dicing at the Saturnalia.176 Not to pursue them further, the many and complex
connections between sortes, tickets, feasts, goddesses, and the rest may be summarized in the
herald's order at the Greek revels: "Come hither, . . . that Tyche may by lot tell each man
where he is supposed to eat!"177
We have discussed the sparsiones of the Romans only in a broad and general sense. If the
evidence is scarce enough to require such treatment, it is also consistent enough to support it.
The multiple aspects of the institution fit nicely together and may be matched in every point
with common practices of other peoples, the same peculiar elements appearing in the same
complex combinations. We can therefore with confidence answer the three questions
proposed at the outset of this study in the following general but specific terms: (1) the
objects of the sparsiones were tokens symbolic of life, health, strength, and abundance, and
were actually exchangeable, as far as possible, for the tangible realization of these blessings;
(2) they were given by the king or his counterpart -- emperor, magistrate, or paterfamilias -as the living representative of the father and founder of the race, by (3) being scattered like
seed or rain from a celestial station in a manner to simulate the sowing of the race itself on
the day of creation, with all the blessings and omens that rightly accompany such a begetting
and amid acclamations that joyfully recognize the divine providence and miraculous power
of the giver.
The sparsio is the authentic heritage of the Golden Age, the sublime economy of which
remains throughout antiquity, and indeed in religious ideology down to the very present, the
ultimate basis of the social, economic, and political structure.
This article was originally published in Classical Journal 40 (1945): 515-43.
Chapter 5
The Unsolved Loyalty Problem: Our Western Heritage
A serious defect in recent discussions of the problem of loyalty has been the lack of any
sound historical treatment of the subject. 1 Much that is contained in the records of antiquity
reveals a conscious concern of early governments with the problem of loyalty. Royal
inscriptions and letters, abundant ritual texts, and the fervors of prophets and poets in every
age of crisis betray a desire to incite feelings not of fear and submission alone but of genuine
loyalty in the hearts of subjects and citizens, and might well be studied as propaganda
literature. But for the fullest and most illuminating commentary on regimented loyalty one
must turn to the rich and revealing records of the Roman world in the fatal years between the
victory of Constantine and the sack of Rome by the Vandals in A.D. 450. It is no accident
that scholars since World War II have gravitated with unerring instinct and unprecedented
zeal to those documents that depict with unrivaled clarity the starts, alarums, and desperate
devices of a world empire in disintegration, striving before all things to inspire that general
loyalty which alone could arrest "the internal decay of the second half of the fourth century
[which] had become as bad as a cancerous growth."2
The purpose of this paper is to consider three significant aspects of the Roman loyalty
program in the period designated. These are (1) the attempt to excite loyalty by appealing to
the traditions of Western civilization while emphasizing a worldwide culture-polarization,
(2) the attempt to solve the problem of divided loyalty by lumping all good things together in
a "one-package loyalty," and (3) the attempt of certain large and important interest groups to
use the new loyalty as a club against old opponents, thereby effectively wrecking the whole
program. In the course of the discussion it will become clear that we are dealing not merely
with the desire of the Imperial government for loyal subjects but with concrete projects for
the implementation of that desire. The present study is essentially a report on the
effectiveness of those projects, resembling as they do certain controversial procedures of the
present time.
Polarized Loyalties
In the fourth century A.D., Western civilization was threatened with the greatest crisis -internal and external -- in its history. 3 When cities (including the capital itself) were as
likely to be taken by the operation of traitors and fifth-columnists as by enemy assault, when
the fate of the world depended on the loyalty of some Gothic or Hunnish general to an
emperor who did not know his own mind, when the armies of many nations could be hurled
against each other or united in brotherhood by the force of a single order, when powerful
pressure-groups and colorful individuals were bidding against each other for the support of
mankind, when the life of prefect or governor could depend on the whim of a military or city
mob -- at such a time the survival of civilization depended on the possibility of inducing the
world at large to declare its allegiance to some specific thing and of holding it to that
allegiance with firm and sacred bonds. To the Roman mind, fides, a sense of personal
reciprocal obligation, was the key to peace and security in life -- the very essence of the
social order.4 The same concept of loyalty imbues almost every page of Greek tragedy,
investing it with a profoundly intimate and domestic atmosphere, which distinguishes the
"Western" mind from the aloof ritualism of the gorgeous East. But by the fourth century long
years of civil war and world crisis had widely uprooted the old domestic loyalties of Greek
drama and Roman legend, and turned the oecumene into a world of displaced persons,
inevitably drawn towards the Big City.5 To take the place of the old lost loyalty -- the prisca
fides -- a new super-loyalty was needed to guarantee the permanence of the social order: men
were taught to declare allegiance to a super-thing, a noble abstraction loosely designated as
Romania or Romanitas.
A host of studies has come forth in recent years, showing the concept of Romanitas to be
something very close indeed to that "Western Civilization" by which one conjures in our
own day.6 At the end of the fourth century, Prudentius repeated what Aelius Aristides had
proclaimed at the end of the second: Rome is more than a political or geographical entity, the
mixed blood of all the nations; its culture is Culture itself, the extent of its rule is the orbis
terrarum, the oecumene, its mission the realization of the Stoic doctrine "that nature intended
that all men should as rational beings form a single community under the guidance of divine
reason."7 The certainty with which public opinion glorified the empire as a world
community is astonishing, says Vogt.8 Nor was this apparent love for a lofty abstraction a
cold and impersonal sort of thing: devout Christian writers display as warm and vital an
attachment to their Roman heritage as the church itself in the fourth century.9
This was the positive appeal to loyalty. But men's passions are more quickly and keenly
stirred by opposition than by approbation, and the inevitable corollary to the doctrine of
Romania was that of Barbaria. "Everything that existed outside of this unified world was
viewed by the general public as desolation and barbarism."10 This again was an abstract and
artificial thing -- it was the old doctrine of the Two Worlds that has been discussed in this
journal before, but, for all its hollowness, a highly effective force in history.11 Externus
timor, maximum concordiae vinculum was an old Roman maxim -- the secret of unity is to
find an external foe. Since Republican times, Parthia had been "the type and representative
of the untamed Orient," the Eastern peril, the symbol of Asiatic barbarism; but when the
Parthians were absorbed by the revived and highly centralized Persian Empire, or during the
years when Barbaria was united under a superman such as Attila, conditions were present for
a true world polarization, with the East replying in kind to Western charges of barbarism and
aggression. 12 The situation may be illustrated by the story of Priscus on the steppes.
In A.D. 448 a Roman ambassador who had just arrived at the court of Attila, rex omnium
regum, on the plains between Europe and Asia, came upon a well-dressed Scythian who, to
his surprise, spoke Greek. He learned from the man that he had been a successful merchant
in Moesia, but when his city fell, to save his business, he had joined up with the conquering
hosts and soon found in the Scythian community a far better way of life than he had ever
known as a Roman.
[He said that] once the war was over, anyone could live among the Scythians in complete
independence, being free to manage his personal affairs exactly as he chose with virtually no
interference from anybody. On the other hand, anyone living the Roman way of life stood a
very good chance of getting killed in case of war, being forced to rely for his survival on the
operations of others, since the mean suspicion of the government forbade anyone to bear
arms in his own defense. Furthermore, those entrusted with the business of defense were
rendered ineffectual by incompetent and cowardly commanders. And the burdens of peace
were actually harder to bear than those of war -- the intolerable load of taxation and tribute,
the insults and injuries of rascally officials, the unequal application of the laws, by which an
offender if he was rich enough got off scot-free, but if he was poor felt the full weight and
majesty of the law for even the slightest unintentional slip; and if he lived long enough to see
his case through the courts, would find himself utterly ruined by long, drawn-out, and
expensive legal proceedings. The most disgusting thing about the whole business, he said,
was that law and justice were strictly for sale.
"When he had run on this way at great length," says Priscus, "I finally asked him politely if
he would consent to listen to my side of the story for a while." Then Priscus proceeded to
point out that in theory there never was a better system than the Roman, in which each bore
his proper burden, whether on the farm, in the army, or in government service. Priscus
We are all bound to obey the laws, and that goes even for the Emperor himself; which is just
the opposite of what you say, that the rich can gouge the poor with impunity -- unless
someone escapes justice by hiding. But in general you will find that what applies to the rich
also applies to the poor. . . . That is the rule not only among the Romans but everywhere in
the civilized world: every man thanks his private fortune for whatever befalls him as a free
man, and is not dependent for it on the will of this or that military despot.
The Romans, he says, treat their house-slaves better than the barbarians do their subjects,
"and they certainly do not have the power of life and death over them as your Scythian
masters do. By and large, it is a free way of life."
At this point, Priscus avers, his new friend shed tears and confessed that the laws were
indeed fair and the Roman government a good one, "but that the men who administered it
had lost the good old Roman spirit, and had corrupted it." To this the Roman has no answer,
and the conversation is conveniently interrupted.13
Gibbon saw in this debate only an effective statement of the case against Rome, to which the
"prolix and feeble declamation" of the ambassador was no reply at all.14 Yet Priscus plainly
thinks he has won the argument, and the modern reader, made wise by new experience,
knows that this is one of those ideological discussions in which neither side is ever beaten.
For all his fine Ciceronian afterthoughts, Priscus does not invent the issue, for Agathias
some years later describes a general migration of "Christian philosophers" to the court of the
Persian king, which at a distance looked to them like a true Utopia, 15 and Procopius tells
how the poorer classes, "the mechanics and hand-workers, were naturally compelled to
struggle with hunger, and many in consequence changed their citizenship and went off as
fugitives to the land of Persia."16 Salvian, a contemporary of Priscus, reports from far
western Gaul that "people are everywhere going over to the Goths, the Bagaudi or any other
ruling tribe of barbarians. . . . For they prefer to live as free men sub specie captivitatis rather
than to go on living as captives sub specie libertatis." Worst of all, says Salvian, those who
have been the most loyal, deserving, and patriotic Romans are the very ones who are now
"moved to declare that they wish they were not Romans!" 17 Here again it is the clash
between the Two Worlds, each describing itself as the free world and its rival as a
slave-state. But if the freedom of the West is for Salvian only "so-called freedom," the case
is no better with the vaunted barbarian freedom: the very purpose of Priscus's mission was to
discuss the return to Attila of numerous of his subjects who had fled to the Empire seeking
refuge from barbarian "freedom."18
On both sides the ancient propaganda of freedom has a singularly hollow ring. Within the
overall polarization of East and West, each of those conflicting spheres was in itself a world
of factions and parties, of rival ideologies and rival cultures pitted against each other in
deadly conflict, yet so exactly alike in everything but label (and usually the rivals were
contending for the possession of some world-commanding label) as to give the impression
that one antagonist is simply a mirror-image of the other. A visitor to the field headquarters
of any faction during the civil wars that opened the fourth century would have been at a loss
to discover from his surroundings whether he was in a Christian or pagan, Roman or
barbarian camp:19 in either case he would find the chief at prayer in his tent, long-robed
priests chanting and burning tapers or busily practicing the arts of divination;20 and if he
came at the right time such a visitor might even discover the nature of those signs in the
heavens that each commander devoutly claimed as a special manifestation of Providence to
himself and his followers.21 If our visitor toured about among the cities, he might marvel, as
did Agathias, that the course of civil life was virtually the same in the Persian and the Roman
Empires,22 and if he attended the synods of the church which made the age illustrious, he
would have some difficulty to discern which side was which; for, as Hilary observed, that
group which with fierce devotion supported a doctrine at one session might within the month
be found espousing the very opposite doctrine with equal fervor.23 If he went to the games
and shows that consumed almost the whole time and energy of the urban masses, the visitor
would be required, as if his life depended on it, to take his stand with one noisy faction or
another, with nothing in the world to enable him to distinguish between them save the colors
they wore.24 Finally the bemused wanderer, if he went to court on a crown-day and stood in
the presence of God's representative on earth, would surely have to ask a bystander whether
it was the true ruler of the world he beheld or his depraved counterpart -- for the court ritual
of the two empires was identical, 25 and it was the custom of the emperors of Rome and
Asia to describe themselves in identical terms, while each accused his rival of being nothing
but a base forgery and depraved imitation of himself. 26
This all-pervading identity of institutions shows that we have here not a real clash of
ideologies at all but only the rivalry of parties animated by identical principles and racing for
the same objective.27 Yet loyalty to the West was no glib and superficial thing but a deeply
ingrained cultural heritage. The concept of civilization as liberalitas, the free way of life, and
of civilized man as one engaged in liberal thought and speaking the common language of all
free, civilized men, as opposed to the barbarian who was necessarily inferior and necessarily
a slave, was deeply felt and clearly formulated in late antiquity. 28 It had far deeper roots, in
fact, than the copy-desk clichs of our own day, for the permanent proximity of unassimilated
barbarians made the idea of the Two Worlds an intimate reality. The age-long struggle to
repel, check, or annihilate the perennial enemy from the steppes was once popularly
described as "the eternal question," "the strife between Europe and Asia, between east and
west, between Aryan and non-Aryan."29 But this is only the Western version of the conflict
which all the great peripheral civilizations, from China to Britain, have had to wage with the
"Heartland," whose hordes have been dealt with for thousands of years in the same
established ways: by subtle and disruptive diplomacy, by the long and costly limes (borders),
by punitive and deterrent expeditions, and, when all else has failed, by the reluctant
absorption of their barbarian conquerors.
The marvelous victories that thwarted the great Persian attacks on Greece in the fifth century
B.C. had been to the men who won those victories a plain manifestation of divine power, a
sobering and chastening experience that placed all human pretense, Greek and barbarian
alike, in its proper and humiliating perspective. But the men of a later age and another mold,
viewing those successes in retrospect, preferred a more flattering interpretation of events:
Marathon and Salamis were held up to posterity as a brilliant demonstration of the natural
superiority of Western man over barbarians.30 Whereas Aeschylus and Herodotus have no
fond illusions about Greek virtue and Asiatic baseness, the educators of succeeding ages fed
upon such pleasing stuff and made it the mortar of a common sentiment which, to quote
Eduard Meyer, "bound the civilized world together from the Rhone to Cyprus, from the
Dnieper to the Crimea and Cyrene."31
Thus Western Civilization was nursed in the schools on a legend of Western Goodness: Hic
est Ausonia, the Western World of clean, fresh, simple, unspoiled pioneers. This fiction
became the very cornerstone of the official Vergilian doctrine of Romanitas -- Rome was
great because Rome was good.32 The emperors who after the second century took the names
of Pius and Felix were giving expression "to the old Roman belief in the close association
between piety and good fortune," 33 while indulging in the ingrained Roman vice, blatantly
paraded throughout the whole of Latin literature, of dwelling with a kind of morbid
fascination on one's own simple goodness. School boys have been told for centuries that the
Romans were a simple, severe, and virtuous folk, with a near monopoly on pietas and fides,
because, forsooth, the Romans themselves always said so, though almost every page of the
record contradicts the claim.34 What better demonstration for the effectiveness of the
official propaganda? Teachers and orators drilled the essentials of Western goodness into
their pupils and auditors until, by the fourth century, when hardly a speck of ancient virtue
remained, men could talk of nothing but that virtue.35 They go right on sinning, Salvian
reports, in the sublime conviction that no matter how vilely they may act, or how nobly the
barbarians behave, God must necessarily bless them and curse the barbarians for being what
they are. Yet Salvian himself shows how well the lesson has been taught when he stoutly
affirms that, after all, no barbarian can be really virtuous!36
To the lessons of the schools, carefully supervised by the government,37 was added a more
aggressive policy of deliberately widening the gulf between the Two Worlds. For centuries,
barbarian and Roman, East and West, had been mingling on terms of greatest intimacy,
producing a borderline culture in which it was quite impossible to draw the line between one
culture and the other.38 Priscus mentions quite casually the presence of people from the
West, visiting relatives in the camps of the Asiatics; he notes the busy coming and going of
merchants between the Two Worlds and describes the kind hospitality shown him, a
complete stranger, in the homes of the Easterners. But with this he gives us the other side of
the picture -- the official side: the ubiquitous activity of spies and agents in Roman pay, the
infusion into the very court of Attila of large sums of Roman money to corrupt and divide,
the insane and mounting conviction of each of the rulers of the two halves of the world (both
barbarians!) that his was the divine calling to liberate the human race from the intolerable
ambition of the other. 39 The official attitude to the barbarians was set forth a few years after
this in Synesius's instructions to the feeble Emperor Arcadius. According to the good bishop,
every Roman household has its Scythian slave, every petty artisan and craftsman his
Scythian helper, and every Roman street is alive with Scythian porters and runners, "as if
these people thought service in Rome was the only thing."40 As to the moral qualities of
these foreigners, Synesius must admit that they surpass the Romans in energy, honesty,
reliability, and perseverance.41 Yet for all that they are still barbarians, and as liable to
murder citizens in their beds as were ever any of their savage ancestors."Your father made
allies of these Scythians," he tells the young and idiotic emperor: "He should have known
that there is no virtue in a barbarian. From that day to this they have simply laughed at us."
Lacking the heroic qualities of their fathers, "they are slaves, for they are people without a
land of their own. Hence the proverb, `the empty waste of the Scythians,' for they are always
running away from settled life."42 Plainly Synesius thinks that the primordial ways of the
nomads are some new sign of degeneracy. So far was one of the most learned men of his
day, an expert advisor on foreign affairs, from comprehending the Asiatic way of life which
was impinging upon the Roman world at a thousand points. 43
For their part, the barbarians, at first enormously impressed by the Empire,44 became
resentful of the snubbing they received and then, through long familiarity, openly and
increasingly contemptuous. "We see the barbarians living intermingled with us in our
armies, our cities, and our provinces," says Sulpicius Severus, "yet refusing to accept our
culture as their own."45 In the fifth century, it was impossible, especially in the Western
regions, to distinguish between Romani and Barbari, since they had become completely
intermingled; in which state of things, he says, it was the barbarians who insisted on
widening the breech, glorying in the name of "barbarian" as the only fit title for free men. 46
There is no need to trace the endless course of this futile and paralyzing game; Nancy
Lenkeith has shown how it persisted right into the Middle Ages, when even Pope Gregory
would not come to an understanding with the Lombards "chiefly because the pontiff had a
feeling of revulsion for the barbarians. . . . The Romans . . . despised Lombard laws, disliked
their costumes, customs, and smell." 47 The crippling effect of the doctrine of the Two
Worlds is nowhere more clearly demonstrated than in the pathetic doctrine of the
Super-Weapon: God has given the civilized world a super-weapon, that all may know where
security and right reside. This wishful assurance is another invention of the fourth century,
as we gather from the teachings of a later emperor to his son:
This fire [Greek-fire] was revealed and taught to the great First Emperor of Christians,
Constantine (as we are fully assured by ancient fathers and divines) by an angel from
heaven, who gave him emphatic instructions to the effect that this weapon is only to be
manufactured among Christians -- nowhere else -- and only in that city where they have their
capital, and absolutely nowhere else. Under no circumstances is any sample of the substance
or the formula for it to be transmitted to any other nation. It was for the purpose of keeping
this secret under his successors that the same Constantine had placed upon the high altar of
the Great Church itself an inscription to the effect that anyone who dares to give a sample of
said fire to any other nation forfeits thereby the name of Christian and the right to hold any
government office, that such an one should be stripped of any office he holds, be declared
anathema forever and ever, and be made a public example -- even though he be the Emperor
or the Patriarch himself, or any other high official . . . any attempt to break this rule must
incur the penalty. And he calls upon all who have the cause and fear of God at heart to treat
anyone acting in a contrary way as a Public Enemy and a traitor to this supreme order, and to
consign him to the most humiliating and painful death possible. It actually happened once
(for there are always criminal types) that one of our generals accepted a huge bribe from a
number of foreign (gentile) powers to provide them with a sample of this fire; but God, who
would not suffer such a crime to be perpetrated . . . smote the offender with fire from heaven.
. . and from that day no one, whether Emperor, prince, commoner, army officer or any other
mortal, has ever dared to think of such an act, let alone making any attempt to perpetrate it
(cf. fig. 16).48
In this little lesson on loyalty, God, Christianity, civilization, the empire, the Imperial City,
the government, and the ministration of angels are all on the side of the super-weapon, while
those to whom the fire is denied are all lumped together as gentiles, foreigners, heathen,
traitors, public enemies, criminals, and damned. Nor does it seem to occur to the devout
monarch that if God's own fires are at the immediate disposal of Western civilization, there
is little need for putting such desperate trust in the virtues of naphthalene and military
security, or that an appeal to loyalty cannot well be accompanied by hysterical threats that
only argue a lack of good faith in the one who is appealing.49 Certainly the super-weapon
produced a serious weakening of military fiber in the West, and, once in the hands of the
Arabs and Turks, was death to Western fleets and cities.50
One-Package Loyalty
The hardest political problem with which the Greeks and Romans had to struggle was that of
conflicting loyalties. The holy court of the Areopagus proved the problem insoluble when
they deadlocked at the trial of Orestes, and the letters of Cicero set forth in detail the tragic
dilemma of the Roman with his immense capacity and hunger for loyalty having to change
sides with cynical dexterity in order to survive in the wars of class and faction.51 The fourth
century was one of those times in Roman history when the tension of divided loyalties had
become so intolerable that the world was ready for any settlement that would guarantee a
measure of peace, unity, and security.52 The exhausted age accepted the same emergency
solution that had given Rome the kingship, the consuls, and the principate. The aureum
aevum (Golden Age) of Constantine that put an end to the long reign of civil discord, as that
of Augustus had done three centuries before, was formally launched with all the solemn rites
and theatrical properties familiar to the Romans since the days of the fabled kings. 53 The
purpose of the gorgeous displays of Diocletian and Constantine, pagan and Christian, as of
all royal ritual, was to produce in the beholders a religious experience which would
command loyalty -- of that the poets and orators give us clear assurance.54 The great
scaffoldings, acres of painted canvas, firmaments of tapers and torches, fabulous displays of
jewels and lavish applications of gilt paint left no one in doubt that the glory of the Lord was
round about.55 Heaven in Our Time was not something to be worked for but something to
be accepted; not a hope, but a fulfillment, a stupendous miracle, nay, the Christian Emperor
was hailed at his coronation as "dominus noster . . . praesens et corporalis deus" (Our Lord . .
. God in the flesh among us),56 and Christian and pagan orators vied in proclaiming the
long-awaited blessed age of the prophets and the Sibyl. 57 Like a man distracted by the
claims of a hundred creditors, who turns all his bills over to a lending agency in exchange
for one simple, ruinous obligation, so the men of the fourth century lumped all their
conflicting loyalties together in one single, unlimited obligation to the emperor and
Romanitas. All good things became one vague and luminous whole; whatever could
command loyalty was "in the composition of a specious argument . . . artfully confounded in
one splendid and brittle mass."58
Caecilius in the Octavius had charged the Christians not with contempt of any particular
doctrine or practice of the ancients but with failing to be duly impressed by the whole
magnificent agglomeration of antique civilization as a fit object of veneration and awe. 59
To this noble composite the church in the fourth century, as if to atone for her long hesitation
and former aspersions, declared passionate allegiance, sustaining the traditional heathen
dogma, that Roma aeterna was immortal and impregnable, long after the canny pagans
themselves had given it up!60 Henceforward to be a Christian and to be a Roman were one
and the same thing: "ubique patria, ubique lex et religio mea," cries Orosius, ". . . quia ad
Christianos et Romanos, Romanus et Christianus accedo" (my country is everywhere,
everywhere my law and religion . . . because I associate with Christians and Romans as a
Roman and a Christian).61 When Christian writers can tell us that the distance between
Roman and barbarian is as great as that between quadrupeds and bipeds, 62 or that the laws
of barbarian nations "bear the same relation to genuine law -- Roman law -- as a parrot's
squawk to human speech,"63 we have come a long way from the charity of the early
Christian writers, who loved, like certain earlier Greek philosophers, to mock the vain and
artificial distinction between "Jew and Greek, bond and free" (Galatians 3:28).64 But now
the church was wholly committed -- dangerously committed -- to the program of the Empire:
Prudentius boldly throws the challenge to the pagan world, that victory of Christian Rome
over the barbarians will be sure proof of the truth of the Christian religion -- one can imagine
the reaction in both camps when Rome was thoroughly beaten!65
The complete identity of the interests of the church with those of the Empire in the fourth
century was a revolutionary transfer of loyalty. "The imperial cult remains," writes Alföldi,
"only such forms as offend Christian sentiments are a little veiled." 66 The Church Fathers,
diligently reconstructing history in retrospect, made it appear that the church and Rome had
always been one.67 Eusebius, taking the lead, announces that Christianity and the Pax
Romana "burst upon the world together as if germinated from a single seed: the twin
blessing of the universe. . . . In the same moment all error and superstition were overcome
and an end put to all war and hostility among the members of the human race. One Empire
was set up over all the earth and all men became brothers, having one Father -- God, and one
Mother -- true piety." 68 In defense of this new one-package loyalty, philosophy and
theology, riding high on the fashionable tide of Neoplatonism, were Aaron and Hur
upholding the emperor's hands: "God is One," says Lactantius, "therefore there cannot be
more than one ruler in this world: there are not many masters in one house, not many pilots
in one ship, not many leaders in one flock or herd, not many kings in one hive, nor either can
there be many suns in the sky, nor many souls in one body." 69 These are the very terms in
which the Khans of Asia have been wont to teach mankind the divinity of their single rule -the West of the fourth century and after speaks with a strong Asiatic accent. 70
Just as all obedient subjects are embraced in a single shining community, so all outsiders are
necessarily members of a single conspiracy of evil, a pestilential congregation of vapors of
such uniform defilement that none can be ever so slightly tinged with its complexion without
being wholly involved in its corruption.71 A favorite passage with the churchmen of the
period was that which declared that to err in the slightest point of the law is to break the
whole law. To accept the homoiousios (of similar substance) in place of the homoousios
(consubstantial) is for the enlightened Hilary not just a mistake; it is the commission of every
possible crime, the consummation of all that is depraved; it hands the whole world over to
the Devil. 72 By attending a discussion of the homoiousios the emperor has anathematized
the holy men of Nicaea; thereby he has cursed all who have ever approved of those men;
thereby he has damned his own father and set himself up as the foe of divine religion, the
enemy of the saints, and a rebel against all sacred filial obligation. Nay, he is worse than a
Decius or a Nero, for they fought only Christ the Son, while he fights both the Father and the
Son! Again, the emperor who tolerates heretical groups is not just a dupe and a fool, he is a
monster of iniquity, guilty of adultery, theft, and murder -- and that not in a mere, crass
physical sense, mind you, but in a spiritual sense, which is infinitely worse.73 If the emperor
in question refuses to make a martyr of the churchman who flings the coarsest insults in his
face, that does not soften his guilt but only deepens it -- he is only being kind to be cruel,
because he knows that such kindness will put his priestly assailants at a disadvantage. 74 Yet
from the festering depths of unspeakable depravity there is one thing that can save the
debauched and unnatural animal -- by a single act, in fact, he can redeem himself and
become the holiest thing on earth, an emperor under God. And what is the miraculous
prescription? It is very simple: "Fac transitum ad nos" (Come over to us)! 75 All virtue is
comprised in the fact of membership in Our Group; all vice consists in not belonging.76
It can be shown by a most convenient syllogism that since God is on our side we cannot
show any degree of toleration for any opposition without incurring infinite guilt.77 In the
fourth century everybody was officiously rushing to the defense of God;78 but John
Chrysostom's pious declaration that we must avenge insults to God while patiently bearing
insults to ourselves is put in its proper rhetorical light by the assumption of Hilary that an
insult to himself is an insult to God.79 Therein lies the great usefulness of the doctrine of
guilt and innocence by association that became so popular in the fourth century: one does
not need to quibble; there is no such thing as being partly wrong or merely mistaken; the
painful virtue of forbearance and the labor of investigation no longer embarrass the
champions of one-package loyalty. No matter how nobly and austerely heretics may live, for
Augustine they are still Antichrist -- all of them, equally and indiscriminately;80 their virtues
are really vices, their virginity carnality, their reason unreason, their patience in persecution
mere insolence; any cruelty shown them is not really cruelty but kindness.81 Chrysostom
goes even further: the most grossly immoral atheist is actually better off than an upright
believer who slips up on one point, since though both go to hell, the atheist has at least the
satisfaction of having gratified his lust on earth. Why not? Is not heresy in any degree a
crime against God? And is not any crime against God an infinite sin?82
The insidious thing about such immoral conclusions is that they are quite logical. The cruelty
of the times, says Alföldi, "cannot fully be explained by the corruption of the age; . . . the
spirit of the fourth century has its part to play. The victory of abstract ways of thinking, the
universal triumph of theory, knows no half-measures; punishment, like everything else, must
be a hundred per cent, but even this seems inadequate."83 Compromise is now out of the
question: God, who once let his sun shine upon the just and the unjust, and let the wheat and
tares grow together, now insists that the unjust should cease to exist, that only wheat should
grow in the earth, and that only sheep should inhabit it.84 In all seriousness the Emperor
Justinian announced to the churchmen his intention of forcing the devil himself to join the
true church and thus achieving in the world that perfect unity "which Pythagoras and Plato
Slanted Loyalty
We have considered the first two steps in the development of loyalty propaganda in the
fourth century, namely, the establishment of Romanitas as an object deserving the loyalty of
all civilized men and the identification of Christian with Roman loyalty. The third and
inevitable step was the employment of this magnificent imperative by various interest groups
as a partisan weapon. The partisan groups we shall consider were the churchmen, the
landowners, and the professors. The story of how the military went their own way and
followed their own code of loyalty, cooperating only with governments and individuals who
were willing and able to "make a deal," and of how their slanted loyalty brought them and
the Empire to a common ruin, has been told often and well since the days of Gibbon. We
need not repeat it here.
We have just noted the use of absolutes in clerical polemic. The results were what might
have been expected, but the ferocity of party conflict within the church as described by the
writers of the fourth and fifth centuries exceeds the wildest imaginings. Even those men, St.
Basil reports, who had fought the uphill fight for decency and striven conscientiously
through the years to be just and fair with others, in the end found themselves forced to
surrender and become just like the rest, who were all engaged in a frantic game of testing
each others' loyalty.86 The result, he says, is that the church is entirely leaderless, everyone
wants to give orders, but no one will take them; the self-appointed have grabbed what they
could and broken up the church in a spirit of such savage, unbridled hatred and universal
mistrust that the only remaining principle of unity anywhere is a common desire to do harm:
men will cooperate only where cooperation is the most effective means of doing injury to
others.87 It was characteristic of the Age of Constantine, says Burckhardt, "that a man could
be intensely devout and at the same time grossly immoral." There was nothing contradictory
in that -- men had simply discarded personal integrity for a much easier group loyalty.88
"Who can swim against the tide of custom?" cries Augustine, who recalls how lightly he
surrendered his own conscience to the keeping of the gang. The emperor's formula for
establishing perfect unity and loyalty in the church and the empire was that plan which the
clergy themselves constantly urged upon him and his successors, importunately demanding
that he proscribe, banish, and anathematize whoever withheld allegiance from their
particular parties. The Vita Constantini tells how the emperor attempted to end each crisis by
outlawing all opposition, thereby inevitably sowing the seeds of the next crisis. But how
could one expect a simple soldier to question the proposition that compulsory loyalty is the
secret of universal peace, when it was being pressed upon him by all the cleverest men of the
age? "The barbarians reverence God, because they fear my power," he had declared, and
everyone had applauded his doctrine of compulsory reverence.89
But it didn't work. No sooner had Constantine removed his last civil and military opponents
than the issue between his Christian and pagan subjects became acute. No sooner had he
"given profound peace and security to the Church" by restraining her pagan opponents than
the churchmen started accusing each other of heresy with a wild abandon that surpassed -- as
the emperor himself observed -- any performance of the heathen.90 No sooner had his
successors removed the last heretic and received the undying thanks of the church, than the
true believers were at each others' throats. St. Ambrose notes that it is harder to make
orthodox Christians live together in peace than it is to eliminate heretics.91 The problem was
never solved, for the doctrine of absolute, one-package loyalty would allow no compromise.
Consider next the landowners. The aristocracy living on its great estates (though possessing
the wealth of the cities as well) was a characteristic fixture of Roman society throughout
historic times; "the personnel of the ruling class might change," as it did under Vespasian
and Diocletian, but that "could not have changed the nature of those classes themselves,"
who always remained true to a type and an ideal.93 The victory of the church only
strengthened their hold, for they claimed Latin Christianity as peculiarly their own, and it
has recently been argued with some plausibility that the breaking away from the church of
"fundamentalist" sects, beginning with the Montanists, was "a series of peasant movements"
protesting the capture of the church by the propertied classes.94
Loyalty was the watchword of the great landowners: pietas, fides, and fortitudo were at all
times "the three distinguishing marks of the perfect Roman gentleman."95 Their typical
representative in the fourth century was "aristocratic, senatorial, traditionalist,
anti-oriental."96 But from Cicero it is clear enough that theirs was loyalty to a class alone,
and their slanted interpretation reduced the noble abstractions in which they dealt so freely to
"merely shop-worn catch phrases without real meaning in history."97 No word was dearer to
them than libertas, the glory of free agency, but "the nobiles conceived of this popular
political catchword as meaning freedom for them to exercise their dignitas," and not for
people without money.98 In the fourth century they "had plenty to say about their humanitas,
philanthropia . . . their mercy, their pious serenity. . . . But such self-praise carries no weight;
the choice words are a mere empty form."99 In the Senate they called loudly for arms to
defend civilization -- when no personal sacrifice was involved; and when the barbarians
were at the gates they spent their time not in meeting the foe but in hysterical attacks on
possible subversives.100 When one considers the magnificently planned and executed
defensive installations of the frontier, "one cannot keep from being amazed," say Diehl and
Marais, "that they were not more effective than they were, and that this closely-knit network
of skillfully deployed fortresses let the invaders pass through it so many times." This grim
defect is attributed (1) to the economies of the government, which, while giving away
enormous wealth to individuals, so reduced the personnel of the border forces that "the
strong places, badly manned, were simply forgotten, often without garrisons," and (2) to the
low morale and frequent desertions of the underpaid soldiers who remained. 101 Nobody
who could pay for defense was willing to do it.
The great landowners "appreciated civilization and culture very highly," says Rostovzeff,
"their political outlook was narrow, their servility was unbounded. But their external
appearance was majestic, and their grand air impressed even the barbarians. . . . For the other
classes they had neither sympathy nor understanding."102 Their fault was not that they
would enjoy the good things of the earth, but that they would enjoy them exclusively: "The
earth is the mother of all of us," said the starving field and factory-workers, "for she gives
equally; but you pretend that she is your mother only." 103 Their ideal was Cato, whose
forthright and uncompromising dedication to his own interests, whose unflinching devotion
to self and steely resistance to any ennervating impulse of sympathy for others had about it
something of sublime integrity.104 Skimming the cream of the world's natural resources on
their vast tax-free estates, these men thought of themselves as natural-born leaders of men;
they oozed the virtue and loyalty of the prosperous: why should they not be loyal to Rome?
They were Rome!105 Under the early emperors "the state's sphere of activity had been
curtailed to an astonishing degree; the state simply secured peace and law in the world and
then turned it over to private exploitation."106 Deeply loyal to a system that gave them
everything, the great owners could not understand why all others should not be just as loyal.
107 Nor could they, who soon learned that the secret of survival was absolute servility and
had made an art of groveling to secure their broad acres, have any patience with those who
refused to play the game. 108
But when in the fourth century the Imperial government went after a larger share of the
income in order to support the costly wars of defense, the great landowners displayed the
quality of their patriotism by resisting savagely and cunningly. They quickly became experts
in evading taxation and shifting the expenses of war and government to others.109 But it
was their busy speculation in grain that brought the issue of loyalty into the open with the
public threat of the Emperor Julian "to have all gentlemen arrested" for sabotaging his
attempts at price control. They in reply accused the emperor of low demagoguery in trying to
fix minimum grain prices in the face of drought and an artificial boom market created by the
army; and they not only refused to sell at government prices, but bought up what grain they
could at those prices to resell on the black market or outside the price-control zone. 110
Small wonder that bishops, government officials, and the common people blamed "the rich"
for deliberately engineering famines that were profitable to themselves.111 Whether these
charges were true or not (and Libanius admits abuses), the grain scandals present a typical
large-scale clash of loyalties, with each side accusing the other of treason to the res
This partisan concept of loyalty poisons the whole stream of Roman history. Curio, says
Cicero, was wrong when he pleaded that the demands of the people beyond the Po were just
but inexpedient: he should have known that demands cannot possibly be just which are not
expedient to our interests: "non esse aequam, quia non esset utilis rei publicae."113 This, the
morality of Trimalchio, was death to any true fides. At the end of the fourth century when
Stilicho remained true to his master though it would have served his interests to betray him,
native Romans could attribute his behavior only to a lack of good sense -- so completely had
they forgotten the meaning of fides at a time when loyalty to Rome was on the tongue of
every orator. 114 Just so the great landowners, failing utterly to recognize real loyalty when
they saw it, sent their champion Aetius against the very peasants who in an "amazing"
demonstration of loyalty to Rome stopped Attila on the Catalaunian Plain and in the end
forced those peasants to join forces reluctantly with the barbarians whom they might have
stopped for good had their loyalty been trusted.115 "Whatever the frequency of peasant
revolts during the third and fourth centuries," says a recent investigator, "they reached such a
climax in the first half of the fifth century as to be almost continuous."116 These were not
slave uprisings or barbarian invasions: it was the scorned loyalty of the peasants, "ces hordes
indignes qui dans leur rage dtruisirent tout ce qu'il y avait comme oeuvres de la civilisation"
(those native hordes who in their fury destroyed all the achievements of civilization).117
Last come the leaders of education, which, in the fourth century, means the professors of
rhetoric. It was, as we have seen, through the activity of professional rhetoricians that "the
Greeks became aware of themselves as the makers and bearers of Western Civilization." 118
By the fourth century the rhetoricians, by a process that cannot be described here, had gained
complete and absolute control of every department of public life.119 It was what Ammianus
calls "the yokes of the Empire," i.e., the specialists in words, the fast talkers, the experts on
public relations, the supersalesmen, who by substituting sound for substance in their lush
and busy careers completely undermined the rickety structure of the civilization which they
claimed to be rescuing.120 The secret of success in these professions lay in their boasted
power to command loyalty, a talent for which the world was willing to pay any price.
The ancients defined rhetoric as "the technique of persuasion," "the art of convincing
people," or of convincing everybody, of anything -- for a fee.121 The art which keeps people
stirred up from necessitas (need) rather than from puritas (disinterested motives), scattering
to the public from its overflowing bosom an abundance of delights, and thus leading them to
conform to its purposes -- that art, according to Augustine, is called Rhetoric.122 The great
power of rhetoric lay in its unique ability to create artificial values, "to make unimportant
things seem important," in Plato's words or, in those of Clement of Alexandria, "to make
false opinions like true by means of words." 123 The rhetorician works with words alone: to
treat his profession as a science defeats its purpose, Aristotle observes, which is to deal not
with real things but with words, and to convince not by evidence, as science and art must do,
but by argument;124 he is the supersalesman who sells not goods but, in the last analysis,
himself: "cupit enim se approbare, non causam" (he desires to win approval for himself, not
his argument), says the pious Seneca.125
The secret of commanding and controlling loyalty, rhetoric teaches, is always to give people
whatever they want: unlike Pericles, who invariably gave the Athenians what they most
needed and least wanted, the Sophist studied to give his public what it most wanted and least
needed. The very opposite of a true leader, the rhetorician was by his own confession "the
slave of a thousand masters." 126 Philo describes the general public as a harlot and the
rhetor as her minion, nay, her lapdog, whose purpose in life is to obey her, wait on her, and
do all that gives her pleasure. It would be hard to say who was the more debauched by such a
pact of mutual corruption, the lady or her dog, for the rhetor demanded a terrible price for his
toadying: by giving the public exactly what it wants, Augustine boasts, the orator makes
them clay in his hands, a helpless automaton without a mind or will of its own, completely at
the bidding of the skillful word-master.127 Dio Chrysostom and Lucian have told how this
irresistible predatory profession, jauntily sure of itself in handling the man in the street, the
gullible rich, and the lazy student population, always won out because it always pushed
downhill128 -- selling whiskey to the Indians was not a surer thing, or a deadlier. Socrates
prophesied in the Gorgias that a true teacher would have no more chance of holding his own
against the smooth-talking Sophists with their easy but flashy and pretentious instruction,
than an honest physician would have of winning child patients in competition with a pastry
cook who prescribed nothing but dessert. Rhetoric was the ruin of all hard and honest
thinking in the ancient world, but it paid big returns and swept all before it, to become the
great heritage of the Middle Ages from Antiquity.129 Of the orating bishops, the glory of the
fourth century, Gibbon says, "the true size and colour of every object is falsified by the
exaggerations of their corrupt eloquence," a verdict which subsequent studies have fully
The only form of rhetoric that retained any real vitality in the fourth century was the
panegyric, a formal set address in which the orator, in the name of the people or Senate,
would declare undying devotion to the emperor or any other leader, civil or ecclesiastical,
who had attained to a position of great political importance.131 Fides was the keynote, with
ardent protestations of unfailing loyalty, delivered in set, conventional terms whose transfer
from pagan to Christian use may be traced on coins and inscriptions as well as in the
orators.132 Augustine, himself a one-time professional panegyrist, joyfully announces that
the panegyric art, far from being discredited by Christianity, has received a new lease on life;
for if rhetoric contributes a much-needed spice to the Christian teaching, that doctrine in
return offers the exhausted panegyrist in the Christian God what he most needs -- a materia
grandis of unlimited possibilities.133 "The pagan emperors had been traditionally devoted to
self-advertisement," says Cochrane, "but it remained for the first Christian sovereign to
discover a more effective instrument of propaganda than any hitherto devised," in the
Christian pulpit. 134
From the capital the vogue for panegyrics spread, under government supervision, to the
provinces. A local professor of rhetoric would be chosen to address the emperor as if he
were present, and all people would be expected to applaud like mad "to prove their loyalty."
135 The whole business was carefully controlled: the subject matter was prescribed, the time
and place of delivery fixed, and the orator chosen by the very man who was to be acclaimed.
M. Leclercq labors to exonerate the panegyrists of the common charges of being flatterers,
liars, and pimps, on the grounds (1) that they fooled nobody (however hard, he admits, they
tried), (2) that they had no choice in the matter but had to do what they were told (though
they loved every minute of it and fought for the opportunity), and (3) that they were really
sincere.136 Precisely in this last argument lies the most damning charge against the
panegyrists, the secret of whose success was to make themselves sincere -- for a fee. This is
the classic dilemma of the rhetorician, who must employ all the exacting devices of his art to
persuade his hearers before all else that he has no art.137 The sorriest victims of the dilemma
were the fathers of the fourth century who, as has often been noted, use their most lush and
artificial rhetoric to condemn the use of rhetoric. 138
The result of this sort of thing was a ghastly air of unreality that characterized all attempts to
win loyalty by formal persuasion. When men tried to bolster up the vast inertia of a sagging
civilization with words alone, it was the world that remained unaffected, while the noble
words were squashed flat and had all the meaning squeezed out of them by the dead weight
of reality. 139 The most successful panegyric of the age was a masterpiece in which the
"ordinary reader . . . seeks in vain some glimmer of reasonableness, some promise of
sense."140 The victory of the decadent rhetoric of the fourth-century schools was complete
and conditioned all the thinking of the Middle Ages.141 Typical was the tendency to employ
lofty abstractions, which imparts to Christian rhetoric an unmistakably pagan flavor which
persists to the present day.142 The significant thing, however, is that the most movingly
eloquent protestations of loyalty, though they did produce thunders of applause, failed to
generate genuine loyalty, and the great Chrysostom observes often and with bitterness that
the populace which recognizes him as perhaps the world's greatest orator will not pay the
slightest heed to his mildest admonitions, but continues to go about the business of
money-getting while he, Sunday after Sunday, speaks to empty walls.143 The world
remained unconvinced, and to the end of the Middle Ages the darling theme of the
rhetoricians, "the dream of a united Christendom . . . was seen to have been a dream."144
Each of the three attempts to foster loyalty in the century of crisis was a conspicuous failure.
The disillusionment with the ideological appeal of West versus East is voiced in Jordanes's
commentary on the Battle of the Catalaunian Plain which, far from being a cosmic struggle
between conflicting ways of life, proved to him only one thing: When such a slaughter of
nations can be caused by the crazy obsession of one man, or when the whim of some
arrogant chieftain can undo in an instant what it has taken nature centuries to produce -- that
proves that the human race lives for the benefit of kings.145 One-package loyalty was, as
Alföldi shows, no less a hopelessly artificial concept that could only ruin what it meant to
save. 146 "Men were aware of the danger that threatened," writes Straub. "They felt that the
emergency of the time called for drastic decisions; but the absolute domination of Divine
Grace left little margin [Spielraum] for any attempts at political reform. It is thus by no
means surprising that we are almost never confronted by any concrete suggestion." 147 One
does not reform a holy system, and where the social order was God's order, "the human
mind," in Bury's words, "was cabined by the Infinite. Thought was rendered sterile and
unproductive under the withering pressure of an omnipresent and monotonous idea."148 It
was an age of "utter incapacity to invent anything new . . . devoid of all creative power and
helplessly submitting to current practice." 149
Partisan appeals to universal loyalty completed the crippling process: the whole Tragik of
the Middle Ages, says Ladner, was the ruling out of all possibility of compromise by a
theory of loyalty which was partisanship raised to the nth power (die ins Ungemessene
gesteigerten Einseitigkeiten).150 "Reverence for Augustine," writes Father Bligh, "forbids
me to say that his justification of persecution was wrong; but its fruits were evil in the
centuries which followed, and we may suspect that, if he had had as much experience to
reflect upon as we have, Augustine would have reverted to his first opinion." 151 On the
contrary, it is we who are reverting to Augustine's second opinion.
Rostovzeff sums up all the evils of the age we have been discussing under one head:
oversimplification. "Everywhere we meet with the same policy of simplification, coupled
with a policy of brutal compulsion."152 The "system of the late Empire, despite its apparent
complexity, was much simpler, much more primitive, and infinitely more brutal" than what
had gone before.153 "In times of crisis," says Alföldi, "when the choice of the Government
is simplified down to a plain `to be or not to be,' the policy that wins is that of the
fire-brigade, which elects to destroy the contents of a house in order to save the naked
walls."154 And the ultimate expression of this blunt oversimplification was the army of
secret police, agentes in rebus, whose business was to check on everybody's loyalty.155
The fourth century is not the twentieth. But loyalty is a timeless thing, and if the experience
of the century of crisis proves anything, it is that there is no problem of loyalty. Conformity
can be had by bribery, flattery, or force, but one can no more legislate loyalty than one can
legislate love, of which it is a part. "The professed object of Constantine," says Cochrane,
"was to legislate the millennium in a generation."156 The legislation of loyalty lay at the
core of his plan, and its miserable failure should mean something to a modern world in
which no ruler possesses a tenth of the religious, political, and military prestige that
Constantine did. Since the essence of loyalty is disinterested devotion, there is something
distressing in the attempts of the fourth (or any) century to conjure it up by appeals to
interest, fear, or expediency.
Yet the "loyalty problem" is no mere question of semantics; the substitution of some such
word as "security" or "conformity" for "loyalty" in designating the Executive Order of March
1947 does not really change the complexion of the thing. Loyalty is one of the few words in
existence about whose meaning dispute is virtually impossible. Everyone knows what
loyalty is, and what a desirable, nay indispensable thing it is to the survival of any
community. Like honor and chastity, it is strongest when least talked about, and thrives only
in a climate of uncritical acceptance. A virtuous investigation of loyalty is like a noisy
oration in praise of silence, and the appearance of loyalty order and loyalty legislation such
as are found in the Theodosian Code and elsewhere is a sign of lost confidence, a desperate
groping in empty air for something which groping fingers only push farther out of reach.
Two of the wisest contemporaries of Constantine, reflecting upon his Nicene Council, were
not unaware of a serious implication in the holding of formal assemblies to decide upon the
nature of God. "For if they believed," writes Athanasius," they would not be seeking as if for
something they did not have," and Hilary says the same: "The Faith must be inquired after,
as if we had none. The Faith must be written down, as if there could be any baptism without
faith in Christ!"157 Just so, when we start defining loyalty we demonstrate to the world that
we no longer know what it is. That is the lesson of the Age of Constantine.
This article was originally published in Western Political Quarterly 6/4 (1953):
631-57, at a time when the loyalty of many patriotic Americans was being impugned by
political opponents.
Chapter 6
Victoriosa Loquacitas: The Rise of Rhetoric and the Decline of Everything Else
The declining years of ancient civilization were beset by a feverish preoccupation with
rhetoric which suggests nothing so much as a hopeless alcoholic's devotion to the bottle.
Everywhere the ancients give us to understand that rhetoric is their poison, that it is ruining
their capacity to work and think, that it disgusts and wearies them, and that they cannot let it
alone, because it pays too well and, having destroyed everything else, it is all they have left
of remembered grandeur. It should be immediately apparent that this arresting phenomenon
may have more than an academic interest for our own age; nevertheless, from this point on
the reader, if there be such, must draw all his own parallels and conclusions. Our bemused
and saddened gaze is directed to the ancient scene alone.
But was rhetoric a specific thing that we should make such wild charges against it? That is a
question the ancients themselves often asked. "It is often claimed," says Cicero, "that there is
no such thing as an art of speaking." People protest, he explains, that the greatest orators
never took a lesson, that the subject matter of rhetoric is dubia et incerta (questionable and
uncertain) since an orator can speak on anything, and that public speaking is an essential part
of many professions rather than a monopoly of one. Hence, fine speech may be a gift or
talent, but it is not a science or art.1 To these objections our Tully gives the stock answers,
which in his opinion outweigh them: the "great orators" in question were such only in the
common report of the vulgar and by proper standards would perhaps not deserve the name of
orator at all; it is true that speech is a gift of nature but nature's gifts can always be made into
something finer by a proper discipline;2 as to vagueness of substance, if you want to insist
on the rigorous rules of science "then it seems to me that there is no such thing as an ars
oratoris [speaker's art]," but are we bound by such rules? What difference does it make
whether it is an ars or not, so long as it does something that no other discipline can do? After
all is said, the orator remains a specialist unique in his kind, and once he has been briefed on
any subject "can speak on it far more elegantly (ornate) even than the man who taught him
about it."3
By far the most common ancient definition of rhetoric (Quintilian concludes after a survey of
the field) is simply vis persuadendi, the power or faculty or skill of persuading.4 Corax, the
father of the art, called it that; Dio Chrysostom calls it "the technique or skill of persuading
the many." "The goal of the orator's trade is to persuade," says the great Augustine; the
business of rhetoric is to move people, to make an impression.5 That is also the business of
music, poetry, and drama, and Cicero duly observes that the orator has much to learn from
the masters in those fields, and as they have their props and instruments so he has his: he
works with the spoken word and must know not only how to make words ring with
conviction but also which words will convince.6
Neither the definition nor the nature of rhetoric changed throughout the long centuries of
classical antiquity. Compare a description of the rhetoric of the fifth century B.C. with that
of the fifth century A.D.:
The rhetorical art of the Old Sophistic [writes Schmid] aimed at convincing the thinking man
by compelling arguments or veiled and misleading pseudo-arguments, by undeniable truth or
its substitute, by a carefully worked-out probability made indistinguishable from truth itself,
to the point of winning his assent to the speaker's proposition; it sought to inspire confidence
in the speaker as a solid and irreproachable Citizen, hence the emphasis on a blameless
public life -- even if it was so only in appearance. 7
St. Augustine has given [says Father Comb ès] a rigorous and convincing (achev e) analysis
of all the parts, all the powers, and all the seductions of the rhetorical art, showing that it is
necessary, in order to inspire the soul of one's hearers with the frisson sacre, to seize upon
that soul by means of a learned dialectic, to charm it by a cunning oratory, draw it along by a
moving eloquence and, before everything, to multiply the prestige of the spoken word by
that of a virtuous life.8 In almost a thousand years all that changed was the nature of the
audience, which had become under the tutelage of rhetoric less intellectual and more
Ancient rhetoric achieved its perfection in three rapid steps. The first is represented by the
untutored eloquence of the great statesmen of the Periclean Age, with Pericles himself as the
classic example, the second by the conned and written speeches of the next generation, and
the third, which overlaps the others in time but survives them by many centuries, by the
activities of the professional orators, beginning with the Sophists.9
Philosophy plus rhetoric produces Sophistry. "The Old Sophistic," says Philostratus,
"considered rhetoric necessary to Philosophy."10 The man who first most successfully
promoted the formal study of rhetoric was that same Gorgias whom the Sophists hailed as
the father of their art.11 By mixing rhetoric with philosophy he turned it to Sophistry, for
which offense Plato takes him grimly to task. The charge is that he is turning his talents from
the honest search for truth to the business of cultivating appearances. 12 That is exactly what
his teacher Empedocles (whom the younger Aristotle calls the inventor of rhetoric)13 had
done; fretting like Dr. Faustus at the limitations of the mind and despairing of arriving at
truth in the short span of a human life,14 Empedocles found satisfaction in pretending before
the public that he had already achieved all knowledge and power. 15 He becomes the most
magnificent of quacks and the father of a long line of skillful impostors whose success
depended wholly on their adroit and irresistible sales talk.
Gorgias was as disillusioned as his teacher; he wrote three famous books to prove (a) that
nothing exists, (b) that if it did, we could not know it, (c) that if we could, we could not
communicate our knowledge to another, and having thus thoroughly debunked the program
of searching for truth the hard way, cultivated a new and wonderful art of finding success the
easy way. He worked out a technique, says Philostratus, which enabled him to speak offhand
on any and all subjects, and to prove or disprove any point on demand, thereby bringing
against himself the shocked and scandalized charge of "making the worse appear the better
reason." 16 Traveling everywhere, he proved to the world that "nothing could stand up to the
arts of the rhetor"; displaying with words, which captivated the fancy of the rising generation
and all that followed, was actually a philosophical nihilism, Schmid points out, that made a
hash of all values, including the sacred nomos -- the moral order of society -- itself.17
Gorgias shares with his friend Protagoras the glory and guilt of selling rhetoric to the world.
Protagoras concluded that he was wasting his time trying to sound the secrets of the universe
in a short lifetime, burned his books in the marketplace, and turned to teaching rhetoric,
achieving the immortal fame of being the first man to make a hundred minas at the trade. 18
His famous dictum that man is the measure of all things led only too easily to the rhetorical
gospel that anything goes, "the Philistine morality" which in the end destroyed Greek
civilization. 19 Among a long list we cite only these two, the first and greatest of the
Sophists; in proportion as their successors were less gifted than the masters, they were less
scrupulous. With the so-called Second Sophistic the rhetorical schools, having won over the
emperors to their program and thereby having gained control of public education, no longer
felt it necessary to continue the old lip-service to science and philosophy but openly opposed
and bested them at every turn. "A host of men possessing small knowledge and no skill,"
says one observer, completely captivated the public by substituting sweet sounds for ideas;
issues gave way to personalities, the most popular speaker being the best entertainer.20 The
Second Sophistic aimed at nothing but selling the public exactly what it wanted; the
freshness and cockiness of the Old Sophistic that had enabled its key figures to match wits
and words with a Socrates, a Plato, or an Anaxagoras in a brilliant tussle of ideas was gone,
and in its place was only a shrewd and studious striving to please.21 The Sophists had
outbrazened the old reproaches and by a generation of calculated charm and magnanimity
made the name of Sophist an honorable and envied one; "the confidence and self-satisfaction
of these men show that they were entirely unaware of the utterly decadent nature of their
To the ancient mind the apex of human success, the highest prize to which any man could
attain, was to be a Sophos, one of those heroes of the mind, typified by the Seven Sages,
who, after giving wise laws and examples to their own cities, wandered free of earthly
passions and attachments through the universe, selfless and aloof, as spectators of God's
works, seeking only knowledge and carrying with them the healing blessing of true wisdom,
especially of statesmanship, for all who sought or needed it. 23 Hailed by adoring multitudes
-- who often saw the aura of divinity around them -- humbly petitioned by great cities and
magnificent potentates, these incorruptible wise men represented the pinnacle of real human
attainment.24 This matchless success, the very essence of success, was from Empedocles on
the particular objective of rhetoric, the Sophists fancying themselves as true successors of
the Sophoi. 25 Like them, they sought to give laws to cities, reconcile warring factions,
advise governors and emperors, instruct communities on matters of public health and
economics, and serve as commentators and guides in world affairs.26
The very first Sophists had found vast captive audiences waiting for them, whole nations
assembled at the great games and convocations of cities to which they were sent as
ambassadors.27 In the later period from the heart of Asia to the Pillars of Hercules we
behold great cities assembled in the breathtaking splendor of the theater, hanging on the
words of the great traveling orator -- between the elephant act and the great rape scene. 28
He tells them funny stories and improving homilies, he boldly rebukes their defects and
excesses, orders the huge throng like a child to behave itself, or commends it on its good
order and fine appearance. He delights the city with an outsider's praise of its size and
shining beauty, or pours withering scorn on its luxury and immorality. He flatters his hearers'
intelligence with his confidential manner as the great news-commentator who knows the
inside stuff, discussing big world issues in clever, conceited, short-winded discourses. And
they listen to him for centuries on end because he represents civilization and saves them
from boredom. "All I ask," cries the great Chrysostom to the people of Alexandria, "is to be
counted among your diversions."29 So they shouted themselves hoarse and paid cash on the
And the Sophist, unlike the Sophos, took the cash. The classic test of the early Christians by
which one distinguished between a true and a false prophet was whether the man took
money or not. The same test marked the Sophist from the Sophos, according to Plato. The
teaching of rhetoric, says Dio Chrysostom, should raise up a generation of orators to be
"saviors of their cities," only unfortunately he must report that the prospective demigods are
wholly absorbed in the quest for fame and money. 30 "People thought Hippias, Polus, and
Gorgias were real Sophoi," he says. "I can't put on a show like they did, either mantic,
sophistic, rhetorical, or flattering."31 It is plain what they were after and how they intended
to get it.
The key to the Sophist-rhetorical technique of persuasion is probability. By clever
syllogisms the trained rhetor could turn any proposition into a probability, which he could in
turn build into a certainty by high-powered emotional appeal. That was the orator's one-two
punch that nothing could stand up to -- first to the head, then to the solar plexus -- the
characteristic Sophist combination of genuine mental adroitness with unabashed
hamming.32 The main thing was to establish the probability. The first Sophists showed the
way to do this by breaking down the thing that made the Greeks uniquely great, the high
moral wall between seeming and being.33 Seeming is as near as you can ever get to being,
Protagoras and Gorgias argued -- doxa, appearance, is all we ever have to go by anyway; we
can never really say that a thing is so, but only that it seems so -- 251"Man is the measure of
all things." The best training for the orator, Cicero declares, is to "dispute about everything,
taking both sides of every question and picking out whatever appears probable in every
proposition."34 The less truth there is in an orator's cause, his Brutus declares, the better the
job he must do from the probability angle.35 "The aim of rhetoric," says Celsus, "is to speak
with persuasion on dubious subjects of public interest."36 Clement of Alexandria has given
an interesting analysis of rhetorical argument, its starting point, its method or procedure, and
its final goal. The beginning, he says, is the probable, an opinion or an appearance; the
process is that of feeling one's way (epicheirema), taking cues from the opposition, adroitly
shifting back and forth between logic and emotion (when the opponent gets emotional, call
him down to earth, when he appeals to reason, ask where his heart is); and the goal is to
cause a sensation, pull off a personal triumph, and become an object of wonder and
admiration.37 In every case the probable is the little handful of stuff on which the orator
goes to work; his business is to build it up into something great. "The highest merit of
eloquence," writes Cicero, "is to amplify the object of discussion . . . to exaggerate and
amplify by speech." 38 "The rhetorical trade makes small things great and great things
small," says Plato.39 A classic illustration of this is Lysias's famous oration of the fig tree. It
is apparent from the beginning and the conclusion of the oration that it had been proved to
everyone's satisfaction that the sacred fig tree that Lysias's client was charged with having
destroyed had not existed; there had been a mistake. One would think that would settle the
matter, but that is the point where Lysias takes up his argument. It is not the facts about the
fig tree that interest him but the probabilities of the case: would his client be the type of man
to do such a thingif there had been a fig tree? That for him is the wholeissue. It is not
surprising that the orator lives in a world of high-sounding intangibles -- res, humanitas,
honores, savitas, officia, gratiae, laus, commendationes, admiratio, and so forth -- which on
every page of Cicero's letters turn out to be but a verbal screen for a hard and sordid game of
exploitation and survival played without scruples and without loyalties. "We must allow the
rhetor to make false, daring, somewhat misleading and captious statements," Gellius smugly
observes, "providing he keeps within the bounds of probability," and he disarmingly
explains that the rhetor must be permitted that latitude since it is his business to stir people
up, his gravest offense being not the championing of falsehood but any refusal to defend it in
a client's interest. 40
Such statements as that, meant to be a defense of the profession but actually a rather
damaging indictment of rhetoric, proclaim the uneasiness that is never far from the surface
of ancient treatises on oratory, the awareness that there is something basically wrong about
the thing. No one denied, of course, that rhetoric could be abused -- "cannot any good thing
be misused?" asks Antony, 41 but the question was whether it was bad as such, by nature.
That was a disturbing question which could hardly be asked of an honest trade, and the
rhetoricians hurt their case by protesting too much, constantly calling attention to the
billowing smoke by insisting that the fire was not a serious one. Everywhere the defenders of
ancient rhetoric give the thing away by unconsciously damaging statements: the Sophists, for
example, claimed to be proud of their calling, yet the worst thing one Sophist could call
another was a Sophist.42 Themistius, a dean of Sophists and rhetoric, protested to his
university colleagues that he deserved to be called a philosopher rather than a rhetorician,
since he spoke the truth.43 Gellius claims that Metellus's speeches are so honest that they
actually deserve to be read by philosophers, and that his honesty is so great that he never has
to avail himself of every orator's rightful prerogative of lying.44 It is usual to call any very
clever man a rhetor, according to Philostratus, "even if he is honest."45 St. Augustine is no
doubt reflecting the same popular sentiment when he concludes a letter, whether
unconsciously or in jest, "But I must restrain myself, lest I be thought by you to be engaging
in rhetorical rather than truthful activities." 46 Certainly he, like the other great fathers of his
century, admitted that rhetoric was a false and mendacious art, even while confessing that he
found it a very useful and attractive one. 47 Cicero's very proper assurance that a rhetor will
not hesitate to speak the truth when it serves his purpose48 is more damaging than any long
catalogue of charges brought against rhetoric by its enemies. And how he gives himself
away in his impatience with the philosophers' manner of delivery! The philosophical style,
he says with distaste, is much too soft, it lacks popular appeal, it is not ear-catching, has
nothing punchy about it, no emotional fireworks -- no volcanic rage, fierce accusations,
pathetic appeals, nothing sharp and cunning: "It is chaste and upright," he concludes, "an
uncorrupted virgin, so to speak."49 And what was his rhetoric by contrast?
The final plea of the orators in defense of their art was the protest that unscrupulous and
unqualified men had misrepresented it inside the profession and out. Rhetoric is a terrible
instrument in the hands of the wrong man, we are assured; it is often necessary to defend
things like murder which, though bad in themselves, are under certain circumstances
innocent and praiseworthy -- the orator can make them seem good or bad at will, and so the
most important qualification for every orator to have is honest intent, without which
"nothing is more pernicious in public or private affairs than eloquence."50 So we get the
constant refrain that the orator must be a paragon of virtues; his is the most difficult and
demanding of all arts requiring qualities of character and brain that are virtually nonexistent
in this imperfect world.51 Rhetoric is the art of perfection itself; if it is not perfect, it is
nothing, for nothing is sadder than a great attempt that falls short.52 There is no excuse for
stupidity here, let alone immorality; rhetoric should be left strictly alone by those not
properly endowed for it.53 But who is properly endowed? To that question the experts threw
up their hands in despair and declared in a single voice that the perfect orator simply does
not exist. The choice was between perfection and a fiasco -- and perfection was out of the
If nothing is rarer than a good orator, nothing is commoner than bad ones. The rewards of
rhetoric are tremendous; are such rewards to be left lying about unclaimed until the perfect
orator comes along? As might be expected, the worst people took to rhetoric like ducks to
water.54 For rhetoric preached the gospel of success. The chance for everyone to "succeed"
was, Mommsen declares, the soul and essence of the principate, its justification for being,
and its driving power.55 It was the school of rhetoric under the benign patronage of the
Good Emperor that offered this plum to every ambitious youth in the Empire, and "people of
every class became inflamed with a desire to achieve the new `success.'"56 The orator's
philosopher, says Cicero, is not Aristotle (who loathed rhetoric), but Carneades, because he
was always successful: "He never supported a cause that didn't win or opposed one that did
not fail."57 Lucian illustrated the spirit of rhetorical education in his story of the young man
who came to Harmodes, the greatest flute player of the time, to takelessons, with the
specification that he was interested not in becoming a good flautist but only in becoming a
successful one. 58 Which is a reminder that Isocrates, the founder of the first real school of
rhetoric, ruled against the flute as a waste of time -- it didn't pay off.59
From the time of Isocrates on, wrote William Schmid, "naked self-interest . . . ruled in the
rhetorical schools." 60 Success meant getting ahead: all else was eliminated. Cicero simply
cannot understand those Greeks who actually like to talk about things that are both hard and
impractical in the schools; those people have no word for "inept," he says with scorn, but
play with ideas for their own sake; that for him is against the whole spirit and purpose of
rhetoric, which aims to get results and no funny stuff -- we should keep our boys away from
such studies, he cautions. 61 Why study anything but rhetoric? is Seneca's challenge: 62
what good is astronomy except for fixing horoscopes and keeping appointments?
"Mathematics teaches me to make of my fingers organs of avarice," -- that is as far as Seneca
can see; music is no good, he says, because it will not stop fears or still appetites, as rhetoric
will; "geometry teaches me to measure a field, how much better to know how to measure a
man?" -- human engineering is what pays; and who cares about the niceties of grammar
when you can sell people without them?63 Seneca's interest in things went only so far as
they would support his case; but even the case concerned him wholly and simply as a pretext
for pushing his own career cupit enim se approbari, non causam was his slogan -- "it is
yourself you are selling after all."64
For the rhetor success meant three things -- fame, wealth, and power. Fame came first; it is
the one thing every orator wants. The rhetorical brotherhood glamorized their success with
great skill both because they enjoyed doing so and because it helped business, and the youth
of the world became easily obsessed by an insanum gloriae studium. Praise and glory are
what everyone wants in this life without exception, Cicero insists; for his own part, whatever
he does has just one object: "To plant in the world an everlasting memorial of myself."65 Let
no one bring prudish charges of vanity or selfishness against this, for "even the philosophers
inscribe their names on those very books which they write against love of fame!" 66 Even
the rhetors who affected intellectual superiority to such things sulked terribly when people
failed to recognize and applaud them in public places.67
People admire rhetors, Philostratus reports, much as they admire skillful doctors, seers,
musicians, and even artisans, but in this particular case their admiration is mixed with
caution -- they distrust the admired orator as a man who is out to promote himself and and
will use any means to do it.68 The rewards of rhetoric were great in polite society, the
business world, and politics.69 The government sponsored the rhetorical schools as
"nurseries for statesmen," from which it could always replenish the ranks of high
government officials. 70 Pathetically eager to recognize even the feeblest signs of talent with
"$50,000 grants for $100 ideas" the state actually cut the sinews of true statesmanship by
confining the training of its gifted citizens to the make-believe world of the schools -- a toy
world of toy ideas.71 Still, however poorly trained, "the high officials," Philo observed, "are
simply overwhelmed by an uncontrollable stream of wealth." 72 The orator was a pusher
who never missed a chance to put individuals under obligation to him -- "vobis honori et
amicis utilitati et republicae emolumento esse" (to be a glory to yourselves, a benefit to your
friends, and a source of profit to the state).73 They kept careful track of personal credits like
funds in a bank, a regular bookkeeping of honors and obligations (you find it in Cicero's
letters) that could be incurred by words and paid off in the same coin. Words were legal
tender, but the rates were not fixed. "Bassus brings you an empty purse and a speech,"
Libanius writes in a letter of recommendation. "Thank God who has given us eloquence, and
remember that you owe your own position as head of a province to your talent as a speaker. .
. . Reward Bassus and thereby you will encourage others to study rhetoric."74
In its vagueness and all-pervasiveness the term rhetoric came very close to our own
"business," or better, "public relations." No one could say exactly what it was, yet no one
had the slightest doubt about its real nature or its absolutely predominant place in the world.
The rhetorician was a general promoter, ingratiating himself with powerful individuals or
groups to run off with a handsome cut of the profits from clever deals engineered by himself,
hand-ling other people's affairs in the law courts, guiding political opinion, generally
flattering and running errands for the great -- the god Mercury, the winged messenger and
factotum with the money-bags. Hermes the thief, with the ready tongue and winning
manners shows how established the type really is. The rhetor is "a pushing, driving,
money-chasing operator," says Lucian, "who leaves any sense of decency, propriety,
moderation, and shame at home when he goes to work."75 "I do not make money," Dio
protests, "I am not interested in crooked deals. . . . I do not promote things in the market
place -- for I am not a rhetor!" 76 "During those years," Augustine confesses in lush
rhetorical terms, "I taught the art of rhetoric, and, myself the victim of cupidity, trafficked in
. . .loquacity."77 "I hate to say it," another one of the greats confesses, "but verecundia
(modesty, decency, restraint), in itself a most amiable trait, is a positive vice in an orator,
since it will make him hesitate, change his mind, or even stop talking to think things over."
The remedy for this infirmity is, he says, fiducia, complete self-confidence.78 That was
Gorgias's secret of success in the beginning: never lose your nerve -- keep talking no matter
what happens. Some of the most humane and sensitive men, like Libanius, Themistius, or the
great bishops of the fourth century, showed uncanny skill and dexterity in trimming and
double-talk that kept them in lucrative government positions under the utterly conflicting
policies and tyrannical administrations of such emperors as Constantine, Constantius, Julius,
and Theodosius. Theirs was the "flexanima atque omnium regina oratio," the always-winner
that could talk anybody out of anything.79 On the lower level, the cities swarmed with
fast-talking operators who could always get it for you wholesale and whose skill at making
something super-colossal out of nothing was excelled only by their know-how in the art of
As the Sophos was unattached and incorruptible, so the Sophist was unattached and
irresponsible. As a speaker he was not held responsible for what he said in the heat of an
address,81 and as a politician he answered to no one but himself.82 Critias was not
responsible for wrecking Athenian democracy, Philostratus insists, for it was doomed
anyway. So with a clear conscience he left his ruined city to spend years of plotting and
intrigue in other cities and finally retired in the odor of wealth and sanctity, leaving a trail of
wreckage behind him. 83 The Sophist who told a young man that he could get mentioned in
all history books by killing Philip of Macedon felt no pangs of guilt when the fellow carried
out the deed; had not Gorgias protested with wide-eyed innocence: "If a rhetor chooses to
use his skill for evil ends, is that any reason for hating his teacher or expelling him from the
cities?"84 "Your mind is sick," Diogenes told a rhetor, "but your tongue feels nothing."85
What is wrong with that? Isocrates asks with impatience. Is it a crime to want to get ahead in
the world? Everybody works for money; what is wrong with talking for money? Doesn't
everybody practice piety, justice, and other virtues for what they can get out of them?86
This unwillingness to accept responsibility, which reaches its perfection in the great
Christian orators of the fourth century, 87 went hand in hand with a cynical admiration for
the clever ruse, the lie that was not a lie: the world recalled with delight how Protagoras was
taken into court by one of his students who had promised to pay him a huge fee in case he
won his first lawsuit. The complaint was that Protagoras was overcharging, and it was the
young man's first case, so that if he lost he would not have to pay Protagoras anything, and if
he won he would, of course, not pay. The same story was told of Corax and Tisias, the
traditional founders of rhetoric.88
It was always remembered that there was a bad as well as a good side to rhetoric; but what
was not recognized was a fatal Gresham's Law by which bad rhetoric, art, and education, like
bad money, will always force the better product out of circulation. 89 There can be no truce
between the two, since each is a standing rebuke to the other. Socrates made this clear when
he declared no quarter with the half-truths of the Sophists, who were just as determined to
settle his hash as he was theirs -- and in the end succeeded, as he predicted they would. He
explains how this Gresham's Law works when he assures Gorgias that a pastry cook
prescribing only dessert to his foolish patients can always put an honest doctor out of
business. 90 The teachers of rhetoric competed openly and brazenly for students, first against
the philosophers, and then, once the state had guaranteed support of at least three Sophist
teachers even in the smallest town, against each other.91 The competition was terrific, with
each professor, like Socrates' pastry cook, promising easier and shorter courses than anyone
else, along with assurances of good jobs, big pay, and brilliant careers -- "And you can do it
all lying down!" said the prospectus.92
Just as no parent who could possibly afford it would deny his child decent clothing, so ran
the argument, so neither could he deny them the more essential adornments of the mind on
which society placed an even greater value.93 Everybody's children had to go to school -but not to study!94 They came for fun and horseplay, "a spoiled and conceited generation,
insistent on knowing all the answers overnight," impatient of any work or restraint, without
reverence for anything but success.95 Rhetoric, of course, was all they ever studied: "Parents
don't want their children to study the hard way," Petronius complains, but "insist that
eloquentia is that most important thing in the world and expose them to it from infancy."96
We are not interested in making experts, the most successful educationist of his day
announced, "all we intend to give the student is enough background to enable him to follow
the authors."97 This background was the skopos or prothesis, that is, the "main idea" of each
subject, the flimsy skeleton to which rhetoric would supply any desired amount of flesh. This
was the ultimate development in rhetorical education, the final, Neoplatonic stage, which in
time reduced all thought to impotence.98
In his discussion with Socrates Gorgias repeatedly confirmed the definition of a rhetor as
one who addresses an ochlos -- the "multitude" is the audience to whom he normally appeals
in the interest of his clients. Accordingly the values of rhetoric are quantitative: How much?
and How many? are the questions it always asks. Gloria like wealth is a function of size
alone: the greater the cheering multitude the greater the glory and success of the one
cheered. There is no exception to the rule, for all the fastidious and hypocritical protests of
those scholarly rhetors who affected to despise the mob. Rhetoric, according to Augustine, is
the art which, animated by necessity rather than "purity," scatters to the populace from its
overflowing bosom (the Roman equivalent of pockets) an abundance of delights, thus
leading them to comply with his interests.99 You can get what you want out of people if
only you give them what they want -- without question and without hesitation. The rhetor,
says Philo, is the slave of a thousand masters, the public is a whore, and he is her minion and
her lap-dog. 100 "What do you want me to do?" cries Dio Chrysostom to the people of his
native city; "I'll do it!"101 In Cicero's opinion Rutilius was the perfect orator in background,
training, and native endowment, and yet he was a conspicuous failure because of one fatal
defect: "He could not sufficiently accommodate himself to popular taste."102 No one who
gets into this business has a right to be fastidious: "necesse est aut imiteris aut oderis" -unless you are prepared to go all the way to please the mob, you had better avoid it
altogether.103 When an anxious parent asked Antisthenes where he should educate his son,
the philosopher answered, "If you expect him to spend his days among the gods make him a
philosopher, but if he expects to live among people make him a rhetor!"104
The orator must stoop to conquer, and a quick and frightening rebuke awaits him if he does
not stoop low enough. For all his toadying, Dio was banished for being unsociable, Libanius
had to clear himself of the same terrible charge, and Apuleius was investigated time and
again because he was suspected of being an introvert.105 Go easy on philosophy, Cicero
advises, don't talk over people's heads -- they don't like orators who make them feel stupid;
best keep your books at home for private leisure.106 He might have cited the case of
Hermodorus, who was banished from the illustrious city of Ephesus because he was guilty of
excelling in something: "If he must excel," they said, "let him go and excel over somebody
else!"107 Cicero's own opinion is that "an orator is pleasanter and more plausible to listen
to" when he doesn't indulge in a lot of high-brow stuff. "Everything must be accommodated
to the common judgment and popular intelligence," for the rhetor sells to everybody. 108 To
find out exactly what people wanted was the hardest part of the rhetor's work and the secret
of his success; it was the canvass or survey, the careful trial-and-error game of empeiria, "to
pick out just those things that appeal most to listeners, and not only delight them, but
entertain without ever tiring them." 109 Once you had that, the rest was easy, simply "to
scratch and tickle the ears of those who want to be tickled," taking care never to speak
harshly to them.110
The landslide of vulgarization once started could not be stopped. Good men were
intimidated and banished from the cities by mobs who could always count on finding orators
that would never contradict them, society reserving its richest rewards for those who could
justify, condone, and confirm its vices.111 Even a strong-minded emperor who tried to stem
the tide could wreck his cause by refusing to play along with the show-bred city crowds, and
even risk his person if he dared to talk back to them.112 The orating bishop who tried to
introduce a fancy word or new idea into his sermon might find an angry congregation
shouting back at him, or even have a riot on his hands.113 There was only one thing to do,
as Augustine observed: don't fight the stream -- go with it: vae tibi, flumen moris humani!
Quis resistet tibi? (Woe unto you, stream of human custom. Who can resist you?). 114 "For
all his intellectuality," McGiffert writes of the saint, "he was instinctively a conformist and
could never be quite happy unless the majority agreed with him."115 "What society as a
whole believes," Augustine announces, "that we also believe, and without an inkling of
doubt, even though there is not the slightest evidence that it is true."116 He would have been
as nonplussed as was Polus, the ardent defender of rhetoric, when Socrates told him that
though he bring all the important people in the world to support his cause, "I only am left
alone and cannot agree, for you do not convince me; you only produce many false witnesses
against me, in the hope of depriving me of my heritage, which is the truth."117 That is the
opposite pole from the rhetorical gospel, that the difference between true and false, right and
wrong, good and bad, success and failure, is the difference between twenty and fifty decibels
of applause.
To the pagan as to the Christian orator no sight is more thrilling, no authority more
compelling, than that of the multitude assembled in the theater (cf. fig. 17).118 The favorite
device of the great rhetor is the ecstatic peroration in which the whole human race is
depicted as one magnificent congregation, praising, condemning, pleading, or acclaiming in
a single thunderous voice.119 The speaker identified himself completely with his hearers: no
orator can be eloquent without an audience, Cicero insists.120 "Me too" (in quo et me) might
be taken as Augustine's slogan and the secret of his success. 121 He frankly recommends a
low, vulgar, and amusing style as the most valuable acquisition of the Christian orator and
wholeheartedly practices what he preaches in his tasteless, artificial, profuse, and immensely
popular sermons.122
But rhetoric did more than bow before the storm: it worked hard to create and intensify it,
beginning with the first political speakers who "systematically debauched" the people for
their votes.123 In the early days, according to Cicero, it was the good sense of the public that
acted as a brake on the orators: "semper oratorum eloquentiae moderatrix fuit auditorum
prudentia"; and one of the first reactions to the professional rhetors in Rome was to expel
them from the city.124 This "prudence of the auditors" had to be broken down, and was:
when Galba tried to appeal to Roman "primitive inflexibility and excessive strictness" he
only hurt his cause, says Tacitus, "for we cannot endure the excess of these virtues
nowadays."125 The same thing happened among the Greeks, where the first reaction to the
Sophist techniques was one of shock and alarm, and only an intensive campaign of
debunking established values, confounding commonsense conclusions, and turning on a vast
amount of charm, wit, and synthetic sincerity succeeded in breaking down the general sales
resistance. But once it was broken, the talkers, "the yokes of the empire," as Ammianus calls
them, had it all their own way.126 Theirs was the big-city world of late antiquity, a jazz
world, hard, restless, and superficial, suffering from chronic theatromania and eternally
jiving and jumping to the latest hit tunes.127 Everywhere there is an insistence on the folksy,
the easy, and the commonplace in this five-and-ten civilization that caters especially to the
tastes of women. 128
This easy-going partiality to the cheap and low-brow in no way reflected any real humanity
or humility, for lowness of taste and morals was matched, as many an over-intellectual rhetor
learned to his sorrow, by a fiercely arrogant insistence on stereotyped uniformity and a quick
suspicion of any hint of independence or individuality. It was the day of the large urban
crowd, the warm-weather, outdoor Mediterranean crowd, healthy, excitable, superstitious,
sweating, and jostling at the games and shows. 129 It worshiped its fighters, its actors, and
its orators. 130 Encouraged by the state to avoid serious thinking, the crowd became under
the leadership of the experts not revolutionary or radical but stoutly conservative,131 fond of
rough-house but mushily sentimental; in time they even learned how to exchange
spontaneous tears and laughter for the nicety and propriety of organized and directed
The insatiable hunger of the people for entertainment was matched by "an unbridled passion
for the spoken word." 133 There was nothing they would not pay for suaviloquentia,
"pleasing speech," the top-selling novelty product of the Second Sophist that caught on and
stuck. The experts knew exactly what would sell and what would not; they had it all at their
fingertips -- formulae that could get a reaction as quick and predictable as a knee-jerk; even
those who knew how it was done, could not escape "the noose of suaviloquentia." The
general public didn't have a chance -- the rhetors simply get them drunk, says Lucian, and go
to work on them; flesh and blood can no more resist the impact of a tried and tested
rhetorical assault than it can take a cool appraising look at the Gorgon's head -- you are
paralyzed before you know what hit you. 134 A properly trained rhetorician can make his
audience clay in his hands, helpless automatons without a mind or will of their own.135
Rhetoric did not apologize for hitting below the belt. Before an orator can stir an emotion in
other people, the teacher would explain, he must first feel it in himself, and "the nature of
oratory is such that it moves the orator more than it does any of his hearers." 136 Who, then,
could be more sincere than the orator? Who will dare to say his tears are not real? His
profession requires him to produce real tears. Is rhetoric artificial? they ask, but what could
be more artificial than poetry, prose, or dramatic composition? If actors can pretend and
imagine without shocking people, why can't rhetors? Do not philosophers take either side of
a question for purposes of discussion -- why shouldn't we?137 The answer is, of course, that
of all these practitioners the orator alone insists that he is not doing what he is doing, namely
acting. As a crowning vindication of their ethics, the rhetors neatly converted the truism that
a good orator must be a good man into the corollary that rhetorical skill is proof of a noble
character. 138
The effect of this sort of thing on serious thought and learning can be imagined, but it does
not need to be: the whole history of the Empire is there to illustrate it and to confirm in every
detail all the charges that Plato had with unerring insight brought against rhetoric in the
beginning.139 Hippias, Gorgias, Polus, Prodicus, and the other great Sophists "achieved
wonderful reputations," Dio Chrysostom recalls, "and acquired great wealth in public
activities from cities, dynasts, kings, and private individuals. . . . They spoke a great deal, but
were sadly lacking in intelligence," and they confounded issues and destroyed
philosophy.140 It was in their interest to do so, for they confessed that public ignorance was
their greatest ally and that the less an audience knew about a subject the more convincingly
an orator could handle it.141 No one would ever guess, says Cicero with admiration, that his
friend Antony does not know Greek: by his rhetorical art alone he can give the impression
more perfectly than any real Hellenist can.142 Isn't the knowledge of such an art preferable
to the piecemeal grubbing out of harder and less rewarding stuff?
With the introduction of the Second Sophistic the arts and sciences of the West entered upon
a period of decline from which they were never to recover. At the same time the school
entered upon a career of undreamed-of expansion and splendor. As steadily as civilization
sank in the scale the school mounted on high, until the one reached a peak of enduring glory
and authority at the very moment, in the fifth century, when the other came to rest at its final
and permanent bathos. The cause of this phenomenon, as Cauer has noted, was the saturation
of the Western mind: there came a day when the cultural deposit of the past had become too
great for any mind to absorb, while in the face of what had already been done, all future
creation lost heart.143 From then on, learning the hard way had become just too hard, and
the creative spirit was left with nothing to create. The only answer was rhetoric, the
wonderful art by which an ordinary person could master all knowledge "in his sleep," and
bring forth new and original creations simply by rearranging the familiar rhetorical building
blocks in any desired pattern. The very thing that stifled learning was pure oxygen to the
schools of rhetoric. How easily they took over all the functions of scholarship may be seen in
the case of the immortal Hermogenes. As a boy-wonder (it was an age of praecoces pueruli
[precocious little boys]) he had given exhibitions of his rhetorical skill before the Emperor at
the age of 15; his sweeping and pretentious rhetoric convinced the world that he was its
greatest thinker, and his writings on all subjects became compulsory textbooks for
generations to come.144 Yet his actual contribution to knowledge is exactly nil -- he has
nothing to say. As the brain that feels for the whole body is incapable of feeling itself or
what is happening to it, so the antique school seems utterly incapable of judging of its own
ineptness. The actual productions of the world's most illustrious professors for centuries on
end are incredibly imbecile; in reading them we blush for the authors, yet they in
perpetrating these childish horrors are joyfully exhibitionistic of their very worst traits,
totally unaware of what a shocking spectacle they make.145 Rhetoric, like Mephistopheles,
gave them success but took away their brains in exchange.
By the fifth century the learning and arts of the West present a horrible spectacle. As rhetoric
had broken the back of philosophy by systematic sabotage and absorption, so one by one it
had occupied every field in which money and fame could be earned. Again it was Plato who
had pointed out that it was in its nature to do just that. Others have told the story on which
we need not linger here; the poetry utterly devoid of life, inanely and permanently
preoccupied with those abortive and fantastic devices so admired in the schools: computistic
rhythms, acrostics, centos, picture poetry, neoteric verse, and the rest; the scientific writings
reduced to mere displays of conventional forms of expression and studied obscurity; history
and scholarship confined to translations, commentaries, summas, and epitomes; everywhere
the strangely monotonous and repetitious striving to be stunningly different and impeccably
respectable at the same time, to pile a humdrum Pelion on a conventional Ossa in violent and
cumulative attempts to achieve the novel and sensational. 146
It is no paradox that the gaudiest excesses of rhetoric have a familiar ring. The rhetorician's
business is to make an irresistible impression immediately on large numbers of people: his
message must be grasped and his persuasion succeed on the first hearing -- cool deliberation
and the gathering of facts would be fatal to his profession.147 He has no choice but to "pour
it on" -- copia is Cicero's favorite word. With satiation comes boredom -- there must be no
satiation. 148 Christianity gives rhetoric a new lease on life, according to Augustine, by
providing the sore-pressed orator with a materia grandis in which exaggeration is
impossible; from here on the orator can pour out Niagaras of superlatives and still not begin
to do justice to an arsenal of absolutes. Moreover, it brings a new spice to the jaded appetites
and yet requires nothing new either of the speaker or the hearer, for the central theme is God,
the one theme most familiar to the largest number of people: accordingly, one never has to
tell his hearers anything they do not know already. 149 The matter, manner, and vocabulary
of the Christian sermon were borrowed whole-cloth from the panegyric.150 Enormous
economy of mental effort was achieved by insisting on rigid stereotypes in the rhetor's
techniques. When rhetoric became Christian, according to Norden, it bade a last farewell to
ideas and concerned itself henceforth "only with the forms in which the idea had been
clothed in the Hellenistic world."151 Augustine compares the words of the pagan orators to
precious ornamental vases which he values most highly -- "only the wine of error they
contain displeases me." The old rhetoric interested him only as an empty jar, devoid of
content; as such he treasured it above all else.152
From the second century on the chief characteristic of every branch of science and art is "the
inability to create new compositions."153 The stereotype had abolished the need of that:
"things that bad poets instinctively love to fashion," are the permanent legacy of rhetoric to
literature. Instead, everywhere we meet with the mania for collecting, for cataloguing, for the
pointless quiz, the irrelevant "believe it or not," the literary and historical tags that lead
nowhere, the passion for merely stating information. Strangely enough, real learning was
ignored, even as a means of making an impression, and Ammianus can report in the greatest
days of the schools that the libraries are shut up like tombs. 154 In the rhetorical education
sponsored by Augustine, Marrou perceives "un cho, une influence du flchissement général
des tudes, de cet abaissement du niveau général de la civilisation, qui déjà tout autour
d'Augustin, annonce les temps barbares" (an echo, the effect of a widespread decline in
education, of a lowering in the general level of culture, all around Augustine, which heralds
the onset of the barbarian age).155 As ever the rhetoricians themselves continued to protest
against the scandalous artificiality and insincerity of their art -- in the most artificial and
rhetorical terms!156
Some years ago it became fashionable in informed circles to ascribe the emergence of the
Medieval mind to a process of orientalization. Now while it is true that the typically
rhetorical is also the typically Oriental and that the Rhetoric which conquered the Western
World was "the thing that came from Asia,"157 what happened was not a yielding to foreign
pressure so much as the running down of institutions to a point where they reach a dead level
to which the East had sunk many centuries before and to which it had become perfectly
adapted. With the triumph of rhetoric the West joins the fraternity of fallen civilizations that
live a common, if not a congenial, life and share a common mood. The Orient did not force
itself on the West but simply moved into a vacuum.158
Turning to the East we find that rhetoric has everywhere done its work and run its course in
past ages, and so rules with uniform and undisputed sway from aeon to aeon. All that reaches
us from the Pyramid Age of Egypt is a feeble and moralizing literature that has survived only
because it was perpetuated and copied in the schools.159 The papyri of the Old Kingdom
already display the fatal rhetorical passion for saying the same thing in as many different
ways as possible, and by the Tenth Dynasty all effort at creation seems to have ceased, the
writings of the time consisting solely of endless learned citations from earlier writings. The
characteristically Egyptian admonitions, the seboyet literature, laments, and letters are
simply school pieces to serve as standards of form.160 Always it is the sesh, the man trained
in words, who sets the tone; he it is "by whose speech others are pleased," "who is rescued
from the mouth of the vulgar and praised in the mouth of important people"; he is the one
"who will never go hungry," who will get ahead at court, who is assured of an easy and
important career because he knows how to speak pleasingly and write by the book. 161
Insincerity and smugness mark the smooth, copious, trite flow of phrases -- "glatter
Phrasenschwulst" (pure bombast), Kees calls it -- that means success in public and private
life. 162 "Style soon outlived its first freshness, and gave way to an artificiality and bombast
which submerge the content."163 The famous Eloquent Peasant belongs right in our own
Middle Ages with its exhausting parallels and wearisome display of rhetorical imagery. 164
From the Middle Kingdom on, according to Gardiner, "a florid and metaphorical style" was
perpetuated as the "tales and semi-didactic treatises . . . were copied and recopied in the
schools." 165 Finally with the Ramessid period we reach the mood commonly described as
"typically Oriental," in which content vanishes and only spice, "the exotic bloom of
rhetoric," remains, while restraint and reason are thrown to the winds.166 The next step is
Alexandria, where the tradition continues without a break and where Dio Chrysostom found
the city in his day given over body and soul to the rhetors. 167
It is the same with the Babylonians. The student who learns the rules becomes an important
official, and among his fellows "he shineth like the day."168 From first to last the school is
supreme, with the result that "no important addition appears to have been made in nearly two
millenniums" to any branch of knowledge. 169 "The period of nearly 3,000 years through
which the monuments carry us," writes Weber, "shows in all essentials an unvarying picture
of intellectual life."170 The vast heaps of tablets yield nothing but an endless mechanical
repetition of the same stock stories and figures; we look in vain for any sign of evolution in
this sort of thing, the experts inform us -- from century to century the precious game goes on:
a poem on the 360 uses of the palm, a debate between summer and winter, a servant and a
master, the palm and the tamarisk, between two rival cities, a tireless preoccupation with
mere words, with bizarre and studied archaisms, the incredibly industrious but sloppy and
inaccurate rehashing of the same materials with never a hint of originality or remorse.171
The labors of the Babylonian mind as described by Professor Meissner are hardly to be
distinguished from those of our own Middle Ages as Professor Raby describes them; they
bear the same familiar stamp, the indelible stamp of rhetoric.
The literature of the Arabs presents the same appalling picture. Spengler's magischer Geist is
but the thrall of rhetoric. From the beginning "a few mediocre textbooks completely ruled
the schools for centuries on end,"172 and the schools ruled everything else with their maxim
that correct speech is more important than correct thought. 173 A thoroughly hackneyed
panegyric to the prophet in which he displayed fifty-one rhetorical figures made al-Hilli the
greatest man in Baghdad, exactly as a like panegyric to the Emperor had made Sidonius the
greatest man in Rome six centuries before.174 By the eleventh century the schools had
brought the intellectual life of Islam to a complete standstill; the culama' could think of
nothing to do but to be "continually rearranging and reordering the materials at hand into
new and meaningless systems."175 Heirs of the Sophist tradition through Edessa and
Alexandria, the Arabs went the inevitable way of the rhetoric school and by the thirteenth
century had reached familiar ground: mathematics confined (as Seneca would have it) to the
reckoning of inheritances, astronomy to the calculating of business and religious
engagements, medicine to the study of astrology, and philosophy and theology to fussy and
pointless commentaries. 176 Top-notch scholars, utterly at a loss for ideas, spent their days
like the Sophists of old traveling from university to university and from mosque to mosque
to give public display to their wit and eloquence, or attending conventions and busily writing
up their reports.177 As in rhetorical schools in general, the most meticulous hair-splitting
goes hand in hand with the most wild and undisciplined phantasy, but always the first prize
goes to the Flowers of Eloquence.178 The esthetic judgment of the schools "never pays any
attention to a composition as a whole, but seeks poetic beauty only and always in the isolated
verse." 179 The story of Kalila and Dimna, the oldest Arabic prose work and to this day the
most popular school text in the East, is simply a sequel to the Vitae Sophistarum, recounting
the careers of two foxy rhetors who traveled about from court to court as teachers of political
virtue and tutors to princes; a good deal of the text is taken up with their typically Sophistic
and thoroughly rhetorical discourses on how to succeed in the world. Their slogan is, li-kulli
kalamatin jawaban, "for every question there is an answer," the maxim, illustrated in so
many Oriental tales, that a ready tongue is equal to any emergency.180
But if Hajji Baba is a faithful reincarnation of the clever Sophist, his type is far older than
Gorgias or even wily Odysseus -- it is the nominal offspring of civilizations in collapse.181
There is no geographical affinity between this sort of thing and the soil of the East. The mind
of late antiquity was neither characteristically Eastern nor Western but simply servile,182 the
product of a world without moral foundations. 183 As Western civilization burnt out, it came
to look more and more like other burnt-out civilizations -- exactly as they had visited
Thebes-on-the-Nile in the fifth century B.C., the scholars of the fifth century A.D. visited
Athens to enjoy its glamor and prestige -- and the resemblance naturally facilitated all sorts
of borrowings and exchanges. 184 However different the original structures may have been,
one pile of ashes looks much like another. The most alarming aspect of such ash-heaps is
their indestructibility -- there is nothing left to destroy, and so the rhetorical tradition is as
enduring as it is uniform. When all the arts and sciences have reached the Dead Sea of
Rhetoric they simply stay there forever.
The much-debated "natural eloquence" of the Bedouins raises the question to what degree
the high-flown, rhetorical, and artificial style of various "barbaric" nations (e.g., the Norse
kenning) is the result of contact with the decadent Greco-Roman civilization and to what
degree rhetoric itself is "naturally barbaric." Whatever the answer, there is no question but
that the barbarians recognized in the rhetoric of the schools an idiom very near to their own
minds and hearts. The faults of bad rhetors, it was often noted, are conspicuously those of
barbarian rhetors. If barbarians were most easily impressed by rhetoric, so were women,
children, and slaves. In East and West it was the school, the rhetoric school of late antiquity,
that won over the barbarians to another culture. 185 No matter how passionately they
championed this or that religion -- pagan, Catholic, Arian, Moslem -- the kings of the tribes
as one man went down on their knees in common devotion to the learning of the schools and
took to composing epigrams and inditing hollow epistles in the starry-eyed conviction that
that was civilization. If the vices of barbarian oratory were not actually acquired from the
schoolmen, they were certainly confirmed and perpetuated by them. 186
Simplifying, shortening, and spicing -- the trade secrets of the ancient rhetor's as of the
modern journalist's success -- do have absolute limits, and when these are reached the
rhetorical process has done its work. The end product is something once thought to be
typically Oriental -- the shadow theater of comic book. In the typical Oriental romance the
labor of reading is supplanted by the efforts of the graphic storyteller, whose American
counterpart is a pen-and-ink artist capable, like his Eastern colleague, of mass-producing
amazingly vivid illustrations at great speed. The skill of both these craftsmen is readily
explained by the fact that they are simply drawing the same pictures over and over again.
The story is told in brief, repetitive episodes, all strangely alike and all richly spiced with sex
and gore. A wanton and meaningless procession of extravagant images passes before us,
exaggerated to the point of insanity yet hackneyed to the limit of dullness. In the old familiar
recital of dangers by land, sea, and air we meet the same incredible monsters again and
again, the same men of superhuman strength and women of sinister beauty, and especially
are we regaled by the same routine declamations on the cruelty of life in general and the
present situation in particular, with particular attention to the tribulations of parted lovers.
Mind is supplanted by magic, the world becomes an uncensored daydream full of wonderful
transformations and melodramatic adventures.187 The rhetoric that fostered this type of
thinking ends up as "a wild jumble of words [that] . . . aims at dramatic vividness and merely
succeeds in revealing his [the orator's] own mental nullity." The world as it passed from
ancient to medieval times "was in fact suffering from a sort of fatty degeneration of the
intellect," expressed in nothing more clearly than "the gush and slobber" of its rhetoric. 188
Pointing out the dangers and defects of rhetoric does not change the habits of rhetoricians.
The young Hippocrates, in the beginning of the Protagoras, blushes when he admits to
Socrates that he is taking up rhetoric -- but that does not change his plans. Like the passions
and appetites it feeds on, rhetoric is one of the great constants in human history. Because it is
a constant, nothing can tell us better the direction in which a civilization is moving or how
far it is along the way. Like the residue of certain radioactive substances, rhetoric, leaving an
unmistakable mark on all that it touches, may yet prove to be the surest guide to the history
of our own times.
This article was originally published in Western Speech 20/2 (Spring 1956): 57-82.
Chapter 7
How to Have a Quiet Campus, Antique Style
Special Announcement: Why no footnotes? Because this article is merely a summing up of
what has gone before, including several egregiously pirated quotations from the author's
earlier efforts. The various classical sources exploited have already been exposed to public
view. The piece was done on short notice to help celebrate the epiphany at the BYU of an
authentic Rhetor -- Greek, political, ostentatious, and not overly scrupulous. The ecstatic
reception of Mr. Agnew by the student body was a moving demonstration of the ageless
vitality of the rhetorician's craft.
H. N., 1991
With the collapse of the old sacral kingship all around the Mediterranean in the middle of the
first millennium B.C., people were everywhere asking themselves what forever after
remained the golden question of the civilized world: "Who's in charge around here?" By way
of answer, a breed of ambitious and often capable men, the tyrants, moved in and took over
in the name of law and order; the fatal weakness of their position was that their authority,
resting neither on birth nor election, could be legitimately challenged at any time by anybody
that was strong enough to stand up to them. So the world shouted paeans of gratitude and joy
when hard on the heels of the tyrants another and a very different kind of task-force
appeared, a saintly band of prophets, a generation of wandering wisemen, the Sophoi, best
represented by the immortal Seven Sages. These men of matchless intellect and sublime
compassion, after correcting the political and moral disorders of their own societies,
wandered through the world free of earthly passions and attachments, seeking only wisdom
and imparting freely of their vast knowledge and perception to distraught and disorganized
communities throughout the ancient world. It was their selfless activity that put the Greek
world on its feet after the Dark Ages, or so it was believed.
Young men everywhere, fascinated by the powerful minds and godlike independence of
these great teachers, followed them from city to city in droves, begging to become their
disciples and vying for the privilege of serving them and of placing their fortunes (which
were often considerable) at their disposal. Great cities and mighty potentates were willing to
offer anything for the healing ministrations which the Sophoi gave to all free of charge. It
was a shame to see such a highly marketable product going for nothing, and it was not long
before a new type of wisemen appeared -- the Sophists, meaning so-called or
pseudo-wisemen. They diligently imitated every detail of dress, manner, and speech which
had endeared the real Sages to the whole of mankind, by which bait they too gathered
disciples in their highly publicized travels and were soon able to settle down and establish
expensive and fabulously profitable schools in the big cities.
The special education in which these schools excelled went under the name of rhetoric,
which was boldly and unashamedly defined and advertised as the art of giving people
exactly what they want in order to get exactly what you want out of them. To palliate their
sordid commercialism, the Sophist teachers always insisted that they were frank, searching,
unsparing crusaders of the Emancipated Mind, and it was Socrates' dangerous calling to
expose the fraudulence of that claim. He accused the brotherhood of training their pupils "to
appear, in the eyes of the ignorant, to know more than those who really know"; to which they
replied that they could see nothing wrong with that since experience showed that such clever
sales techniques always paid off. But what is that, Socrates protested, but "a mere knack and
a routine -- busy work . . . I call it foul, as I do all ugly things." Socrates also foresaw and
prophesied that any system of hard and honest education would be forced off the market in
short order by a competing system which offered its students fun and games at school and
top administrative jobs and big pay afterward. For of course, the Sophists, as would-be
successors to the Sophoi, specialized in preparing the young for important public office and
private fortunes: rhetoric was the manipulation of people, especially in the mass, and its
professors promised wealth, fame, and power to those who took their courses, from which it
can be readily seen that Socrates was a troublemaker who would have to be removed. And
removed he was, by that very class of professors who forever after proclaimed him their
patron saint.
Also removed from competition, as Socrates predicted, was any field of serious study that
might distract the young from the business of life -- the business of making money. This was
done neatly and effectively by setting up counter-courses in science, philosophy,
mathematics, and so forth, which, while pretending to be the real thing, were much shorter,
easier, and spicier than the old courses, promising the student exactly the same results but
with the assurance (so said the brochure) that "you can do it all lying down!" Teachers of
rhetoric, having thus forced all other teachers out of business, soon began to employ their
irresistible weapons with deadly efficiency against each other. The escalation of competitive
simplification, sweetening, and spicing soon brought the schools to that state of total inanity
which never ceases to amaze and appall the student of ancient rhetoric, the most astounding
phenomenon of all being the endless succession, generation after generation, of
world-renowned scholars and students who have absolutely nothing to say but derive their
vital nourishment from the mere fact of association with a tradition and institution of
Keeping Out of Trouble
The century before Christ was a time of chronic and mounting social unrest that by the time
of Caesar had become quite unbearable -- it was a world gone mad. When it began to appear
that Augustus Caesar was the man to put an end to the worldwide acosmia, all power was put
into his hands by a grateful humanity, and whenever he modestly suggested laying down the
burden of his absolute and ever-growing powers people simply panicked. By shrewd
economics and iron control of the military, Augustus gave a feeling of security to the whole
world; his vast construction projects were meant to give his people a pleasing, nay a
magnificent, environment; by taking over the supervision and financing of the youth-clubs
throughout Italy, the iuventus, he brought under control the most dangerous and
irresponsible expression of the general social malaise. But the cornerstone of his grand
design for preserving peace and order was education.
As a boy, Augustus had been sent by his uncle Julius Caesar to study with the great
Apollodorus in Apollonia. Apollodorus was a typical Sophist whose writings have probably
done more to wreck the cause of real education (by supplanting the reading of original
authors by his own required college survey) than those of any other man. Now the theme
song of the Sophists was that education is the solution to all social ills, and Augustus firmly
believed what the secretary of a later emperor wrote, that education alone gives Rome the
right to rule the world. Accordingly, he spared no pains in searching out and encouraging
any sign of talent in the young. He would agree with Pliny that the education of the poor is
the responsibility of the Princeps. Pericles had made Athens "the teacher of Hellas" by
bringing together under his hospitable roof the greatest thinkers in every field; the Scipionic
circle in Rome had tried the same sort of thing. Augustus, following their example, drew the
professors of the East to Rome with fabulous salaries and total indulgence of their vanity: he
not only allowed them complete freedom of speech but patiently suffered their outrageous
After the death of the dull and busy grind Hyginus, the presidency of the great palatine
academy went to M. P. Marcellus, an ex-boxer who told the emperor, "You supply the
people, but we supply the education" -- and he got away with it. So did his successor,
Paelemon, an ex-slave who announced that real education had begun at his birth and would
perish at his death; though two successive emperors, Tiberius and Claudius, both declared
Paelemon utterly unfit to teach the youth because of his gross and vicious immorality, his
position was never in jeopardy, because he had written a handbook of rules for correct
speech. Timagenes came to Rome from Alexandria as a cook, got a job as a litter-bearer,
took up rhetoric, and ended up as a close friend of Augustus, who tolerated his unbelievable
impudence in hopes that there might be real intelligence behind it. There was not. The
Egyptian Apion was lured to Rome from the presidency of the University of Alexandria;
Pliny called him "the drum of his own fame," and the salty Tiberius gave him the title of "the
cymbal of the universe" to describe his brash and ceaseless boasting and self-glorification.
He produced nothing of value.
Space will not allow us to unfold the long catalogue of men who guided the thinking of the
civilized world for a thousand years. Let it suffice to name Symmachus, perhaps the most
influential man in scholarship and government the Roman world ever saw, of whose greatest
writing Professor Raby wrote: "The ordinary reader . . . seeks in vain some glimmer of
reasonableness, some promise of sense." What more compelling testimony could there be
than the careers of such men to the miraculous powers of that system of Education for
Success inaugurated by the Sophists of old? In time every town in the empire was provided
with schoolmasters at government expense: three Sophists for a small town, four Sophists
and four grammarians for county-court towns (agorai dikon), and five rhetors and five
grammarians for cities. From Vespasian on, the Imperial government paid the salaries of
teachers, including, under Severus Alexander, the elementary teacher in every village.
Justinian issued his pragmatic sanction "that the youth may be trained in liberal studies
throughout the domain."
The student registering in any of the schools was entering a world of make-believe. Indeed,
schole and its Latin equivalent, ludus, both mean "play" -- the school is a little universe of its
own where one engages in such "liberal" activities as are not prescribed by the exigencies of
real life. The "education for life" idea, Dio Chrysostom noted, really turned the schoolroom
into a playroom and rendered the student peculiarly unfit for life. One of the main functions
of the school was to keep the young out of trouble by channelling their energies into
traditional and accepted areas of expression. The system was originally designed for
upper-class youths, brought up by slaves who spoiled them rotten, traditionally permitted to
indulge in properly directed political rioting and midnight depredations against the lower
classes and their leaders. They were petted and envied by the whole society, which officially
prolonged adulescentia and its licenses to the age of forty. "Nature itself suggests desires to
youth," wrote Cicero, "and if they injure no one else's life, whatever they do is endurable and
pardonable . . . only a crank would deny youth their amours with courtesans." Philostratus
blasts the Romans for their scrupulous attention to harbors and roads while "neither you nor
your laws show the slightest interest in the children of your cities, or in the young people or
women." St. Augustine bears this out: if a boy was in school his parents could forget about
him; if he was not in school nobody cared about him.
The hell-fire clubs of Athens and the scandalous rioting of Alcibiades and his crowd were a
direct result of the "emancipated" and permissive teachings of the Sophists. Of course, such
behavior was disavowed by the professors, who made a special point of insisting that a
teacher was never to be held responsible for anything a pupil might do; for that matter, a
teacher was not responsible for what he might do. Lactantius says that the most immoral and
greedy professor he ever knew specialized in courses in virtue and the austere life. And why
not? "What good does it do," wrote John Chrysostom, the greatest teacher of his day, "to pay
high salaries to teachers and raise up a host of experts when the actions of our society speak
so much louder than their safe, conventional platitudes? For discipline of the mind is as far
beyond mere lectures on education as doing is from talking."
The schools, designed to please and attract the youth, made no attempt to limit their fun but
only to channel it. Quintilian, after some hesitation, decided that the corruption of morals,
which was a natural and expected part of life at the bigger schools, was after all a price
worth paying for the stimulation, associations, competition, and professional openings they
offered. Everywhere, as Rohde puts it, "people of every class became inflamed with a desire
to achieve the new `success.' " Parents pushed their children into it: "Full of ambition for
their children," wrote Petronius, "they don't want to see them study the hard way, . . . and of
course everybody is going to school in such numbers that you can't even count them." They
all want to begin at the top, says Pliny, "want to know everything at once . . . and are quite
satisfied with themselves as they are." Should institutions which cater to adolescent minds,
Quintilian wondered, be allowed to set the tone of the whole civilized world? That is the
very thing, he decided, which brought about the dire intellectual decline of the times. But
still, it was precisely because the students were not given to any serious thinking that even
their wildest actions were looked upon with indulgence: the students of Carthage, St.
Augustine reports, "commit all kinds of outrages with perfect insolence and immunity,
things punishable by law, but permitted by custom" to the students.
What kind of "protest" would one expect from such students? The idealism of youth had
been harnessed and contained from the beginning in the high-flown and altruistic clichs of
standardized speeches to be learned by heart. Lysias's "Twenty-fifth Oration" (his very
worst), was the model for the schools because of its stereotyped treatment of the prescribed
theme, "No Man is Born an Oligarch or a Democrat." The so-called Pagan Martyrs of
Alexandria were a band of professors who collided with a mad emperor on the subject not of
human rights but of professional prerogative, and so lost their heads. Real idealism is hard to
find -- there were teachers with great hearts and great minds, like Dyscolus, Eratosthenes,
Marcus Porcius Cato, and Aetius, but they all found the doors of the schools closed against
them. Only Eratosthenes held his own against the united malice of the faculty of Alexandria.
In Egypt, where priest-led student factions had been rioting for untold centuries, the Romans
shrewdly put responsibility for social order in the hands of the gymnasiarch, the local
schoolteacher, who was made president of the town council or of the assembly of archons in
the home capital where he lived. But the rioting went right on, with the gymnasiarch usually
leading one of the factions. "There is the man who stirs up all the trouble!" cried the Jews of
Alexandria when the schoolteacher Hierax entered the theater. Like the later qadi, the
gymnasiarch was out to promote himself and sometimes rose to giddy heights of power.
But everybody was playing the same game. As Dio Chrysostom told his students who
hesitated to go the Sophist path: "Do you think you are any wiser than Croesus, who was the
richest man in the world and took the advice of Sophists?" "What's wrong with studying to
get rich?" the great Isocrates would ask, "why else do we exercise piety, justice, and the
other virtues if not to promote ourselves?" If one is sincere, he explains, there is no moral
default, and any properly trained rhetor knows how to make himself really sincere. The
student, Cicero says quite frankly, "must refer everything to his own ends" and never cease
asking, quid mihi utilius -- what is there in it for me? The program geared to "the naked
self-interest (which) ruled in the rhetorical schools" from Isocrates on (Wm. Schmid) was all
that any ambitious boy could ask for; they all took to it like ducks to water. "What song is
sweeter?" asks Cicero, "than that of the rhetorician, . . . what is fuller, more subtle,
intellectual, admirable, fulfilling, satisfying?"
Manus Manum Lavat
Discipline was not severe because the student was in a position to blackmail the teacher, and
they both knew it. It was common practice at Rome, according to Augustine, for students to
avoid paying a teacher when the fees were due by conspiring together and all of a sudden
removing to another teacher in a body. This would mean disaster to the professor, whose
name, fame, and fortune naturally depended wholly on the number of students he could
attract. So professors would pay students to attend their lectures (a sound investment since
the state paid them by the numbers), and every teacher at a great university had to have his
"chorus" of supporters among the students, a devoted band who would recruit more students
(often by force), applaud their hero hysterically at the end of every sentence, heckle rival
professors, and fight rival choruses in the streets and at the games and shows. At first the
choruses were made up of students from a single country -- like the Syrians at Athens who
supported Eunapius because he was a Syrian -- but membership soon became general as the
gangs would wait at the docks to carry off newly arrived students as pledges (the "foxes") or
send their scouts out into the provincial cities to pledge boys intending to come to Athens to
So from beginning to end the first principle of rhetoric -- that size and number are everything
-- dominated the schools. In return for their support, the students were spared all discipline.
The most famous professor of them all, Libanius, has told how his students would laugh,
talk, yawn, catch flies, look out of the window, sleep, draw pictures, and do anything but
listen to his celebrated lectures, and then leave the hall for the games, shows, parties, stews,
markets -- anything but study. Why didn't the most influential teacher of his day make an
effort to check this sort of thing? Because the boast and glory of his life was that he had
more students than anybody else. He was enormously vain of his success as a teacher, and
well illustrates how the pact of mutual corruption kept things going: in return for his
complete permissiveness he insisted on one thing -- that nobody ever criticize him; because
of his enormous following his shallow letters (1600 of which survive) carried great prestige
and his name bore irresistible authority: Libanius could make or break any man's career. And
because of his great influence and renown, it was very much in the interest of any student to
say he had studied with Libanius. So who held the whip handle after all? A multitude of
students made a Libanius, an Iamblichus, or a Stilpon (at one time he had 30,000 students)
great, and the hordes had no choice but to follow the great man whose name alone could
give them prestige. The astounding thing is that none of the great professors ever produced
anything of value -- the game is the purest make-believe, and yet it went on and on for
centuries as the self-serving giants of education were able to "keep up the appearance of
success by mutual praise and admiration." It was the education-government complex that
kept things going: the great professors were all related by birth or marriage to each other and
to the imperial family; everybody knew everybody else, and the school remained, as the
Sophists designed it to be, the door to top-level positions in public life. The students knew
what they were after and that only the school could give it to them. Why should they ever
rock the boat?
The collapse of ancient civilization was marked by the rise, in the words of Fr. Blass, of
"despotism, servilism, and scholarship." Note that scholarship does not go down with the
ship. It torpedoes it. Years ago we wrote that "the very thing that stifled learning was pure
oxygen to the schools," namely, that preoccupation with office-work, with classifying and
compiling and grading and processing became the whole concern of scholarship in the Dark
Ages. Of course there is plenty of learned noise all the time -- the one thing that kept
professors going, wrote Epicharmus, was their constitutional inability to shut up whether
they had anything to say or not. (Indeed, Boethus of Tarsus became the richest man in the
empire by guaranteeing to teach anyone to speak on any subject for any length of time.) But
aside from that, the well of scholarship could never run dry as long as the art of literary
criticism survived; professors took sides in critical debates which endured literally for
hundreds of years as a learned pretext for those wonderful academic feuds which of course
centered around personalities, spread throughout the entire world, and gave to the careers of
the learned an appearance of real emotion and enthusiasm: the smaller the minds, the greater
the vigor and dedication they brought to the feuds. The favorite issue for taking sides was
not Homer or Vergil but the "New (Asian) Education" versus the "Old (Attic or Classic)
Education": they were of equal age and as alike as peas in a pod, but they provided the
unfailing topic for discussion that kept generations of professors in congenial and
remunerative employment. The busywork of the schools looked impressive from the outside,
but as Clement of Alexandria noted, there was really nothing to it, "babbling away in their
own special jargon, toiling their whole lifetime about special definitions . . . itching and
scratching." It was all as easy as sneezing once one got the knack of it. "It was their own lack
of productivity which forced (the professors) to address themselves ever and again to these
same threadbare issues," wrote E. Norden.
One theme above all provided the great professor with a subject worthy of his pen, namely
the lives of the great professors, beginning with his own. Favorinus, who knew Fronto and
Plutarch, was a friend of the Emperor Hadrian, and taught at Ephesus and Rome where the
fabulously rich Herodes Atticus attended his lectures, achieved the pinnacle of fame by an
oration on the subject of his own greatness and left as his life's work a great chaotic opus in
twenty-four volumes -- about himself. Illustrious men travelled ceaselessly from library to
library gathering material on the lives of illustrious men who had spent their lives travelling
from library to library gathering materials, etc., etc. When one entered the school, one
automatically ceased to be one of the vulgar -- and that is why the vulgar clamored in their
thousands, at the invitation of the emperor, to get into the school. And because the door was
kept open and the prize was never beyond the hope of even the stupidest boy, provided only
he had ambition, the school maintained its marvelous equilibrium and stability for centuries.
The ambitious boys, the kind who lead student riots, were the least inclined of all to protest.
The only real danger was serious thought. This is well illustrated in the career of Apuleius,
who was showered with honors and had statues of himself erected in a hundred cities in
recognition of his rhetorical compositions in praise of smoke, of dust, of sleep, of
indifference, even an oration "In Praise of Nothing"; but he had to face mobs in the streets
and prosecution in the courts when it leaked out that he had private opinions of his own -very devout religious opinions, to be sure, but unconventional -- and had been up to such
sneaky nonconformist tricks as inventing a tooth powder.
Whatever happens to the world, Seneca the Elder assures us, the school is bound to survive
because there is nothing left to take its place after (1) the natural law of decay has done its
work, (2) the growth of luxury softens and corrodes a civilization, and (3) the centralized
government of the principate leaves no issues for public debate. The impression that the
schools of every age make on Eduard Meyer is one of "perpetual decline." Actually the
ancient school did not decline, for as Dionysius of Halicarnassus says, it was already
decadent in the time of Alexander; it was born sick. The trouble is, according to Dio
Chrysostom, that there is really nothing significant for young people to do; there is no real
demand for their services, and so they all converge on the university, the one place where
doing nothing is respectable. He mentions the phenomenal growth of the big new
universities, such as that of Celaenae, where countless droves of people flock together,
people interested in all sorts of litigation and business deals, rhetoricians, political scientists,
promoters, flunkeys, pimps, procurers, teamsters (muleteers), hucksters, harlots, dealers, and
con-men in every line -- the new super-university had become all things to all men.
Dormite Secure, Cives!
In its victorious career the school overcame its two most serious opponents with surprising
efficiency and dispatch. They were the church and the barbarians. Christianity offered the
world the one good chance it ever had of breaking the vicious cycle of corruption and fraud
centering in the schools. But the schools had a monopoly on the Things of This World as
well as the Honors of Men, and the voices from another world that might have brought men
to their senses were soon silenced. As early as the second century, in the approving words of
Dr. R. Milburn, "uplifted eyes . . . turned back to earth to find their assurance in hard facts."
St. Augustine's immortal De Doctrina Christiana is but a rhetorician's invitation to the
church to attain mental maturity by signing up permanently with the university. At the
Council of Nicaea when the Christian doctors were displaying themselves as typical vain and
wrangling professors, a poor layman, one of the "confessors," arose in the audience and
rebuked and abashed them: Which was it to be, the Kingdom of Heaven or the University?
When the church went to school and became respectable, and when a bishop had to hold a
university degree in rhetoric, then the Christian populace, cheated of their promise of
another and a better world, everywhere burst out in appalling demonstrations of helpless
rage. The wild monks who attacked the University of Alexandria were acting like hysterical
children, but what course was open to them against the entrenched power of the schools? In
the end the police power of the state, at the insistent demand of the great orating bishops,
mowed the protestors down in hundreds of thousands. They made a desert and they called it
a peace, and so, as Raby puts it, "the old life of the schools continued, and men could think
of nothing better to aim at than what they had been doing unimaginatively for centuries."
Although the barbarians, Franks, Goths, Visigoths, Vandals, Saxons, Arabs, and others may
have destroyed, they were completely captivated by the schools. Their kings and princes,
stunned with admiration of what they took to be a flowering civilization, diligently set
themselves to composing letters and verse in the learned, tasteless, and trivial manner of the
schools, and went all-out in large-scale crash programs of civilizing their followers through
the offices of the old established educational system. "The grammatical art is not used by
barbarous kings," wrote the unbelievably insipid secretary of the barbarian Theodosius to his
master, who took it all in. "It abides uniquely with legitimate sovereigns." And so the
warlords of the steppes submitted to the authority of the schoolmen as willingly as the
Christian doctors had.
The school year at the University of Athens was opened with prayers, offerings, and a formal
oration welcoming the students to the "sanctuary." Every school with its sacred groves,
temple, and library was in theory a shrine of the Muses, a place of inspiration and retreat
from the world. Not the least important factor in maintaining the marvelous stability of the
institutions was the carefully cultivated atmosphere, the image of deep and dedicated study,
the look of learning. The aura of sanctity which the Sophists cast about themselves and their
schools, with their robes, their titles, and their ceremonies, was the crowning touch of their
art, the ultimate answer to the critics and the doubters. However prone to riot in the streets
and stews, the shows, baths, and games, the students of the ancient university always seemed
to behave themselves pretty well on the campus. The formula for preserving order emerges
with striking clarity from an ample mass of documents covering a long period of time.
Whoever would avoid serious student protest or dangerous demands has simply to follow the
rules of the Sophist schools:
1. Free the student from the necessity of any prolonged or strenuous mental effort.
2. Give him a reasonable assurance that the school is helping him toward a career.
3. Confine moral discipline to the amenities, paying special attention to dress and grooming.
The student will have his own sex-life anyway.
4. Keep him busy with fun and games -- extracurricular activity is the thing.
5. Allay any subconscious feelings of guilt due to idleness and underachievement by
emphasis on the greatness of the institution, which should be frequently dramatized by
assemblies and ceremonies; an atmosphere of high purpose and exalted dedication is the best
insurance against moments of honest misgiving.
Here, then, was the secret of order and stability in the ancient schools.
This article was originally published in Brigham Young University Studies 9 (1969):
Chapter 8
New Light on Scaliger
No better introduction could be desired to the life and works of the marvelous Joseph Justus
Scaliger than Mr. Warren Blake's fine study,1 nor is any theme more timely than the story of
the man who demonstrated as none other how great are the staying powers of scholarship in
a world fallen upon evil times. To all existing Scaligerana, however, there remain yet a few
notes to be added, from hitherto neglected sources, to correct some common misconceptions.
The Name
It is well in holding up the image of Scaliger as a guide and inspiration to the studiosa
iuventus (zealous youth) to establish the proper pronunciation of his celebrated name. There
is an endearing quality to "Scaliger" with a hard g; something catchy -- almost rakish -- that
is missing from the universally recommended "Scalijer." The novice guilty of "Scaligger" is
sure to be corrected if not rebuked by the polite insistence of his betters on the French or
Italian form of the name -- as colorless to our ears as the other is lively. It is with
considerable satisfaction that we are able to propose to those who pedantically insist on the
soft g a no less pedantic and quite crushing argument for the other.
Mr. Robinson's useful collection of materials on Scaliger includes a portrait of the great man
"from the engraving by J. de Leeuw, made from a water-color portrait of Scaliger which was
painted shortly before his death,"2 in which he holds in his left hand a missive addressed "to
Joseph Scaliger," while with his right he pens a reply headed Is. Casaubono Iosephus
Scaliger S. P. (cf. fig. 18). Now the note which he holds from Casaubon is addressed to
Scaliger in Arabic, the name being written with exaggerated attention to phonetic values:
"Yusuf Sqaligh-r."3 The g of the name is here rendered by Arabic ghain, and we are
fortunate in knowing the exact sound of that letter when used by our two learned
correspondents, for Scaliger explains with great exactness in a letter to his friend4 that ghain
is always to be pronounced as a hard g, never like the soft French or Italian j or g, which
must be represented, he insists, by Arabic jim ("Gimel"):
Quia pronunciatio Gimel apud Arabas in omni syllaba est, ut apud Gallos in Ge, & Gi, hoc
est, mollis. Quando autem Arabes Ga volunt usurpare, utuntur `ain cum puncto (i.e., ghain,
as it appears in the portrait), quod est illorum g Germanicum . . . hoc est, durum.
Since the Arabs always pronounce gimel soft, like the "ge" and "gi" in French. But when the
Arabs wish to pronounce ga [i.e., hard g] they make use of the dotted cain which is the
German g.
In the portrait from the Senate Hall in the University of Leyden (the frontispiece of
Robinson's book) Scaliger is shown solemnly penning an Arabic missive upside down! But
this is a slip that could not possibly have occurred where it was a case not of copying any
Arabic writing at hand but of actually composing the text, and we may be sure that whoever
it was who advised the artist or supplied him with the writing -- and it may have been
Scaliger himself -- knew what he was doing when he wrote the name to be pronounced in the
classical Latin, or English, manner with a hard, guttural g.
Scaliger as Autodidactus
It is more than a matter of idle curiosity to inquire by what procedure the most learned of
mortals acquired his education. After 1555, when he was fifteen, Scaliger "never returned to
school; nor did he get any regular instruction at home." At nineteen he went to Paris to study
with the great Turnebus, but of that study he reports "non diu viva voce, sed potius mutis
magistris usus sum" (I made use of silent masters rather than living ones), and he applies to
himself Casaubon's own protestations of being "opsimathes et autodidactus" (late in learning
and self-taught).5 "Of the four years Scaliger spent at the University of Paris," writes
Pattison after long searching, "nothing is known."6 We only just glimpse the young student
for a brief moment as the door of his solitary study closes upon him, and are left with the
picture -- drawn by both Bernays and Pattison -- of the baffled beginner, failing to
comprehend the advanced lectures of Turnebus, locking himself in a garret to seize in time
the crown of learning "aus eigener, autodidaktischer Machtvollkommenheit" (by his own,
self-taught perfection of power), as Bernays says.7 Bayle, in his Dictionary, suggests a
different motive for Scaliger's retirement, namely that he found Turnebus's class not too
advanced but too slow and backward, and so "he shut himself up in his closet, resolving to
use no master but himself." Bayle then goes on to note that after mastering Greek, Scaliger
"turned his thoughts to the Hebrew tongue, which he learned by himself with great facility."
Now it is definitely known that Scaliger did not learn Hebrew "by himself with great
facility,"9 and yet in making the claim Bayle is taking no greater liberties than when he and
others state that Scaliger was autodidactus (self-taught) in Greek, the authority for both
claims being the same, namely the important "First Epistle." It is only a complete lack of
documents that forces one to assume that he pursued a course of self-education with brilliant
success in the more difficult field and total failure in the other. Scaliger's self-education rests
simply on the argument of silence.
The silence is now broken by a few welcome words, scribbled beneath the frontispiece
portrait in a book of Scaliger's Epistolae Omnes, now in the University of California Library,
published in Frankfurt in 1628 and acquired in the same year by one who signs himself
Andreas Lucius, possibly of the famous Swiss family of philologists. Throughout the book
Lucius has jotted down marginal notes, among them the above mentioned, which reads:
Solu(s) hic est sapiens, alii volitant velut umbrae. Hic ille est, quem in prima adhuc aetate
tantopere admiratus est vir in literis maximus, Hadrianus Turnebus, ut portentosi ingenii
juvenem appellare non dubitaret. Ut in epistola quadam ad Meursium scripta Jacobus
Gillosus Consiliarius Gallicus instatur (sic).
He alone is wise, while the others flit about like shades. This is the one who even at an early
age was regarded with such admiration by the outstanding literary figure of the time,
Turnebus, that he did not hesitate to call him a youth of marvelous character. Thus Jacques
Gillot states in a letter written to van Meurs.
The Meursius in question is the celebrated Jan van Meurs, in whose youthful studies
Scaliger had taken a lively interest. 10 Jacques Gillot, who here reports on Scaliger, was one
of those whose chief delight is to search out and cultivate the genius of others, in which
generous zeal he made his home the intellectual clearinghouse of the age.11 His keen
interest in the studies of others, as well as the fact that he and Scaliger were studying the
same things in Paris at the same time (they were of about the same age, Gillot perhaps
somewhat older), makes him the man most likely to know the facts about Scaliger's Paris
dates. Certainly the picture of the young student commanding the admiration of the great
professor of Greek from the first agrees far better with what is known of the man's character
and accomplishments, of his policy of always taking fullest advantage of whatever
instruction was available, of the zeal with which he would throw himself into the thick of
any important discussion, than does the strange picture of the abashed and retiring youth
which Scaliger only suggests and which his biographers have filled out. Scaliger was
anything but a self-taught recluse.
Scaliger's Titles
One of the most engaging aspects of Scaliger study is the variety of epithets which have
always been attached to his name. From the hand of the enthusiastic Lucius, we have a
witness of how even in Scaliger's own day men were intrigued by these gorgeous epithets;
for that student collects them as one would stamps and fills the flyleaf of the book mentioned
with lists of Nomina Scaligero a doctissimis hominibus data (names given to Scaliger by
learned men), much as Robinson has chosen a number of such epithets as the opening words
of his book. Lucius's collection, which includes where possible the names of the inventors of
the various "blurbs" is worth citing:
Abyssus eruditionis, Scientiarum mare, sol doctorum, patris divini divina suboles, genus
Deorum, Perpetuus literarum dictator, Hercules Musarum (Casaub.), Unicum saeculi decus
(Cas.), Daemonium hominis (Lips.), Literatorum Rex (Lips.), Illustrissimum ingenium huius
(?) aevi (Lips.), Magnus filiarum Mnemosynes Antipes (Lips.), Divini ingenii vir (Florens
Christianus), Maximum naturae opus o miraculum, Extremus naturae conatus, Aquila in
nubibus (Lips.), Unus, cui tota Musarum sacris operatorum cohors assurgit, cui principes
Musici coetus fasces submittunt (Casaub.), Sol unicus doctrinarum & eruditionis (Cas.),
Mirincus vir, & quem Homeri verbis iure appelles: daiphrona poikilometen (Lips.).
Bottomless pit of learning, a sea of knowledge, a sun among the learned, divine offspring of
a divine father, race of the Gods, universal lord of letters, Hercules of the Muses, sole
splendor of the age, a little spirit of a man, king of literati, the most distinguished spirit of
this age, the great offspring of the daughters of Mnemosyne, a man of heavenly character, oh
miracle, the greatest work of nature, the final effort of nature, an eagle among the clouds,
one to whom the whole host of Muses gives preference because of the sacred things of the
workers, single sun of erudition and learning, a remarkable man and one whom you would
rightly name with words from Homer: skilled, much devising.
This article, written in response to Warren E. Blake's "Joseph Justus Scaliger,"
Classical Journal 36 (1940): 83-91, was published in Classical Journal 37 (1942): 291-95.
Chapter 9
Three Shrines: Mantic, Sophic, and Sophistic
I. The Mantic Substratum
In his recent study of the gods of the Greeks, Professor Kerényi compares the classical
scholar thumbing through his notes and handbooks in search of an outworn creed with Sir
George Gray, who long ago had joined in the feasts and dances of the Maoris and learned
their language and legends in order to pluck the heart out of their mystery. 1 The comparison
is too sanguine. As long ago as the fourth century, Synesius could report as a quaint oddity
the presence in the Aegean islands of peasants who still believed in the Cyclops 2 -- but they
have long since passed away. No living informant can satisfy the modern scholar's craving
for a firsthand introduction to the gods of Greece, and if the investigator goes to the written
sources he will soon find that they were all put down by schoolmen (mostly Christians) who
believe the myths and legends as little as he does. 3 How then can they or he presume to
criticize a religion in which they do not believe -- is that not akin to the folly of criticizing a
painting which one has not seen or music which one has not heard? The insider and the
outsider do not experience the same thing at all. Students of Greek religion, however they
may yearn for a whiff of incense or asphodel, can smell today nothing but the musk and
floorwax of the stacks, the last labyrinthine retreat of the ancient mysteries.
What justifies these remarks is the conviction that there is something in Greek religion
which even at this vast remove of time and in spite of the officious and bookish handling of
evidence can still reach us and move us. To become aware of this thing the modern analytic
mind must be subjected to a gentle softening process, first by placing it over the low flame of
a harmless generalization.
For many years the regular reading of the Old Norse sagas was part of a self-inflicted
curriculum to which I faithfully adhered. Then one day in the midst of a typical tale of family
feuds and mayhem I suddenly admitted to myself a proposition I had known all along, but
out of loyalty to my own cultural heritage had refused to acknowledge: "Let's face it," I said
aloud, "these people are not interesting." From that day to this I have not read a word of
Icelandic. But I have wondered why my forebears are so uninteresting -- after all, their
passion and their intelligence were both of a high order, their deeds are nowhere surpassed
for nobility, depravity, violence, or magnanimity. Why is it that the Greeks and Arabs, as
savage and villainous and tricky as any people anywhere, continue to be so fascinating,
while Scandinavians, Slavs, Armenians, and Byzantines leave us cold? I have the answer:
the Greeks and Arabs always seem to be expecting something, while the others are expecting
nothing. E. V. Gordon is right: the heroic stamp of the Norse epic is its mood of utter
hopelessness. "A good resistance against overpowering odds was made the characteristic
situation. . . . The gods themselves knew that they would in the end be overwhelmed by the
evil powers. . . . Every religious-minded man of the heathen age believed that he existed for
the sake of that hopeless cause." 4 The Greeks and Arabs yield to none in their depreciation
of the hopes of this life; they expect no more of this world than our Norse forebears. The
difference is their constant awareness, more often implied than expressed, of something
beyond this world. "God is the Knower," says the Arab at the end of every discourse, leaving
the door open for any possible subsequent developments.
Socrates ended his life with a speech that emphasized two points: (1) that he had not found
in this life what he was looking for, and knew of no one else who had; 5 and (2) that failure
had not in the least abated his conviction that what he was looking for was to be found. 6 He
never claimed to have found his treasure, but he never gave up looking. This attitude is most
dramatically embodied in the Egyptian culture. "Never on this earth," wrote Eduard Meyer,
"have men sought with such energy and persistence to make the impossible possible in spite
of everything, . . . believing on its possibility with a bitter tenacity." 7 "The impression made
on the modern mind," writes I. E. S. Edwards, "is that of a people searching in the dark for a
key to truth and, having found not one but many keys resembling the pattern of the lock,
retaining all lest perchance the appropriate one should be discarded." 8 It is an awesome
thing to contemplate the greatest nation of antiquity, often described by Egyptologists as the
most hard-headed, down-to-earth, shrewdly practical, unimaginative, critical, and observant,
level-headed people on earth, as pouring out their vast energies and treasure for centuries on
end in a wild gamble on the chances of immortality.
But even in their most ancient writings "we constantly come upon signs of indecision and
doubt," writes Louis Speelers of the Coffin Texts. "Confusion reigns . . . both in literary
expression and especially in their cerebral realm." 9 The builder of the Great Pyramid, we
are told, "spent all his time seeking for himself the secret chambers,"10 searching in the
ancient books for the secrets of life, as many another Pharaoh did after him. They had their
doubts, to put it mildly, but the point is that they always kept searching and expecting. And
so they have never ceased to fascinate the rest of us, while the scholars who take them to
task for their foolishness today interest nobody. The Egyptians, so to speak, never stopped
looking behind the door (and in their case the expression is more than a figurative one), and
so they appeal to us and excite us strangely. And so the Jews, too -- intelligent, critical,
skeptical, and sarcastic -- can never, try as they will, entirely free themselves from the
whisperings of the Kabbalah and a haunting sense of wonderful things to come (2 Nephi
6:12-14); while the early Christians define their faith as pure expectation: "the substance of
things hoped for" (Hebrews 11:1; emphasis added). The wonder of the Bible for Alfred
North Whitehead is that it "excels in its suggestion of infinitude. . . . Possibilities are infinite,
and even though we may not apprehend them, those infinite possibilities are actualities." 11
He ends his essay on science and religion with the words, "The death of religion comes with
the repression of the high hope of adventure."
In all these cases the important thing is not what is expected -- Whitehead realizes that he
knows no more than Socrates just what it is. What could be more vague and ill-defined than
"infinite possibilities"? The important thing is that something is expected, but if that
expectation is not real, it is nothing. To be a believer you must be a literalist with a mind
open to "infinite possibilities." But traditional Christianity loathes and disowns literalism -- a
crime of which Catholics and Protestants have been accusing each other over the centuries.
The theme of these talks is that the Greeks (like the Christian church that later followed in
their footsteps), passed from a primoridal "Mantic" order of things to the "Sophic," and lost
their original mood of expectation, putting something else in its place. It passed from the
Mantic to the Sophic, and thence in its attempts to combine the two, arrived at the Sophistic.
The Greeks passed through the same three stages before the Christians did, and it was their
particular brand of Sophic and Sophistic that the Church accepted. It is time to define these
terms, Sophic and Mantic.
Josephus, citing Manetho, describes an Egyptian king who was obsessed with a yearning to
possess the prophetic gifts and enjoy the heavenly visions of his ancestors as a sophos kai
mantikos aner -- "a Sophic and a Mantic man"; 12 and Theophrastus observes this
significant dualism when he points out that the Egyptians are the most rational people alive
(logiotaton genos), inheriting and inhabiting the most religious of environments (hierotaten .
. . choran).13 These are the two basic human attitudes, the rational and the religious. It was
the age-old struggle between hard-headed realism and holy tradition that produced the
bedizzening subtleties and endless elaborations of Egyptian theology from Heliopolis and
Thebes to Alexandria. And it was at that last and latest center of holy thought -- a city built,
literally, with funds contributed in hot competition by rival priestly schools and factions 14
-- that the basic theological concepts of the Jewish, Christian, and Moslem doctors with all
their sublime, incomprehensible, and insoluble contradictions took their life.
Dio Chrysostom, in his Discourse on the Knowledge of God, describes his own skill and
training -- the degenerate education of his own day -- as being "neither mantic, nor sophistic,
nor even rhetorical"15 -- (those being the three natural levels of education). The Greek word
Mantic simply means prophetic or inspired, oracular, coming from the other world and not
from the resources of the human mind. Instead of Dio's Sophistic to describe the operations
of the unaided human mind, we use the much rarer Sophic here, because, as is well known,
in time Sophistic came to be identical with Rhetorical, that is, a pseudothought form which
merely imitated the other two in an attempt to impress the public. The Mantic is the
equivalent of what Professor Goodenough designates as "vertical" Judaism, i.e., the belief in
the real and present operation of divine gifts by which one receives constant guidance from
the other world, a faith expressed in varying degrees among such ancient sectaries as the
Hasidim, Karaites, Kabbalists, and the people of Qumran.16 The Mantic accepts the other
world, or better, other worlds, as part of our whole experience without which any true
understanding of this life is out of the question. "It is the Mantic," says Synesius, "which
supplies the element of hope in our lives by assuring us of the reality of things beyond."17
Mantic, hope, and reality are the key words. What is expected is not as important as the act
of expectation, and so those who share the Mantic conviction are a community of believers,
regardless of what it is they expect.
The Sophic, on the other hand, is the tradition which boasted its cool, critical, objective,
naturalistic, and scientific attitude; its Jewish equivalent is what Goodenough calls the
"horizontal" Judaism -- scholarly, bookish, halachic, intellectual, rabbinical. All religions, as
Goodenough observes, seem to make some such distinction.18 It is when one seeks to
combine or reconcile the Sophic and the Mantic that trouble begins.
"True reason," according to Empedocles, "is either divine or human; the former is not for
discussion, the latter is discussion"; 19 and recently Charles Kahn has argued that
Empedocles himself is two distinct thinkers, a Sophic and a Mantic, "a split personality
whose two sections are not united by any essential link." 20 Since Empedocles' career is a
unique and impressive attempt to combine Sophic and Mantic, his case illustrates the
important fact that the two are totally incompatible. Whoever accepts the Sophic attitude
must abandon the Mantic, and vice versa. It is the famous doctrine of Two Ways found
among the Orientals, Greeks, and early Christians -- if you try to compromise between them
you get nowhere, because as one of the Apostolic Fathers points out, they lead in opposite
directions. Those who share the Mantic hope of things beyond, whatever those things may
be, are in a very real sense a community of believers, just as Christians, Jews, and Moslems
form a fellowship of "the People of the Book," because of their belief in inspired books -even though they may not agree as to which books are the inspired ones.21 On the other
hand, the Sophic society unitedly rejects the Mantic proposition, and it too forms a single
community, as is strikingly and amusingly demonstrated in a 1954 study of Professor Enslin,
who, while branding the teachings of Clement of Alexandria as "rubbish, . . . pathetic
nonsense, . . . triple-A nonsense,"22 at the same time hails Clement as a true gentlemen and a
scholar after his own heart, because, even though his method produces nothing but
balderdash, it is at least not contaminated by any supernaturalism -- here was "a man who
prized brain and insight, who preferred the voice of reasoned conviction to the braying of
Balaam's ass."23 Better false teaching from a true intellectual than the truth from a prophet.
So fiercely loyal and uncompromising are the Sophic and Mantic to their own.
It behooves us to consider the Mantic at this time because in our day its influence (under the
name of eschatology) is being strangely and wonderfully expanded as the steady continuance
of new manuscript discoveries calls for radical reevaluation of ancient religion in general. If
Christianity and Judaism are being basically reappraised at the moment, a reassessment of
the pagan religions cannot be far behind. Indeed, today, bridges are being thrown out in
every direction over what were once unbridgeable and yawning gulfs between cultures and
religions. Philological cables grow to ideological spans between early Jewish and Christian
sectarians; Kostas Papaioannou is bridging the gulf between the Prophets of Israel and the
Greek poets; 24 while F. J. H. Letters, in describing the religion of Sophocles, describes
something which approaches the Gospel nearer than we have supposed.25 New bridges are
springing up between the Old Testament and the New, and between both of them and the
Apocrypha, between various ancient mysteries and Christian rites, in a complicated network
of interrelationships between Egypt and Mesopotamia, Canaan, Mycenae, Israel, the Hittites,
and all the Europeans. "Patternism" now proposes to trace such ties back to prehistoric
times. No ancient religious rites can be considered as spontaneous and independent in origin,
as not long ago virtually all were thought to be. 26 We now learn that the cult of the dead
was "as meaningful and urgent for humanist Athens as for hieratic Egypt,"27 and are assured
by Catholic scholars that "the wine miracle at Cana was the same as the miracle in the temple
of Dionysus"28 and that "on the Damascus Chalice, Christ is enthroned among vine tendrils
like Dionysus himself." 29 The Dead Sea Scrolls are teaching us as Christians to sit down to
dinner with strange cousins from all over the East -- Essenes, Ebionites, Gnostics,
Therapeutae, even Moslems -- whom a few years ago we turned out of doors as tramps and
aliens: Catholics and Protestants are now falling over themselves to get to the door to be the
first to hail the forlorn strangers of Qumran as long-lost brothers.
The common element that now makes it possible to establish all these ties is a universal
Mantic substratum. This can readily be seen in the enthusiastic acceptance by pagans,
Christians, and Jews alike of the ancient inspired utterances of the Sibyll. In the Mantic
world of the apocrypha, as of ritual and liturgy, the boundaries between "Vertical Judaism"
and primitive Christianity become very tenuous indeed, as do those between even the
Christian and pagan worlds: it was on Mantic grounds that the early Christians hailed
Socrates as one of their own,30 that medieval Christianity made a saint of Vergil, that the
early Apologists praised and quoted the Greek poets as men of true religious insight or
inspiration, and the Apostolic Fathers before them mingled Classical and Scriptural texts and
histories into one.31 The idea of a common "Mantic" heritage, meaningless a few years ago,
may now be seriously considered.
It is high time we realized that there must have been a solid body of fact behind the strange
unwillingness of Greeks, Jews, and Egyptians to give up their Mantic addictions. The whole
Mantic tradition is, from hoary antiquity, disciplined, organized, institutionalized, and
established over the world. The importance of Delphi and Eleusis, Olympia, and Delos in the
political, social, religious, and artistic life of Greece testify to the vitality of the ancient
Mantic tradition. It reminds one of the common denominator of all ancient civilization which
has been consistently overlooked, namely the image that each great civilization thought of
itself as having been carefully planned in the beginning, all its rites and patterns handed
down from above, a complete, perfect structure, planned in detail from the beginning as the
faithful reflection of a heavenly prototype32 present in sacred books of great antiquity. Over
against this, the Sophic presented a theory of the evolution of man from his primitive
beginnings, following "natural laws," a theory which armies of dedicated researchers have
failed to make even momentarily watertight to this day; not that it might not be true, but if
the old forgotten doctrine of the divine plan, conveyed to men in a primordial revelation and
since confirmed from time to time by heavenly messengers, were to be given equal time or
even one percent of equal time, the opposition would be hard-pressed indeed. The
"hierocentric" concept that all good things have been conveyed to mankind from above
through divinely appointed operations of holy shrines and persons is immensely appealing,
even in the abstract. But transcending all theory is the fact, obvious enough to the ancients if
not to us, that all the basic institutions of civilization -- political, economic, artistic, literary,
military, and scientific -- did take their rise at the Temple.
If their legends were not enough to remind them of that, all the great societies of antiquity
were required to meet at regular intervals in vast popular assemblies of the ritual renewal of
the corporate life and the dramatic rehearsal of the stories of how it all came about. The great
panegyris or universal assembly of the entire race for games, contests, feasts, and liturgy of
great splendor never let the people individually or collectively forget the other world and
their ties to it.33 The highest expression of this national eschatology was the Mysteries: only
one who had been initiated into them, says Pindar, knows the beginning of life.34 Their
"substance," according to Walter Wili, was the preexistence, the present existence, and the
future existence of things -- the full and complete plot, that is, of the drama of the
universe.35 Without that story, Greek life lost its meaning. "When Christianity put an end to
the Mysteries of Eleusis," writes Walter Otto, "Greek life itself seemed to have sunk into the
grave with them."36 There was "no deeper meaning" to the mysteries, Rohde concluded,
than the doctrine hen andron hen theon genos, the coexistence of the human race with the
divine race; what more could one ask for than the single divine complex into which the
Mysteries and great panegyrises brought the two together. These national disciplines never
let the people forget the other world and their ties to it, and out of them came all the great
creative works of the Greeks. The moral of the mysteries, says the shrewd Christian
Synesius, is simply that everything is divinely administered, and that every man takes from
the mysteries what he individually is able to; and he quotes the famous saying,"Many are
bearers of the narthex, but few are Bacchae," or, as we may put it freely, "Many join the
parade but few are really carried away." As might be expected, there were many in the
parade who got things wrong, and many quacks and pretenders. P. Schmitt points out that
the word mysterion can signify, depending on its context, "night ramblers, magicians,
bacchants, maenads, mystics, cough medicine, the secret plan of a king, a secret hidden cult."
All have one element in common (if we assume that the cough medicine is a secret recipe),
namely, contact with a higher, hidden source. The Latin equivalent mysterium, Schmitt
notes, has the basic meaning of to "inspire" or "initiate," that is, to introduce someone to
something he could never discover for himself. But the matter dealt with, or what Walter
Wili calls "the substance of the Orphic mysteries," is threefold: (1) the Creation and
preexistence, "the genesis of gods, the cosmos, and men," (2) the fall of man and its
necessary retribution, and (3) his ultimate destiny and goal, expressed in the Pythagorean
and Orphic traditions in the doctrine of transmigration of souls. These will be readily
recognized as the three great eschatological themes of the past, present, and future, as they
are so clearly set forth in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. One of the strange phenomena of
Greek life was the way the "old, essentially Greek impulses"37 would revive from time to
time, "ein uraltes Erbgut neu belebt."38 The most enlightened Greeks and Romans were all
initiates to the Mysteries; the Greeks were as mercilessly critical of humbug as the French,
and all of their writings that have reached us have been screened by rationalistic pagan and
Christian schoolmen. It is indeed remarkable that in all the literature we fail to find any
derogatory remark or witticism about the Mysteries.39 Even more remarkable is that none of
a host of outspoken and gossipy writers, hungry for sensational talk, has ever divulged the
secrets of the Mysteries. We are very much mistaken, Otto reminds us, if we think for a
moment that we can run the Mysteries to ground simply by the use of modern psychology
and philology: such great things are not to be so cheaply had, and we will never know just
what took place in the Mysteries.40
The headquarters of the Mysteries were also the great assembly places, the economy of all
the mysteries and the panegyrises being inextricably interwoven. Musaeus, for example, the
high priest of Delphi, was also director of the Eleusinian Mysteries, the author of a great
creation hymn, and the founder of the first academy.41 He wrote oracular poems and the
Theogony. The Theogony is in the tradition of the Creation Hymn, eschatological and
cosmic in its sweep. The mark of divinity in all poetry, according to Aristotle, is its capacity
for dealing with things in their universal aspect. The Creation Hymn deserves special
mention because it was the ancient and original office of the Muses to sing that hymn, the
great archetype of all music and verse. All fields of knowledge belong to the Muses, the wise
women, the purveyors -- not the authors -- of divine revelation; the schools never forgot their
origin as holy oracular shrines of the Muses with their sacred temples, images (mostly
memorial busts of great teachers), lecture halls, grottoes, walks, groves, and libraries. A
center of learning was a Musaeon, and the Muses acted as intermediaries between the divine
and the human in all nine fields of learning; the Muses were not worshipped save as agents
of gods. They were the archaic oracular women whom we find all over the ancient world,
whose classic representative is the Sibyll herself.42 Dio Chrysostom tells how the Seven
Wise Men -- those true Sophoi of which the rest were all but imitators, mere Sophists -- used
to meet at Delphi to unite their wisdom for the help of the human race, imparting of their
knowledge to all who came to consult the oracles there.43 In that day it was simply
inconceivable that wisdom could be conveyed to the race anywhere but at the properly
appointed holy shrine. The ideas which we designate as Mantic were thus institutionalized
for the ancients -- in the panegyris, the Mysteries, and the schools -- to a degree which we
can hardly imagine. For them it was easy to conceive of the heavenly order as real, since one
had reminders of it all around one.44 Even when the Mantic order was challenged, it was
possible to point to an argument in its favor that the rationalists have never been able to
answer -- the argument of creativity.
In his lost Hymn to Zeus, Pindar tells how God in the beginning did not consider his creation
complete until he had also created a voice to proclaim it (the same idea exactly is presented
in the Shabako stone, which may be the oldest surviving Egyptian document), specifically to
proclaim his glory by reciting the works of the Creation.45 The great prototype of all Music
and Verse is thus the Creation Hymn, just as the prototype of all creative human activity in
art and science is the creation itself. The Egyptians were fairly obsessed with the idea that in
creating anything, a man was doing the work of God; creation could not have any other than
a divine source or be anything but a divine activity. The Devil cannot create; he can only
destroy. He is Apollyon, the Destroyer, and nothing else.
In the early times there was a common Mantic meeting ground of Christian and
non-Christian, just as in later times the common meeting ground was exclusively Sophic.
Everybody agrees today that the distinguishing characteristic of the Early Christians was
their vivid apocalyptic expectations. Exactly what these expectations were has ever been a
subject of controversy and endless discussion. But again we must insist, though we do not
know and the Christians themselves did not know just what great things were ahead, one
thing was certain: there were great things ahead! Once we know that the prize is awaiting us
"with a firm assurance," then when and where we shall get it, and even what it is, become
secondary considerations -- mere details. It was so with Plato. Along with the Bible, it is
Plato who emerges in Whitehead's last analysis as supremely satisfying -- and for the same
reason. Plato always leaves the door open; he remains as a good Greek should and as Solon
the Wise did, "forever a child," aiei didaskomenos -- ever learning -- naive, innocent, always
expecting. That would account for the fact that, try as we will, we cannot view things
neutrally; we are not impartial observers, as the Sophoi claimed to be. When we applaud
whatever is good and beautiful, it is not blind, accidental force that we are applauding (a
mindless operation is just as willing to produce a bad thing as a good one); it is something
good. We bestow our approval and disapproval upon all we see about us -- how could that be
if things just happen? 46
The Greeks were greatly impressed by the fact, attested by long experience, that even the
greatest genius cannot create at will. 47 The moments of genuine creativity are simply not
within human control, all that is within human control being what Plato calls mere imitation,
i.e., something that can be taught -- for to learn is simply to imitate. 48 Even when they
create by inspiration, however, humans know that the result is but a poor reflection of the
divine original. The greater the artist, in fact, the more frustrated he feels. 49 "Wise is he
who knows much by nature but, when men have merely studied and learned their knowledge,
they are turbulent and intemperate of tongue, even as a pair of crows chattering against the
divine bird of Zeus."50 If creation were an intellectual accomplishment, an act of human
intellect or will, that would not be the case. Creation is not of this world; a place of imitation
at best "in the domain of art has apparently but a small opinion of the earthly counterparts of
the celestial originals."51 They are literally worlds apart; the heavenly originals are no mere
human ideas, but, as far as we are aware of them, things actually remembered from another
world. For Plato, what we recognized here as good, true, and beautiful is but a dim
recollection of what we once saw in another and better world. That is Plato's doctrine of
The greatest Greeks were determined defenders of the Mantic against the Sophic, as we shall
see later. Though not the best argument for the Mantic, the first that confronts us is the
striking fact, of which the Greeks themselves are keenly aware, that it is precisely the
greatest, most original, most productive "geniale," of their number who insist most
emphatically upon man's dependence on light from above. If it had been any but the greatest
poets (Pindar), philosphers (Aristotle, Plato), scientists (Eratosthenes), or dramatists (all of
them), who preached the complete dependence of the creative mind on direct inspiration
from above, we could brush the doctrine aside as speculation or pretense (and indeed, many
a minor poet and orator, imitating the great ones, pretended to be inspired and made a show
of it);52 but we cannot treat with condescension or contempt, regardless of our education,
the deepest convictions of the very men who have given us the best we have. If anybody
knows what he is talking about, these men should, and they are not vague or equivocal
regarding the reality of the world. In his study of the Muses, Walter Otto concludes that for
the Greeks "the whole work of the artist is to create," and that "creation is in the last analysis
simply revelation (Schpfung im Grunde eine Offenbarung ist)." Those who have had to
acquire their art by study and learning alone, Pindar reminds us, "can never be anything but a
flock of crows, jealously squawking against the divine bird of Zeus." 53 Poesis means
creation, and is only true poetry to the extent that it is creation and not imitation. The dismal
failure of a million zealous and often highly intelligent imitators to produce an inspiring (and
therefore inspired) poem or anything else truly original proves that we have here something
totally beyond human ken, while those who do create are unanimous in reporting that the
process is something equally out of their control. The power to create is something not only
completely beyond the comprehension of the uninspired, but equally beyond the control of
those who possess it: in the moment of creation they are seized with a divine frenzy, shaken,
and even frightened.54
For the experience of creation, whether in great calm or unbearable excitement, is a
profoundly religious experience. Rudolf Otto showed that there is a thing which can be
broken down into no emotional or psychological elements beyond itself, and that is das
Heilige, "the numinous," that which we call holy and cannot define beyond calling it holy.
As Otto says, this fundamental requisite in the recognition of the Holy is that it comes upon
us but is never self-induced. It is a holy thing, and the poet, to that degree to which he is
truly a poet, is an oracle and a prophet. In music and poetry "the earliest fragments are
priestly incantations; . . . the first poets, then, are the priests."55 Conversely, Plutarch knows
that the old inspiration is passing away when the oracles start to speak in prose instead of
verse.56 The creator of the Greek epic, ode, and drama is frankly a prophet and preacher of
righteousness, an inspired man; even historians and orators are expected to play the Mantic
role: the sane and enlightened Thucydides has baffled the critics by affecting the oracular
style of Aeschylus,57 and it remains an open question just how seriously the prayers and
incantations of the orators are to be taken.
None is more insistent on the need for revelation than Plato. Plato was the great champion of
the Mantic. He banned Homer from his model state not, as the Sophists did, because he was
inspired (they made fun of everything in Homer that was not strictly rational according to
their way of thinking), but because with his inspiration he mingled his own human
contribution, or, as Plato puts it, he mixed mere imitation with inspiration.58 For Plato,
whatever is not inspired can only be mere imitation. True knowledge comes to the race only
through men who prove their inspiration "when they say many great things without knowing
what they say."59 Such are the poets: "I know that they do what they do not by any
intelligence of their own, but by a special nature, and inspiration such as holy prophets and
oracles have, for they too speak many fine and wonderful things without knowing what they
are saying."60 The words of such men, "inspired from heaven," are, Plato insists, the only fit
instruction for the youth. 61 His own favorite poet was Pindar, one of those poets "of
heavenly gifts," who taught that the human mind is blind when it attempts to find the path
unaided by its own cleverness. 62 "Whoever thinks," says Plato, "that skill alone will make a
good poet; . . . [he] will never attain perfection, but be surpassed by the inspired madmen."63
Both Plato and Aristotle, according to Jaeger, "placed inspiration above reason and moral
insight . . . because it comes from God" -- for while reason is far from infallible, "the
sureness of inspiration, on the other hand, is like lightning."64 Whoever receives inspiration
must be both ritually and morally pure "like an instrument," says Plutarch, "prepared and
fair-sounding."65 It was both as a Platonist and as a Christian that Justin Martyr declared:
"Neither by nature nor by any human skill is it possible for men to know such great and holy
things; but only by a gift that descends from above upon holy men from time to time, who
need no training in speech or skill in controversy and argument, but only to keep themselves
pure by the power of the Holy Spirit so that the divine plectrum . . . can express itself
through them as on the strings of a lyre."66
This sort of thing suggests a kind of pentecostal ecstasy to outsiders -- something like
Nietzsche's dionysischer Geist; and indeed when the less gifted tried, as inevitably they
would, to imitate divine obsession or to induce it by artificial means, the result was a
degenerate form of the Mysteries, which did much to discredit the genuinely Mantic.67 The
Corybantic orgies are not Mantic -- quite the opposite; they break the first rule of inspiration,
as Manetho explains it, that nothing can be forced; it is not within human authority to
command or control revelation. We can make ourselves fit to receive it (and a favorite image
both of the early Christian writers and the Greeks was that of the musical instrument
properly tuned and prepared for God to play upon it when and as He -- and only He -- chose
to do so), but we cannot produce it at will. What all the descriptions of the phenomena of
inspiration from Plato to Sappho amount to is that the creative person is himself completely
at a loss to account for how he does it, while to imitate it is a pitiful device indeed.68 So
vivid and real is the Greek faith in inspiration that students are now attempting to explain it
in terms of shamanism: 69 but the shaman is a false prophet precisely because he seeks to
induce an ecstatic experience by artificial means over which he presumes to exercise control.
It is when they descend to such devices that such seekers of inspiration as Empedocles,
Pythagoras, and Apollonius are rightly charged with quackery and assume the guise of the
In spite of the danger of easy abuses and even easier misunderstanding in the realm of the
Mantic, Plato showed an increasing partiality to the Mantic over the Sophic. "When I was
young," he has Socrates say, "I was fanatically devoted to the intellectual quest which they
call natural science. Filled with pride and youthful conceit (hyperphanos), I was convinced
that I could know the reason for everything. . . . I was always experimenting to discover the
secrets of nature and life."70 He was convinced, as was Socrates, "that no one need look any
farther than science for the answers to everything." That is the "Sophic" state of mind clearly
set forth. Then it was, he says, that he read the passage that completely changed his point of
view: "There is a mind that orders things and causes all things to be."71 The idea electrified
him: "Somehow it seemed to me just right, that idea that there must be a mind responsible
for everything." So he turned from the majority to join a very small minority. "Shall we say,"
he asks in discussing the nature of the earth, "that God the Creator made it? Or would you
prefer the teaching and language that everybody follows today -- that it all came about
simply by spontaneous cause and without any intelligence?"72 Here we have the basic
dichotomy: on the one hand, things just happen -- the physis holds in itself the explanation
for everything; on the other hand, things do not just happen. Note well that in Plato's day
public opinion was all on the side of the former.
At the end of his life Socrates explained that he had taken the course he had through the
years "because, as I said, the way was shown me by God through oracles and dreams and by
whatever other means divine providence directs the actions of men." 73 He was dead serious
about this. "Listen to a tale which you consider a myth," he tells his intellectual friends, "but
which I believe to be true." Then he tells of the next world and its judgments and concludes,
"This, Callicles, is what I have heard, and I believe it to be true. . . . In a word, whatever
characteristics a man's body presented in this life, these remain visible in death. . . . Now my
concern is how I may present my soul to the judge in its healthiest condition." 74 The next
world and the judgment are his guiding light. "But you," he says to his Sophist friends, "the
three of you, you and Polus and Gorgias, the wisest [sophoteroi] of all the Greeks alive at
this moment [and they would see no sarcasm in this] can't demonstrate the necessity of living
any other life than this earthly one." 75 When Socrates asks the intellectual Meletus, who is
accusing him of sacrilege and calling for the death penalty, "Do you believe that the sun and
moon are gods as lots of people do?" the indignant Meletus replies, "Of course not! The sun
is just a stone and the moon is a piece of earth." Then Socrates, who may well have shared
Meletus's opinions on astronomy, points out to him that because he and his friends think that
everything can be explained by such glib and confident naturalism they must necessarily fear
death, as Socrates himself does not.76 For Meletus and the three Sophists there is nothing
beyond this life; for Socrates, what is beyond is all that is really important.
What irony that the people whom Socrates thus opposed all of his life, and who brought
about his death, should ever after proclaim him as their patron saint! Now professors of
philosophy brush aside Socrates' own solemn profession of faith as sarcasm or gentle irony,
so that they can maintain that he was put to death by reactionary religionists instead of
enlightened professors. But to the charge of atheism he emphatically pleads not guilty: How,
he asks, can he be a religious innovator and trouble-making sectarian if, as they also say, he
is antireligious? How can he be guilty of believing in false gods if, as they say, he believes in
no god? 77 What is most clearly brought out at the trial is not that Socrates believes like
others, for he does not, but that he does believe, and that for his faith he is willing to give his
life.78 If there is anything Socrates was not, it was a barefoot liberal blasting away at
conventional beliefs. What he blasted was conventional unbelief. Plato is simply appalled at
the Athenians' lack of belief in anything, based on the comforting popular creed that science
knows all the answers and that the important thing in religion is to go along with the group.
This was the safe, conventional, respectable creed of educated Athenians, and Plato despised
it. In the Crito Socrates points out that his colleagues know even less than he does about
things, since they think they know the answers while he at least is aware of his ignorance;
but of two things he is convinced, (1) that the important questions of life are eschatological
ones and (2) that these can be answered only by revelation.79
Socrates never found the revelation for which he was seeking, and he remained a seeker to
the end of his days. Only a believer would have carried on the search, as Eduard Meyer's
Egyptians did "with such energy and persistence." His credo is only a preparatory one, but it
is nonetheless emphatic and explicit: he believes, namely, that the way is still unexplored
and the doors still remain open and the means have been provided to attain to the only
knowledge that counts; and as long as such is the case, no one is excused from pressing the
search. Contrary to this position is the maxim of the Fathers of the fourth century that it is
better not to believe anything than to differ from them in slightest point of doctrine. The
accent was not on faith but on conformity -- the discovery of nonconformity in the Church is
more important, says St. Augustine, than the discovery of truth. It was quite the opposite in
the Primitive Church, whose converts were all made among people with a Mantic
inclination, that is, those who believed something already. Much of Christ's discourse in the
New Testament is addressed to schoolmen, the Scribes and Pharisees, who apparently often
consulted with him, and yet though he converted farmers and soldiers, tax-gatherers,
fishermen, harlots, and princes, there is no recorded instance of his ever converting one of
the Doctors. In the Primitive Church one is expected to knock before the door is open, ask
before he receives, and seek before he finds. To believe in Christ you had to believe
something in the first place: the sick did not have to make Peter's confession before they
were healed, but they did have to have faith. The people who would not believe in Jesus
believed in nothing -- they said they believed in the prophets, but they did not: if they
believed in the prophets, in the scriptures, in Moses, or in God, they would believe in Christ
-- but they do not. The greatest Christian convert was a man who believed all the wrong
things about Christ -- it was not what he believed, but his capacity for faith that made Saul of
Tarsus eligible for immediate enlightenment.
Saul's case would seem to indicate that it is more desirable to have faith in false propositions
than to have no faith at all. Actually one cannot have faith in a false proposition, since one
cannot have faith in a proposition at all. One does not have faith in propositions, creeds, or
institutions, to which one is merely loyal. One has faith in God alone -- all else is subject to
change without notice. Faith does not seek security by boxing itself in with definite and
binding creeds, as did the Doctors of the Church in a time of desperate uncertainty and
insecurity. One does not cling to faith but to substitutes for faith: drowning men cling to
things, but men of faith are not desperate and don't cling to anything. Professor Gaylord
Simpson likes to cite the case of Santa Claus as providing the futility of all faith.80 But has
belief in Santa Claus ever closed the door to knowledge as loyalty to a scientific credo so
often has? Is it better for a child to believe in Santa Claus with the understanding that
someday he is going to revise his views than for him to be taught, as some professors'
children are, only what is scientifically correct from infancy, so that he will never, never
have to revise his views on anything and thus go through life being always right about
everything? Which course is more liable to lead to disaster, the open-ended Santa Claus, or
the ingrained illusion of infallibility?
Did the pagans, then, have faith in true principles? No more than the Christians. Jesus made
it perfectly clear that he considered faith to be the rarest thing on earth. The Greeks did not
have true faith: Plato was appalled by the lack of faith among his fellow Athenians, and their
preference instead for a religion of popular superstitions and smug conventional piety -- the
belief that righteousness consists in going to church, saluting the flag, and keeping one's
nose clean.81 Thucydides' History is a terrible commentary on the fate of a generation that
had lost its faith, and the whole literature of the following century is one long and
melancholy footnote to that commentary. It is true that the old religion had long been weak
and ailing and the oracles very feeble indeed,82 yet as Plato feels so keenly, it was the only
tie men had with the other world, and it did have sacral foundations worthy of respect.83
And now comes a strange turn of events: within the last few years a rich outpouring of newly
discovered documents has so broadened the ancient religious community of East and West
as to embrace heretofore aloof and incompatible sects in a single fold. And within that fold
Christianity finds itself rubbing shoulders not only with desert sectarians and pagan mystics
but with something very like Plato's inspired madmen.84 It would seem now that Greek
mythology is not the key to Greek religion, but a red herring: it was the Christian apologists,
laboring the safe and obvious, who established the image of Greek religion as the Night Life
of the Gods. No, the Greeks did not have the true religion: even Plato didn't, and he knew he
didn't. His Socrates is a seeker, convinced as he is that true enlightenment can come only by
II. The Sophic Scaffolding: The Rise and Prosperity of the Sophic
The beginning of the sixth century B.C. is what Karl Jaspers calls the "Axial Period" in
human history. 85 The significance, according to Jaspers, was first noted by Lasaulx, who in
1851 wrote: "It cannot possibly be an accident that, six-hundred years before Christ,
Zarathustra in Persia, Gautama Buddha in India, Confucius in China, the prophets in Israel,
King Numa in Rome and the first philosophers -- Ionians, Dorians, and Eleatics -- in Hellas,
all made their appearance pretty well simultaneously as reformers of the national
religion."86 A strange movement of the spirit passed through all civilized peoples. The time
was marked by a series of popular revolutions which everywhere saw the final overthrow of
the old sacral kingship; the great social crises and world upheavals of the early second and
middle first millennia B.C. had dealt shattering blows to the old sacral order, and the sixth
century saw the completion of the process with what we might call the great Sophic
revolution. With the passing of the priest-kings, people everywhere found themselves
looking for some other principle of authority for the ordering of society; with oracles silent
and priestly lines extinct, who would have the final word? Where could men turn for the
voice of authority? What could now command their loyalty?
For a time the tyrants tried their hand at governing the world; there is everywhere a sort of
transitional period of tyrants, able and often even idealistic men, whose right to rule rested
neither on hereditary office, popular election, nor divine inspiration but on their wits alone.
Many a tyrant tried to legalize his position by religious fictions and ritual trickery -- for the
only alternative to government by divine sanction seemed to be brute power alone. It was the
Greeks who decided to go to the root of the baffling problem of who has a right to govern
his fellows: that question became the theme of much of their most enthusiastic discussion
and profound research in even more significant phenomena than the tyrants in the
appearance of the so-called Seven Wise Men. "The sixth century, the most critical period in
the mental development of the Greeks, came to be known afterwards as the age of Seven
Sages." 87 These were the original Sophoi, from whom we have taken our word Sophic. To
the ancient mind the apex of human success, the highest prize to which any man could attain,
was to be a Sophos, one of those heroes of the mind, typified by the Seven Sages, who, after
giving wise laws and examples to their own cities, wandered free of earthly passions and
attachments through the universe, selfless and aloof, as spectators of God's works, seeking
only knowledge and carrying with them the healing blessing of true wisdom, especially of
statesmanship, for all who sought or needed it. Hailed by adoring multitudes -- who often
saw the aura of divinity around them -- humbly petitioned by great cities and magnificent
potentates, these incorruptible wise men represented the pinnacle of real human attainment.
They represent indeed the peak of human excellence, but for all that they are purely human -that is their significance. Like the tyrants, the Sophoi represent a sort of experimental phase;
they were an attempt at compromise between the Mantic and Sophic on the principle that a
very high order of human wisdom has something divine about it, making the true Sophos the
equivalent of an inspired leader. But the Sophoi had no successors -- only imitators, the
notorious Sophists, a very different order of men. What set the Sophoi apart from their
fellows was not a peculiar type of wisdom but simply a higher degree of intelligence -- they
had an extra large amount of what everybody has more or less of, but that was all. They lay
no claim to Mantic powers -- Pythagoras himself, the most "Mantic" wise man of his time,
was charged with quackery for trying to preempt the glory of a prophet instead of being
satisfied to shine as a thinker. For all the veneration they received from a world yearning for
guidance and starved for the comfort of the Mantic order, the Seven Wise Men represent a
true Sophic revolution, a deliberate renunciation of the Mantic. By their own confession
their complete humanity is their glory and their tragedy.
Such is the gospel of Solon, who speaks for them all. His earthly wisdom was of the highest
order, but what does he see beyond? Nothing, as the typical Solonian utterances make clear:
"At every turn the mind of the immortals is hid from men. . . . Like gaping fools we amuse
ourselves with empty dreams."88 The best anyone can hope for from life is the contentment
of possessing children, horses, dogs, and good friends, and "a stomach, lungs, and feet that
cause him a minimum of trouble; . . . and as a man gets older his speech and intelligence
progressively fail him, and if he manages to reach old age intact, it is high time for him to
embrace death."89 In all this there is no expectation but earthly expectation -- it is good, it is
noble, it is heroic, but it is all there is. The Mantic has become little more than a figure of
speech: "One man receives from the Olympian Muses the gift of that inspired sophia that
men yearn for, and another from Apollo the mantic gift of prophecy."90 Note the
conjunction of mantic and sophia -- but to what purpose? For all that, "no man knows at the
beginning of an enterprise how it is going to turn out," and "no divination or religious rites
can help a bit to avert what is going to happen (ta morsima)."91 In the end the Mantic is
unavailing; a man's only comfort and guide is his own common sense.
Such is the mature mind of the Sophic, bravely renouncing the wonders of the Mantic
because they are just too good to be true. I once reviewed a book by a historian who was
convinced that any historical account of events depicted as spectacular, picturesque, or
dramatic must necessarily be a fabrication -- this, for him, was the measure of sound, safe,
conservative scholarship. Actually, the Sophic mind never seems to be completely
reconciled to the negative doctrine in which it glories; one never fails to detect in the
sermons of the atheist a peevish and bitter undertone, a vindictive satisfaction in putting the
Mantic in its place, a tendency to gloat over the discomfiture of the believer. This is another
sign of the basic Sophic insecurity, for to one who really believed that the sum total of all
experience was zero it could not make the slightest difference what other people might think
on the subject, and nothing could concern him less than the fond illusions of his fellows. Yet
your Sophic thinker spends most of his time and energy in preachments, denouncing such
illusions. Even more important in the history of thought than the tyrant and the Sophoi who
tried, each in his way, to provide a satisfactory substitute for heavenly guidance in the affairs
of men, was the emergence of real science in Ionia at the same time.
The most serious defect of the Mantic, the standard objection to it in every age, is that it does
not lend itself to any kind of control -- "the Spirit bloweth where it listeth"; it does not wait
upon human convenience, nor do its manifestations comply with human expectations. Its
operations are always surprising -- they always catch men off guard. And here, incidentally,
we have another indication that the Mantic and not the Sophic holds the key to the real order
of things, for reality, as C. S. Lewis notes, "besides being complicated . . . is usually odd: it
is not neat, is not what you expect. . . . Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not
have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not
have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel
we were making it up. . . . So let us leave behind all these boys' philosophies -- these
over-simple answers."92 This defense of the Mantic position might well be taken by a
Sophic thinker as an attack on it, as an admission that the Mantic is uncontrollable,
incalculable, and full of imponderables, as indeed it is. The normal reaction to real heavenly
manifestation, whether to the prophets of old, Zacharias in the Temple, Mary at home, the
shepherd in the fields, or the Apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration, is to be amazed and
"sore afraid" -- all must be assured by the divine messenger that there is nothing to be afraid
of, that this is a joyful and not an appalling event.
Whatever its correspondence to reality, such a state of things can only be deplorable to the
neat and methodical world of science, and it is understandable that in Miletus, at the time
when people were everywhere dissatisfied with a Mantic order which had lost much of its
vitality and been discredited by the Corybantic excesses of irresponsible sectarians, certain
clever men should have decided to study things with the troublesome Mantic left out. The
other world cannot be brought into the laboratory to be weighed and measured; it cannot
figure in any set calculations because of its unpredictability. Then why not simply leave it
out of our experiments and formulas and go along without it? Why not study this world with
the other world left out, if only to see where it will get us? It was proposed to confine all
study to matter that can be managed and situations that can be controlled, i.e., to the physis,
the tangible, visible, measurable world, as if it were all that existed or at least all that could
really be known. Thus science became Science when it renounced eschatology: "For
scientific procedure," write Courrant and Robbins, "it is important to discard elements of [a]
metaphysical character. . . . To renounce the goal of . . . knowing the `ultimate truth,' of
unravelling the innermost essence of the world, may be a psychological hardship for naive
enthusiasts, but in fact it was one of the most fruitful turns in modern thinking." Yet after
having embraced this principle with ardor, the naive enthusiasts of Ionia were soon to be
found, as modern scientists are, zealously holding forth on no less a theme than "the
innermost essence of the world"93 -- which is what the scientist is seeking to discover more
than anyone else. "Here we are," cries an eminent contemporary scientist, "and we had better
find some meaning or invent one for ourselves so that we have some definite mission to lend
dignity to our life. If there is a meaning, it obviously lies somewhere in the vast areas of
biology which are still unknown to us, and we should have faith that it is at least worth
looking for by the usual rational experimental approach."94 Has he forgotten that science, to
be scientific, must renounce all that sort of nonsense? To be effective science must work in
closed systems, always assuming that the scientist, when he sets up his experiment, is taking
all relevant factors into consideration. When the scientist leaves his closed system and starts
talking in eschatological terms he is exceeding his authority, going beyond the bounds which
science proudly sets for all who would play the game according to her rules. Only faith
enjoys the luxury of being open-ended. But is it a luxury? Who is to say what unknown
factors may not be highly relevant to any situation? It is not for science, having shut itself in
the impregnable castle of sensory experience and having raised the drawbridge against all
evil premonitions from without to suggest picnics in the countryside and exploring in the
woods. If we decide to treat the physis as all there is, then of course we need look no farther
than physis itself for the explanation of everything; and the physis is a closed system -- no
matter how large it may be, it is still perfectly complete and self-contained: By turning from
Mantic to Sophic we have tidied up our calculations, but at the price of putting ourselves in a
box, as Heraclitus was quick to point out to the Ionian physicists.
Heraclitus is known to the world as ho skoteinos which, as Sophocles uses the word, does
not mean "the obscure," but rather "the recalcitrant," "the gloomy one," the wet-blanket, the
man who throws cold water on things.95 He earned the title by asking his scientific friends
to consider, before they began making their pontifical statements about things, just how
reliable the human organism is as a gatherer and interpreter of information. Men's eyes and
ears are, to say the least, unreliable instruments, and if their senses are feeble, their
interpretive faculties are even more so: all men are more or less asleep, and never completely
sober. Mere information (polymathia) is pointless for all the pride we take in it; the Sophoi
have done with God once for all -- but they are always talking about him; they are seeking
the same objective as religion -- to explain everything. And what are their chances of
succeeding? What about the objects they observe? They are always changing, even while
they seek to limit and define them -- "all things flow. . . . You can't step into the same river
twice." 96 The observer's own position is purely relative, yet everything depends on the way
you are facing.97 So what hope have we for real knowledge? Revelation, says Heraclitus: "A
man should listen to the spirits [daimones, the same word is used by Socrates]98 as a child to
an adult";99 "our individual minds are pretty dull, but through the ages there exists an
unmistakable consensus of humanity about things, an ethos which is not the product of
reason but of revelation."100 There is a common divine logos in which we all have a share,
and that is the one thing we can be really sure of, "the one criterion of truth."101
By saying such things Heraclitus made himself a controversial and unpopular figure. The
general public, at its wit's end for moral and intellectual guidance, embraced the new gospel
with open arms. Much the same eager greeting awaited Darwin's gospel, which gave the
Victorians what they most needed, a genuine eschatology without Mantic contamination.
The whole appeal of Darwinism lay in its thoroughgoing protology and eschatology -- it was
a universal hypothesis that answered all the questions of life. Ionian physics also quickly
took eschatological form, its proponents dogmatically holding forth on the one quality or
property or element that could, like evolution later, explain the creation and all subsequent
phenomena. And this new eschatology met with the same sensational success in Periclean
Athens that Darwinism did in Victorian England. Its chief exponent was Anaxagoras, who
"believed," according to one of his disciples, "that theoria -- scientific investigation -- was
the purpose of life, . . . while Heraclitus believed that the purpose of life was to have joy
It was, as might be expected, the younger generation at Athens that hailed the new scientific
emancipation from the hoary past with the greatest glee. The kids suddenly knew all the
answers. We have already seen that Socrates admitted to some youthful conceit
(hyperphanos) in his early attachment to the Sophic. The Sophists, popularizers of science
and common sense, "attacked every illusion and every tradition in the name of truth, clarity,
objectivity, consistency, and neatness in thinking and speech." Here was something that was
easy to understand, flattering to the intellect, and liberating to the conscience. The public ate
it up. The basic proposition, clearly and forthrightly stated by Hippocrates, is that there is
nothing supernatural, the elements of which things are made being sufficient to explain all
phenomena.103 Implicit in all the Sophist teaching, as Schmid points out, was a basic
atheism which, as far as the general public was concerned, infallibly became the main issue.
Smart people were expected to dismantle and debunk all old beliefs in the name of a fresh,
modern, emancipated morality: the broad-minded Hippias prefers "the frank and
straightforward Achilles" to "the wily and false Odysseus";104 Protagoras made the
devastating discovery that the opening lines of the Iliad are not a prayer at all, being in the
imperative. So what? snorts Aristotle, any fool can see that it is a prayer!105 The faith of
many was shaken by the scandalous disclosure that Crete has one hundred cities in the Iliad
and only ninety in the Odyssey and that God who is said to see everything in the Iliad has to
send out messengers in the Odyssey to report to him. 106 The great liberals boil with
indignation at the injustice and inhumanity with which a god kills innocent mules and dogs
in wartime. This sort of thing, presented with clever rhetoric, was glorious and heady stuff
for the youth of Athens.
In the year that Plato was born, Aristophanes, a kid from the country, produced his first play,
a biting satire on the Athenian youth and the new education that was making them what they
were: "Their general lack of reverence disgusted him. They struck him as dreadfully ignorant
of Homer and good literature. . . . Also they were full of strange information, and sometimes
of shocking beliefs and disbeliefs."107 Pericles had declared, "Athens needs no Homer to
praise her"; the city, J. B. Bury says, "enshrined the worldly wisdom of men who stood
wholly aloof from mystic excitements and sought for no revelation, in the fiction of the
Seven Sages."108 It was Anaxagoras the physicist, according to Plutarch, who taught
Pericles "to despise all the superstitious fears which the awe-inspiring signs in the heavens
arouse in those who are ignorant of the real causes of such things."109 And it was just this
attitude of Pericles, Plato avers, that laid the foundation for the ruin of Athens. 110 Plato
rejected Homer as the perfect teacher for exactly the opposite reason that Pericles and the
Sophists did -- for them the poet was not civilized enough, for Plato he had too much of
human cleverness. 111 Plutarch tells how the doctors eagerly sought for the few errors and
contradictions to be found in Homer, while completely ignoring his matchless qualities of
greatness. Why? Because the Sophic cannot tolerate the Mantic. Dionysius Halicarnassus
says the rationalist philosophers "ridicule all the epiphanies of the Gods"; all that was now
so much old baggage, dead wood of the past. The issue is clearly drawn between two
antithetical and hostile views of life. We have seen that both Socrates and Plato in their
youth were enthusiastic followers of the new learning upon which both later turned their
backs. What is plain is that there is in the literature of the Golden Age a strong tension, never
sufficiently studied, between the Sophic and the Mantic: the men of genius are consciously
embattled against their rivals and imitators whose special skill is in beguiling the public.
Socrates lost his life in the battle, and he confidently predicted that his teaching had no more
chance of winning out in competition with the delightfully packaged and skillfully
advertised product of the Sophists than the sound prescriptions of a good doctor would have
in competition with a quack who prescribed nothing but candy for his child patients.
One of the most moving documents of the confrontation of the Mantic and the Sophic at
Athens is a noble tragedy which has received rough treatment at the hands of the critics
(although some think it is the greatest drama ever written). "Strange to say," comments
Sandys, "at the presentation of the Oedipus Tyrannus, Sophocles was defeated by a minor
poet." 112 There must have been a reason, and it must be the same reason for which the
present critics of Sophocles denounced the play, in spite of its transcendent genius, as a
badly botched job from the rational and moral standpoint. The unpardonable defect of the
Oedipus Tyrannus is that in this titanic showdown between the Sophic and the Mantic, it is
the Mantic that wins. Hence the play is denounced as a moral fiasco. And so, like the ancient
critics, the present critics of Sophocles -- Kitto, Bowra, Sheppard, and Letters113 -- all give
it up as a hopeless impasse. To quote one of them: "Whatever were Oedipus's defects, they
did not justify his fate. . . . They [the gods] have not only yoked the cosmological law to their
own designs, but decreed their victim neither compensation nor hope. . . . We must believe
the gods just, but the play does not help us to see that they are."114
"Oedipus is the victim of Fate. . . . His doings, moods, and character in the drama cannot
make matters either better or worse. . . . For us the deeper problem is thereby made only
more acute. . . . Sophocles hints at no answer in the Tyrannus." 115 That is the way it looked
to Oedipus too -- because he was a Sophist. In this play the Sophic and Mantic let loose with
tremendous salvos at each other, and because the Mantic wins, the critics agree that the play
is morally and rationally bankrupt. Was Sophocles a fool? No, but he was a priest and patron
of Aesculapius, who took his calling seriously and believed as did Plato in inspired
utterance. This play is one of his impassioned sermons specifically against the shallowness
of the brilliant intellectuals that gathered around Anaxagoras at Pericles' house after the
Oedipus had killed his father and married his mother -- but quite innocently. As Letters
points out, he had committed no crime by Athenian law; he was not "guilty," but he was
"polluted."116 He is under a curse brought on, as Aristotle notes, by a mistake, and the
critics are quick to point out (as the chorus does in the play) that his mistake consists simply
in being an erring human being -- we are all in the same case. But a way of escape and the
redemption is open if we are ready to accept it; we can be cleansed of our pollution if we can
bring ourselves to repent and submit to certain ministrations that we cannot perform for
ourselves. This Oedipus will not do. That is his responsibility, and the tragedy is of his own
making. In the speech that opens the drama, Oedipus tells us that for sixteen years everybody
has been telling him that he is perfect (line 8) -- an opinion with which he readily concurs.
But now there is a plague and he must save the city. He admits that he is as helpless as
anybody, "no one is sicker than I am" (hos ego ouk estin hymon hostis ex isou nosei, 61-62),
and that he must seek instruction which can only come from the holy oracles (68-77), for
which reason he has sent messengers to Delphi for orders and is determined to do "whatever
God reveals" (77). To the king's question, "What is the word of the god?" the returning
messenger's first word is esthlen -- wonderful! splendid! It is good news indeed; he quickly
adds that there are hard conditions attached but assures Oedipus that if the conditions are
met, "all will be well" (87-88). Is this inexorable Fate? Having learned what is to be done,
Oedipus decides to act and leaves the stage with the solemn declaration that though he stand
or fall, he will follow God (144-46). The chorus then begs for divine instruction -- ambrote
Phama -- the child of golden hope (151-58). To the end there is hope for Oedipus, if he will
only admit his mortal limitations and repent. Throughout the play, whenever Oedipus asks
for divine instruction he gets it -- and in his vanity refuses to follow it. To the Sophic mind,
"Sophocles hints at no answer"117 to Oedipus's predicament; but to the Mantic mind the
answer stares him in the face from first to last. In the play, Oedipus receives nothing but
good advice and good news: the former he rejects; the latter he willfully misinterprets.
When the king returns to the stage it is apparent that he is already slipping, for in a ringing
speech he emphatically dissociates himself from the crime and grandly announces that others
must face reality, no matter how grim (216-18). From here on he keeps reverting
subconsciously to the guilt he will not acknowledge in himself in a series of hypothetical
situations: even if the guilty wretch should be related to his own wife; even if he should be
living at his own house -- he will avenge Laius as if he were his own father. Incidentally, all
that is necessary to clear the city of the plague is for the guilty party to leave it -- no further
punishment is required.
The aged blind prophet Teiresias enters and Oedipus goes on his knees to him: "Save the
city! Save me! . . . We are in your hands!" (312-14). The prophet's reply, referring both to
Oedipus's renowned cleverness and to the too-clever Athenians, goes right to the point:
"Being smart can only be disastrous to a man who doesn't know where his cleverness is
taking him! [Pheu, pheu, phronein hos deinon entha me tele lyei phronounti] (316-17). Then
he asks Oedipus to let him go and assures him, "It will be best if you bear your burden and I
bear mine" (320-21) -- more good advice that Oedipus refuses to take, but he insists on
prophecy. The whole company goes down on its knees to the prophet, who pronounces
Sophocles' burning indictment on the lot of them: "All of you know nothing!" (328). When
he refuses to prophesy, explaining to Oedipus, "I don't want to hurt myself or you" (332), the
king like a spoiled child loses his temper and calls him kakon kakiste, the worst possible
name -- the vilest of the vile (334), to which Teiresias replies by observing that the one thing
Oedipus cannot do is to admit a weakness in himself -- "in me you attack it readily enough,
but you simply can't see it in yourself!" (337-38).
Then it is the blameless Oedipus who shouts back at the holy man: "Who wouldn't lose his
temper listening to such treason. I don't take that from anybody!" (339-40).
So then the priest finally comes out with it: "You are the defilement of the land!" (354).
"How can you dare say such a thing!" cries the outraged king; and then, after a brief
interchange, "How's that again? Repeat it -- I want to know what you said" (359) -- though
of course he understood perfectly well -- he doesn't want to hear.
Teiresias: "You are the murderer you seek!" (362).
Oedipus: "You won't get away with that a second time!" (363) -- showing that he heard him
perfectly well the first time. "Say as much as you like," says Oedipus, "I won't listen to you"
(365). Then, still the ill-mannered child, he exploits a new angle -- a mean and shameless
attack on the old man's blindness; and Teiresias in reply prophesies Oedipus's blindness -that is the theme of the play, the blindness of which the Sophic and the Mantic are always
accusing each other. Flinging all reserve aside, Oedipus shouts the awful words: "It was not
God, it was I who solved the riddle of the Sphinx, by my own unaided powers. I did it by
using my brains (gnome kyresas oud' ap' oionon mathon) and not by any supernatural
hokum" (398). This marks Oedipus as the official representative of the Sophic position pure
and simple (exactly the way Anaxagoras instructed Pericles) as Teiresias is of the Mantic,
when he replies, "I am not your servant but God's. . . . You have usurped divine authority;
you are willfully blind -- in darkness at noon. After all," he reminds the king, "you begged
for my instructions" (410-15, 432).
"But I never would have," replies the other, "if I had known you were going to utter
foolishness" (434). Such is the good faith of Oedipus, the helpless victim of the relentless
gods, and yet the critics insist that Oedipus is acting in good faith! The helpless victim of an
ancient curse! Teiresias's parting word to Oedipus is a fair enough proposition: "Think it
over, and if you ever find that I was wrong you can call me a false prophet" (460-62). The
chorus then declares that only God knows and men do not.
But does Oedipus ever play fair? He proceeds to take the offensive as the best defense
against his own guilt feelings, completely transferring his guilt to his brother-in-law Creon.
Then Jocasta enters to tell Oedipus that the prophecy about his crime -- that he would one
day kill his father -- has been proven false, since the king has just died far away in Corinth
and, reasoning like a typical Sophist, triumphantly argues from that that all oracles are a
fraud (707-9). To drive home her point she gleefully recalls that it was also predicted that her
former husband should be killed by his son, and instead of that he was slain by a stranger at
a place where three roads meet. This is of course the worst thing she could have said, but she
thinks she is being terribly clever by debunking all prophecy. Even when Oedipus complains
of feeling dizzy and nauseated at her words (psyches planema k'anakinesis phrenon, 726-27),
she goes right on adding one clever demonstration after another, thinking that she is burying
the oracles as she digs the grave deeper and deeper. Oedipus begins to admit that he has
always suspected things (785-86), and that he alone may be morally responsible; still, how
could he be guilty when he was only obeying the oracle? (821).
To this the chorus replies that Oedipus is not condemned and that there is still hope of
complete deliverance (834-35). Is this the "victim without compensation or hope?" All that
is required by the oracle to clear the city of the plague is for the guilty party to leave town -no further punishment is mentioned. And hope is not long in coming: another messenger
arrives with wonderful news -- Oedipus has been elected king of Corinth (939-40), where his
supposed father has just died a natural death (934); it will be remembered that there was a
prophecy that Oedipus would kill his father, and now that monarch has died of old age.
Heretofore, the one real disadvantage in his obeying the oracle and delivering Thebes was
that he would in the process become an exile, but now even that is taken care of; he has been
offered a splendid position, a promotion, in his home town, and all he has to do is to accept it
and everyone will be happy. Instead of that, he and Jocasta seize the occasion to vent their
savage spite on the oracles and add a pious discourse on religious duty (911-12). Jocasta,
when she hears the news, explodes with a Sophist shout of triumph: "O oracles of the gods,
where are you now! (946). Now tell me what you think of your precious prophecies!"
(952-53). This is the more shocking, since the chorus, lamenting the disastrous general
neglect of holy things, has just vowed: "Though all others are deserting the holy shrines
[another reference to the Athenians], I will never desert!" (865). Oedipus vents his pent-up
tensions and suppressed guilt feelings in a glorious, savage, and needlessly ferocious
denunciation of all Mantic things: "Halleluiah, wife! Who would ever take the Pythian oracle
or heavenly omens seriously again?" (964-65). You see what they prophesied, he says, and
you see what happened. He cannot in his relief resist a merry witticism about the death of the
old king Polybus, "Perhaps I killed him, by making him die of longing for me!" -- in which
case the oracle would be right after all -- a delicious joke. Then an even more vicious gibe:
"Well, he's taken all that supernatural drivel (thespismata) down to hell with him -- it's as
dead and stinking as he is!" (969-72).
"That's just what I've been trying to tell you all along," says his delighted wife (973), and
delivers a thoroughly typical and hackneyed Sophist speech such as Sophocles had heard a
thousand times: "Why should we worry about these things? After all, they just happen, and
you can't be sure about anything. The best thing to do is just to try and get along the best way
you can, . . . and that means paying no attention to dreams and oracles and that sort of
nonsense" (977-83).
To this commonsense sermon Oedipus replies that they are still not in the clear, since some
prophecies still remain to be disproven. Then, as the investigation proceeds and the evidence
begins to pile up, it is Jocasta who begins to get panicky -- "Silly old stuff!" (1056); then
shaken -- "That must be the explanation" (it was absurd and she knew it); frantic -- "I beg
you -- do not pursue this" (1060); then desperate -- "For your sake ask no more!" (1066).
Then Oedipus, also desperate, tries to invent an issue that betrays his feelings of insecurity:
Jocasta is making all this fuss because she is ashamed of having married one beneath her
station -- she and her fine airs! (1070). She sees that her mate is beyond hope and leaves him
with the words, "Oh you poor, miserable wretch! That's all I have to say -- the whole thing is
hopeless now and everafter! That is all I can ever call you!" (1071-72). He has reached the
point of no return and still tries to tell himself that it is all her family pride.
"But I can't lose!" he cries. "Lady Luck is my mother!" (1080). This is the well-known
appeal to Tyche -- Luck -- which, as they shed all vestiges of faith, was becoming a veritable
obsession with the Greeks: for when faith moves out, superstition moves in -- everything is
just chance, after all. Then Merton, the aged herdsman of Laius who knows the real secret of
Oedipus's birth and upbringing, is dragged in and he too warns the king not to go too far, to
which good advice Oedipus responds characteristically like a wild man by ordering the old
man tortured: "We will make you talk!" though he knows perfectly well what the answer will
be -- "But still I must hear it!" (1170). This is Ate.
The irony is that from the beginning of the play, everyone, including Providence, has been
trying to help Oedipus, who has been receiving nothing but good news and good advice. The
only disadvantage he has to suffer is in becoming an expatriate from Thebes, but now he has
been offered a splendid position, as king of Corinth -- all he has to do is leave town, with or
without his wife (and their marriage was only an affair of state), and everything will be all
right! Here is no imponderable, inscrutable, relentless working of an age-old family curse,
but a man able to receive salvation any time he is willing to accept counsel. But right up to
the end he insists on accusing others of his own crimes, dashing through the palace with
drawn sword looking for Jocasta -- she is to blame for all this! (1250-60). And so, instead of
leaving town in style, he goes forth as an outcast like Cain, having marked himself with
blindness, crying like Cain that his sufferings (nosema, affliction, disease) are greater than
he can bear (1293-94). What mania brought this on him? the chorus asks (1299-1300), and
further asks, Why doesn't he kill himself? Because he knows that that would be no escape,
for there is indeed an afterlife (1369-71). Now he knows the folly of trying to transfer his
guilt -- "No mortal but myself can pay the price" (1415) -- Is he the god dying for the sins?
the Christ figure? No! He rejected all that as outmoded. He has even blinded himself and
publicly confesses that the god, the oracular Apollo he mocked, has smitten him with
blindness, though he himself struck the blow; he can blame no one, for he is self-blinded as
the Sophists are; and his words to the chorus are, "Be not afraid, only believe!" (pithesthe,
me deisete! 1414). His crime was in destroying the foundations of faith, and now he repents
most terribly.
Creon announces that Oedipus is now a true believer, "For now at last you believe in the god
completely" (1445). Yet to the end he must admonish the departing outcast, who orders his
daughters to go with him, to learn submission, and Creon's last words to Oedipus are, "Do
not think that you are still giving all the orders" (panta me boulou kratein)! Creon is now
inheriting not the curse but the arrogance of Oedipus, which is to be his undoing! (1522). To
the end, Oedipus refuses to give in.
The closing chorus is a sermon for Sophists: "Look fellow citizens, at Oedipus here, the man
who knew all the answers and was as able as any man could be. There wasn't another who
did not look with envy on his brilliant career -- and look where he ends up -- in utter disaster.
So let us remember that no man can be called a success until he has reached the terminal of
life without having suffered any misery at all" (1524-30). In other words, the only happiness
lies beyond "the termination of this life," not here. Where is the moral nullity in all this of
which the critics complain?
We know that the great men who like Sophocles took the side of the Mantic in his
showdown were very much in the minority, and that the Sophists, the self-appointed
successors of the Sophoi, won the game hands down -- Longinus and Tacitus state the case
clearly enough. It was not the Sophoi who raised a victorious banner in all the cities of the
ancient world, but their diligent imitators the Sophists. Both, however, were able to
capitalize on the Mantic image. But, having displaced the prophets, the Doctors naturally
aspired to their honors, supplanting not only the inspired men in the popular esteem but God
himself! If everything happens "without any guiding mind," which, according to Plato,
"everybody believes today," then the human mind must be the only mind we can believe in -and who can doubt among human minds which are the greatest? The unabashed
self-glorification and sublime conceit of the schoolmen becomes one of the main themes of
ancient and medieval literature. A favorite maxim of the Doctors was that the knower is
greater than the known, and where they are the knowers and all the rest of the universe is the
known, or at least the object of their contemplation, where does that leave us? As successors
to the seers of old, the schoolmen willingly received and encouraged the veneration once
accorded divinity; the critic henceforward is himself the Great Sublime he draws. Plato
chooses as the representative type of the most vicious and dangerous order of Sophists the
clever and charming Gorgias -- utterly cynical and opportunistic. And this Gorgias
merchandised his wares by addressing the holy national assembly of all the Greeks at
Olympia clothed in priestly robes, cleverly imitating the solemn and ringing measures of
oracular utterance in the new rhetorical style of which he was one of the inventors; his
golden statue stood in the Temple of Delphi, where during the holy season he had
"thundered his Pythian speech from the altar."118
The Mantic pose was useful to the Sophists, though it was but a meaningless concession to
tradition. Anaxagoras and his fellows might reinterpret the old myths in terms of physics,
and the Orphic theologians reverse the process by transmitting the mythical gods into the
elements and forces of the cosmos, but with them such Mantic gestures were but literary
affectations. Paul Schmitt now argues that the Greek philosophers, contrary to the prevailing
impression, did not have a disintegrating effect on Greek religion -- but what religion?
Schmitt's only proof of his thesis is that philosophy continued to show respect for the
outward forms. 119 I use the word Mantic in preference to "religion" precisely because the
Sophists, once in control, were perfectly free to apply the label of religion to anything they
chose. Many of the Sophists were, like Toynbee, genuinely pious men, glowing with a belief
that "all creation has been groaning and travailing to produce [them]," with a deep and fervid
feeling of their own holiness.120 There is a Sophic religion: who was more devout and
dedicated than Thomas Henry Huxley, who more evangelical and saintly in our own day
than Professor Simpson? John Dewey was devoted to the project of freeing religion from all
Mantic, unscientific associations by founding his own religion in which the works of Dewey
would have the status of holy scripture -- a process about as meaningful as the production of
silent music or odorless perfume. Any apparent compromise of Mantic and Sophic can only
mean that the one has absorbed the other. That is nowhere more clearly seen than in the
writings of the Church Fathers.
The Christian Doctors of the fourth and fifth centuries were all well-educated men,
thoroughly grounded in the prevailing doctrines of the day. When they attack paganism it is
always the literal and supernatural, i.e., the Mantic, aspect of it that they assail -- a perfectly
safe procedure, the mere beating of a dead horse, since nobody took that stuff seriously any
more anyway. The same fathers, however, have only reverence and respect for the Sophic
teachings of the schools, which the Church swallowed hook, line, and sinker. Minucius Felix
speaks for all when he announces that all educated Christians believe exactly what all
educated pagans do, while all educated Greeks are just as contemptuous of their outmoded
traditions as all educated Christians are of theirs -- the "old wives' tales" over which Jerome
and Chrysostom pour such contempt. There was a real knock-down, drag-out fight between
the "Allegorists" and the "literalizers" in the Church, ending with complete victory for the
intellectuals: henceforth any reviving spark of crackpot sectarian Mantic is attacked by the
churchmen with hysterical fury. That group cannot be in the Catholic Church, which claims
to have prophets and charismatic gifts, even though it follows all the proper Christian forms.
The Mantic has become the very essence of heresy. The Creeds of the fourth century and
after were Sophic, phrased in the jargon of the schools, to the horror of many, if not most,
good Christians. There is nothing open-ended about them, since their whole purpose is to
settle all problems once for all. The mood of the early Fathers is one of desperation rather
than of faith; the fantastic cruelty and intolerance of the fourth century are, Alföldi observes,
a natural expression of the thinking of the times: "The victory of abstract ways of thinking,
the universal triumph of theory, knows no half-measures; punishment, like everything else,
must be a hundred per cent, but even this seemed inadequate."121 There was no place for the
nonconforming Mantic in this Sophic world of hundred-percenters.
St. Augustine completes the process of de-Manticizing antique culture that began in the sixth
century B.C. It was he, we are told, who cast the Christian and antique cultures together
"once for all in one mighty mold," thereby achieving that fusion of once hostile traditions
which make up the metal of our own civilization to this day. But what the great man put into
the crucible was not the whole of the Christian or the Greek heritage, but only the Sophic
part of each; that is why he was able to fuse them. Much has been written about Augustine as
the man who finally closed the books on chiliastic charismatic Christianity, but what is not
so well known is that at the same time he finished off the lingering traces of Mantic glory in
the antique tradition. His famous justification for including the learning of non-Christian
antiquity in the curriculum of the Christian schools was the doctrine of "spoiling the
Egyptians." The Egyptians have good stuff which we can use without danger if we make a
careful selection: "I have nothing against their words," he writes, "which are rare and
precious vessels; only the wine of error they contain displeases me." The figure is an apt one:
what the fourth century valued in the ancients was not the content of their work, but simply
the cellophane package of rhetoric, the ornamental vases which the schools could use only
after they were empty.
The thousands of quotations that ballast the writings of Augustine, which were to furnish the
whole Middle Ages with their classical diet, have enabled specialists to reconstruct with ease
and confidence what St. Augustine regarded as "the treasures of the Egyptians." They show
that he did not trust the ancients in their moments of inspiration: Homer he hated; the lyric
poets he ignored; though he spent a good part of his life in the theater, the only dramatist
who engages his fancy is the shallow and conventional Terrence; when he read history it was
not the pages of Thucydides or Tacitus but the dull, dignified school texts and manuals of a
Justin, a Pompeius, a Philippus, or a Eutropius; most significant of all, though a practicing
orator and professor of the art, he gives no sign of having read Demosthenes or any of the
Ten, or any orator at all, in fact, but Cicero, whom he prizes especially for his highly
unoriginal philosophy. The only writers of real gifts that appeal to him, Vergil and Aesop,
are those which he was taught to affect as a small boy in school. In a word, he preferred
erudition to inspiration. Please notice that he had no objection to pagan writers as such, but
only to the inspired pagan writers, whom he condemns with unerring instinct.
It may seem strange that it took Christianity to drive the last lingering traces of the Mantic
court out of the world -- it was Theodosius who closed the last shrines of the Muses. That is
because the Christian Fathers had a more clear-cut view and lively dread of the Mantic from
their long feud with the old-fashioned Christians. The pagan Doctors actually took some
timid steps to revive the Mantic in order to compete with that early Mantic Christianity. But
the Christian Doctors had to compete with it too, since it was wholly incompatible with their
program of taking Christianity to school. And they attacked it with uncompromising
tenacity, even though they recognized that it was indeed the old original Christian tradition.
III. The Sophistic Junkyard
There are many indications in the world today of a general drift in the direction of what we
have been calling the Mantic. We cannot do more than indicate a few of them here -- ten of
the more striking phenomena that have emerged since World War II and seem to have been
gaining in power ever since.
1. The rediscovery of the eschatological nature of the New Testament and the Christian
church comes as a great surprise, not because eschatological elements had been hidden
away, but because they have always been so glaringly apparent on almost every page of the
Bible. The astounding fact that Christian eschatology actually had to be rediscovered by
Catholic and Protestant alike in our own day is an indication of how completely Sophic the
thinking of the Christians has been all these years. The new trend can be illustrated by the
use of the word kerygma, referring to the literal-eschatological preaching of the primitive
Christians as against the later moral-philosophical emphasis. After a search through the
literature, the editors of the Expository Times report that the word "thirty years ago . . .
hardly existed," while today "index references to it may well outnumber those of any other
single word." 122
2. But another theme now bids fair to overshadow even eschatology in the journals, a theme
closely related to it but considered taboo until quite recently. This is the subject of revelation
and inspiration. "The return to ideas of inspiration and revelation may be put down as one of
the marked trends of our biblical scholarship of the last decade," wrote S. Vernon
McCasland in 1954. 123 It is, moreover, not the safe conventional concept of revelation that
the experts are now toying with so dangerously, but something, as one of them says, very
different from the traditional formulations. It is in fact Mantic instead of Sophic, a deliberate
renunciation of the traditional doctrine and a departure from what the Church has from the
first believed concerning special revelation.
3. There is a growing partiality to literalism today, since the discovery of a real Age of the
Patriarchs to take the place of the mythical one, and a real primitive Christian society to
supplant a vague and hypothetical one. Former liberals now break down and confess that to
read anything but a literal meaning into Christ's words when he obviously meant them to be
literal is "to contort his message . . . to suit our preconceptions"; and many a scholar is now
asking how we can continue to call ourselves Christians unless we are willing to believe the
things which we now know the original Christians believed. A surprising example of the
new literalism is the plea now being made for an anthropomorphic God -- a word of
opprobrium not long ago. Are "the terms most commonly applied to God . . . logically
compatible with the biblical God?" Professor Cherbonnier asks, and replies with a ringing
negative; the God of the philosophers is not the God of the Bible and never was.124 The one
is Sophic, the other, Mantic. The actual return of the Jews to the Promised Land has given a
new sense of reality to ancient prophecy, and many churchmen are now willing to concede a
literal fulfillment of prophecy which all the Doctors of the Church -- not the least among
them Luther and Calvin -- rejected with horror.
4. Christian churches everywhere have begun to betray a marked hankering for the old
charismatic gifts. Protestants and Catholics alike would now have us believe that the old
prophetic tradition was never completely lost. But Professor Tillich knows better: "This
discourse," he writes at the introduction of a recent study, "is based on the proposition that
the prophetic tradition of the Church was lost. It is one of the great tragedies in the History
of the Christian Church, that this tradition actually and virtually completely perished. . . . For
St. Augustine the Millennium is here, everything essential has been achieved . . . in the
hierarchy of the Church. With this theory the spirit of Prophecy was expelled from the
official Church."125 We have already noted that with St. Augustine, the most eminent of the
Doctors, the Sophic completely supplants the Mantic in Christian theology; it is reassuring to
have Dr. Tillich say the same thing, and especially to hear his declaration that what
happened was a major catastrophe. Other gifts of the Spirit are also being invited back into
the churches today, and one sober Episcopalian scholar glories that of recent years
glossolalia has appeared in the Episcopal Church, of all bodies.
5. The new respect with which the ancient Mysteries are being studied and the laborious
attempts to reconcile those resemblances between them and the mysteries of the Catholic
Church which cannot be explained away is a step in the direction of the Mantic. For while
authors like Jung and Rahner remain stoutly Sophic and scientific, they are constantly
crowding the rational over the line -- just a little bit -- into superrational territory while
gently prodding the abstract and spiritual ever more in the direction of the literal. It is a
head-swimming performance in double-talk. It has been increasingly recognized in recent
years that the ritual and liturgy of the Church was actually a substitute for the lost
charismatic gifts; the mass thus presents the ultimate paradox, a controlled miracle, in which
the priest does everything but actually does nothing. It is in precisely this "basic
contradiction" that Catholic scholars find the wonder and mystery of the whole thing, the
mystery being simply that it cannot be explained. Here at least is a momentary relaxation of
vaunted Sophic rigor -- "steeled in the school of old Aquinas," who for all that leaned so
heavily on his precious Areopagite to avoid the literalism of the Bible.
6. With recent important manuscript discoveries has come a new respect for the old
apocryphal writings. Not many years ago, leading Catholic and Protestant authorities on
apocrypha and apocalyptic could not find words to express their contempt for the lurid,
undisciplined, stereotyped, and childishly literal thinking that characterized this large and
important segment of Christian tradition. Today its rising prestige is another sign of
weakening Sophic controls. Along with this has come the rediscovery of Israel by both
Catholics and Protestants, who now want to call themselves Israel, help rebuild Jerusalem,
and convince us that they have never really broken with the prophetic heritage.
7. We have already mentioned the bridges that scholarship is now building between all sorts
of ancient, medieval, and modern religious societies and their traditions, but we should not
overlook the discovery of the heretofore unsuspected significance or even existence of what
Professor Goodenough calls "Vertical" Judaism.126 It seems that the traditional Rabbinic,
Halakhic Judaism which we have always thought to be the one and only official religion of
the Jews achieved its Alleinherrschaft only after suppressing with great difficulty an older
and diametrically opposed tradition of "mystic," Hasidic, or inspired Judaism. It is the old
story of Sophic vs. Mantic all over again, with the Jewish Sophic teachings coming straight
from the Greek school of Alexandria, whence the Christians and later the Moslems also took
their Sophic life. After all, the spirit of the Sophic is as all-pervading, as uniform in content,
and as centralized in origin as the Mantic. But the belated recognition of the rights and
claims of Vertical as over against Horizontal Judaism is a definite step in the direction of the
8. Perhaps the most significant bridge to be flung out in our times is that which seeks life on
other worlds. True, the other worlds are still just a possibility, but such a vivid one that their
religious impact is already being felt. A recent symposium of American scientists on the
subject of "Life in Other Worlds" turned into a general attack on any tendency or desire to
engage in religious or otherworldly speculations on the subject.127 Was this onslaught on
religion uncalled for or irrelevant? Not at all. The reality of other worlds is the fundamental
thesis of the Mantic. What other reason can there be that the scientists so long, so
dogmatically, and with no evidence whatever asserted that there just could not be life on
other worlds, and why today they almost panic to forestall any Mantic interpretation now
that they concede its validity?
9. Another singular development of our times is the attempt by hitherto impeccably
indoctrinated Sophic thinkers to break out of their Sophic box by the use of drugs. The
consensus of these scholars, poets, and scientists is that the Sophic world is a pretty drab
place, in spite of all the vaunted enticements of science, art, and scholarship. "Art is an
Ersatz," is the verdict of one of these eminent experimenters, "the elegantly composed recipe
in lieu of actual dinner." The general public unconsciously sustains this verdict in its mass
dependence on tobacco and alcohol. The effects of certain drugs were also achieved by
mystics and ascetics everywhere by various fasts and exercises. Though the experiences
induced by mescalin and mushroom are recognized as real and not as imaginary, still they
are strangely unsatisfactory. "The natural poetic trance," as Robert Graves puts it, "means a
good deal more to me than any trance induced by artificial means."128 That is because, as
we have already indicated, an experience is not genuinely Mantic which is in any way
self-induced or controlled.
10. Another Mantic development of our time is the phenomenal growth of the Mormon
Church, a growth quietly proceeding with only scarce and reluctant publicity. Some years
ago I made a long study of just what objections had been raised against Mormonism in the
past. From the beginning it was always the same. Nobody was really worried about
polygamy, which was in fact a welcome stick to beat the Mormons with; the ferocious
denunciations from press and pulpit, the incitement of mobs, and the stampeding of
legislatures always rested on one thing alone -- the incredible fact that in an age of modern
enlightenment, universal education, and scientific supremacy there should be found
coexisting with Christian civilization a community of primitives so ignorant, so deluded and
depraved as to believe in revelations from heaven and the operation of charismatic gifts. In
the Journal of Discourses, Mormon leaders steadily hurled charges of gross darkness, total
unbelief, and pious double-talk against the Christian clergy who insisted that Christians
simply could not fellowship beings so degenerate as to believe in modern-day prophets and
angelic visitations. It was the purest case of Mantic versus Sophic. Yet today it is the same
church journals that publish anti-Mormon denunciations that ring with fervid calls for a
return to eschatology and inspiration.
The trend towards the Mantic is so broad and strong as to suggest a reversal of the Sophic
tide of 600 B.C. The Mantic was exhausted then; today it is the Sophic that is leading us
nowhere. The old evangelistic fervor of the Evolutionists with its gospel of eternal organic
progression is viewed with a jaundiced eye today, when leading evolutionists insist that
evolution is a diffuse sort of network process that is going nowhere -- it has no consistent
direction. It is significant that H. G. Wells, the prophet of the glorious future that science
was going to give us, turns out to be most interesting when he is writing about the past; his
wonderful world of the future is a crashing bore: glass corridors under the sea may provide
some hours of fun, but the exhilaration of exchanging stares with silent fishes can deteriorate
after a while into something like a nightmare.
The Greeks too had their science fiction. Friedrich Blass reports that when he first read
Lucian as a youth he was convinced, as were the men of the Renaissance, that he was in the
presence of a truly great creative genius, only to discover later that Lucian, the clever
debunker and science-fiction writer, could not stand rereading because he had no soul.
Science fiction, with its "suggestion of infinite possibilities" and its spying on other worlds,
was an ancient, as it is a modern, substitute for eschatology. 129
Here let us correct a common misunderstanding, namely that magic belongs to the Mantic
tradition. It does not: it is the purest Sophic. The essence of magic power is that it resides in
physical objects -- wands, books, rings, robes, magic words, potions, seals, amulets, charms,
etc. -- independent of any higher power or moral order. Solomon's seal, Aaron's rod, or the
Philosopher's Stone will operate for anybody -- they are self-operating and self-contained,
like the self-operating cosmos of the naturalist. "The eye makes itself," we are told; we need
look no further than the atoms and molecules that make it up for a full explanation of all that
transpires. This, according to Professor Simpson, is the very essence of scientific thinking. It
is also the purest magical thinking, looking no further than the thing itself, or a connected
but always limited chain of things, to explain everything -- beyond the wand or the
microscope or the test-tube there is nothing.
But even a Sophic society needs, as Professor Wallace O. Fenn reminds us, a sense of
something to live for, and this is provided in various ways. Dr. Fenn himself suggests the
cult of scientific research, particularly biology, as the answer, as Anaxagoras did long ago
("From a very long range point of view biological research becomes the highest objective
that can be thought of for human life. . . . Unlike the physical sciences biology can be almost
a religion in itself") -- but he himself is a researcher and admittedly frustrated, since biology
is apparently no nearer to discovering the meaning of life than it ever was ("This problem of
consciousness is one which biology has never cracked").130 It was the Sophists themselves
who supplied the standard solution to the problem of keeping hope and expectation alive in
the human breast by developing the cult of careerism to a religion. Mere rank brings small
satisfaction to intelligent people, and ninety-nine percent of the work done by those who are
climbing the military, civil, or corporate gradus honorum does not really need to be done;
what keeps the elaborate, artificial, and costly promotion structures alive is the invaluable
sense of expectation they infuse into a society. As civilizations decline they become
progressively enveloped in a system of creeping careerism in which eventually every calling
is a career and everyone lives for promotion.
As a stimulant to living, the cult of travel has always figured conspicuously in Sophic
societies. The peculiar calling of the Seven Sages required them to be always moving about
among the children of men as the seven planets move through the Zodiac. But long before
their day, the roads connecting the holy shrines and schools of the East were worn by the feet
of priests, bards, teachers, and scholars constantly traveling in their quest for wisdom and
sanctity. At the great centers they would come to know each other and be known; life was a
pilgrimage to holy places in which one acquired ever-increasing knowledge, merit, and
renown. The Sophists continued the program, with increased emphasis on the
fame-and-fortune motif, and it was carried on throughout the Middle Ages by the Moslem
Doctors. The extensive Reiseberichte and Gelehrtenregister of the Greeks and Arabs show
how completely dependent the Sophic world is on travel to keep alive the spirit of
expectation. It is the airport culture of our own day.
Then there is Art as an Ersatz for the Mantic -- the menu instead of the dinner, as Huxley put
it. Great artists are Mantic souls, but to be an artist without being a great artist is being a
king without being a great king -- an intolerable, not to say absurd, situation: aut Caesar aut
nihil. The mediocre artist has an axe to grind with the niggardly Muses and invariably takes
refuge in the Sophic, becoming the most intellectual of intellectuals. A little inquiry will
show that the most determined and implacable enemies of the Mantic are to be found not
among the scientists and scholars but among the artists -- particularly the painters. It may be
said that hatred of the Mantic is a pretty good measure of frustration in any department.
The aesthetic appeal of religious ritual is highly recommended by many thinkers seeking to
salvage the undeniable human need for religion from the wreck of outmoded
supernaturalism. This, however, is a purely Sophic performance. The Mantic is not at the
disposal of Hollywood; it is not photogenic and will not be manipulated. The old Christian
indifference to great works of religious art, gorgeous antique liturgy, gracefully gesturing
priests, and lovely old legends comes under attack in the Octavius of Minucius Felix by a
Roman gentleman who equally deplores Christian preoccupation with the other world in
preference to this one and their whole anti-intellectual attitude. There is nothing in the
Mantic that could be used by a popular picture magazine. The most glorious special effects
do not have even a hint of heaven.
Recently Martin Grabmann's Geschichte der scholastischen Methode has been reprinted.131
The whole work is devoted to an attempt to prove that in embracing the philosophy of the
Schools, the Church was not betraying its original tradition. Grabmann works valiantly to
anticipate and answer certain annoying questions that the adoption of Scholasticism by the
Church inevitably raises. To the natural question of why the Church borrowed Scholastic
philosophy in the first place, the conventional answer is that it did nothing of the sort, but
spontaneously and independently invented the art with no deference whatever to the pagans.
But Grabmann is too well-informed to go along with that and prefers the argument that
philosophy, even false pagan philosophy, can help us to a fuller understanding of the content
of revealed knowledge by furnishing a strong and reliable apodexis (demonstration), of the
things that have been left us through faith. "Its purpose," says Grabmann "is to give us
Vollbesitz der christlichen Wahrheit" (full understanding of Christian truth). But is not
revelation itself the last word in apodexis, and were not the Prophets and Apostles in full
possession of the truth? Yes, is the reply, but we do not understand them fully, because the
revelation they received directly was by nature bervernnftig -- suprarational; so we must
needs have some rational discipline to explain it. But can we explain the nonrational in terms
of the rational? If so, why was not the "Christian truth" delivered in rational form in the first
place? Why must it be reworked by the Scholastic discipline in order to become intelligible?
Answer: Reworking is hardly the word; Grabmann insists at all times that Scholasticism
"bedeutet keine inhaltliche Umprgung und Entstellung des Urchristentums" (implies no
substantial transformation and distortion of primitive Christianity). To prove this he searched
out declarations of Justin, Clement, and others that their teachings were not corrupting the
Christian faith. Of course they affirm that; what else could they do? But the fact is that they
all worry a good deal about what they are doing, while the mere assertion that one is
perfectly orthodox in spite of everything carries little enough weight coming from the very
men who loudly protest against the use of the Rhetorical handmaiden of Scholasticism, while
every page of their work bears the stamp of Rhetoric. Why not dispense with Rhetoric and
Scholastic altogether? Because, says Grabmann of the latter, without it revelation is both
incomprehensible and unbelievable. Then the Scholastic method can do what revelation
cannot do, namely convey a clear and unequivocal message to men? Not at all! "By its very
nature," says Grabmann, "revelation assumes that it can be understood by men, nay, it is the
supreme act of understanding." 132 Then we must ask again, why must the intellectual
machinery of the schools be brought to the aid of that supernatural power? Well, the whole
operation of Scholastic can be summed up in the immortal formula fides quaerens
intellectum. Does that mean that faith must still seek something after the perfect and final
revelation of the truth? If it is still looking for something, it must be defective. Answer: It is
not seeking doctrine or information but simply clearer and sharper expression and definition
of what it believes.
And for that it must turn to the ailing schools of antiquity? Let us remember that the schools
had reached an all-time intellectual low at the time the church chose to embrace their
methods. The church married a "sick man," says Duchesne, when she joined forces with the
state under Theodosius;133 she married a much sicker one when she embraced the schools
of the same decadent age. What could the church gain by such a match? It is inconceivable
that the wedding could have taken place had either of the parties retained its original vigor
and independence -- but both, as the writings of the Fathers make painfully clear, were in a
desperate condition. One of the earliest fragments of church history is Hegesippus's remark:
"up until then the Church had remained a pure and incorrupted virgin."134 Up until when?
Until the philosophers took over. The last Roman, for Grabmann, was also the first
Scholastic, who "minted the authentic coin of its Latin terminology" -- that noble Boethius,
who in his last hours was comforted not by religion but by an allegorical visit from Dame
Now again, why was the marriage with philosophy necessary? Answer: "To overcome the
objections of reason to revelation" -- that is St. Augustine's famous reconciliation of
Classical and Christian learning. But how can you call it reconciliation when it is always the
church that gives way? It is always reason that has to be satisfied and revelation that must be
manipulated in order to give that satisfaction; this is no compromise but complete surrender,
by which Theology "becomes the train-bearer of the Old Queen Philosophy." Augustine's
long and painful "conversion," as he describes it, was the progressive realization that
Christian doctrine could be accommodated to the teachings of the schools by the application
of Tichonius's Seven Rules of Tropology -- but the tropes are never applied to "the works of
the Platonists," which remain the undeviating norm, but always to the conveniently
adjustable Scriptures. The key word is accommodation, and Schweitzer and others have seen
in the history of Christian dogma one long process of de-eschatologizing. "The result of the
continued repetition of this undignified retreat, during many generations," writes Alfred N.
Whitehead of the last phase of it, "has at last almost entirely destroyed the intellectual
authority of religious thinkers."135 Well, if they insist on their authority being intellectual,
what other choice have they but to accommodate with the best intellectual discipline of the
The result of the marriage was that each party contracted the other's disease: both were
seriously weakened by the match, as Eucken observes. Many have described how
Christianity acquired the worst vices of the schools -- shallow rhetoric, learned obscurity,
academic formalism, hair-splitting subtlety, and above all a total inability to create or
discover. Grabmann repeatedly comments on how the greatest Christian thinkers for
generation after generation can do nothing but copy and compile. It was Jerome who
lamented that the ancients had left him nothing to say -- even as a Christian. In
Scholasticism, the Western mind, according to Norden, reaches its bathos, and even
Grabmann admits that by the eleventh century Christian philosophy had degenerated into
"eitle Sophistik." 136
Yet it had to be that or nothing. Without "science and intellect," Thomas Aquinas assures us,
the student of Christianity would have nothing to study: nihil acquiret sed vacuus abscedet -he would acquire nothing, but go away empty. How bankrupt the Doctors must have been to
accept with open arms the once despised contribution of the schools! Nay, they gloried in it,
satisfied that in it they had the full equivalent of revelation; like the smart-alec youth of
Pericles' Athens, they had a "joyous confidence in the omnipotence of logical
demonstration," says Reinhold Seeberg. "There was an ever-widening circle of disputants
who either depended solely upon rational arguments or held that faith should at least find
confirmation in the deductions of reason."137 Even today the philosophia perennis of the
Catholic Church is "complete trust in the power of reason, the absolute validity of the law of
causality." The deadly sin of Modernism, Grabmann announces, is simply "the rejection of
Intellectualism," and the transfer of religion "to a realm of feeling." "The Roman Catholic
Church has made reason its bulwark," he cries, "against the intellectual high crimes of the
times: Lack of order and system in thinking (Unordnung und Regellosigkeit im Denken),
subjectivism, and the increase of fantasy at the expense of logic -- . . . shallow, imprecise
(verschommenes), confused, and oracular expression." All of these are treason against the
"clarity, precision, sharpness, logical consequence, and systematic structure" of
Scholasticism. It is only fair to recall, however, that St. Augustine took the Sophic way only
after long and unavailing efforts to acquire an experience of direct revelation: for him logical
consequence was a poor second best, and he finally accepted it with a heavy heart only
because he had no choice.
Much of the literature and art of our day is simply a bitter commentary on the emptiness of
the world. We can gain nothing by joining the angry chorus, but we can get a new insight
into emptiness if we will stand on a cold windy mesa in Tusayan just at dawn on a spring
morning. All around is nothing but a vast expanse of sterile sand, stretching to barren bluffs
and volcanic peaks on the dark horizon; except for the dim, huddled houses of an ancient
stone village, there is only bare rock, the vast ceaseless wind, and the fading stars. We are in
an empty, inhospitable, primordial world, suspended between earth and sky on a high cold
rock, and there, in the midst of this gloom and nothingness, there is a play going on! A
drama is being enacted with great concentration and talent -- and likely as not at this hour
without a single spectator. We think of other dramas in the desert -- Qumran or the Siwa
Oasis -- and realize that this Hopi dance in the vast emptiness of the Southwestern Desert is
our little world in the vaster emptiness of space, where in the infinite void on a bright tiny
stage, all, all alone, a play is being performed.
Shakespeare is haunted by the image of the drama in the void: "the cloud-capped towers, the
gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself, yea, all that it inherits, shall
dissolve, and like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind." 138 It is the
void that appalls him, as it does other poets living in Sophically oriented societies:
One moment in annihilation's waste,
One moment of the wine of life to taste -The stars are setting, and the caravan
Starts for the dawn of nothing -- O, make haste!139
"Welch' Schauspiel!" cries Goethe, "Aber ach, ein Schauspiel nur!"140 Only a play?
Actually the awful emptiness only makes the drama the more marvelous. The presence of
nothing and the vast inane -- that we can readily understand; but that there should be
anything else besides, to say nothing of a full-blown drama, is simply incredible. If that little
play can come out of nothing, as the Sophic mind assures us it does, then our troubles are
over: if nothing can produce that, then there is no end to what nothing can produce. Once we
have broken through the barrier of existence, as the Egyptians taught, the rest is easy; once
the incredible obstacles of coming to be have been surmounted, that of continuing existence
becomes a mere technicality.
But what about the drama? If you miss the first or last five minutes of a well-knit play, you
may try to guess what it is all about, but you can never be sure; and if you should see only
thirty seconds or less of any play, your guessing would be far-fetched indeed. Well, we are
pushed onto this earthly stage in the middle of a play that has been going on for thousands of
years; we want to play an intelligent part and, in whispers, ask some of the older actors what
this is all about -- what we are supposed to be doing? And we soon learn that they know as
little about it as we do. Who can tell us the plot of the play? The Sophic mind assures us that
the play is simply a product of lighting, rocks, and wind and has no plot aside from the plots
we invent for it. In that book things just happen -- and there is no way of proving that that is
not so. The mystic makes a virtue of the incomprehensibility of the whole thing; he
submerges himself in the darkness of unknowing and wallows in his self-induced and
self-dramatizing mood of contradictions: he is strictly a Sophic, not a Mantic, product.
The Mantic admits that the play is incomprehensible to people of as little knowledge and
experience as ours, and insists for that reason that if we are to know anything at all about it,
our knowledge must come from a higher source, by revelation. According to the Mantic way
of thinking, things do not just happen -- and there is absolutely no way of proving that that is
not so. The same starry heavens that have supplied the Mantic with irrefutable proof since
time immemorial that things do not just happen has always been the most self-evident proof
in the world to the Sophic that things do just happen.
That drama on the windy rock at the end of the world naturally puts us in mind of
Prometheus Bound, a drama that definitely takes us back to the Mantic. The interesting thing
about the setting here is the way in which Aeschylus teaches us that the drama in the void is
not in the void at all and that the hero's supposedly hopeless case is by no means hopeless.
Zeus and his Sophistic counsellors (the messenger Hermes in this play is the model Sophist)
have tried to consign Prometheus to utter isolation and hopelessness; they have banished him
to the most distant and inhospitable region of the universe and there chained him in the most
paralyzing and at the same time excruciating manner possible. Plainly it is all up with
Prometheus. And yet the plan fails: the whole play consists of a string of visitors and
messengers to Prometheus from other worlds, and reminders of other worlds and other
orders that were before this one, and yet others that will surely come after. Prometheus's
isolation is only temporary, the determined effort of the Sophists to nullify his whole
existence is a complete failure. Like Job, Prometheus takes his comfort not in the desperate
present but in the assured past.
Eusebius develops the theory that all that is good and desirable in any civilization is actually
a survival from some previous age of enlightenment when the Gospel was on the earth and
men received light from heaven. Since civilization and the arts are of course older than
Christianity, he does not presume that God's gifts to mankind began with Jesus, but
conceives of earlier dispensations when the earth was blessed with divine visitations and
showered with heavenly gifts, only to be followed in the course of human affairs by
inevitable corruption and apostasy. Dispensationism is a conspicuous item in the Jewish and
Christian Apocrypha, in the early Christian writings, and now in the Dead Sea Scrolls. A
dispensation is not a reformation but a restoration, specifically, a return of revelation -"again the heavens were open." Whenever revelation is resumed, the holy order of things
revives, while that holy order cannot survive after revelation has ceased, no matter how hard
men try to preserve and imitate its institutions. The sacral order is thus completely dependent
on revelation.
But that is not all. The uninspired, secular order of things, which we have called Sophic, is
also, as Eusebius notes, a derivative of the old Mantic society, living on the capital of an
earlier prosperity. The primary function of the Christian Church, the Doctors tell us, is to
preserve unchanged and undiminished the deposit of past revelation, carefully guarding the
cisterns which hold the precious water which has long since ceased to flow, as "living water"
must flow, from the source. Thus it would appear that the substance of a civilization would
be very much the same whether the civilization is "Sophic" or "Mantic" -- it is the world
view of each that puts them poles apart. All this is important when it comes to understanding
the peculiar role of Mormonism in the world.
"Three Shrines: Mantic, Sophic, and Sophistic" were a series of lectures delivered at the
Sterling Library Lecture Hall at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, under the
sponsorship of the Latter-day Saint Deseret Club at Yale on May 1, 2, and 3, 1963.
Chapter 10
Paths That Stray: Some Notes on Sophic and Mantic
Part 1: Introduction through Proposition 4
The purpose of the excerpts that follow is to save the student time -- years of it, in some
cases -- that would normally be taken up with endless bull sessions, lonely heart searchings,
and very little research. The quotations that make up most of our text are taken from eminent
authorities and are meant to help the student make up his own mind. The modern references
cluster around the turn of the decade, 1959-60, when the Darwin Centennial was being
celebrated, at which time I gathered them in response to challenges by students and teachers
alike to justify my reluctance to teach certain generally accepted propositions.
The natural objection to a handful of old notecards flung in the reader's face is that most of
the quotations are bound to be out of date and that the people who made them would today
be considered questionable authorities, if they ever were taken seriously. But since Science
is not a subject but a method, every scientist, regardless of his specialty or rank, can in a way
speak for Science -- and does. The important thing, however, is that we are dealing here not
with the old donnybrook between science and religion but with the ancient confrontation of
Sophic and Mantic. The Sophic is simply the art of solving problems without the aid of any
superhuman agency, which the Mantic, on the other hand, is willing to solicit or accept. Our
civilization today is "sophically" oriented, though far from dedicated to scientific thought.
Allen Wheelis begins his book The End of the Modern Age with a statement in italics: "The
vision which has determined the Modern Age is this: Man can know the world by the
unaided effort of reason."1 This conviction dominates every field of thought. Thus on the
dust cover of Mrs. Fawn M. Brodie's highly inaccurate biography of Joseph Smith, No Man
Knows My History, Mr. Bernard DeVoto makes a stirring sales pitch as he proclaims the
author to be eminently trustworthy as "a detached, modern intelligence, grounded in
naturalism, rejecting the supernatural."2 No matter what one's field, whether science,
scholarship, literature, or art, one must "reject the supernatural" to be taken seriously.
That the pitfalls of both Sophic and Mantic are shared equally by scientists and religionists
in our day, who both singly and together ignore the blessings of both ways of thought, is the
theme of the instructive reflections of the British biologist G. A. Kerkut, who writes: "The
serious undergraduate of the previous centuries was brought up on a theological diet from
which he would learn to have faith and to quote authorities when he was in doubt. Intelligent
understanding was the last thing required. The undergraduate of today is just as bad; he is
still the same opinion-swallowing grub. . . . Regardless of his subject, be it Engineering,
Physics, English, or Biology, he will have faith in theories that he only dimly follows and
will call upon various authorities to support what he does not understand. In this he differs
not one bit from the irrational theology student of the bygone age. . . . But what is worse, the
present-day student claims to be different . . . in that he thinks scientifically and despises
dogma."3 And today the theology student also thinks scientifically and is not a whit behind
the aspiring scientist in being "grounded in naturalism, rejecting the supernatural," the
unqualified acceptance of which has always been the principal charge of the ministry against
the Mormons. So let the reader beware of confusing the issues of science and religion as they
are debated in our present-day society with the perennial confrontation of Sophic and Mantic
which lies behind it all. The few quotations that follow, a mere sampling, are to indicate
where the age-old confrontation has led us in the past.
For anyone who pays attention to "the lessons of history," few parallels could be more
instructive than that between the Greek experience and our own in the confrontation of
Mantic and Sophic. The vastness of our subject can best be encompassed in a series of
propositions and subpropositions, with a few lyrical digressions.
Proposition 1. Greek writers speak of two ways of viewing the world, which can be
designated as Mantic and Sophic. A like dichotomy characterizes modern thought.
Definition: Sources in Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon4 under "mantic"
(mantikos) use that word as indicating what is inspired, revealed, oracular, prophetic, or
divinatory. The word sophic, used to signify that which men learn by their own unaided wits,
though attested, is very rare, but we shall use it in place of its common synonyms "sophistic"
and "philosophic"5 to avoid the confusing connotations which cling to them. Dio
Chrysostom characterizes the degenerate education of his day as being "neither mantic, nor
sophistic, nor even rhetorical," those being the three accepted categories of study.6
"Philosophy had two beginnings," writes Diogenes Laertius, the one represented by
Anaximander, the other by Pythagoras;7 the former sought to explain everything by
investigation of the physis, the physical universe alone (see the next section), the latter held
on the other hand that only God really knows what is what, the philosopher being merely his
messenger. 8 "One man," said Solon, wisest of the Greeks, "receives from the Olympian
Muses the gift of inspired sophia that men strive for, and another from Apollo the mantic gift
of prophecy,"9 making the same distinction as Empedocles: "True reason is either divine or
human; the former is inexpressible, the latter available to discussion,"10 i.e., Mantic and
Sophic respectively.
As will appear from the quotations that follow, the modern world makes the same
distinction, usually under the titles of science (Sophic) and religion (Mantic).
Proposition 2. The foundation of Sophic thinking was the elimination of the supernatural or
superhuman, i.e., anything that could not be weighed, measured, or sensed objectively, from
a description of the real world.
A. This means that the Universe runs itself without any conscious direction.
Modern Statements: "Today we have a new conception of the universe as self-governed and
self-regulating, . . . instead of the relatively restricted universe of our traditional
conception."11 "Man is the expression of universal, organic, social and personal formative
tendencies in a world of accidents."12 "The cosmos itself is patternless, being a jumble of
random and disordered events."13 "The final and natural state of things is a completely
random distribution of matter. Any kind of order . . . is unnatural and happens only by
chance encounters that reverse the general trend."14
Ancient Statements: The Greek Sophic began with the study of the physics as comprising all
things; Anaximander's apeiron ("the boundless") by definition included everything, with no
possibility of any power, influence, or substance being unaccounted for, and this all-in-all
was purely physical in nature, a soma.15 His successors in the Milesian school all sought to
explain the basic substance and creative power of the universe in terms of one element or
another -- but it was always a physical element.16 They asked the question: What picture of
the world do we get if we leave all supernatural (Mantic) elements out of our investigations?
Since Mantic things cannot be weighed and measured, let us proceed as if they did not exist.
What picture of the world would we get? This was a loaded question, since the fact of the
discovery of anything could be taken as absolute proof that the assumption of God and the
supernatural was unnecessary in arriving at significant conclusions, hence expendable, hence
useless baggage, hence a mere holdover from ages of superstition, and finally a pernicious
nuisance to be swept into the trashbin as soon as possible. The Mantic and Sophic do not get
along well together. "Did the natural world [physis] come into being without cause or grow
up without any directing mind or consciousness [dianoias], as everybody believes today, or
was it by thought [logos] and divine knowledge [epistemas theias], by God?"17 "When I
[Socrates] was young . . . I was completely devoted to the intellectual quest, as they call the
investigation of the physical world. . . . I was convinced that I could know . . . how
everything comes into existence. . . . I knew that the brain was the seat of sensation, thought,
and hence of knowledge itself, and that one need look no further for the answer to
everything." 18 The "classical Greek atomists [were] . . . guilty . . . of the impossible
attempts to explain everything by matter and motion."19 After Hippocrates, the medics
"taught that demons had nothing to do with sickness, but humors and vapors were the sole
cause of disease." 20 This was the characteristic attitude of the Sophic.
B. Whether intentionally or not, the Sophic position was necessarily antireligious.
Modern Statements: "Of all possible schemes of the universe the one most hostile to religion
was that sponsored by the science of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries."21 The
scientific view of the universe had three main foundations: (1) matter, as the only form of
reality, (2) mechanical, as the only kind of law, and (3) evolution, as an automatic process.
"Discouraging for humanity, the implications are disastrous for religion."22 "The earth has
changed throughout its history under the action of material forces only, and of the same
forces as those now visible to us";23 this teaching has "reduced the sway of superstition in
the conceptual world of human lives."24 "Darwin's greatest contribution" was to see that
"evolution can be explained in terms of causality alone and does not require any teleological
conceptions." 25 "The origin and growth of organisms has been natural, not in the least
supernatural. The primeval lightning, . . . gases, . . . ultra-violet sunlight participated, . . . and
. . . here we are!" 26 "No religious dogma, such as primitive revelation, may be introduced as
a scientific ethnological explanation." We must not reduce "the humanistic science of culture
to theology." 27 "The issue of mortality versus immortality is crucial in the argument of
Humanism against supernaturalism"28 (note here how Humanism is completely committed
not to the Mantic but to the Sophic line).
Ancient Statements: "Ionic philosophy was in conscious opposition . . . to the cosmological,
mythological poets and . . . rejected everything theological, mythological, or mystical,
seeking to explain the origin of the universe and its development in purely physical terms of
natural philosophy."29 Protagoras, in the spirit of such scientific philosophers as
Xenophanes, Heraclitus, and the Eleatic school, "attacked every illusion, every tradition, by
insisting on truth, clarity, objectivity, consistency, and neatness in thinking and speech."30
He emphasized honesty and uprightness, but "at the same time robbed them of their religious
foundations. He recommends old-fashioned honesty, but does not want any old-fashioned
ideas to go with it."31 Of him Plato said, "You can't fool the gods either by flattery or
neglect."32 Thus, Protagoras's unsparing attacks on Homer as a moral guide, following the
example of the Ionian scientists, inevitably brought discredit on religion itself, 33 so that
intelligent people, following the teaching of the Sophists, were expected to debunk and
ridicule any old values or beliefs as a matter of course. Thus Protagoras says that the opening
line of the Iliad is not a prayer at all, as it is supposed to be, being in the imperative case, to
which Aristotle replies in essence, "So what? Any fool can see that it is a prayer."34
Xenophon protests the teaching of Homer and Hesiod that "happiness [is] dependent on the
will of Heaven," maintaining that man makes his own happiness and is dependent on no one.
35 Behind such hair-splitting criticism was always an air of superior knowledge: Crete had
one hundred cities in the Iliad but only ninety in the Odyssey; in the Iliad, the sun-god is said
by the poet to see everything -- yet in the Odyssey he has to send out messengers; the gods
drink unmixed nectar, yet Calypso mixes a draught for Hermes -- it is the smart-alec
debunking like that of our own H. L. Mencken of the 1920s and 1930s.36 Trivial attacks on
the morality of the Greek scriptures were nonetheless devastating: Hippias prefers the "frank
and straightforward" Achilles to the "wily and false Odysseus."37 Zoilus defends the
Cyclops, berates Odysseus and Apollo, and finds all sorts of flaws and inconsistencies in
Homer -- why does God permit innocent dogs and mules to be killed?38 It was petty and
peevish, and sensationally successful. Almost overnight the new smart sophistication
became "the common property of educated people" in all Greece.39
C. Specifically, the Sophic dispensed with the need for God.
Modern Statements: When Napoleon asked Laplace how God fit into his cosmology, he
replied: "Sire, je n'ai pas eu besoin de cette hypothèse" -- his system had no need for a
God-hypothesis.40 Newton saw that mechanical hypotheses "lead straight away towards
atheism. Mechanical hypotheses concerning gravity, as a matter of fact, deny God's action in
the world and push him out of it."41 "Evolution is a fully natural process, inherent in the
physical properties of the universe."42 "Life may conceivably be happier for some people in
the older worlds of superstition. It is possible that some children are made happy by a belief
in Santa Claus, but adults should prefer to live in a world of reality and reason."43 "It
seemed as though the machines man had invented made him more secure. . . . He was
ceasing to be (as the English farmer complained in describing his occupation) `too
dependent on the Almighty.'"44 "Thus we must make an effort to achieve this new
conception of a self-regulating, self-governed universe requiring no supreme ruler or ad hoc
causes and forces to keep it running."45 "Evolution now becomes not only the Source of
Comfort and Reassurance . . . the Immanent and Omnipresent Creator . . . [but] all the
wonders which for Archdeacon Paley were evidences of the existence of God can on this
view be put to the credit of Evolution."46 "The Infinite Universe of the New Cosmology . . .
inherited all the ontological attributes of Divinity. Yet only those -- all the others the
departed God took away with Him."47
Ancient Statements: From Anaxagoras the scientist, Pericles learned "to despise all the
superstitious fears which the awe-inspiring signs of the heaven arouse in those ignorant of
the causes of such things, who . . . let their apprehensions about the gods throw them into a
sorry state of alarm."48 "Whereas the superstitious person, when he gets sick, resigns
himself to the will of Heaven, the atheist tries to remember what he ate or drank."49 In
exercising their right and duty to debunk everything, the Sophists inevitably zeroed in on
God: for all their pious dedication the net result of their teaching was a sterile atheism.50
Dependence on God was supplanted by dependence on oneself. Critias in his lost play
Sisyphus said the gods were the invention of some primitive politician, to keep the mob in
line by fear of Some One in the sky.
Proposition 3. Having dismissed the Mantic, the Sophic becomes impatient of its lingering
survival, which it views with uncompromising hostility.
A. Superimposed on ancient tradition, the Sophic teaching claims to bring emancipation to
the human mind from hoary superstition, and in so doing creates its own facile evolutionary
pattern of history.
Modern Statements: "Of all antagonisms of belief, the oldest, the widest, the most profound,
and the most important, is that between Religion and Science. It commenced when the
recognition of the simplest uniformities in surrounding things set a limit to the once
universal superstition."51 Thanks to Darwin, "instead of the gracious half-divine figures of
the Golden Age . . . we are shown a breed of hairy gorilla-like creatures, huddling and
jibbering in caves; . . . undoubtedly modern man is a much more complex being than
primitive man. He has developed a much wider and subtler range of sensibilities and
interests."52 "These beliefs are survivals of an ancient animistic tradition which has for so
long directed human thinking about the universe. . . . As an escape from this conception,
scientific studies and formulations have, since the days of Copernicus and Galileo, sought
for order and regularity in nature."53 But some scholars have balked at this idea. "Illusions
of grandeur take a number of forms," including "that which exalts our own age at the
expense of all past ages."54 We must "rid ourselves of the pious superstition of our
grandfathers that we have made splendid progress and that the pitiful early centuries lie . . .
in the dense fog of their own imperfection."55
Ancient Statements: Western civilization began with Hellenism and should be called
"Rationalistic Civilization." "All the development of knowledge, of command over the
forces of Nature, . . . has had for its moving principle a rationalism whose origin is to be
found in the Greek city-states."56 Few students are aware today that the ancient Sophists
painted a picture of "primitive man," the hairy cave-man, exactly matching that which we get
from Darwin. 57 Thales, the founder of Greek science, congratulated himself "that he was
born a Greek and not a barbarian." The philosophers followed suit, regarding themselves just
as naturally superior to other races as to monkeys and ants.58 "Seneca does not have to read
the ancients to condemn them -- the moderns are superior as such."59 Shahrastani divides
the Rationalists and Philosophers into (1) Sophists, (2) Natural Scientists, (3) Materialists.
What all have in common is the rejection of revelation. 60
B. Arising as a protest to the Mantic, the Sophic always depends on polemic for its appeal; it
feeds on the Mantic and is negative and dependent in nature.
Modern Statements: "No less severe was his [Lamarck's] philosophical hostility amounting
to hatred for the tradition of the Deluge and the Biblical creation story, indeed for everything
which recalled the Christian theory of nature."61 Darwin claimed, "I had gradually come, by
this time, to see that the Old Testament from its manifestly false history of the world . . . was
no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos, or the beliefs of any barbarian, .
. . that the men at that time were ignorant and credulous to a degree almost incomprehensible
by us. . . . Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. . . . I felt
no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was
correct." 62 This was in 1836-39, when Darwin was still in his twenties and had as yet done
none of his scientific work -- yet already his mind was made up for all time; the negative part
of his doctrine was fixed, and in that negative part lies his supreme contribution to
knowledge.63 "Darwin's supreme achievement was to make compelling the inference that
evolution has in fact taken place. . . . Providing a basis for mechanistic interpretation, it
helped to free biology of animistic influence."64 Without something to ridicule, the Sophic
loses much of its appeal. In his novel The Affair, C. P. Snow describes the quintessential
intellectual: "The old man was happy. He felt as though back in the Cambridge of the
Nineties, when unbelief, rude, positive unbelief, was fun."65 "No man of `unquestioning
faith' can be a member in good standing of a true university. . . . A man who is not prepared
to challenge (earnestly, respectfully, fearlessly) The Wealth of Nations or Das Kapital, The
Koran or The Book of Mormon . . . is at heart no scholar and no scientist."66 Note that
challenging these things means to reject them outright, i.e., not seriously to challenge them
at all. John Stuart Mill, reading the Gospel of John, laid it aside "before he reached the 6th
Chapter, with the comment: `This is poor stuff.'"67
Ancient Statements: When Epicurus was fourteen years old (as with Darwin in his twenties)
and his teachers could not answer his questions about the original chaos of Hesiod, he turned
away from religion to philosophy for the rest of his life. 68 Lucian "ridicules the ancient
poets for pretending to be inspired interpreters of the will of heaven."69 His commonsense
ridiculing of old customs and beliefs made Lucian a great favorite of the Byzantine period
and the Renaissance.70 Andocides, an ambitious and unscrupulous operator, found fame and
notoriety through his association with a group of individuals accused of damaging the
Hermes and making fun of everything; he even joined the Eleusinian mysteries in order to
expose them. 71 After Augustus, smart Romans looked back on Old Latin literature with
loathing, since it lacked the Greek sophistication.72 Entering the scene as frank, searching,
brilliant, irreverent, unabashed thinkers,73 the Sophists started out by lambasting Homer, the
most revered voice of all,74 but the Sophic practitioners became a crashing bore when they
had nothing to attack but were left to their own studies, tedious and hypercritical as they are.
Compare Plato's Apology, Crito, Gorgias, and Protagoras on the essential barrenness of the
Proposition 4. Claiming magisterial authority, the Sophic acknowledges no possibility of
defeat or rivalry. In principle it can never be wrong. Its confidence is absolute.
A. Successive failures in no wise discourage it.
Modern Statements: In 1954, Alfred North Whitehead noted, "Since the turn of the century I
have lived to see every one of the basic assumptions of both [science and mathematics] set
aside; . . . and all this in one lifespan. . . . And yet, in the face of that, the discoverers of the
new hypotheses in science are declaring, `Now at last, we have certitude' -- when some of
the assumptions which we have seen upset had endured for more than twenty centuries."75
"Each new fashion or advancement in research was hailed as just the thing to solve all life's
mysteries. . . . Always just around the corner was the answer to all the riddles." 76 But the
modern Sophists insist in carrying on in this way: "To cry `We are ignorant' is safe and
healthy, but to cry `we shall be ignorant' in the future is rash and foolish"; "he who declares
that they [any problems] can never be solved by the scientific method is to my mind as rash
as the man [who] . . . declared it utterly impossible [to talk] across the Atlantic Ocean."77
"So science has, it seems, been so successful that it has inevitably earned a great and strange
reputation. . . . Presumably these scientists are both so clever and so wise that they can do
anything. Perhaps we should turn the world over to this superbreed."78
Ancient Statements: The sublime confidence of the Sophist in his powers is a stock theme in
the Lives of the Philosophers. The art of rhetoric was constructed to guarantee that no
Sophist would ever have to admit defeat.79
B. Even when its most confident claims are discredited and its predictions fail, the Sophic
remains unrepentant: those who admit that natural selection is not the answer go on insisting
that it is still the first article of faith.
Modern Statements: It is repeatedly stated that Darwin's greatest contribution was the
concept of natural selection as providing the mechanistic explanation of creation and
evolution.80 Yet admittedly natural selection does not work: "Even after his great discovery
of the operation of evolution through natural selection he [Darwin] still believed in
Lamarck's doctrine of evolution through the inheritance of acquired characters, a doctrine his
own work had rendered superfluous and indeed erroneous."81 "Since Darwin wrote, his
theory of natural selection has been constantly in the minds of naturalists, who have
designed, but never satisfactorily carried out, experiments to show that natural selection does
in fact occur."82 "It has been difficult to realize that . . . there is a considerable and, it is fair
to say, steadily growing realization that natural selection is not, and can never have been,
that principal cause of evolution that it is still too often claimed to be."83 "We are ignorant
of the causes and mechanisms of variation."84 "Today, A. H. Mueller, M. D. Newell, and G.
G. Simpson are teaching contradictory to Darwin's doctrine of gradual evolution."85
Likewise, uniformitarianism, once "the great underlying principle of modern geology,"86 is
being supplanted by the new plate tectonics,87 but the Sophic does not apologize for its past
Ancient Statements: In their attempts to explain everything in terms of matter, the Ionic
"physicists" soon formed conflicting schools; and Heraclitus showed them the contradictions
and limitations implicit in their program, the inadequacy of human senses and instruments,
88 the relativity of things,89 the necessity of accepting fallible human consensus as proof.
For his services Heraclitus was dubbed skoteinos, which means the obscure, the wet blanket,
the trouble-maker; in other words they dismissed him as a crank.90 Hippocrates represents
the never-say-I'm-sorry attitude of the Sophics. The foundation of his system was the
doctrine that there are no causes except physical causes to anything.91 He is so positive as to
condemn all religious cures as sacrilege and all apparent miracles as tricks.92 Where his own
theories break down and his methods fail, he rejects criticism: It was not the method but the
disease that was to blame. 93 "Think how much worse things would have been without my
prescriptions." 94 The scientific cure is always the right one -- whether it works or not! 95
C. The Sophic remains undismayed by setbacks, because it puts complete faith in the
ultimate infallibility of mechanistic explanations.
Modern Statements: "I think it more reasonable to doubt a mathematical theorem than a
well-established case of evolution, e.g., that of the horse."96 As soon as nineteenth-century
science "scented a piece of mechanism [it would] . . . exclaim, `Here we are getting to
bedrock. This is what things should resolve themselves into. This is ultimate reality,' " and
such was also Darwin's attitude.97 "The advocates of each new fashion or approach to
biological problems nearly always assume that what they have worked out . . . must of
necessity be true for all plants or animals."98 When Jacques Boucher in 1832 collected a few
stone hand axes and other flints he entitled his five-volume catalogue of them On the
Creation -- a few chipped flints explain how everything came into being.99 "Physics, not so
very long ago (and with chemistry as a kind of subsidiary), considered the world as a type of
great machine. . . . The fact that many of the leaders of thought have moved on well ahead of
that point of view has not yet been as widely appreciated as it should be."100 The fact that
"the paleontological record is horrifyingly incomplete" does not dampen the confidence of
scientists, who "feel sure what this research is leading up to."101 The infallibility of our
objectivity permits even prophetic license. Bacon wants to believe that physical things
cannot be manipulated by an observer, as words can, even though he suspects that that is
wishful thinking.102 Men should, he says, experiment and "bid farewell to sophistical
doctrines"; but how is experimental knowledge conveyed and evaluated if not by the very
same words that the philosophers have always abused?103
The Sophic even teaches that it is better to get the wrong answer by its methods than the
right answer by any other! Thus while Neville George admits that natural selection was not a
successful explanation of how things happen, he still insists that it was "Darwin's supreme
achievement" because it inferred a "mechanistic" instead of an "animistic" explanation that
justified "conviction of the fact of evolution." 104 All efforts by the geologists of Trinity
College to discover water for a well on campus failed; a local dowser was called in and
succeeded immediately. "There is no doubt of the reality of the dowsing effect," wrote
Trinity's J. J. Thompson, but the dowser could not be tolerated because no physical
explanation had been found."Although . . . the reality of dowsing" is conceded, "there is no
agreement about its cause," and so the dons indignantly denounced the dowsing. 105 We
must necessarily view all things which we cannot explain "as unreal, as vain imaginings of
the untrained human mind," which since "they could not be described scientifically . . . were
in themselves contradictory and absurd."106 Newton got the right answers, but scientists
refused to accept his explanation, which embarrassed them: "We cannot deny [as Newton
did] that attraction belongs to matter just because we do not understand how it works."107
But how can we affirm it either, if we do not understand it? Newton's position is rejected for
only one reason -- that it leaves open the possibility of the supernatural.
Ancient Statements: A Baconian faith in pure observation, unencumbered by preconceptions
or prejudices, is expressed by Lucretius: "The size and temperature of the sun's disk are no
greater and no smaller, nor can they be, than exactly what they appear to be to our
senses."108 The same holds true of the moon -- it is exactly what it appears to be.109 "O
miserable human race, to attribute such things to the gods!" 110 "The sun is just a stone, and
the moon a piece of earth." 111
"The radical error of Classicism is to suppose that the history of mankind can properly be
apprehended in terms applicable to the study of `objects' in `nature,' i.e., in the light of the
conventional concepts of form and matter."112 All other types of belief are only for women,
children, and slaves.113
Pouring contempt on every other approach to knowledge but his own, Hippocrates debunks
such popular superstitions as that garlic and onions have an effect on the human system,114
that the wearing of black has a depressing effect on people,115 that a religious state of mind
can have an effect in fasting and healing,116 and that the painting of the trunks of fruit trees
with red litharge will give an improved fruit crop.117 Why red? Why not any other color? he
asks. He rejects all these "superstitions" (though all are fully justified by centuries of testing)
because he cannot explain in each case why it should be so;118 medicine is not satisfied to
know that a thing works and to know what happens; as a true science it must know why.119
Other doctors claim to be as scientific as he and give different explanations for things in the
name of science;120 his own explanations of everything in terms of the four humors have
caused infinite mischief, but for that he does not apologize, insisting that one should always
use the scientific cure even when it does not work and avoid a traditional remedy even when
it does.121 He commends the peasants for tying rocks to the branches of olive trees not
because it makes them easier to harvest, but because the weight of the rocks will by
attraction cause the trees to bear a heavier weight of fruit -- that is, their reasons are better
than his, but he is the scientist. Maimonides further deplores the prescribing of certain
superstitious cures by the rabbis "since though experience has shown that they work, reason
cannot explain why." 122 Hippocrates concludes his great work on the Sacred Diseases with
the warning that the one thing to avoid is "purifications, incantations, or any other kind of
vulgar or popular cure," whether they work or not. 123
D. To remain invulnerable to all attack, the Sophic has provided itself with certain useful
escape hatches, which it denies to the Mantic.
Modern Statements: P. T. Mora writes that he believes that moderns have developed "what I
call the practice of infinite escape clauses . . . to avoid facing the conclusion that the
probability of a self-producing state [matter alone in charge] is zero. . . . These escape
clauses postulate an almost infinite amount of time and . . . material (monomers), so that
even the most unlikely event could have happened. . . . By such logic we can prove
anything."124 "Darwin, Huxley, Tyndale, and others," all draw these blank checks on time,
"if enough space and time were available, it could happen and even happen frequently." 125
The key to the sly circular argument is the word "enough." "Can all complexity be reduced to
simplicity as in physics if we work hard enough? . . . What rubbish that it was once thought
so! . . . Such illogicality . . . was never apparent then, back in the days when . . . the
Encyclopedia for the Unity of Science was first appearing . . . from Chicago."126 The
tautological argument was never allowed to the Mantic: "It is the triumph of Geology, as a
science, to have demonstrated that we do not need to refer to vast, unknown, and terrible
causes the relief features of the earth, but that known agencies at work today are competent
to produce them, provided they have enough time." 127 How much time was necessary?
Enough to do the job, whatever it was! One escape is simply to admit an anomaly and go
right on as if nothing had happened; thus Marshall D. Sahlins confidently predicted the
results of an experiment which was faulted drastically: to describe the debacle he uses such
words as "startling," "extraordinary," and "remarkable," noting that the outcome "suggests a
startling conclusion," the opposite to what was expected. Yet he easily readjusts the new
facts to provide proof instead of refutation for his hard-hit theory.128 As Bacon observes,
this is a dangerously easy thing for any scientist to do. Thus William W. Howells, having
declared that Darwin was right on a point, adds, "Curiously, however, it is extremely
difficult to find demonstrable, or even logically appealing, adaptive advantages in racial
features"129 -- as if admitting the anomaly takes care of it. Darwin used the same simple
escape hatch of passing basic questions by in silence: "Darwin did not seek to account for
variations. . . . Variations, then, are a necessary condition of the functioning of the
evolutionary process. Yet apparently they are causeless . . . from the standpoint of the
concepts of mechanical causation, which is the only kind of causation that science
recognizes."130 An important escape hatch has always been "wait and see"; as each new
mechanism was discovered it was treated as a nail in the coffin of religion if not its death
blow; and as each mechanism failed to explain, it was argued that there would always be
new ones discovered, that the discovery of past mechanisms guaranteed that we were
moving in the right direction, and whether we came to the final cause sooner or later, we at
least had enough to dismiss all nonmaterial elements from our calculations. 131
More sweeping is Harlow Shapley's escape clause: Life occurs automatically wherever the
conditions are right. Therefore there is no need for explaining the origin of life in terms of
the miraculous or the supernatural. "Where conditions are right, there is chemical evidence
that essential complex materials which appear spontaneously leave no reason whatever to
invoke the miraculous." Here the unknown-x "spontaneous" takes the place of unknown-x
"miraculous." What is the difference? -- purely that between the Sophic and Mantic attitude,
a perfect circular argument: if "conditions are right" glaciers will appear in the midst of the
Sahara. We must assume that conditions are right for everything that ever was or happened,
and there is no reason why conditions should not include God and angels. In the same spirit
Sir Gavin de Beer turns the extreme inefficiency of the evolutionary process to prove not
that its inexorable laws are not doing the job but that there is no "design, purpose, or
guidance" in the universe, which would never bungle so!132 A new escape clause for the
evolutionists is that human evolution, instead of being mechanical, has since the emergence
of Homo sapiens been consciously influenced and artificially controlled by human will.
"Consciously directed co-operativeness has been the major factor which determined the
evolutionary origin of Homo sapiens. . . . It may be said, indeed, that if man (in the broadest
sense) invented culture, it was culture which invented Homo sapiens."133 "Man is a being
who has domesticated himself, thereby placing himself outside the brutish functioning of
natural selection."134 There is a controlling mind after all? No, this is simply a mechanical
process, since man himself is a product of purely mechanical forces -- and so around in the
circle. It has become common practice to appeal to the possibility of life on other worlds as
proof of no divine intervention;135 but to Latter-day Saints it has always proved just the
Ancient Statements: "In the middle of the fifth century B.C., -- when in turn the unrestricted
imagination of the Ionian philosophers had failed to explain the riddle of existence on
physical grounds . . . philosophy fell somewhat into disrepute. A spirit of skepticism spread
over the Greek world, and the greatest thinkers, foiled in their attempts to discover the
higher truths, turned their attention to the practical side of education."136 The new
education, however, retained and intensified the critical, negative, irreligious element and
intellectual prestige of science. A like phenomenon is found today: "The hypothesis of
natural selection has, also for a variety of reasons, gradually acquired a not altogether
healthy degree of prestige, which is hard to break down. It has become, if only by reiteration,
so firmly ensconced as part of our general outlook on nature that it needs real determination
to cast doubt on it. Biologists are conditioned to it from their earliest education."137 It is not
the content but the mood, the overconfidence, the negative power of the Sophic that is
virtually indestructible. Thus, however the Doctors disagree, the basic hard-headed principle
of medicine remains. For Hippocrates it is: Believe only what you see! 138 But, he is careful
to provide his escape clauses.
Part 2: Proposition 5 and Proposition 6
Proposition 5. The Sophic claims (A) all knowledge for its province, to the exclusion of all
other claimants and the (B) rejection of all other approaches. (C) It is as aggressive as it is
negative, and (D) is filled with a crusading and reforming zeal.
A. Its province is all knowledge.
Modern Statements: "Theoretical science is the attempt to uncover an ultimate and
comprehensive set of axioms (including mathematical rules) from which all the phenomena
of the world could be shown to follow by deductive steps." 1 "The West has suffered from
an excess of subjectizing the world. When it does not know something, it denies its
existence. . . . That which is not seen has never existed. . . . The tactic of suppressing that
which is not known is ancient indeed in the scientific petulance of the West."2 "One thing
that disturbs me is the idea that science can solve everything. . . . What man chooses to do
with the discoveries of science and their applications is beyond science."3
Ancient Statements: Aristotle's great scientific encyclopedia was handed down through the
generations as the compendium of all knowledge, "diluted to the utmost and rendered as far
as possible mechanical."4 As such it was effectively employed by the Sophists. The Summas
of the Scholastic philosophers assert the totality of their knowledge: what is not in their book
does not exist.
B. At the same time it claims to be the only door to knowledge, all or partial.
Modern Statements: "No, our science is no illusion. But an illusion it would be to suppose
that what science cannot give us we can get elsewhere."5 "Modern Science . . . claims that
the whole range of phenomena, mental as well as physical -- the entire universe -- is its field.
It asserts that the scientific method is the sole gateway to the whole region of knowledge."6
"The fundamental principle of science is that it concerns itself exclusively with what can be
demonstrated, and does not allow itself to be influenced by personal opinions or sayings of
anybody. This is why the motto of the Royal Society of London is Nullus in verba: we take
no man's word for anything." 7
Ancient Statements: Aristotle's "analytical spirit . . . found its food in positive science,"
which is based on the "the Hellenistic pictures of the world, self-sufficient, emphasizing
totality, . . . [though] far removed from living research" -- research that was rendered
unnecessary by the all-embracing nature of the system; the method was the answer, the
medium was the message.8 It was the intention of the philosophers to supplant the poets as
the complete guides to knowledge. 9 "The Hellenistic systems . . . dogmatically construct a
fixed picture of the world out of `valid propositions,' and in this safe shell they seek refuge
from the storms of life."10
C. The others are not only ignorant, they are thieves and pretenders: the Mantic must be
harried out of the land.
Modern Statements: The fallacies of Scientism are that (1) "Science . . . alone is sufficient to
lead us to truth." (2) Science can save us. (3) Objectivism: only the tangible and observable
are real. (4) "Anything and everything . . . can be understood best in terms of its earlier and
simpler stages." (5) It has a contempt for history. (6) It "involves such dogmas as
determinism and relativism." (7) It "enhances the pernicious cult of power."11 Thus the
geologist of Richard McKenna's "The Secret Place" proclaims, "I am as positivistic a
scientist as you will find. . . . The students blush and hate me, but it is for their own good.
Science is the only safe game, and it's safe only if it is kept pure."12 "Science has not only
progressively reduced the competence of philosophy, but it has also attempted to suppress it
altogether and to replace it by its own claim to universality."13 "The touchstone of science is
the universal validity of its results for all normally constituted and duly instructed minds. . . .
The glitter of the great metaphysical systems becomes dross when tried by this touchstone."
Science claims not only exclusive right to the territory it has occupied but also to any
"territory that science has not yet effectively occupied."14 "All other philosophy is sheer
humbug. . . . There can be no wisdom without the correct worldview of our generation."15
"Do not be bullied by authoritative pronouncements about what machines will never do.
Such statements are based upon pride." 16 Is this claim that we can design machines that will
do anything at all an expression of great humility? "Whenever, therefore, we are tempted to
desert the scientific method of seeking truth, whenever the silence of science suggests that
some other gateway must be sought to knowledge, let us inquire first whether the . . .
problem . . . arise[s] from a superstition," etc. If not, then we must not look elsewhere, but
must be patient and await the scientific answer, even though we wait hundreds of years for
it;17 patience is here the escape hatch.
Ancient Statements: Rabbi Eliezer asks, "Who is worse -- the one who says to the king,
`Either you or I will dwell in the palace,' or the one who says, `Neither you nor I will dwell
in the palace'?" The former is far worse, and that is the position the Sophic takes. Its
justification is that of the man who had a wine cellar, "He opened one barrel and found it
sour, another and found it sour, and a third and found it sour." And he said, " `This satisfies
me that all the barrels are unfit!' " Is he justified?18 The purpose and practice of the Schools
was to make it possible formally and legally to ostracize all who did not share one's point of
view. This is intolerance more characteristic of the Sophically oriented West than of the
pluralistic and Mantic East; it is not characteristic of religions in general, but of scientists
and of religions which have accommodated themselves to the Sophic views of the time, such
as the Schools of Alexandria, Pumbadetha, Basra, and so forth.19 The tyranny of the Schools
needs no illustration for college students of any period of Western civilization! It is our
Sophic heritage.
D. Not content merely with its own researches, the Sophic undertakes with evangelical zeal
to reform the follies of the Mantic.
"After the publication of the Origin of Species a controversy arose in Europe and America. It
was a struggle between the Christian theological conception of man and the conception held
by science. . . . If you were in this controversy, . . . you were either for religion or you were
for science."20 "For Huxley . . . the battle against the doctrine of inspiration, whether
plenary or otherwise, was the crucial engagement in the fight for evolution and for stopped
freedom of scientific inquiry."21 "In all parts of the world [evolution] has dealt a mortal
blow to the traditional and superstitious mythologies with which men of all races have
decorated their ideas about human origins." 22 "The most important responsibilities of the
geologists involve . . . [freeing] people from the myths of Biblical creation. Many millions
still live in mental bondage controlled by ignorant ranters who accept the Bible as the last
word in science."23 "The failure of our people to take evolution seriously can be traced to . .
. our domination by antiquated religious traditions."24
Proposition 6. The Mantic has its own peculiar (A) flaws and (B) advantages. In the long run
it is preferable to the Sophic.
A. Since the Mantic makes allowance for the things beyond human control, it is less tightly
bound by determinism than the Sophic; Mantic thinking enjoys greater flexibility and
latitude, and this opens the door to all kinds of quacks and pretenders. It is these who supply
the Sophic with its causa belli and its ammunition.
Modern Statements: Newton, though firmly believing in God, could not accept the denatured
and abstract religious teachings of his day, the result of centuries of eager accommodation by
religionists to the prevailing science of their times. He turned from a denatured Mantic
tradition to a straightforward literal understanding of the Scriptures, which for him was
completely consistent with the literal and tangible nature of his scientifically constructed
universe.25 Like the Sophic, the Mantic practitioners form schools which are even more
retrograde to the Mantic spirit than to the Sophic, since they define, control, reward, and
punish orthodoxy and heresy. The Mantic is defective in two ways: through too much
control and too little. On the one hand, the schoolmen rigidly define, reward, and punish
orthodoxy and heresy; on the other, wild-eyed sectaries and individuals go to completely
irresponsible excesses. The essence of the Mantic, as the Didache points out, is that it cannot
be judged: who can tell when another is receiving inspiration or not? Years of religious
oppression and suppression have given all religion a bad name. The abuses of the Mantic are
real, but they are not the whole story.
Ancient Statements: It was as a reaction to the excesses of Orphism that "Greece . . .
enshrined the worldly wisdom of men who stood wholly aloof from mystic excitements and
sought for no revelation, in the fiction of the Seven Sages."26 There is evidence that Apollo
and Athena were in early times the sober and Sophic successors of the more mystic religion
of the Earth-goddess, though their cults were also highly Mantic in nature, "this new
[method] of mantike [by] inspired prophets" supplanting the more "primitive" divination of
chthonian allure27 because of the abuses of the latter. The Sophic invasion of the mid-fifth
century was a further step in the same direction in the manner in which the Darwinian cult
became a religious follow-up as it were of the Reformation; but Darwinism went much
further than the preceding reformation and abolished the whole religious tradition.28 The
schools took over aggressively and eagerly, completely supplanting their Mantic
predecessors, the inspired poets who were "older . . . and considered themselves much
B. In spite of its susceptibility to abuses, Mantic free-wheeling has the advantage of the
Sophic, which necessarily takes a posture of unshakeable integrity and undeviating
rightness, thus placing its pretensions in a very vulnerable position.
Modern Statements: "The university is based upon scrupulous honesty of thought; and that
honesty must expire at the portal of the three sectarian chapels," i.e., it is pure and cannot
look upon faith with the least degree of allowance.30 This means that the flexible Mantic
enjoys an advantage over the brittle Sophic: "Computers usually work with much greater
accuracy than the human brain but if any element in a computer becomes faulty then
catastrophic errors occur. . . . In contrast to this . . . the brain does not break down
completely and, although much information processing is done rather inaccurately, the result
is almost never complete nonsense," i.e., it is the infallible Sophic machine and not the
bungling Mantic imagination which runs the greater risk.31 "The [Sophic] idea that we can
at will, and preparatory to scientific discovery, purge our mind from prejudices . . . is naive
and mistaken. . . . The rule `purge yourself from prejudice' can therefore have only the
dangerous result that, after having made an attempt or two, you think you are now free from
prejudices -- which means, of course, that you will stick only more tenaciously to your
unconscious prejudices and dogmas."32
The posture of uprightness and perfect integrity is an occupational necessity to the Sophist,
but it makes him very vulnerable and therefore all the more touchy and authoritarian.33 Thus
it insists upon such-and-such an explanation, for example, "that the Darwinian mechanism is
the only possible one," ignoring the fact that "the number of competing theories is always
infinite," and thereby closing the door to the untrammeled explorations it advocates. 34 The
strength of the Mantic is that it not only leaves the door open, but is willing to look behind
the door; its open-mindedness is now recommended to science: "Science is not a system of
certain, or well-established statements; nor is it a system which steadily advances toward a
state of finality. . . . Every scientific statement must remain tentative forever. . . . Science
does not rest upon rock-bottom," but "above a swamp."35 The unflinching scientific
discipline that was the pride and boast of the Berlin school of Classical and Oriental
scholarship at the turn of the century not only deprived its representative of the opportunity
to make great discoveries, but by its relentless skepticism frequently led them into paths of
error, according to Eduard Meyer.36
Paradoxically, scientists often pay tribute to intuition, the one thing that strict objectivity will
not allow. Thus Darwin in the jungle: "No one can stand in these solitudes unmoved, and not
feel that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body." 37 "The favorite child of
Darwinism is blind chance," but the amazing perfection and complexity of biological
processes now rules this out: "If one will only let the transcendent nature of every organic
phenomenon work upon him, one will then discern the very opposite of anything like
chance."38 In science, "progress has only been possible by again and again returning to the
observation of the world as it is, by stepping out of the laboratory and the dissecting room
(and I would add the study), into the open air, forgetting for the time at least the abstract
methods, the images and models, the selected and prepared specimens of the scientific
student."39 In theoretical physics "even a partial reversal of causal relations means the
substitution of the question `What for?' for the question `Why?' . . . The question which
begins a child's cognition of the world may also prove legitimate in the exact sciences." 40
Aside from intuition, man possesses a sensitivity of sight and hearing which far excels that
of scientific instruments, and which should be trusted.41
This recognition of the intuitive embarrasses the Sophic. After announcing that "the element
of constructive invention, of . . . intuition . . . remains the core of any mathematical
achievement," Richard Courant and Herbert Robbins warn the student that "for scientific
procedure it is important to discard elements of metaphysical character and to consider
observable facts always as the ultimate source of notions and constructions," and thus reap
the "reward for courageous adherence to the principle of eliminating metaphysics." 42 For
always the idea is that "two different paths" lead to knowledge. "The first, revelation, . . . is
closed to a great many people and independent of rational thought. . . . The second, on the
contrary, is strictly rational and scientific" -- we cannot mix them.43 As a result, "scientific
philosophy" is a contradiction, "the invention of thinkers devoid of any true philosophical
gift or vocation. . . . Intuition is the sine qua non of philosophy. . . . Philosophical intuition
cannot be deduced from anything else; it is primary."44 "No scientist has the slightest idea
what mass attraction is. . . . Though popularly unrealized . . . the origins of science are
inherently immersed in an a priori mystery."45 "They try to `cover up' their ignorance by
asserting that no fundamental mystery exists. . . . And the why-for and how-come . . . of all
the known family of . . . generalized principles -- thus far discovered by scientific
observation -- . . . are all and together Absolute mystery. . . . Therefore in direct
contradiction to present specialization, all educational processes must henceforth commence
at the most comprehensive level . . . that consists of the earnest attempt to embrace the whole
eternally regenerative phenomenon Scenario Universe. And this is what children try to do
spontaneously [see Kozyrev above]. . . . Perversely, the parents tell them to forget [the]
Universe and to concentrate with A, B, C, 1, 2, and 3. . . . Human life contains the weightless
omnipowerful, omniknowing metaphysical intellect which alone can comprehend, sort out,
select, integrate, coordinate and cohere."46
Ancient Statements: The arrogance of the Sophic over the Mantic, and the disastrous results
of this hubris, is the subject of much of the best Greek literature. Since our schools are
Sophic, this fact has been completely overlooked where it has not been actually covered up.
Heraclitus, Pindar, Plato, Aristophanes, Sophocles, and Euripides are full of gibes at the
conceit of the know-it-all professors and of warnings against their insidious teachings.47
Aristophanes' first play was a biting satire on the Athenian youth and the new education of
"the skeptical purpose, and the insidious sophistic" 48 that was making them what they were;
"they were full of strange information, and sometimes of shocking beliefs and disbeliefs,
which they had learnt from the professional `sophists' or men of learning." 49
It was the Sophists who effected the death of Socrates, accusing him of sacrilege and of
leading the youth astray, the very things of which they were guilty; and the schoolmen to this
day love to represent Socrates as going about barefoot in Athens debunking not the Sophic
intellectuals (which were his particular target) but the Mantic traditions of the fathers -which he always supported. "Socrates turned away from Ionic Philosophy though his study
of natural science continued: he overcame the skepticism and individualism of the Sophists,
but was himself transformed into the [champion and] image of the free-thinker," so that "the
dismantling (Zersetzungsprozess) of religion" went on unimpeded -- in his name.50 For
those philosophers who recognized the necessity and importance of the Mantic, the
intellectual quest did not end: for them philosophy is a middle road, "the suspension between
ignorance and `wisdom.' " Aristotle did not think of philosophy as the "totality of all
knowledge." 51 It was all the same tradition, the Sophic itself being "a residue of the
dogmatic way of thinking" of the earlier Mantic,52 operating on a different level rather than
the replacing of one authority by another.53 Philosophy occupied for a while the middle
C. Those whom the Sophic claims for its greatest representatives lean strongly toward the
Mantic, though the Sophic proposition condemns any such concessions.
Modern Statements: Newton is a shining example of this. Dr. Ernest Jones commented,
"Most of Newton's biographers have suppressed the important fact that throughout his life
theology was much more important to him than science, and, moreover, theology of a
peculiarly arid and bigoted order."55 The literalism of Newton's religious beliefs, which did
not concur with the prevailing religious teachings of his time, shocks Dr. Jones as a scientist.
As to the all-sufficiency of matter, "That gravity should be innate, inherent, and essential to
matter, so that one body may act upon another at a distance through a vacuum . . . is to me so
great an absurdity that I believe no man who has in philosophical matters a competent
faculty of thinking can ever fall into it." 56 But Newton will not compromise: "Newton's
God is not merely a `philosophical' God, the impersonal and uninterested First Cause of the
Aristotelians, or the -- for Newton -- utterly indifferent and world-absent God of Descartes.
He is . . . the Biblical God, the effective Master and Ruler of the world created by him." 57
Even his " `principles of mathematical philosophy' are . . . radically opposed to those of
materialism . . . andpostulate -- or demonstrate -- its [the world's] production by the
purposeful action of a free and intelligent Being."58 "Newton explicitly recognized the
challenge of the facts. . . . But he held that the explanation of this was a problem for religion,
not mathematical philosophy," so he writes: "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets,
and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and
powerful Being." 59 He seems to be quoting the Pearl of Great Price in such passages: "Does
it not appear from Phaenomena that there is a Being incorporeal, living, intelligent,
omnipresent, who in infinite Space, as it were in his Sensory, sees the things themselves
intimately, and thoroughly perceives them, and comprehends them wholly by their
immediate presence to himself."60
Newton thus becomes a highly unorthodox outcast of both camps: of the "spiritual" and
abstract Mantic of his time, which did not derive faith from phenomena, and which still
deplores the "cosmism" of the Latter-day Saints; and of the hard-headed scientists who insist
that if you deal with phenomena it is not permitted to go any farther.61 "Men will say at last
that all philosophy ought to be founded in atheism."62 "Mechanical hypotheses . . . lead
straight away towards atheism, . . . deny God's action in the world and push him out of it. It
is indeed, practically certain . . . that the true and ultimate cause of gravity is the action of the
`spirit' of God."63 Newton's own disciples would not tolerate his position; the very thing he
took as proof of God, the force of attraction, they promptly converted into the opposite. But
Newton prophesied they would by a deep and dangerous perversion of the very meaning and
aim of natural philosophy "at last sink into the mire of that infamous herd who dream that all
things are governed by fate [chance] and not by providence."64 Newton is not alone: it has
been shown that the basic "prerequisite of genius" in science is on the one hand a refusal to
"acquiesce" to the Sophic dogmas of the day, "imperviousness to the opinions of others,
notably of authorities," and on the other hand of "a curious credulity" in Mantic matters. 65
Descartes, with purely scientific interest in view, "entered into direct contact with the
intellectual atmosphere of the Rosicrucians" 66 and believed that his world-shaking
discovery in mathematics was given to him in visions.67 Some present-day scientists also
lean to the Mantic: "Yes, the triumphs of the physical scientists are impressive enough to
explain why science has a great reputation. . . . But the mysteries of life -- perhaps they are
intended to remain mysteries."68 "The inductive format of the scientific paper should be
discarded, . . . and scientists should not be ashamed, . . . as many of them apparently are
ashamed to admit, that hypotheses . . . are imaginative and inspirational in character. . . .
They are indeed adventures of the mind."69 This actually precedes the inductive format.
"Hypotheses arise by guesswork. That is to put it in its crudest form. I should say rather that
they arise by inspiration."70 "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the
Ancient Statements: Aristotle turned away from "the metaphysical and conceptual attitude of
his early decades" to pure science; but in his old age he turned back again: "He justifies
metaphysics now by means of the everlasting longing of the human heart." 72 Aristotle's first
work was a defense of the Mantic Homer against the Sophist critics.73 Both Plato and
Aristotle in their old age turned with deepest devotion to the teachings of Zoroaster. Neither
lost his scientific tendencies. Plato combined his Socratic with the Eleatic science and
especially favored Pythagoras, in whom the Mantic and Sophic combine in a remarkable
way.74 Plato and his predecessors "transform an originally theological idea, the idea of
explaining the visible world by a postulated invisible world, into the fundamental instrument
of theoretical science."75 "By his adoption of geometry as the theory of the world he
provided Aristarchus, Newton, and Einstein with their intellectual toolbox." 76 Thus the
Mantic Plato made solid scientific contributions. He insisted that knowledge came by
inspiration, via anamnesis, as did Pythagoras: "I do not teach myself anything, I only
remember." 77 Popper explains this midway position between Mantic and Sophic as the
"second-order tradition" which welcomed the heritage of myth as the foundation for new and
fruitful discussion and investigation, instead of condemning it.78 The Poet is exalted up to
the point where he becomes another Pythian, whose ravings are unintelligible to himself.
"He is relegated to an adyton, and between him and the public the Philosopher keeps guard,
who alone can understand and interpret him,"79 according to a recent interpretation which
places philosophy squarely between the Mantic and the public.
The original line of inspiration is lost in the mists of time, and may, as among the Ancient
Semites, have gone back "to the sha cir, the Knower, the possessor of supernatural
knowledge. He passed as a kind of oracle for his tribe, as did the kahin. . . . His capacity was
attributed to a special spirit (jinn, or in Greek, daimon)."80 Plato, like Newton, insisted that
the ultimate mover was a divine spirit, Aristotle an entelecheia; Pythagoras and Philoslaeus
harmonia, and Xenocrates number. 81 These thinkers seem to combine Sophic and Mantic,
yet any concession whatever to the Mantic disqualifies them in this Sophic camp. Cato, who
"rejected the findings of Greek philosophy in order to fall back upon a shrewd peasant
wisdom,"82 combines a much lower order of Sophic and Mantic. Sextus Empiricus is
another who turns against the Sophic, but in a "puerile and pedantic" way, attacking its good
(especially its good) as well as its bad side.83 While the students at Socrates' school went
deeply into experimental science, to the amusement of the more practically minded
Athenians, "they were [at the same time] much occupied with religion and the after life." So
they offended both the learned Sophist and the superstitious man in the street. 84 "It is your
neglect of geometry," Socrates tells the businessman Callicles, "which convinces you that
you should strive for a bigger share of things than other men possess";85 for business rejects
both the egghead Sophic and the impractical Mantic.
"When I was young," says Socrates, "I was fanatically devoted to the intellectual quest
which they call physical research. . . . I was convinced that no one need look any farther than
science for the answers to everything."86 Plato confesses the same weakness and goes on to
relate how he was converted, not away from the study of physical science, but to seeing in
physical science, as Newton did, the workings of a divine and directing mind.87 At the end
of the Sophist, Plato defines a Sophist as one who treats all traditions and beliefs as strictly
human productions. For him this will not do; there was more behind it than that. The great
men of old -- poets, diviners, statesmen, and prophets -- prove their inspiration "when they
say much that is true without knowing what they say."88 "Poetry is really a thing divine and
holy. . . . Its votaries (as Plato would say) are in a state of fine phrenzy." 89 "I know that they
do what they do not by any intelligence of their own, but by a special nature, an inspiration
such as holy prophets and oracles have, for they too speak many fine and wonderful things
without knowing what they are saying."90 The only fit instruction for the youth are the
words of men "inspired from heaven."91
Socrates explains his course of life against the Sophists: "Because, as I said, the way was
shown to me by God, by oracles and dreams and by whatever other means divine providence
directs the actions of men."92 "Listen to a tale which you consider a myth," he says to a
gathering of Sophist teachers, "but which I believe to be true. . . . In a word, whatever
characteristics a man's body presented in life, these remain visible in death. . . . But you, . . .
the wisest of all the Greeks of our day, can't demonstrate the necessity of living any other life
than this one."93 It is a direct confrontation of Sophic and Mantic, and in the end cost
Socrates his life. In the same spirit, modern professors, offended by the Mantic emphasis of
Plato's Ion, deny its authenticity. It must not be forgotten that the University never forgot
that it was a Musaeon, a temple of the Muses, who gave divine inspiration to men.
Part 3: Proposition 7 and Proposition 8
Proposition 7. The hostility of the two camps is heightened if anything by a constant going
and coming between them, as pious youth desert to the Sophic and aging scientists return to
the bosom of the Mantic. The mingling of the two factions is more like a melee than
fraternization, with each party trying to capture the banner of the other.
A. The claims of the Mantic cannot be ignored or abolished.
Modern Statements: The antagonism between Religion and Science "has its roots deep down
in the diverse habits of thought of different orders of mind. . . . [An unceasing] battle of
opinion . . . which has been carried on throughout all ages under the banners of Religion and
Science, has of course generated an animosity fatal to a just estimate of either party by the
other" -- but they are both here to stay.1 "Revelation, which is the basis of religion, is not
itself opposed to knowledge. On the contrary, . . . revelation is what is revealed to me and
knowledge is what I discover for myself. How could there be any conflict between what I
discover cognitively and what is demonstrated to me by religion?" The trouble is caused
when "Divine Revelation . . . becomes adulterated by the immediate reactions of the human
community in which it takes place, and by the way in which men make use of it to further
their own interests. . . . Why should one refuse to submit to religion if one is content to
submit to science?" 2 We can never escape the Mantic: "All science is cosmology. . . . Both
philosophy and science lose all their attraction when they give up that pursuit. . . . Western
science . . . did not start with collecting observations of oranges, but with bold theories about
the world."3 "The final ends of metaphysics and of human reason as a whole are the three
great themes of God, freedom, and immortality" -- which can hardly escape the Mantic. 4
Scientists today are constantly glimpsing areas in which experience goes beyond the Sophic.
When they do so, they immediately recoil and apologize. Thus, Nigel Calder repeatedly
points out that the relationship of thought to the brain "may be a question of ultimate cause
as refractory as asking why the universe exists. But that is no reason for doubting the reality
of consciousness, as a characteristic of living brain tissue as rich as ours."5 In other words,
just because we can never prove that the matter of the brain produces thought is no reason
for doubting that it does! When theologians use that argument they are laughed to scorn.
Again, "chemistry . . . may sometimes overwhelm the mind, but the mind can also dominate
chemistry" -- in that case, who is the winner? Chemistry, of course: "Both processes testify
to the essentially physical nature of the mind" -- but why not to the essentially spiritual
nature of it, since it dominates matter?6 Thus the dice are always loaded in favor of the
mechanism, but the dice keep falling oddly. Though " `the ultimate in criteria of credibility .
. . is scientific objectivity,' careful thinkers have long been skeptical about the supposed
objectivity of so-called scientific facts." 7 So an anthropologist confesses that he reaches his
conclusions "on a purely subjective basis, . . . one step removed from [intuition]. . . . Is this
good enough? If it is not, what other method is available?" 8
Ancient Statements: As we have seen, both Plato and Socrates in their youth went over from
Mantic to Sophic, and later reversed themselves; it was not accommodation but conversion.
Since ancient society was sacral, its existence without the Mantic was simply unthinkable.
One could not destroy the Mantic element without destroying the society. This is exactly
what happened, according to Thucydides, who, though he does not believe the oracles
himself, notes that disaster follows upon their neglect. That is why the smart-alec teachings
of the Sophists with their popular science were viewed not with the indifference and
contempt they deserved on their own merits, but with horror and alarm by the greatest Greek
thinkers.9 Plato often comments on the ruinous trend of Sophic teaching; he attributes to
Pericles' learning from the physicist Anaxagoras "to despise all the superstitious fears" (the
signs in the heavens),10 the attitude that laid the foundation for the ruin of Athens.11
B. The Sophic attempts to take over the religious prestige and prerogatives of the Mantic,
both as being (1) a religion in its own right, and (2) as a countermeasure to fight fire with
fire and deprive the Mantic of its unique advantages.
Modern Statements: (1) "Man . . . appears to be not so much a rational animal as an
ideological animal. The history of science, . . . especially since Francis Bacon, may be taken
as an illustration. It was a religious or semi-religious movement, and Bacon was the prophet
of the secularized religion of science. He replaced the name `God' by the name `Nature'; but
almost everything else he left unchanged. Theology, the science of God, was replaced by the
science of Nature; the laws of God were replaced by the laws of Nature; God's power was
replaced by the forces of Nature; . . . God's . . . omniscience . . . by the . . .virtual
omniscience of natural science." 12 "Perhaps we should turn the world over to this
superbreed. . . . Perhaps they should design not only the churches, but the creeds also. . . .
The sad fact is that some scientists themselves appear to believe precisely this."13
Anthropologist Edmund R. Leach believes this and feels now is the time to begin: "All the
marvels of creation are seen to be mechanisms rather than mysteries. . . . All that remains of
the divine will is the moral consciousness of man himself. So we must now learn to play God
in a moral as well as in a creative or destructive sense." 14 Wallace Fenn makes an even
more impassioned plea: "It may be that there is no meaning to life. . . . Even so, here we are,
and we had better find some meaning or invent one for ourselves so that we have some
definite mission to lend dignity to our life. If there is a meaning, it obviously lies somewhere
in the vast areas of biology which are still unknown to us, and we should have faith that it is
at least worth looking for by the usual rational experimental approach. . . . Unlike the
physical sciences biology can be almost a religion in itself."15 Note the use of "faith" and
rational experimental approach in the same sentence. "Dr. Huxley . . . [had] no serious
intention of disguising the theological character of his writing, for his account of Evolution
is openly presented as the theology of his own `Religion without Revelation.' . . . Evolution,
then, takes on for Dr. Huxley most of the jobs of the discredited Deity. . . . God has failed:
we must therefore put our trust in Evolution."16
Attempts have even been made to wed conventional religion and the religion of science, as
when the American Association for the Advancement of Science "turned amateur
theologians and tried to prove that science and religion are essentially in harmony -- that
even St. Thomas was an evolutionist. In order to make this reconciliation possible, both
science and religion were emasculated of definite meaning."17
(2) It was necessary to don the robes and the aura of religion in order to deprive the
opposition of its advantage; some put forth the doctrine that science was not an enemy of
religion but an improvement on it, a great forward step. Science itself was a higher and
nobler religion. This fighting of fire with fire begot a missionary zeal in such scientists as
Huxley, Simpson, Romer, and Shapley, who preached throughout the land with evangelical
fervor. "Here we see how modern science is providing what religious beliefs have always
sought, a coherent set of beliefs about the universe and man."18 "There are still individual
scientists [who] . . . think of it [science] as a cult, a cult united by a mystique called `the
scientific method,' . . . a kind of pure virginal objectivity that has to guard its beauty against
the wrinkled advances of religion, art, or ethics."19 "Religion has emerged into human
experience mixed with the crudest fancies of barbaric imagination. Gradually, slowly,
steadily the vision recurs in history under nobler form and with clearer expression."20
"Man's evolution is far more extraordinary than the first chapter of Genesis used to lead
people to suppose. . . . The story of man is far more wonderful than the wonders of physical
science" -- but the Sophic must be allowed to tell it.21 "It's gratifying -- or should be
gratifying to you -- to be a part of this magnificent evolutionary show, even though we must
admit ourselves to be lineal descendants of some rather nauseating gases and sundry streaks
of lightning."22 "Therefore from a very long range point of view biological research
becomes the highest objective that can be thought of for human life. In this respect the
biologists deserve front seats in the halls of learning and the mission of AIBS [the American
Institute of Biological Science] becomes closely identified with the mission of mankind."23
"Evolution now becomes not only the Source of Comfort and Reassurance. . . . It figures also
as the Immanent and Omnipresent Creator, . . . whoseAgent it is man's privilege to be. . . .
All the wonders which for Archdeacon Paley were evidences for the existence of God can on
this view be put to the credit of Evolution." 24
Missionary zeal is apparent in Dorcey Hager's presidential address before the Utah
Geological Society. "The most important responsibilities of the geologists involve effects of
their findings on the mental bondage controlled by ignorant ranters who accept the Bible as
the last word in Science."25 The heathen must be saved. For the scientist "Proving -- probing
-- all things is the privilege of ardent faith, the freedom that belongs to the children of light."
26 So the Sophic practitioners who pour scorn on the Mantic as "True Believers" speak in
the pious language of the sectaries of the desert, in the end putting themselves forward as the
Children of Light. In reference to Arnold Toynbee's Study of History, Hugh Trevor-Roper
writes, "In the tenth volume of his work, . . . his Book of Revelation, the secret is laid bare:
the Messiah steps forth: he is Toynbee himself. . . . All creation has been groaning and
travailing to produce him." 27 "Bacon's naive view . . . became the main dogma of the new
religion of science, . . . and it is only in recent years that some scientists have become willing
to listen to those who criticize this still powerful dogma." 28 "Dr. Huxley himself calls it `a
glorious paradox' that `this purposeless mechanism, after a thousand million years of its
blind and automatic operations, has finally generated purpose' " -- and produced Dr.
Huxley.29 Note the theological language -- a glorious paradox. Science fiction often adopts
the language and imagery of apocalyptic(biblical) writings, as at the end of When Worlds
Collide, when "the League of the Last Days," made up of the world's top scientists, ushers in
the Millennium. "They shouted, sang. They laughed and danced. The first day on the new
earth had begun."30 There are very few of the more grandiose ideas and titles in science
fiction which cannot be traced to the Bible. The attitude is strongly authoritarian: "The
public has become willing to accept, with the respect accorded scientific conclusions, the
scientist's view on numerous topics that have nothing to do with his special area of
competence, or with science as a whole" -- as a scientist he becomes an authority on
everything.31 With the Scientific revolution "pride of physical place was replaced by
autodeification in the order of knowing. . . . The Scientific revolution, . . . by denying the
relevance, if not the possibility, of non-empirical, non-instrumental knowledge, . . . made
man the intellectual summit of the universe,"32 the only prophet, seer, and revelator.
Ancient Statements: The scholar Longinus "is himself the Great Sublime he draws!" The
scholars, moving in on a sick Mantic, took over religious teaching, and in the process
destroyed it.
The grossness, luxury, and immorality of pagan priests of the official state religion were as
predictable as that of the monks of the late Middle Ages: they were smooth, hypocritical, and
greedy.33 Conditions in Athens at the time the Sophist teachers took over have been
described in the tenth chapter of Gilbert Murray's book Aristophanes. "Religion had become
a service club."34 Religion had declined: "Let fools talk about justice or religion; the one
solid good is to have power and money."35 Poetry itself had become "an old harlot who has
passed her prime" but who pretends to be ultrarespectable and proper; the official morality
cannot endure criticism or satire.36 Everywhere the scholars supplanted the poets, to whom,
as critics, they felt superior. The Sophists pretended to be teaching a higher form of religion,
but their own greatness was the first and last article of faith. Thus an orator would end a
speech with a perfectly irrelevant prayer, "abruptly and grotesquely with an invocation to
`Earth and Sun and Virtue and Intelligence and Education, through which we distinguish
between the noble and the base,'" 37 retaining a Mantic tone by clumsy contrivance. The
Sophic teachers were constantly on tour, lecturing in many cities and on every subject,
imitating the fabulous Seven Wise men of old, and cultivating an aura of supernatural
wisdom which gave them the status of holy men.38 The business goes back to Sumerian
times in the Orient.39 The Jewish Scholars side by side with the Greek moved constantly
from city to city, acquiring great fame and reputations for wisdom and holiness. The system
survived into Moslem times40 and was carried over into medieval Europe directly from the
Sophist schools. The world was the Sophists' oyster as he proclaimed his Sovereign
immunity from all restraints wherever he went; as a super-thinker nothing could restrain
him: he is indeed none other than the true King. Of the famous Proclus, president of the
University of Athens for forty-seven years, it is said that "his pupils deemed him divinely
inspired," and one visitor to his lectures saw a light around his head.41 He preached that all
religions were true, thus rendering all devoid of any particular appeal.42
When the Flavian emperors sponsored a syncretium of the major religions in the cult of
Serapis, they met head-on resistance from the Philosophers -- the Stoics and Cynics.43 Yet
these very philosophers would unite all religions in the bonds of allegory, and it was the
"Stoic allegorizing which finally dispelled all belief in the gods." 44 "Protagoras's ethics and
politics are basically atheistic, even though . . . his ethics taught eusebia [piety] and moral
order established by the unknown gods."45 The futility of his teaching was his vanity; his
celebrated dictum made man and no one else "the measure of all things." The Doctors
wanted all to be saved -- but only if they did the saving. Lucretius cannot abide the thought
of ignorant multitudes in thrall to ancient superstitions while he has the one saving truth -"O miseras hominum mentes, et pectora caeca!" -- he is full of missionary fervor and, like
any prophet, sees himself borne victorious in glory to the skies. The rhetorical art of the
Sophists was devised as a flexible tool to permit their mental and spiritual domination in any
field,46 while retaining the appearance of the strictest scientific detachment and accuracy;
this was possible by the use of doxa, the art of cultivating appearances. Correcting the
thought and diction of the ancients, their subtle scholasticism dazzled and conquered: their
method and authority carried right over into the Scholasticism of the Middle Ages. The
Arabs inherited the same tradition: Bukhari begins his work on cosmology by announcing
that the beginning of wisdom is that there is no God but God and that the scholars (scientists,
culama') are the heirs and successors of the Prophets, and that they have passed all
knowledge from hand to hand in a state of complete and perfect preservation. God will
smooth the way to Paradise for those who follow them! This is modest compared with the
self-glorification of the Doctors of the Talmud. The Muctazilites are the purest of Sophic
teachers, always laying down rules about what God may and what he may not do, like the
Scholastic Philosophers of Europe.47
There was a constant game of dominant and submissive going-on between the ignorant
public (which these men always affected to despise) and the traveling wise men, who appear
either as martyrs or masters of the mob. The Sophic contempt of the ignorant was a
permanent heritage of the schools.48 Francis Bacon noted the futility of the Ancient
Schoolmen: "Now the wisdom of the Greeks was professional and much given to
disputation, a kind of wisdom most adverse to the inquisition of truth. . . . [Pompously
professional,] they are prompt to prattle, but cannot produce; for their wisdom abounds in
words but is barren of works."49 But is the Modern Sophic immune to such folly? "Much of
the anthropological writing of the time [the 1920s and 1930s] was an attempt to show that
the other fellow thought wrongly." 50 In the case of human footprints in very ancient rocks,
if the evidence is reliable, "then the whole science of geology is so completely wrong that all
geologists will resign their jobs and take up truck driving. Hence . . . science rejects the
attractive explanation." In other words, any evidence is rejected if it threatens our careers! 51
"Today's ideological conflicts are carried . . . deeper and deeper into the study of [ancient]
C. In the end, the Sophic produces an army of Fakirs that surpasses the best efforts of the
corrupted Mantic in its antics and its arrogance.
Modern Statements: Compared to the novelist, the image of the scientist in the public mind
(as revealed by an extensive survey) is that of a uniquely intelligent, manly, valuable,
hard-working, and dependable (albeit dull) individual.53 In biology, thanks to Darwin,
science "gives the false impression that we know much more about the origin of life than we
actually do."54 Furthermore, we have been brought to believe that scientists in general
"thrive on the replacement of their old and cherished theories or beliefs by new ones" when,
in reality, it is against their natures to "welcome with joy and satisfaction the publication of a
new theory, explanation, or . . . scheme that would completely replace and render
superfluous [their] own creation." The history of science can therefore be viewed "as a series
of changing `orthodoxies' " in which scientists exhibit "a certain measure of hostility to
major innovations."55 Bernard Cohen considers "any suggestion that scientists so dearly
love truth that they have not the slightest hesitation in jettisoning their beliefs is a mean
perversion of the facts. It is a form of scientific idolatry, supposing that scientists are entirely
free from the passions that direct men's actions."56
Since the mid-1960s scientists in various fields have engaged in controversy regarding the
true nature of the Orgueil meteorite (a "carbonaceous chondrite"); this debate, writes Walter
Sullivan, "is a classic example of a scientific discussion become personal, emotional and
enmeshed with professional pride. The talents and ingenuity of participants have been
directed toward proving their case, rather than seeking out the truth. They have thus
demonstrated that they are human, but the wonderful self-discipline and objectivity that we
all call pure science has suffered. The inconclusiveness of the discussion also reflects the
inadequacy of our analytic methods. The Orgueil meteorite has probably been more
elaborately studied than any other chunk of material on earth. Yet . . . the complex and
varied components of this specimen defy precise definition."57
"So far are they [science majors] from having learned any humility, they are known in every
high school and . . . college as the most insufferable, cocksure know-it-alls. . . . [They are]
entitled to pour scorn on other subjects from a very great height." 58 "When the Piltdown
hoax was exposed at the meeting of the Geological Society of London in November 1953, it
precipitated a violent discussion. . . . The meeting soon broke up into a series of fist fights . .
. [and] the fracas resulted in the expulsion of several members of the dignified scientific
body."59 When many valid objections to the evolutionary hypothesis were brought forth by
"people who were not trained biologists . . . their objections could be countered summarily
on grounds of ignorance, despite the fact that Darwin's hypothesis appealed so largely to the
evidence of common observation and experience." Many were deluded into thinking that
because Darwin recognized the objections, "in this way he had disposed of them."60 "It is
false that any reputable anthropologist nowadays professes an anti-evolutionist
philosophy."61 Pure snobbery has cost the Sophic many a great discovery, but without it the
Sophic as such would not survive. "It seems at times as if many of our modern writers on
evolution have had their views by some sort of revelation. . . . Much of what we learn today
are only half truths or less. . . . An incorrect view can . . . successfully displace the correct
view for many years. . . . Most students become acquainted with many of the current
concepts in biology whilst . . . at an age when most people are, on the whole, uncritical. . . .
In addition, . . . most students tend to have the same sort of educational background and so in
conversation and discussion they accept common fallacies and agree on matters based on
these fallacies."62 "Ales Hrdlicka, the fanatic tzar holding to this [the Alaska-bridge] theory,
smote down anybody suggesting other possibilities."63 But "as long as this [knowledge] is
assumed, insufficient effort will be put into the attempt to find ways to obtain genuine
Ancient Statements: "Tear yourself away from the solemn conventions of these self-styled
philosophers, who do not agree among themselves and who announce a doctrine as the truth
the moment it pops into their heads. They are full of mutual hatred and jealousy and
ambition."65 They only close ranks against the ignorant public, which they despise and
neglect.66 Even the naked philosophers of Egypt and India were jealous among
themselves,67 and included Apollonius in their rivalries. In Coptic Egypt, holy men traveled
around collecting blessings from each other like the Sophists before them.68 In the fifth
century "these defenders of a dying cause could at least keep up the appearance of success
by mutual praise and admiration."69 Vanity and ineptitude were concealed behind altruistic
educational programs for improving other people's minds. "What good does it do you to pay
high salaries to teachers and raise up a host of experts when the actions of our society speak
so much more loudly than their safe, conventional commonplaces? For philosophy of the
mind (psyche) is as much harder than text-book education as doing is than talking. Should
we teach more philosophy? That is the very thing that has brought us to this condition by
destroying all ultimate certainty."70 Every scientist claims that he has the answer, overcome
by his own line of reasoning (logos), quite aside from the evidence itself. They are always
knocking each other down: each one clings to his own theories, and so complete disunity
reigns, according to Hippocrates, who is good enough to point out that the only real science
is his science,71 and that no amateur may be tolerated in that.72 In Syria the scholar
Ephraim became the number-one man by systematically attacking and finally wiping out all
the works of a far greater man, Bardasenes. "Everything has been done to obscure his
memory and to consign him to oblivion."73 All the tricks of the Sophic came to full flower
among the Arabs; the organized schools, inheriting the teachings of the Sophists, had all the
power. When one scholar in his old age admitted extensive forgeries, the Doctors replied:
"What you said then seems to us more trustworthy than your present assertion," and there
was nothing he could do about it.74
Proposition 8. There are certain inescapable limitations to the Sophic that, while they do not
destroy its sway fatally, vitiate its power for good and disqualify its claims to rule.
Modern Statements: "I doubt if we get very far by the intellect alone," claimed Whitehead. "I
doubt if the intellect carries us very far. . . . The longer I live the more I am impressed by the
enormous, the unparalleled genius of one philosopher, and that is Plato." 75 The Sophic is
reluctant to admit its limitations, but they are there: "The most useful approach for
explaining evolutionary changes is still teleology, an uncomfortable state of affairs for the
schoolbook logic which poses as philosophy of science. . . . Today, biologists are ashamed
of teleology," though their "ateleological attitude . . . verges on sterility, and indeed might
signify such, were it not that teleological reasoning is substantially more common in the
laboratory and field than in the research papers."76 "It is not easy for a child to abandon the
purposeful perception of the world so dear to his heart and go over to the grim causality of
natural science, . . . the discipline of school studies." But which picture is right? "The picture
of the world actually observed may suggest the incompleteness of the principles of the exact
sciences"; the school "tames the spirit of man and laces it into the Spanish boot of logical
thinking. . . . The trouble . . . lies not in the incompleteness of knowledge . . . but in the deep
discrepancy between the world of the exact sciences and the real world." 77 Evolution was
found wanting, but there was nothing to take its place, so "this theoretical bankruptcy has
forced us back into the evolutionist fold in spite of ourselves."78 Though Proconsul "is not a
good candidate as an ancestor of the gibbons and siamangs, . . . at the moment he is the best
fossil evidence available for the data and provenience we seek" -- so we accept him!79
While the Sophic has always claimed the infinite view of the Mantic, today "absolute limits"
are beginning to appear: Once "geometry was science and seemed inexhaustible -- yet in 300
years it was exhausted"; there is an absolute limit to the number of crystal forms or chemical
elements that can exist: "The implications of this have crept almost unnoticed upon the
chemists and the physicists. Placing such limitations upon nature runs quite contrary to the
traditional tenets of empiricism."80 "Then, one night at a meeting of one of the Cambridge
scientific clubs . . . I heard one of the greatest mathematical physicists say, with complete
simplicity: `. . . in a sense, physics and chemistry are finished sciences.' . . . We were in the
sight of the end. It seemed incredible to me, brought up in the tradition of limitless
searching, mystery beyond mystery. . . . I resented leaving it. . . . I wanted him to be wrong.
Yet I could see what he meant. . . . In the whole of chemistry and physics, we were in sight
of the end. . . . It struck me how impossible it would have been to say this a few years before.
Before 1926 no one could have said it, unless he were a megalomaniac or knew no
science."81 "The external walls appear as formidable as ever; but at the very center of the
supposedly solid fortress of logical thinking, all is confusion. . . . The ultimate basis of both
types of logical thinking [deductive and inductive] is infected, at the very core, with
The authoritarianism of the Sophic is essential but fatal. Because of it, "at this moment
scientists and sceptics are the leading dogmatists. Advance in detail is admitted; fundamental
novelty is barred. This dogmatic commonsense is the death of philosophic adventure."83
"Our language is made up only of preconceived ideas and can not be otherwise. Only these
are unconscious preconceived ideas, a thousand times more dangerous than the others." 84
This means following the party line to promotion, with its "excessive subsidy of the
mediocre."85 Science can never achieve the objectivity it boasts: "Pursuit of knowledge [is]
based largely on hidden clues and arrived at and ultimately accredited, on grounds of
personal judgment." 86 In science "we take our space and time with a deadly seriousness"
though perception of them has been "furnished to us by the machinery of our nervous
systems," and "acquire[d] only by arduous practice." 87 Man's "brain corrupts the revelation
of his senses. His output of information is but one part in a million of his input. He is a sink
rather than a source of information. The creative flights of his imagination are but distortions
of a fraction of his data. Finally, . . . ultimate universal truths are beyond his ken."88 "If you
ask me, `How do you know?' my reply would be, `I don't; I only propose a guess.'" 89
Outside of mathematics, "no description or `definition' will ever include all particulars,"
while mathematics "deals with fictitious entities with all particulars included, and we
proceed by remembering." 90 "Gödel . . . proved that . . . the question, `Is there an inner flaw
in this system?' is a question which is simply unanswerable."91 "This is a rather shocking
thing to say -- that science does not furnish any really ultimate or satisfying explanation. . . .
Scientists -- even the greatest ones . . . cannot agree as to whether and how science explains
anything. . . . The explanations of science have utility, but . . . they do in sober fact not
explain." 92 The explanation is always a circular process.93 "The all, some, and none
categories of Aristotelian logic are of little value in ethnology, or any other social
"If cause and effect are absolutely equivalent, the question `Why?' is meaningless. Therefore
the exact sciences answer only the simplest question in the cognition of the world,
`How?'"95 "It is important to combat the assumption that we have real pictures of the past;
"these remain possibilities and nothing more," we will never achieve proof, "only a stronger
probability" by continued research. "Personal knowledge in [the exact sciences] is not made
but discovered, and as such it claims to establish contact with reality beyond the clues on
which it relies [i.e., knowing is an art]. It [the skill of the knower] commits us, passionately
and far beyond our comprehension, to a vision of reality."96 "We must be prepared for the
possibility that the human brain will never be able to understand itself, or consciousness or
perhaps the nature of life itself. If so . . . the theory of dialectical materialism will be
"The world . . . will always be different from any statement that science can give of it. . . .
We are always restating our restatement of the world."98 "In atomic physics we deal with the
sort of world which would be sensed by intelligent beings endowed only with a clumsy sense
of touch."99 There is in our knowledge "a vast gap which physics shows no signs of ever
being able to bridge. . . . It may even be that whatever it is that is peculiar to life and
particular to thought lies outside the scope of physical concepts."100 "So long as we, like
good empiricists, remember that it is an act of faith to believe our senses, that we corrupt but
do not generate information, and that our most respectable hypotheses are but guesses, . . .
we [may] `rest assured that . . . [we are not] sinful man aspiring to the place of God.'"101
"Newton's first law illustrates another point, that the physical sciences are based on an act of
faith."102 "The structure of any language, mathematical or daily, is such that we must start .
. . with undefined terms. . . . These undefined words have to be taken on faith. They
represent some kind of implicit creed."103 Thus we must dispense with the whole
foundation of the Sophic: "All propositions which form the basis of scientific knowledge are
of such a nature that universal agreement could be obtained about them."104 The physicist
only wins back from Nature what he himself has put into the picture. Quantum theory and
relativity "teach the same lesson, . . . namely, that the world is not constructed according to
the principles of common sense."105
Ancient Statements: At the very beginning, the limitations of the Ionian School of physical
science were pointed out by Heraclitus, who thereby earned himself the unflattering epithet
of ho skoteinos, which, as Sophocles uses the word, does not mean "the obscure" so much as
"the recalcitrant," "the gloomy one," the man who throws cold water on things. Heraclitus
asked just how reliable the human organism is as a gatherer and interpreter of information:
how well equipped are we to read Bacon's "Book of Nature"? Men's eyes and ears are, to say
the least, unreliable instruments,106 and if their senses are feeble, their interpretative
faculties are even more so: all men are more or less asleep, and never completely sober.
Mere information (polymathia) is pointless for all the pride we take in it; the Sophoi have
done with God once for all -- but they are always talking about him: they are seeking the
same objective as religion -- to explain everything. And what are their chances of
succeeding? What about the objects they observe? They are always changing even while
they seek to limit and define them -- "all things flow; . . . you can't step into the same river
twice."107 The observer's own position is purely relative, yet everything depends on it: "The
road up and the road down are the same road"108 -- it all depends on the way you are facing.
So what hope have we for real knowledge? Revelation, says Heraclitus: "A man should
listen to the spirits (daimones, the same word is used by Socrates)109 as a child listens to an
adult";110 our individual minds are pretty dull, but through the ages there exists an
unmistakable consensus of humanity about things, an ethos which is not the product of
reason but of revelation; there is a common divine logos in which we all have a share, and
that is the one thing we can be really sure of, "the criterion of truth." 111 The great Sophists
-- Gorgias, Protagoras, Empedocles, and others, as well as Socrates and Plato and Aristotle -all dealt with the limitations of the Sophic mind.112
Part 4: Proposition 9 to Conclusion
Proposition 9. The world without the Mantic offers the best test of the Sophic. It is marked
by (A) piteous disappointment, (B) a puzzling deadness of spirit, and (C) a world plagued by
doubt, insecurity, cynicism, and despair.
A. The Sophic program always ends in failure, leading to disappointment and
disillusionment among its advocates.
Modern Statements: It now appears that "the nineteenth century, which believed itself boldly
progressive, was spiritually a period of obscurantism and reaction."1 The vast promises of
the nineteenth century have not been realized.2 The scientists, especially astronomers, have
turned out to be very poor scientific prophets; and as a rule the better the scientist, the
weaker his prophetic powers -- they lack the Mantic touch. 3 Ecological crises "reveal
serious inadequacies" which hitherto escaped notice in many areas.4 There has been a
comical disproportion between the promises and pretensions of anthropology and its
accomplishments.5 "It is obvious . . . that the Wellsian dream [of a mechanized utopia] has
turned into a nightmare."6 With all the talk and promise of the exciting quest for knowledge,
"only one new chemical reaction [has been] discovered by an American chemical company
during the last fifteen years."7 "Practically all who are now Ph.D.s want to be told what to
do. . . . They seem to be scared to death to think up problems of their own," while the "idea
for a jet engine . . . was met with a massive indifference from the scientific bureaucracy."8
"In social science, particularly, methodology is being made the route to prestige."9 "Fashions
in topics of study and methods of research have come one after another. . . . As a result we
have botanists who know no plants and zoologists who know no animals."10 "Our wealth of
scientific gadgets and our vast organization of scientific projects are in heavy disproportion
to our depth of scientific thought. We `research the hell' out of everything: we contemplate
very little."11 In philology and scholarship a deterioration of knowledge has taken place in
the last thirty years, especially in America. Today the tendency in linguistics is in the
"direction of overall anarchy" in which most classifications of unwritten languages contain
"elements of unreliability."12 In philosophy, "how many doctor's theses . . . are ever actually
read by any one except the examiners?"13 Instead of an insatiable, predicted demand for
scientists and engineers, most of them soon become obsolescent.14
Ancient Statements: With the rise of rationalist (Sophic) Greek civilization, "one might seem
to have got a principle of continuous progress. . . . In our modern civilization, which
reincarnates the Hellenic principle, we ordinarily believe that such continuous modification
and improvement is going on. But in the ancient Hellenic civilization the promise and
potency of its principle in every line of activity . . . seemed to meet with an arrest as
suddenly as it had begun."15 Bevan is mystified by this: Why did Hellenism, in the very
moment of completing its conquest, become paralyzed? Why does the study of Greek
literature always stop at the threshold of the Hellenistic period? Because only the Mantic
writers are interesting! The new education of the Greeks thought of itself as throbbing with
life and vitality; to keep up the illusion it had to go on progressively adding lurid to
sensational materials until in the end "the powerful spicing had become the main dish" and
all was ruined.16 Education did nothing to check intellectual and moral decline and, if
anything, accelerated it.17 Intellectually everything ground to a halt, just as the school
reached the peak of its splendor. 18 There was a paralyzing finality about the arguments of
the Sophists, who "looked for no revelation." Under Sophist tutelage, "the Athenians were
already losing their sense of political reality, . . . growing impatient of sincerity and plain
truth."19 Isocrates' conviction that education would be the solution to everything turned out
to be a great disappointment. Contrary to expectation, "There was no steady advance of
natural and mental science to serve as breeding ground" for future scientists among the
followers of Aristotle, whose teaching was converted into a "purely conceptual
scholasticism."20 Though the Sophists gave us "a 2000-year unbroken tradition" of rational
learning beginning with Gorgias, the Schoolmen expended those centuries in the usual
perennial arguments over the relative merits of the New versus the Old Education.21 "And
the intellectual scribblers of the decadent period" strongly influenced the thinking of the
Late Renaissance. 22
B. The result is nihilism, societal breakdown, and a puzzling deadness of spirit.
Modern Statements: The "clearest and the most comprehensive expression" of the world
view of Darwinism was given by Tyndale, noting that in the " `purely natural and inevitable
march of evolution from atoms . . . to the proceedings of the British Association for the
Advancement of Science' . . . life is of profound unimportance," being a "mere eddy in the
primeval slime." 23 "We must in all circumstances learn to accept the fact that . . . in the
longest run, the sum of all human endeavour has no recognizable significance."24 "A
scientific explanation of the course of evolution therefore avoids reference to either purpose
or progress in its recognition of the factors of change."25 "Life on earth is nothing but some
elements expressing generally available energy in a specific rhythm. Man is nothing but a
living creature expressing general tendencies in special reflections." 26 "That all the labours
of the ages . . . are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, . . . beneath the
debris of a universe in ruin, . . . [is] so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them
can hope to stand."27 Hence the obsession with entropy, "the rigid determinism desiccating
the world actually follows from the equations of mechanics and is the essence of its laws."28
"At the end [we find the mute and terrifying world of Pascal's `libertin,' the senseless world
of modern scientific philosophy. In the end] we find nihilism and despair."29 "Such
happiness as life is capable of comes from the full participation of all our powers in the
endeavor to wrest from each changing situation of experience its own full and unique
Determined attempts are made, especially in England, to obliterate all distinction between
the human mind and the automatic computer. The idea is "that man, if he is indeed nothing
but an improved beast, can by one more easy step be nothing more than a mere machine -- an
object which science can wholly analyze, wholly capture within its special framework."31
The robot works on exactly the same behavioristic principles as James Watson's or John
Dewey's human being; there is no essential difference between them.32 Already people are
being programmed to act as machines, "to behave like computers . . . I [Gordon Taylor] am
shocked that [the University of Michigan] tolerated this," 33 while the fundamental and
eternal battle between good and evil in humanity is disbelieved. "That we can design ethical
robots . . . is enough to prove that man's moral nature needs no supernatural source." 34
"There is no morality in life, no truth, no goodness, and no beauty. Life in all its adaptability
and elasticity is as elemental as iron or sulfur or oxygen or carbon. This is the correct
perspective of life. It would indeed save much trouble and avoid many unnecessary errors if
philosophers and scientists could look at life in the correct perspective." 35 "I like a
philosophy which exalts mankind. To degrade it is to encourage men to vice," writes
Diderot, yet in the next line goes on: "When I have compared men to the immense space
which is over their heads and under their feet, I have made them ants that bustle about on an
ant-hill. . . . Their vices and their virtues, shrinking in the same proportion, are reduced to
nothingness."36 Science "is teaching them for the first time to use their minds, not to seek
reassurance in the face of life's suffering and separation, and not to look for some escape
from transitoriness that is one of the unavoidable features of existence, but to strengthen and
multiply the connective links that establish human life more firmly in its natural habitat by
eliminating error and illusion and distortion and rendering more and more transparent our
relations with one another and with the rest of nature."37 Thus it takes the easy way and
pushes downhill, making a virtue of the negative: as if men did not already recognize their
miserable state! Science gives us a world without values: aesthetic, ethical, religious, "But a
world which is without value, Whitehead points out, is also a world without meaning. . . .
The world just is; it cannot be explained."38 This was the great appeal of science to the
Marxists: "The goal was a completely materialistic theory of life."39 Marx thought his
system was "somehow deducible from Darwin's discoveries. He proposed to acknowledge
his indebtedness by dedicating Das Kapital to Darwin."40 On the other hand, A. Wheelis's
End of the Modern Age shows how laissez-faire capitalism was the direct offspring and
corollary of the same naturalistic determinism, with the same amoral materialism. So we read
conscientious scholarly Russian studies on "From the Other Side to This Side: A Guide to
Atheism," "Concreteness in Studying the Overcoming of Religious Survivals," "Atheistic
Education and the Overcoming of Religious Survivals," and "The Principles of Scientific
Atheism in Technical Colleges."
Ancient Statements: How closely the ancient Sophic attitude matches the modern is revealed
in a statement of Professor Enslin of Harvard: Clement of Alexandria scorns the " `simple'
Christians" who were "afraid of Greek philosophy as children fear ghosts." 41 Though
Clement's own writings are full of "rubbish . . . triple-A nonsense; . . . frequent highly
fanciful, at times grotesque, derivations of words and terms," even "pathetic nonsense," they
at least show him to be "a man who prized insight, who preferred the voice of reasoned
conviction to the braying of Balaam's ass." 42 In the same spirit, Origen, also a product of
the University of Alexandria, wrote, when he read the Torah, "I blush to think that God
could have given these laws; the laws of men, of the Romans, Athenians, Spartans, for
example, are far nobler and more reasonable."43 "Modern humanity for the most part shares
the view of Pliny" that "the belief in rebirth or life after death is nothing but a pacifier for
children and belongs to a mortality greedy for everlasting life."44 The strength of the Sophic
is its appeal to the obvious, its contemptuous dismissal of belief in anything we cannot see,
which enabled it to turn the Mantic out of doors with ease, merrily debunking anything that
required an effort of faith or imagination.45
The credo of the educated was and remained Horace's Nil admirari "don't take anything
seriously"46 -- Horace describes himself good naturedly as a cheerful pig from the sty of
Epicurus; but as for believing in anything -- credat Judaeus Appeles -- let the Jews believe
that sort of stuff! The same depressing and hopeless attitude dominates in the Wisdom
Literature of the Egyptians47 and of the Babylonians. 48
C. It is the moral condition of life in a world without Mantic that most strongly proclaims the
bankruptcy of the Sophic.
Modern Statements: "The beginning of modern science is also the beginning of a
calamity."49 Why? For one thing, robbing life of meaning makes a hash of morality. The
fundamental principle of modern physics is that "the transition of the world into the
equilibrium state [entropy], and hence its death, is inevitable and irreversible. . . . Thus, the
world is to become a sheer desert-like monotony. . . . Despite its significance and progress,
theoretical mechanics seems a dry or even dull science. Perhaps this is an emotional
indicator of the incompleteness of the principles of the exact sciences. The trouble here,"
continues Nikolai Kozyrev, is "the deep discrepancy between the world of the exact sciences
and the real world," while all are taught to believe that the world of science is the real world
and the only world.50 "Thus it comes about, fantastic though it may sound, that men lie with
their neighbour's wives denuded of the last shred of a guilty conscience because observations
of the changes of Mercury's perihelion enabled Einstein to alter our ideas about space-time!"
51 The "problem of evil, . . . science for five hundred years has deliberately excluded from
its purview."52 "The force that devastated Hiroshima is really insignificant by comparison
with the force that devastated the district of Watts,"53 but both may be traced to the same
immoral source. "There is no longer a philosophy of nature; . . . the whole field of the
knowledge of sensible nature is given over to the sciences of phenomena, to empiriological
science. . . . By the same token there is no longer any speculative metaphysics."54 Science is
"now without superior direction or light, is abandoned to empirical and quantitative law, and
is entirely separated from the whole order of wisdom." 55
Everyone wants promotion and prestige on the ship, "But where is the boat going? No one
seems to have the faintest idea; nor, for that matter, do they see much point in even raising
the question. . . . Most see themselves as objects more acted upon than acting -- and their
future, therefore, determined as much by the system as by themselves."56 This is plainly
seen in the dependence of our whole well-being on the imponderables of the Dow Jones
averages. The Sophic promised that it could handle everything: "Modern science and modern
conditions of life have taught us to meet occasions of apprehension by a critical analysis of
their causes and conditions" rather than by appealing to heaven.57 It has always been
promised that mankind could be freed from all its shackles by technology.58 But now it
turns out that the Sophic does not even offer escape from dullness. "Truth is not the only aim
of science. We want more than mere truth: what we look for is interesting truth."59 This is
diametrically opposed to most university departments that teach that they are only doing
their job when they are dull and, like the Berlin School of Egyptology, glory in their strict
avoidance of anything that might be interesting; they have found something heroic in mere
patient plodding and had a horror of "Fantasie" and "Romantik." The highest reward for
them was professional status, as it is for the heroes of C. P. Snow's novels, all eminent
Cambridge scientists who have only one object in life -- to achieve ever more "eminence."
They will engage in all manner of fraud and deception to achieve it; their work interests
them only as long as they can show off to the world and to each other. "Darwinism has
come, and has conquered, and as a vital influence in the spiritual life, has gone." 60 Science
could not even hold up its own end. "Because of the sterility of its concepts, historical
geology . . . has become static and unproductive.61 Since then plate tectonics have livened
things up a bit, but still "most of us refuse to discard or reformulate, and the result is the
present deplorable state of our discipline."62 What kept them going? Showmanship,
self-dramatization: without the stage of the university to show off on, where would most of
us be?
And so we have the present state of the world described by Chicago University physicist
John R. Platt: "too dangerous for anything but Utopia." Science has made it dangerous, but
provides no Utopia.63 Jerome Wiesner of M.I.T. claimed: "The armaments race is an
accelerating downward-spiral to Oblivion."64 So will accumulation of scientific knowledge
save us? It is now so specialized that "even engineers would not know how to reconstruct the
machinery of our civilization if it somehow collapsed or was destroyed."65 "The [amount of]
knowledge in the world [in 1960] is doubling every ten years. . . . Soon. . . our entire culture
will have collapsed owing to its incomprehensive complexity."66 We have reached a
saturation point, though "probably 99 per cent of human ability has been wholly wasted;
even today, those of us who consider ourselves cultured . . . glimpse the profounder
resources of our minds only once or twice in a lifetime.67 There are "many unpleasant ways
in which the world can go wrong [and very few in which it] can go right." 68 The human
animal may have fatally overreached itself unless it takes on some sense in the eleventh
hour. Meanwhile, we resign ourselves to Existentialism, "the philosophical refuge of the
despairing spirit caught in the turmoil of moral crisis. It has always been -- and is today,
essentially and at its core, a bitter-sweet philosophy of despair." 69 This is 100 years after
William James challenged the world to do the honest thing and base its philosophy only on
the firm foundation of unyielding despair.
Ancient Statements: The ancients went through the same experience and collapsed. With the
complete victory of the Sophic mind a namenloses Elend (indefinable malaise) covered the
whole glorious Hellenistic world. Christianity has been blamed for this, but Christian
influence became dominant only after the churchmen themselves had gone all out to
accommodate to the prevailing Sophic teaching of the time -- that of Alexandria: then it was
that all joy seemed to go out of the world.70 Long before Christian influence was felt, the
world of the Roman Satirists was full blown: an utterly cynical, immoral, and pessimistic
world. The rational (Sophic) mood of Hellenism had emancipated men from moral restraints,
when, as today, they "speak and write as if the relation of the sexes were something that
could be put on a plain, scientific, common sense basis," 71 but at the same time, as Bevan
shrewdly observes, they became everywhere obsessed with a passion for bathing, a constant
obsession with fighting dirt and a fanatical desire to flee from it and sweeten themselves -subconscious betrayal of guilt.72
Intellectually, the accumulation of knowledge reached a saturation point when the cultural
and intellectual "deposit of the past had become too great for any mind to absorb" and
people simply gave up trying, as they have today.73 The easy way was to specialize and thus
lose sight of the larger questions of life; the best thinking of the professors for centuries on
end became thereafter incurably trivial.74 Calls to a revival of Hellenism got nowhere.75
The great antique civilization subsided into a restless, superficial world of theatromania,
mob violence, crime and corruption.76 The only security was found in the university, where
the doctors held undeviatingly to the age-old routines of hollow lectures, fierce feuds, and
adroit politics, oblivious to the world collapsing around them. Quintillian advises the young
to "stay away from the big schools!" with their cynicism and immorality, but then admits that
they do offer the best chances for a career in any field. By the fifth century nobody knew
what to believe, since the schoolmen had made a virtue of questioning everything without
really looking for an answer -- busywork and self-deception had become the way of life.77
In the end it was the teaching of the "physicist" that men should look for the explanation to
all things in natural causes alone that laid the foundation for the ruin of everything,
according to Plato.78
Proposition 10. Our notes add up to something quite unexpected. I had expected to do the
inevitable and call for a proper balance between the Sophic and the Mantic, each of which
has its faults as well as its virtues. But that is not the way it turns out at all! Not for me, at
least. Nothing could be plainer than the lesson that the human race in the times under survey
has disastrously neglected the Mantic. The Christian Church went all out to identify itself
with the Sophic, as it still does.
Modern Statements: The founders of Roman Catholic theology "had a boundless esteem for
the work of the Schools." 79 To begin with, the Church claims to found its case on reason.
The Catholic believes that he can produce reasoned and convincing, even coercive
arguments. Even the doctrine of the Trinity can be proved indirectly by reason, since "it is
not . . . irrational to accept these truths on the authority of the Church, provided that you can
prove by reason that the Church is infallible"80 and "the credentials of the Roman Catholic
Church can be proved by pure reason and by pure reason alone."81 "Medieval philosophy
was not so much a servant of theology as theology was a servant of philosophy. . . . That was
the case of Saint Thomas Aquinas, who strictly subordinated theology to Aristotelian
philosophy."82 Under the Scholastic philosophers, "philosophy called `Logic' dominated the
schools . . . logica sola placet, science was everything." 83 The logica nova84 of the twelfth
century was a heritage of the Ancient Sophist schools, "a triumph of sophistry."85 The
mystical trends of the seventeenth century were vigorously condemned by the Church, since
revelation "is universally denied by the scholastics."86 Even the early Jesuits were given a
bad time for toying with the idea of revelation.
Modern Protestantism objected to Mormonism primarily on grounds of scientific
enlightenment -- "seeing visions in an age of railways" was Dickens's withering comment.87
Protestantism broke with Scholasticism, but its rejection of revelation led it straight into the
arms of nineteenth-century natural science and Hegel's philosophy of history, "formulated by
materialism and Darwinism into the dogma that all historical phenomena may be explained
through mundane causes only and that their development was or must have been from a low
to a high level."88 Biblical criticism insisted on following the rigorous, unflinchingly
skeptical procedures of science. 89 In a spirit of emancipation"they talk of a religion without
theology; but when pressed as to what that means, they offer a diffuse romantic
sentimentalism, with rhapsodies over a pursuit of goodness . . . and at last to a sort of
perpetual motion ever `upward and onward' but with no indication of any specific direction."
90 Alfred North Whitehead sums up the process of accommodation: Each new scientific
advance has "found the religious thinkers unprepared," until "finally, after struggle" their
teachings were "modified and otherwise interpreted," so that "the next generation of
religious apologists then congratulates the religious world on the deeper insight which has
been gained," and so it goes with "continued repetition of this undignified retreat, during
many generations."91 And so from the beginning, by a progressive accommodation, the
churches have always remained respectably Sophic.
Today the churches are suggesting that they may have erred in this, and are calling for
revelation to rescue them. "Liberalism was the voice of secular confidence in science,
education and culture. It accommodated its claims to fit human expectations. . . . For this
reason it failed to find wings. Theological accommodationism is a parasite dependent on its
host. . . . Liberalism is dead, or dying, as secular confidence wains."92
Statements on the Ancient Church: "From the 5th century on the Church became an
`intellectual' entity" and ever since one sees in "the Church a thing of reason -- un tre de
raison."93 Mosheim asked: Was the conversion of the Doctors a blessing or a curse for the
Church? to which he replied: "I must confess myself unable to decide the point." In the third
century this led to serious clashes between popular faith and the sophisticated theology of
the Doctors. 94 The Doctors won hands-down. The authority of Alexandria prevailed,
"recasting the permanent elements of the church's doctrine in harmony with a religious
philosophy of Grecian character. What the Apologists were compelled to do, these men
willingly sought to accomplish."95 By the beginning of the second century, "with perfect
impunity . . . they proceeded to do violence to the scripture, blithely disregarding the original
teachings, . . . busily working out elaborate structures of syllogisms. . . . They deserted the
Holy Scriptures for . . . Euclid, . . . Aristotle, and Theophrastus."96 Challenged by Celsus, a
doughty champion of the Sophic, Origen yields to him on every point, explaining that Celsus
does not realize that real Christians are all for science, too. 97 In a like situation, Octavius
points out to his educated friend that all real Christians are philosophers, just as he is; the
vulgar simply don't understand.98 The Churchmen embraced Hellenism even though they
knew it had overcome early Christianity.99 "In the philosophical interpretation of its
eschatological hope, Christian theology from the very beginning clings to Aristotle," who
"provided Christian philosophers with all the elements out of which an adequate conception
of personality could be built up. . . . One cannot fail to acknowledge the Aristotelian origin
of the main anthropological ideas in early Christian theology." 100 It is possible to call St.
Augustine, the founder of Catholic and Protestant theology, "the first modern man" because
of his fides quaerens intellectum -- the Mantic seeking to become Sophic. 101
Proposition 11. An approach to the authentically Mantic is (A) desirable, and (B) possible.
A. The need for a "return" to the Mantic is felt today as it was anciently.
Modern Statements: " `Modern man' . . . is the heir of . . . the sceptical tradition. . . . In the
present epoch a large and increasing number of Europeans have expressed the desire to
return [to] . . . the religious tradition. . . . Whenever they take it into their head to `return,' the
shades of all the great sceptics, Pierre Bayle and Voltaire, Ernest Renan and Sigmund Freud
and the rest, rise up around them and persuade them, with considerable success, that they
cannot go back. This is the religious dilemma of `modern man.'" 102 They cannot go back,
because they were never there -- their religion was always Sophic. "The trouble with the
Bible has been its interpreters, who have scaled and whittled down that sense of infinitude
into finite and limited concepts. . . . Here we are with our finite beings and physical senses in
the presence of a universe whose possibilities are infinite, and even though we may not
apprehend them, those infinite possibilities are actualities."103 "God grant that we are
mistaken. But if we have read the signs of the times correctly, . . . the only salvation for
mankind will be found in religion."104 "The ruling concept of our day, the degrading and
life-impoverishing error of a Nature which is not deeply and inwardly bound to our own
natures, must be overcome. The idea of a spiritual life without spirit, that can be examined
like a problem in physics, must be overcome." 105
Ancient Statements: Plato and Aristotle, after mastering the Sophic, both turned
whole-heartedly to the Mantic quest. In the pagan world the cult of Serapis was a determined
attempt to turn Mantic; in the Christian, the turning to Monasticism, pilgrimages, and the
temple show a yearning for the Mantic,106 all strenuously opposed by the Doctors of the
B. Is it possible?
"But today the Baconian approach is all but dead. . . . How does a new hypothesis come into
existence? That is where intuition comes in." Peter Medawar claims that "Scientists are
usually too proud or too shy"; where intuition is concerned, "they feel it to be incompatible
with their conception of themselves as men of facts and rigorous inductive judgments."107
Some scientists have suggested, to avoid yielding any purely scientific ground, the idea of
man initiating a line of robots which then independently culminate in the production of a
perfect robot, which proceeds to create -- a human race! 108 thus bringing God into the
picture without having to apologize! Today there is increasing realization in the churches
that "the living God to Whom men address their prayers is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob, not the philosophers' God, the idea of the Absolute."109 Countless articles today
point out that we cannot attain the Mantic without revelation. For a definitive statement, see
the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants.
We are not advocating pagan religion in preference to modern science, since both stand on
the same foundation through centuries of accommodation. Yet some Christian leaders view
Greek Mantic with respect and even call for a return to it through Christian channels! 110
The true seeker seeks everywhere -- he is a true scientist -- but to search he must be a
believer; for even in the lab, "Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith" (Ether
12:6). To illustrate this, "Bacon . . . was an enemy of the Copernican hypothesis. Don't
theorize, he said, but open your eyes and observe without prejudice (faith), and you cannot
doubt that the Sun moves and that the Earth is at rest. By contrast, Galileo [wrote:] . . . `I
cannot . . . express strongly enough my unbounded admiration for the greatness of mind of
these men who conceived (the heliocentric system) and held it to be true . . . , in violent
opposition to the evidence of their own senses.'"111 It is perfectly proper to believe and
seek, to have faith and hope, and to labor to be worthy of receiving revelation.
The Mantic is quite as intellectual as the Sophic: it takes more pure mental calculation to
operate a Urim and Thummim than it does to use an Egyptian dictionary, and the brainwork
required of the Saints is formidable (cf. D&C 93:53). In a General Epistle of the First
Presidency in 1851 they were told, "It becomes us, as Saints of the Most High, to inform and
become informed; and to treasure up knowledge and wisdom concerning all things."112
Knowledge does not have to be Sophic to be real and exact; in the Melchizedek Priesthood
Manual for 1972/73, President Joseph Fielding Smith equated real knowledge with the gift
of the Holy Ghost: "There is nothing more important in the lives of members of the Church
than to have the gift of the Holy Ghost. There is nothing of greater importance to the
individual member of the Church than the gift of knowledge, and this does not come by
observation but by constant study and faith."113 "There should be no `laymen' in the
Church. . . . If there are any such, then they have neglected their responsibilities. . . . Each
member of the Church should be so well versed that he, or she, would be able to discern
whether or not any doctrine taught conforms to the revealed word of the Lord. Moreover, the
members of the Church are entitled [through obedience to the commandments] . . . to have
the spirit of discernment."114
Proposition 12. It is Science that now challenges the Sophic position. "Science" has at least
discredited the Sophic position. Since the days of the ancient Atomists, the Sophic view of
life has rested on two propositions: (A) that all existence is composed ultimately of discrete
irreducible particles, beyond which and beside which there is no reality; (B) that all things
are the result of the random accidental interactions of these particles. Both these propositions
are today being declared bankrupt, not by the philosophers and theologians, but by the
physical and biological scientists.
Modern Statements: The Atomist proposition explained by Descartes: "From complex whole
move to less complex part. Reduce! . . . from multiplicity to uniformity."115
Hume: "You will find it [the whole] to be nothing but one great machine, subdivided into an
infinite number of lesser machines." 116 "Humanities strove to become sciences, each
science to become physics, . . . the ultimate destination in every field being always that final
elementary particle."117 But instead of the ultimate particle "our holy mission to get it all
straight has yielded an ever-proliferating brood of erratically behaving elementary particles. .
. . `The conception of objective reality,' writes Heisenberg, `has thus evaporated . . . into the
transparent clarity of a mathematics that represents no longer the behavior of particles but
rather our knowledge of this behavior.'" 118 "The structure of a physical system such as a
proton is now seen to be no absolute thing . . . but a relative concept which depends on the
energy involved and the particular properties which are being studied. . . . There is no
substance in the argument that physics must ultimately have a full stop in constituent parts
too simple to be analysed further." 119 "[Banging] the hadrons together . . . has completely
upset the atomist notion that there is a limit to divisibility. . . . As the energy is increased
there is no logical limit to . . . what may be found as we look deeper into space."120 "There
is really only one law, which is that the total energy is conserved."121 "Energy . . . is the
fundamental physical quantity of which mass and radiation -- matter and light -- are two
The clearest expression of the theory of random chance evolution is Robert Jastrow's popular
book Red Giants and White Dwarfs 123 (which has been required reading in some courses at
BYU): "Yet the fact is that a single thread of evidence runs from the atom and the nucleus
through the formation of stars and planets to the complexities of the living organism."124
"Darwin saw that the forms of life existing on the earth today have evolved gradually out of
earlier and simpler beginnings."125 "We believe that at the beginning there was only a cloud
of gaseous hydrogen. . . . It was the parent cloud of us all." 126 "With the further passage of
time, cells developed . . . and living organisms were started on the long road to the
complexity of the creatures which exist today."127 How? "Life can appear spontaneously in
any favorable planetary environment, and evolve into complex beings, provided vast
amounts of time are available."128 "Thousands of skeletons and fossil remains mark the path
by which life climbed upward from its crude beginnings."129 The principle of natural
selection is, according to Jastrow, the great "new law . . . discovered by Charles Darwin,"
which "guides the course of evolution and shapes the forms of living creatures -- on this
planet and on all planets on which life has arisen -- as firmly and as surely as gravity controls
the stars and the planets."130
Karl Popper would deny this so-called law of nature even the title to a scientific theory:
"There is a difficulty with Darwinism. . . . It is far from clear what we should consider a
possible refutation of the theory of natural selection. If . . . we accept that statistical
definition of fitness which defines fitness by actual survival, then the survival of the fittest
becomes tautological, and irrefutable." 131 Other objections come from biologists,
geologists, physicists, and others. "I want to warn against . . . the basic assumption . . . that
what is more simple in metabolism biochemically is more primitive and consequently older
in the history of life. This assumption is entirely unjustified.132 In geology also, " `simple'
has also been largely confused with `primitive' and with `early.'"133 "The synthesis by
natural inorganic processes of such large, complicated molecules [necessary for life] happens
to be well-nigh impossible under present environmental circumstances. . . . These large
organic molecules cannot at present exist on their own, inorganically; . . . they cannot be
formed regularly, or even rarely, in natural inorganic chemistry and even if this would be
possible, they are liable to immediate destruction."134 Even if life could be reproduced in
the laboratory, "we could not say from our experiments that the living material in the
universe arose in this way. . . . The assumption that life arose only once and that therefore all
living things are interrelated [Jastrow's "single thread of evidence"] is a useful assumption. .
. . But because a concept is useful it does not mean that it is necessarily correct."135
"Nothing is definitely known about what did happen; all is hypothesis, and though it is
simpler to assume that it was a unique occurrence, there is no reason why this simple
explanation should be the correct one."136 "But it is hard to see how this [natural selection]
operates in the very early stages of development. It is also hard to see why it has led to the
evolution of life forms of ever-increasing complexity. If survival is the essential
characteristic for trapping fluctuations, very simple organisms would appear to be just as
well, if not better, equipped than complicated ones."137
What many are pointing out today is that the mechanistic-evolutionary theory reverses both
the direction of time and the order of nature. By the laws of thermodynamics, "left to itself,
everything tends to become more and more disorderly until the final and natural state of
things is a completely random distribution of matter. Any kind of order, even that as simple
as the arrangement of atoms in a molecule, is unnatural and happens only by chance
encounters that reverse the general trend. These events are statistically unlikely, and the
further combination of molecules into anything as highly organized as a living organism is
wildly improbable. Life is a rare and unreasonable thing."138
Jastrow is presenting the position of "the most extreme mechanistic faction . . . that all
phenomena of life are explainable by means of our present body of physical and chemical
theories. The reason I feel sure that this is not true is that these theories do not seem
adequate even for inanimate phenomena. Most physicists agree that our present theories do
not suffice to understand the nucleus of the atom, for example."139 "In biochemistry, based
on this physics, we are able to account fully only for isolated phenomena, which will cease
eventually. I cannot reconcile physical principles with the phenomena of life when
considering the whole living unit. It is interesting that Niels Bohr concluded that life is a
qualitatively different attribute of matter, not subject to current considerations in
Here some recent reflections on the evolutionary scene by eminent biologists are not out of
place: "Is there any positive proof, from any part of the evidence, that evolution has, or has
not, occurred? There is no visible proof, nor any kind of certain proof, either way,
anywhere."141 "This theory can be called the `General Theory of Evolution' and the
evidence that supports it is not sufficiently strong to allow us to consider it as anything more
than a working hypothesis." 142 "Of course one can say that the small observable changes in
modern species may be the sort of thing that lead to all the major changes, but what right
have we to make such an extrapolation? We may feel that this is the answer to the problem,
but is it a satisfactory answer? A blind acceptance of such a view may in fact be the closing
of our eyes to as yet undiscovered factors which may remain undiscovered for many years if
we believe that the answer has already been found." 143 Today "Neocatastrophism" teaches
that during the earth's past there have been "drastic turning-points, the cutting off of animal
types, characterized by a widespread more or less contemporary extinction of numerous
species and emergence and even exuberance of others." This has led eminent geologists to
take positions which are "in opposition to Darwin's doctrine of gradual evolution, natural
selection, and extinction as a normal process."144 "The extinction can only have been a
sudden and decisive event," and we have"not only the dying out of older species (Stmme),
but also the more or less sudden emergence of new ones," so that we "should speak of an
anastrophe" rather than a catastrophe.145 The "argument . . . that the origin of life is
essentially a problem in probability . . . is an insufficient and actually an unsuitable concept.
Furthermore, this appears to me as even a dangerous mental attitude. It leads to a
self-satisfied state of mind. We have an illusion that the problem can be explained with
existing knowledge (a very natural tendency in scientists) and this lulls us into an attitude of
not thinking really about the problem."146
Being tautological in nature, the evolutionary hypothesis explains very little. It has "two
basic fallacies: . . . (1) it assumes that there is only one way in which a certain state of
affairs, such as life, can exist; and (2) it assumes that the probability of a process can be
calculated although its mechanism is unknown."147 It is a product of hindsight: its authors
wrote the answer-book first, and then composed the problem around it. "Science is only
restrospectively logical." 148 "We might ask, why was the Piltdown monster accepted? The
answer is very simple; it had been taylored [sic] according to scientific theory. . . . So when
such a creature [a crass forgery] was found, the anthropologists recognized at once that they
were right."149 "Most finds [of early man] were made, and I am proud we can say this, by
men who wanted to find."150 "There is no doubt that the horse could have evolved in the
manner described. But had Mr. Darwin lived fifty million years ago, he would certainly not
have been able to predict that these changes would occur, even if he had known how the
environment was going to change. Since his theory would not have served for predictions
then, it is not adequate for an explanation now."151 "To say that the known changes could
have been brought about by the described machinery does not explain these changes. . . . An
adequate explanation is one which would have enabled us to predict the outcome, before it
took place. But none of the present evolutionary theories enables us to make such
predictions." 152 "Many more questions will have to be answered before an evolutionary
theory emerges that can make even simple predictions."153
Concerning the seven basic assumptions of evolution, G. A. Kerkut writes: "The first point
that I should like to make is that these seven assumptions by their nature are not capable of
experimental verification. They assume that a certain series of events has occurred in the
past. Thus though it may be possible to mimic . . . this does not mean that these events must
therefore have taken place in the past. All that it shows is that it is possible for such a change
to take place. . . . We have to depend upon limited circumstantial evidence for our
Lyall Watson says, "life occurs by chance and that the probability of its occurring, and
continuing, is infinitesimal. It is even more unlikely that this life could, in the comparatively
short time it has existed on this planet, develop into more than a million distinct living
forms. . . . To believe that this took place only by chance places a great strain on the
credulity of even the most mechanistic biologist. The geneticist Waddington compares it to
`throwing bricks together in heaps' in the hope that they would `arrange themselves into an
inhabitable house.'"155 In atomic particles "it is the least massive and therefore longest
living states which are the most important."156 "The physicochemical principle of
selectivity . . . includes a tacit assumption of acquisition, of positive action, of building up
the improbable and more complex from the more probable, less complex and of actually
increasing stability as complexity increases."157 All of which actually reverses the order of
R. Buckminster Fuller has much to say on this theme. For him evolution "reassociates those
elements in orderly molecular structures or as orderly organs of ever-increasing magnitude,
thus effectively reversing the entropic behaviors of purely physical phenomena." 158 This
requires an explanation: "My continuing philosophy is predicated, first, on the assumption
that in dynamical counterbalance of the expanding universe of entropically increasing
random disorderliness, there must be a universal pattern of omniX contracting, convergent,
progressive orderliness" which presents us with "an overwhelming confrontation of our
experience by a comprehensive intellect magnificently greater than our own or the sum of all
human intellects." The glory of God is intelligence, or, in the words of P. T. Matthews, "The
sorting process -- the creation of order out of chaos -- against the natural flow of physical
events is something which is essential to life."159 "A human being is, at very least, an
assembly of chemicals constructed and maintained in a state of fantastically complicated
organisation of quite unimaginable improbability."160 The reverse motion [opposing the
direction of entropy], although formally allowed, is so improbable that it can be dismissed as
impossible.161 "Any system will tend to degenerate into a condition with a minimum
amount of mass, the largest number of parts and the maximum amount of motion."162 The
answer to this has always been: "You cannot say it is a state of unimaginable
improbability,"163 because it actually happens. You can see it happen! Therefore there is
nothing fantastic or miraculous about it.
"For practical reasons," wrote P. T. Mora, "we developed a simplifying scientific approach
in physics. We follow the dictates of Descartes, that one must divide . . . into as many parts
as possible, and then study the simplest first. . . . However, complexity is an essential
attribute of biological systems. . . . furthermore, in physics we avoid teleology, . . . but a
certain type of teleological approach must be pertinent to the study of living systems."164
But the simplifying process has come to an end with the discovery that the ultimate hard,
indivisible particle of the atomists, whose weight and shape alone accounted for all
phenomena, vanishes into energy patterns of apparently endless complexity. Mr. Wheelis
throws up his hands in despair: "We isolate what we study, simplify it, break it into smaller
pieces, wash it"165 and then, lo, "mechanism disappears at precisely that point at which we
were finally going to nail it down forever."166 "We have sacrificed the world for
nothing."167 And so it would seem "we have come a long way on false credentials. . . . We
are not entitled to grace in getting out, to peace with honor." 168 "We have lived a delusion,
we cannot know the world. Aided or unaided we stumble through an endless night, locked in
a range of experience . . . given by what we are and where we live." 169 He quotes Bridgman
of M.I.T.: "Our conviction that nature is understandable and subject to law arose from the
narrowness of our horizons. . . . We shall find that nature is intrinsically and in its elements
neither understandable nor subject to law. . . . The world is not a world of reason,
understandable by the intellect of man." 170 "Between the electrical signals coming through
the eye to the brain and our reaction to . . . a tree in blossom on a fresh spring day, there is a
vast gap which physics shows no signs of ever being able to bridge." 171 It may even be that
whatever it is that is peculiar to life and particular to thought lies outside the scope of
physical concepts."172 "The Universe is not only queerer than we imagine -- it is queerer
than we can imagine[!]"173 "And the real beginning of education must be the experimental
realization of absolute mystery."174 "And the why-for and how-come of all . . . generalized
principles . . . are all and together Absolute Mystery." 175
Ancient Statements: If the ancients did not have the sophisticated instruments and methods
now available, what they did have was far superior to anything that we have been willing to
credit them with so far. Their methods were different, but to judge by the results, very
effective.176 They had only too great faith in the principles of mechanistic materialism and
natural selection (cf. Alma 30:15-18), and in the end turned from atomism and determinism
to esoteric studies which have been dismissed as "mystical" but which present-day
investigation shows to have been astonishingly fruitful in concepts very close to some of the
most sophisticated scientific speculation of our time. Thus Matthews notes that "it is
fascinating how close these diagrams [some very advanced `quark patterns'] are to the
number pattern which so impressed the Pythagoreans."177 The cosmological patterns set
forth in numerous early Christian ("Gnostic") and Jewish works very recently discovered are
at very least extremely high-class science-fiction. I myself am at present engaged in
gathering and comparing such work. 178 That Whitehead at the end of his life should turn to
Plato as the best exponent of the reality around us is an indication of how far the ancients
projected their physical researches into scientific speculation. In turning to "mystic"
speculations, Plato and Aristotle, as Werner Jaeger shows, did not turn their backs to the
physical universe. It was the Neo-Platonists and the later Doctors of the Christian church,
following the lead of the scholars of Alexandria, who did that.
These notes were compiled around 1963 in outline fashion and were intended as an
aid in research.
Illustration Sources
Illustration Sources
Except where noted, the illustrations have been drawn for this edition by Michael Lyon
(ML), Tyler Moulton (TM), and Glen Cooper (GC).
Figure 1 (p. 6). Redrawn (ML) from Stewart Culin, "Games of the North American Indians,"
Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 24 (1902-1903): 214, fig. 291.
Figure 2 (p. 11). Redrawn (ML) from (A) Dora Jane Hamblin, The Etruscans (New York:
Time-Life Books, 1975), 123; (B) Michael H. Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, 2
vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974), 2: pl. XLVII, 4; (C) Cornelius
Vermeule, Numismatic Art in America (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 1971), 145, fig. 159.
Figure 3 (p. 13). Redrawn (ML) from Hunan Provincial Museum: The Han Tomb No. 2 at
Ma Wang Tui, Changsha, 2 vols. (Peking: WenWu, 1973), (A) 1:100, pl. 93.3; (B) 2: pl.
270; (C) Albert S. Lyons, Medicine, An Illustrated History (New York: Abrams, 1978), 143,
fig. 222.
Figure 4 (p. 36). Redrawn (ML) from (A) Charles Singer, A History of Technology, 10 vols.
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1954), 1:700, fig. 502; (B) Alexander Badawy, A History
of Egyptian Architecture, vol. 2 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966), 251, pl. 32.
Figure 5 (p. 37). Redrawn (ML) from (A) Henri Seyrig, "Antiquités Syriennes," Syria 15
(1934): pl. XIX; (B) Marie-Madeleine Gauthier, Highways of the Faith (London: Alpine
Fine Arts Collection, 1986), 91, fig. 48. (C) Original English engraving from Edward Lane,
An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, 3 vols. in 1 (London:
Knight, 1846), 3:65.
Figure 6 (pp. 38-39). Redrawn (ML) from (A) Heinrich Schfer, Principles of Egyptian Art
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1974), pl. 40; (B) Mohamed Saleh, The Egyptian Museum Cairo,
Official Catalogue (Mainz: von Zabern, 1987), pl. 123 (carrying poles restored); (C) G.
Lefebvre, Le Tombeau de Petosiris (Cairo: Imprimerie de l'Institute français d'archäologie
Orientale, 1924), pls. XXX, XXXIV; (D) G. E. Wright, Biblical Archaeology (Philadelphia:
Westminster, 1957), 203, fig. 146 (the inscription JHU was widely read as a late Aramaic
spelling of Jahweh while Wright reads it as Judah but still does not explain the equally
surprising use by Jews of this Greek image); (E) Hugo Gressmann, Texte und Bilder zum
alten Testament (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1927), pl. CXLVI, 363; (F) Erwin Goodenough, Jewish
Symbols in the Greco-Roman Period, 13 vols. (New York: Pantheon, 1964), 11: illustration
334; (G) H. P. L'Orange, Studies on the Iconography of Cosmic Kingship in the Ancient
World (New Rochelle, NY: Caratzas Brothers, 1982), 128, fig. 91; and (H) Christiane
Desroches-Noblecourt, Tutankhamen (New York: Rainbird, 1963), 190, fig. 110.
Figure 7 (p. 40). Redrawn (ML) from (A) Erich Schmidt, Persepolis, 3 vols. (Chicago:
University of Chicago, 1953), 1: pl. 78 (heavily restored); (B) ibid., 3: pl. 43B (tomb of
Xerxes); (C) Dieter Planck et al., Der Keltenfürst von Hochdorf (Stuttgart: Theiss, 1985),
102, fig. 119: (D) ibid., 97, fig. 114.
Figure 8 (p. 44). (A) Mathias Ueblacker, Das Teatro Marittimo in der Villa Hadriana (Mainz:
von Zabern, 1985), redrawn (GC), pl. 50.1; and (B) ibid., redrawn (ML), pl. 53.1, plan 24,
Figure 9 (p. 103). Redrawn (ML) from (A) Pierre Amiet, Art of the Ancient Near East (New
York: Abrams, 1980), pl. 599; (B) Werner Müller, Die heilige Stadt (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer,
1961), pl. 7a; (C) F. Van der Meer, Atlas of the Early Christian World (London: Nelson,
1959), 31, map 39.
Figure 10 (p. 105). William Simpson, "The Threefold Division of Temples," Ars Quatuor
Coronatorum 1 (1886-88): between pages 128 and 129, from a drawing by the author.
Figure 11 (p. 117). Redrawn (ML) from (A) L'Orange, Iconography of Cosmic Kingship, 41,
fig. 19. Redrawn (TM) from (B) Kurt Weitzmann, ed., Age of Spirituality (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1979), 70. Redrawn (ML) from (C) Seth Stevenson, Dictionary
of Roman Coins (London, 1889), 358; (D) Cornelius Vermeule, Jewish Relations with the
Art of Ancient Greece and Rome (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1981), 80; and (E) T. L.
Donaldson, Ancient Architecture on Greek and Roman Coins and Medals (Chicago:
Argonaut, 1966), no. 57.
Figure 12 (p. 120). Henry Yule, The Book of Ser Marco Polo the Venetian, 3rd ed. (London:
Murray, 1926), 255, "drawn by Sig. Quinto Cenni on a design compiled by the Editor from
the description of Marco Polo and later travelers" (ci); quotation by William Rubruck in
Manuel Komroff, ed., Contemporaries of Marco Polo (New York: Liveright, 1928), 59.
Figure 13 (p. 153). (A) Stevenson, Dictionary of Roman Coins, 245. Redrawn (ML) from
(B) Weitzmann, ed., Age of Spirituality, 79.
Figure 14 (pp. 156-57). Slightly restored and enhanced (ML) from Norman de Garis Davies,
Rock Cut Tombs of El Amarna (London: Archaeological Survey of Egypt, 1908), pl. XXIX,
Figure 15 (p. 159). Henri Leclerq, "Annone," in Fernand Cabrol and Henri Leclercq,
Dictionnaire d'archäologie chrétienne et de liturgie, 15 vols. (Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 1907),
Figure 16 (p. 207). Redrawn (ML) from Trevor Williams, The Triumph of Invention (New
York: Facts on File Publications, 1987), 134.
Figure 17 (p. 262). Redrawn (TM) from (A) Weitzmann, ed., Age of Spirituality, 55.
Redrawn (ML) from (B) L'Orange, Iconography of Cosmic Kingship, 177, fig. 126; (C)
Weitzmann, ed., Age of Spirituality, 184; (D) ibid., 415.
Figure 18 (p. 305). George W. Robinson, Autobiography of Joseph Scaliger (Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press, 1927), opp. p. 59.
Notes to Chapter 1
1. Moritz Hoernes, Natur- und Urgeschichte des Menschen, 2 vols. (Vienna: Hastlben,
1909), 2:392-96; Thorkild Jacobsen, "Primitive Democracy in Ancient Mesopotamia,"
Journal of Near Eastern Studies 2 (1943): 159-72; Carl H. Bishop, "The Beginnings of
Civilization in Eastern Asia," Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution (1940): 431,
2. Robert F. Heizer, "Aconite Poison Whaling in Asia and America: An Aleutian Transfer to
the New World," Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 24 (1943): 421, 429-36, 440, 446;
Ales Hrdlicka, The Aleutian and Commander Islands (Philadelphia: Wistar Institute of
Anatomy and Biology, 1945), 130, 132; Theodor W. Danzel, Die Anfänge der Schrift
(Leipzig: Vorgtländer, 1912), 38.
3. The history of the problem is given by Walter J. Hoffman, "The Graphic Art of the
Eskimos," Annual Report of the U.S. National Museum (1895): 763-65, 934-38; see F. M.
Bergounioux and André Glory, Les premiers hommes (Paris: Didier, 1945), 232-39.
4. Hjalmar S. Falk, Altnordische Waffenkunde (Kristiania: Dybwad, 1914), 101.
5. Walter J. Hoffman, "The Menomini Indians," Annual Report of the Bureau of American
Ethnology 14 (1892-1893): 278; J. Owen Dorsey, "Omaha Dwellings, Furniture, and
Implements," Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 13 (1891-1892): 287;
William Bray, "Observations on the Indian Method of Picture-Writing," Archaeologia 6
(1782): 160; Hermann Meyer, "Bows and Arrows in Central Brazil," Annual Report of the
Smithsonian Institution (1896): 553, 561, 568, 571, 576-82; Fritz Krause, In den Wildnissen
Brasiliens (Leipzig: Doigländer, 1911), 264, 268-70, 360, 392-94.
6. Danzel, Anfänge der Schrift, 34-38; Stewart Culin, "Chess and Playing Cards," Report of
the U.S. National Museum under the Direction of the Smithsonian Institution (1896): 881.
7. Hanns Bächtold-Stäubli, Handwörterbuch des deutschen Aberglaubens, 10 vols. (Leipzig:
de Gruyter, 1927-42), 6:1597-98; Stith Thompson, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1955), D1314.1.1-5; Stewart Culin, "Games of the
North American Indians," Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 24
(1902-1903): 36-43.
8. On demon-arrows, see Ignaz Goldziher, Abhandlungen zur arabischen Philologie, 2 vols.
(Leiden: Brill, 1896), 1:29-33, 87-89, 116-17; Bächtold-Stäubli, Handwörterbuch des
deutschen Aberglaubens, 6:1597; Jacob Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, ed. James E.
Stallybrass, 3 vols. (London: Sonnenschein & Allen, 1880), 2:846. On the space-traveling
arrow of the wizards, Herodotus, History IV, 36, cf. Erich Bethe, "Abaris," in RE 1:16-17;
James Darmesteter, The Zend-Avesta, 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1883), 2:153; Völuspá,
9. John M. Crawford, tr., Kalevala, 2 vols. (New York: Columbian, 1891), 1:80-81; Paul B.
Du Chaillu, The Viking Age, 2 vols. (New York: Scribner, 1890), 2:93-94; A. S. Orlov,
Kazakhskii Geroicheskii Epos (Moscow: Academy of Sciences, 1945), 41, n. 2; 83; N. K.
Dmitriev, Turyetskie Narodnye Skaski (Leningrad: Government Press, 1939), 98-102;
Friedrich Giese, Türkische Märchen (Jena: Diederich, 1925), 75-89.
10. Jeremiah Curtin and J. N. B. Hewitt, "Seneca Fiction, Legends, and Myths," Annual
Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 32 (1910-1911): 317-18; Frank H. Cushing,
"Zuñi Fetiches," Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 2 (1880-1881): 41-43;
cf. Culin, "Chess and Playing Cards," 881, n. 1; Matilda C. Stevenson, "The Zuñi Indians:
Their Mythology, Esoteric Societies, and Ceremonies," Annual Report of the Bureau of
American Ethnology 23 (1901-1902): 317-49. The Arab hunter must call on Allah with each
bow-shot; Al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Jami c as-Sahih, ed. M. Krehl and T. W. Juynboll (Leiden:
Brill, 1908), 4:7, and breathe on his arrows, exactly like the Zuñi; Georg Jacob,
Altarabisches Beduinenleben (Berlin: Mayer & Müller, 1897), 125. For arrow-prayers in
India, see Victor Henry, La magie dans l'Inde antique (Paris: Leroux, 1904), 151-52.
11. Cushing, "Zuñi Fetiches," 39; John P. Gillin, The Barama River Caribs of British Guiana
(Cambridge: Peabody Museum, 1936), 180, 183-84; Hoernes, Natur- und Urgeschichte,
12. Eduard Seler, Gesammelte Abhandlungen zur amerikanischen Sprach- und
Altertumskunde, 5 vols. (Berlin: Asher, 1902), 3:378; Culin, "Chess and Playing Cards,"
881; Edward W. Nelson, "The Eskimo about Bering Strait," Annual Report of the Bureau of
American Ethnology 18 (1896-1897): 157-61, cf. 154; Danzel, Anfänge der Schrift, 34; Du
Chaillu, Viking Age, 2:92-94. To give his arrows greater power and accuracy, Ishi changed
the markings on them; Saxton Pope, Hunting with the Bow and Arrow (New York: Putnam,
1947), 26-27.
13. Saxo, Historia Danorum, ed. Hermann Jantzen (Berlin: Felber, 1900), 244; for the Norse
expressions, see Richard Cleasby, Gudbrand Vigfusson, and William A. Craigie, An
Icelandic-English Dictionary, 2d ed. (Oxford: University Press, 1957), s.v. "herör."
14. Karl Weinhold, "Beiträge zu den deutschen Kriegsaltertümern," Sitzungsberichte der
Akademie der Wissenschaft zu Berlin. Philosophisch-Historische Klasse 29 (1891): 548; the
king's arrow pursues breakers of the King's Peace; Bächtold-Stäubli, Handwörterbuch des
deutschen Aberglaubens, 6:1598.
15. Weinhold, "Beiträge zu den deutschen Kriegsaltertümern," 548; Finnur Jónsson, ed.,
Egils Saga Skalgrímssonar (Halle: Niemeyer, 1924), 9, n. 10.
16. Cleasby and Vigfusson, Icelandic-English Dictionary, 42. The message-staff (bothkefli)
was readily "in einen Pfeil umgeschnitzt," Weinhold, "Beiträge zu den deutschen
Kriegsaltertümern," 548.
17. Weinhold, "Beiträge zu den deutschen Kriegsaltertümern," 548-49. German Botenhölzer
survived into the late Middle Ages; Saxo, Historia Danorum, ed. Jantzen, 244, n. 1.
Summons-arrows were used by the Seljuk Turks in the thirteenth century; these still survive
in North India, Hoernes, Natur- und Urgeschichte, 1:521; cf. the "alarm-staff" of the Lama
gods; Charles A. S. Williams, Outlines of Chinese Symbolism and Art Motives (Shanghai:
Kelly and Walsh, 1941), 213.
18. Walter E. Roth, "An Introductory Study of the Arts, Crafts, and Customs of the Guiana
Indians," Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 38 (1916-1917): 582; Walter
E. Roth, "An Inquiry into the Animism and Folk-lore of the Guiana Indians," Annual Report
of the Bureau of American Ethnology 30 (1908-1909): 362; Garrick Mallery, "Pictographs
of the North American Indians," Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 4
(1882-1883): 87-88; Walter J. Hoffman, "The Mide'wiwin or Grand Medicine Society of the
Ojibwa," Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 7 (1885-1886): pl. xii facing
p. 226.
19. Apollo gave the staff to Hermes as a symbolon (Homer, Hymn to Hermes, 527-30)
exactly as he gave an arrow-symbolon to his friend Abaris, the Hyperborean, who used it as
Hermes did his staff, to carry him through the air as a messenger of the god; O. Crusius,
"Hyperboreer," in Wilhelm H. Roscher, ed., Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und
römischen Mythologie, 7 vols. (Hildesheim: Olms, 1965), 1:2819. On the Hyperborean
origin of Apollo's arrow and Hermes' caduceus, see ibid., 1:2807-9.
20. Crusius, "Hyperboreer," in Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon, 1:2815. Origen, Contra
Celsum (Against Celsus) III, 31, in PG 11:959-60, reports the belief that Abaris shot himself
through the air like an arrow, a favorite trick of the Asiatic shaman.
21. Robert Eitrem, "Hermes," in RE 8:781-84, and Ernst Samter, "Caduceus," in RE
3:1170-71. It is the arrow which gives the title of Pantokrator, ibid., 8:791; Otto Gruppe,
Griechische Mythologie und Religionsgeschichte, 2 vols. (Munich: Beck, 1906), 2:1072.
22. Gellius, Attic Nights X, 27.
23. Cf. Jeremiah 48:17; Ezekiel 19:10-14; Abraham S. Yahuda, The Accuracy of the Bible
(London: Heinemann, 1934), 106-13.
24. Olaf-Tryggvason Saga, c. 102, 104, 222.
25. Paul é. Dumont, L'Asvamedha (Paris: Geuthner, 1927), 38, 356, 384, 386. See n. 17
26. Culin, "Games of the North American Indians," 33, 46; cf. Seler, Gesammelte
Abhandlungen, 3:378-80, fig. 6, for recent Mexican Indian examples; Franz Boas, "The
Social Organization and the Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians," Annual Report of the
U.S. National Museum (1895): 508-9, 517, 521.
27. James Mooney, "The Ghost Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890," Annual
Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 14 (1892-1893): 832, 915-17; the conquest
motif, 788-89.
28. M. Gaster, "Divination (Jewish)," in James Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and
Ethics, 13 vols. (New York: Scribner, 1928), 4:810, cf. Leonard W. King, "Divination
(Assyro-Babylonian)," in Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, 4:785; the
Nimrod version is in the Book of Jasher 9:35.
29. Albert J. Carnoy, Iranian Mythology, vol. 6 in Louis H. Gray, ed., Mythology of All
Races, 13 vols. (Boston: Jones, 1917), 302-3, 308; Darmesteter, Zend-Avesta, 2:94-96, 103;
1:18-21. The Zu-bird, contending for the government of the world, was smitten by the arrow
of the god, who thereupon "founds his cities in the four regions," Peter Jensen,
Assyrisch-babylonische Mythen und Epen (Berlin: Reuther and Reichard, 1900), 49-53.
30. Carnoy, Iranian Mythology, 302-3, 308; Bächtold-Stäubli, Handwörterbuch des
deutschen Aberglaubens, 6:1598; Francis La Flesche, "The Osage Tribe: Rite of Vigil,"
Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 39 (1917-1918): 234; Cushing, "Zuñi
Fetiches," 42; Hoffman, "Menomini Indians," 196-99; Cicero, De Divinatione I, 17; Ludwig
Weniger, "Feralis Exercitus," Archiv für Religionswissenschaft 9 (1906): 246-48.
31. J. A. MacCulloch, Eddic Mythology, vol. 2 in Gray, Mythology of All Races, 201.
32. E. Washburn Hopkins, "Remarks on the Form of Numbers, the Method of Using Them,
and Numerical Categories of the Mahabharata," JAOS 23 (1902): 144-47; the arrow cast "is
confined to estimating time." The Osage arrows that measure the earth "in flight denote
time" as well; La Flesche, "Osage Tribe," 207, 265-67, 369.
33. Bruno Meissner, Babylonien und Assyrien, 2 vols. (Heidelberg: Winter, 1925), 2:275;
Benjamin Williams, "On the Land of Ditmarsh and the Mark Confederation," Archaeologia
37 (1856): 381-83.
34. Robert Riddell, "Some Accounts of a Symbol of Ancient Investitures in Scotland,"
Archaeologia 11 (1794): 47; Octavius Morgan, "On Episcopal and Other Rings of
Investiture," Archaeologia 36 (1855): 393-97; Williams, "On the Land of Ditmarsh," 389.
35. Flateyjarbók I, 164.
36. See Aeschylus, Eumenides 727-30; Prometheus Bound 358-63, 374, 917; Vergil, Aeneid
VI, 587; Hugo Winckler, Keilinschriftliches Textbuch zum Alten Testament (Leipzig:
Hinrichs, 1903), 117, 123; Williams, Chinese Symbolism, 396-97; 2 Kings 13:17-19; Psalms
7:13; 18:13-18; 64:7, and so forth; Zechariah 9:14; Qur'an 18:44; Bernhard Schweitzer,
Herakles (Tübingen: Mohr, 1922), 184-86; E. A. Wallis Budge, Book of the Dead, Papyrus
of Ani, 3 vols. (New York: Putnam, 1913), 2:400-401.
37. Christian S. Blinkenberg, The Thunderweapon in Religion and Folklore (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1911), 87-101; Gerald A. Wainwright, "The Emblem of Min,"
JEA 17 (1931): 186-93; Gerald A. Wainwright, "Letopolis," JEA 18 (1932): 161-63; and
Gerald A. Wainwright, "The Bull Standards of Egypt," JEA 19 (1933): 43; Gruppe,
Griechische Mythologie und Religionsgeschichte, 2:773, n. 3.
38. Hermann Kees, ägypten, in Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft, vol. 3, pt. 1, 3a
(Munich: Beck, 1933), 177; Psalms 45:6; Winckler, Keilinschriftliches Textbuch zum Alten
Testament, 117, 123; Henry, Magie dans l'Inde antique, 151-63; R. C. Boer, ed., Orvar-Odds
Saga (Halle: Niemeyer, 1892), vii-ix, xiv-xv, 14, 69; Crawford, tr., Kalevala, 1:167, 2:434,
530; when the hero twangs his bow, Zeus himself thunders in the heavens, Homer, Odyssey
XXI, 410-14.
39. Culin, "Chess and Playing Cards," 881; cf. Hoernes, Natur-und Urgeschichte, 1:562-64.
40. Herodotus, History IV, 81.
41. Jean Joinville, Histoire de St. Louis (Paris: Hachette, 1883), xciii, 475-78 (Tartars);
Clément I. Huart and Louis Delaporte, L'Iran antique: Élam et Perse et la civilisation
iranienne (Paris: Michel, 1952), 381; Friedrich von Spiegel, Erânische Altertumskunde, 3
vols. (Leipzig: Engelmann, 1871-78), 2:86-87; Carnoy, Iranian Mythology, 302-3, 308; that
these are census arrows appears from Havamal 120a, 130a; for the Indians, see Boas,
"Kwakiutl Indians," 522; Garrick Mallery, "Picture Writing of the American Indians,"
Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 10 (1888-1889): 365; Culin, "Games
of the North American Indians," 227-29 (fig. 307), 51, 233-34.
42. Hoernes, Natur- und Urgeschichte, 1:521, n. 1 (India); C. R. Lepsius, "Der Bogen in der
Hieroglyphik," Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache und Alterthumskunde 10 (1872): 86, cf.
Wainwright, "The Emblem of Min," 190-91; James G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, 12 vols.,
3d ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1935), 9:126 (Koryak); René Grousset et al., L'Asie orientale
des origines au XV e siècle (Paris: Presses universitaires, 1941), 442.
43. Proto-Evangelium of James 9:1; Clement, Epistola I ad Corinthios (First Epistle to the
Corinthians) 43, in PG 1:295; Angelo S. Rappoport, Myth and Legend of Ancient Israel, 3
vols. (London: Gresham, 1928), 2:254-58.
44. Qur'an 3:39.
45. Clement, First Epistle to the Corinthians 43, in PG 1:295.
46. Gaster, "Divination (Jewish)," in Hastings, Encyclopaedia 4:809-10.
47. Julius Wellhausen, Reste arabischen Heidentums (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1927), 132; Culin,
"Games of the North American Indians," 383, 33, 45; cf. W. J. McGee, "The Seri Indians,"
Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 17 (1895-1896): 198-200; Wainwright,
"Letopolis," 162, and "Bull Standards of Egypt," 50-51; Egidio Forcellini, Lexicon Totius
Latinatatis, s.v. "baculus," no. 9.
48. Dmitriev, Turyetskie Narodnye Skaski, 203-5; Giese, Türkische Märchen, 115.
49. Georg A. Finsler, Homer, 2 vols., 2d ed. (Leipzig: Teubner, 1913-18), 1:1:84.
50. Aristotle, The Athenian Constitution LXV, 1-4; Aristophanes, Ecclesiazusae 297.
51. Crusius, "Hyperboreer," in Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon, 1:2819.
52. See Hugh Nibley, "Sparsiones," Classical Journal 40 (June 1945): 538-39, nn. 152-54;
reprinted in this volume, pages 189-90, nn. 152-54.
53. Qur'an 2:216; Ahlwardt, ed., al-Mu callaqat II, 104; IV, 73-74; VI, 63; Theodor Nöldeke,
Delectus Veterum Carminum Arabicorum (Berlin: Keuther, 1890), 36, 77; Wellhausen,
Reste arabischen Heidentums, 131-33; George Sale, The Koran (Philadelphia: Moore, 1850),
89; cf. the story of cA'isha in the Sahih of Bukhari in Ernest Harder, Arabische
Chrestomathie (Heidelberg: Groos, 1911), 21, and Al-Hariri, Maqamat, s.v. "wasm."
54. Pastor of Hermes, Similitudes VIII, 1-6.
55. Du Chaillu, Viking Age, 1:350-51; Jónsson, Egils Saga Skalgrímssonar, 137 (XLVIII,
6-7); Boer, ed., Orvar-Odds Saga, 38, 9-10; "Hvers mannz skeyti var thar markat"; cf.
Havamal 8a.
56. Mallery, "Picture Writing," 365-66; cf. Boas, "Kwakiutl Indians," 522-23.
57. Boer, ed., Orvar-Odds Saga, 39, 9-13.
58. As Boer, ibid., has shown in his edition of the saga.
59. Jacob, Altarabisches Beduinenleben, 89-90, 110-12.
60. Danzel, Anfänge der Schrift, 39; James G. Frazer, Folklore in the Old Testament, 3 vols.
(London: Macmillan, 1919), 1:415; Boas, "Kwakiutl Indians," 522-23; Cushing, "Zuñi
Fetiches," 32.
61. Nibley, "Sparsiones," 537-39, reprinted in this volume, pages 161-62.
62. Joinville, Histoire de St. Louis, 93, 475-78.
63. The Algonquins used fifty-two rods; Culin, "Games of the North American Indians," 49;
the Hupa fifty-three, ibid., 235; the Sauk and Fox fifty-one, ibid., 233; cf. 228, fig. 307, 45.
64. Alice C. Fletcher and Francis La Flesche, "The Omaha Tribe," Annual Report of the
Bureau of American Ethnology 27 (1905-1906): 242; Francis La Flesche, "Omaha Bow and
Arrow Makers," Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution (1926): 494.
65. Herodotus, History IV, 67; Ammianus Marcellinus, XXXI, 2, 24.
66. The Persian king, sitting with the baresma of divination spread out before him as he
gives away wealth at the New Year (Carnoy, Iranian Mythology, 299-300), recalls the host at
the Indian feast, giving all his wealth to his guests, whose arrow-staves lie spread out before
him, Boas, "Kwakiutl Indians," 508; Hoenir's lottery in the Golden Age (Völuspá, in
Lawrence S. Thompson, ed., Norse Mythology: The Elder Edda in Prose Translation
[Hamden, CT: Archon, 1974], 17) and the King of Babylon "shaking out arrows," Meissner,
Babylonien und Assyrien, 2:275; Ezekiel 21:26.
67. Clement, First Epistle to the Corinthians 43, in PG 1:295.
68. Ernst Samter, "Fasces," in RE 6:2002-3.
69. Culin, "Chess and Playing Cards," 881; cf. W. M. Flinders Petrie, Scarabs and Cylinders
with Names (London: School of Archaeology in Egypt, 1917), 4. Theodore C. Foote, "The
Ephod," Journal of Biblical Literature 21 (1902): 20-47.
70. Alexandre Moret, Histoire de l'Orient, 2 vols. (Paris: Presses universitaires, 1941),
71. Hermann V. Hilprecht, The Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania, 11
vols. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1896), 1:2:36; William H. Ward, The Seal
Cylinders of Western Asia (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution, 1910), 3-4. If the
cylinder seal was derived from a cylinder amulet, Ernst Herzfeld, "Stempelsiegel,"
Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran 5 (1932): 51-53, the marked arrow itself is such an
72. Alfred Jeremias, "Nebo," in Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon, 3:64-65; Gustavus H.
Eisen, Ancient Oriental and Other Seals (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1940),
78-79; M. H. Ananikian, Armenian Mythology, vol. 7 in Gray, Mythology of All Races,
32-33 (Nabu); Alfred Jeremias, Handbuch der altorientalischen Geisteskultur (Leipzig:
Hinrichs, 1913), 82, 89-94, 114, 275, 277 (Nabu-Nebo as Hermes-Mercury), 11, 18, 132,
146 (Nisaba, equivalent of Egyptian Neith); Budge, Book of the Dead, 1:186; cf. Gerald A.
Wainwright, "Some Celestial Associations of Min," JEA 21 (1935): 154. On Texctlipoca, the
Mexican Apollo-Hermes, as arrow-god, see Seler, Gesammelte Abhandlungen, 3:341.
73. John Rhys, Celtic Heathendom (London: Williams & Norgate, 1898), 268; G. Dottin,
"Divination (Celtic)," in Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, 4:788; Charles
Vallency, "Observations of the Alphabet of the Pagan Irish, and of the Age in Which Finn
and Oslin Lived," Archaeologia 7 (1785): 276-85; Hoernes, Natur- und Urgeschichte, 2:304;
John A. MacCulloch, "Die Kelten," in Alfred Bertholet and Edvard Lehmann, eds.,
Lehrbuch der Religionsgeschichte, 2 vols., 4th ed. (Tübingen: Mohr, 1925), 2:610. Taken
together, these references make the case clear. Rune, arrow, and feasting-ticket are plainly
identical in Havamal 8a, 120a, 130a.
74. Jónsson, Egils Saga Skalgrímssonar, 240-41 (LXXII, 12-16); Du Chaillu, Viking Age,
2:92; Williams, "On the Land of Ditmarsh," 381-83; Jacob, Altarabisches Beduinenleben,
110, n. 2. The oldest runes appear on arrowheads, Blinkenberg, Thunderweapon, 85; e.g., the
Kovel spearhead. The strongest rune was an arrow, Williams, "On the Land of Ditmarsh,"
75. Culin, "Chess and Playing Cards," 887.
76. Jensen, Assyrisch-babylonische Mythen und Epen, 45, 47; cf. E. D. Van Buren, "Seals of
the Gods," Studi e materiali di storia delle religioni 10 (1934): 170; Louis Ginzberg, The
Legends of the Jews, 7 vols. (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1947),
4:151; Wellhausen, Reste arabischen Heidentums, 133.
77. Herzfeld, "Stempelsiegel," 53.
78. Jack Finegan, Light from the Ancient Past (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1959),
79. Thompson, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, F1066; Uno Holmberg, Finno-Ugric Siberian
[Mythology] (Boston: Archaeological Institute of America, 1927), 404; Crawford, tr.,
Kalevala, 1:287; Herodotus, History V, 105; G. M. Bolling, "Divination (Vedic)," in
Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, 4:829; Roth, "Animism and Folk-lore of
Guiana Indians," 361.
80. Max Seligsohn, "Nimrod," in Isidore Singer, ed., Jewish Encylopedia, 12 vols. (New
York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1905), 9:309-11; Book of Jasher 9:29.
81. Herodotus, History IV, 26; James G. Frazer, "The War of Earth on Heaven," in
Apollodorus, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1921), 2:318-26; Crawford, tr.,
Kalevala, 1:287; Book of Jasher 9:20-26.
82. Karl Preisendanz, "Nimrod," in RE 17:624-28; Alfred Jeremias, Das Alte Testament im
Lichte des alten Orients (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1916), 158-60; Book of Jasher 7:29-47;
Clementine Recognitiones I, 30-31, in PG 1:1224-25. Josef Grivel, "Nemrod et les écritures
cunéiformes," Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 3 (1874): 141-43, gives a
list of his sinister epithets.
83. Qur'an 2:258.
84. Sale, Koran, 269, note e; Otto Keller, Die antike Tierwelt, 2 vols. (Leipzig: Cramer,
1913), 2:447-51. The godless of Jurhum were destroyed in the same way, according to
Al-Bakri, in Kitab Mu cjam ma Istacjam: Das geographische Wörterbuch des Abu cObeid
cAbdallah ben cAbd el-cAzîz el-Bekrî, ed. Ferdinand Wüstenfeld, 2 vols. (Göttingen:
Deuerlich, 1876-77), 1:25.
85. Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 95a.
86. Strabo, Geography VII, 4, 6.
87. Lucian, De Saltatione (On the Dance) 46, includes Odysseus among other mad giants.
88. Raymond O. Faulkner, "The `Cannibal Hymn' from the Pyramid Texts," JEA 10 (1925):
102, 97-103; Anton Deimel, Sumerische Grammatik (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute,
1924), 142.
89. Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, 3:918-50; Ludwig Laistner, Das Rätsel der Sphinx, 2 vols.
(Berlin: Hetz, 1889), 2:156, 225-28, 243-50.
90. Harold Peake and Herbert J. Fleure, The Steppe and the Sown (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1928), 59.
91. Phillip H. Leathes, "Exemption from the Forest Laws," Archaeologia 15 (1806): 209-24;
Samuel Pegge, "On the Hunting of the Ancient Inhabitants of Our Island, Britons and
Saxons," Archaeologia 10 (1792): 165-66; Dains Barrington, "Observations of the Practice
of Archery in England," Archaeologia 7 (1785): 47, 50.
92. Grousset, L'Asie orientale, 304-5, 307; Hoernes, Natur- und Urgeschichte, 2:122,
93. On its sudden neglect, Hoernes, Natur- und Urgeschichte, 2:487-88, 275-77; Sophus
Müller, Nordische Altertumskunde, 2 vols. (Strassburg: Trübner, 1897): 1:253; Meyer,
"Bows and Arrows in Central Brazil," 553, 560; Lucien M. Turner,"Ethnology of the
Ungava District, Hudson Bay Territory," Annual Report of the Bureau of American
Ethnology 11 (1888-1889): 312; La Flesche, "Omaha Bow and Arrow Makers," 487-88;
Finsler, Homer, 1:2:69-71. On its readoption, Ernest Sprockhoff, "Pfeilspitze," in Max Ebert,
Reallexicon der Vorgeschichte, 14 vols. (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1924), 10:106; Müller,
Nordische Altertumskunde, 2:131; F. Lammert, "Pfeil," in RE 19:2:1427.
94. Pliny, Natural History XVI, 65.
95. Sprockhoff, "Pfeilspitze," 10:106, cf. 102-3; Peake and Fleure, Steppe and the Sown, 32;
Carl Schuchhardt, Alteuropa (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1935), 135-37; Carleton S. Coon, The
Races of Europe (New York: Macmillan, 1939), 166-68, 46-48, 71-74.
96. A few examples: Enuma Elish (Babylonian Creation Hymn) IV, 101-47; Heinrich
Schäfer, "Der Speer des Horus," Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache und Alterthumskunde 41
(1904): 68-70; Lepsius, "Der Bogen in der Hieroglyphik," 80, 85; Wainwright, "Letopolis,"
162; Darmesteter, Zend-Avesta, 2:297; Wernicke, "Apollon," in RE 2:23; Crawford, tr.,
Kalevala, 2:434 (Book 26); 1:284 (Book 19); M. Lauer, ed., Des Moses von Chorene
Geschichte Gross-Armeniens (Regensburg: Manz, 1865), 22; Edward T. Werner, Myths and
Legends of China (London: Harrap, 1922), 182; Culin, "Games of the North American
Indians," 32-35.
97. For extensive comparisons, Blinkenberg, Thunderweapon, passim; Arthur B. Cook,
Zeus, 3 vols. (Cambridge: University Press, 1914-40), 2:473, 574, 774, 777, 780, 786-89,
798-806, 1045-49; Edward D. Clarke, "On the Lituus of the Ancient Romans," Archaeologia
19 (1821): 386-400; H. B. Walters, "Poseidon's Trident," Journal of Hellenic Studies 13
(1892-93): 13-20; Benjamin W. Bacon, "Eagle and Basket on the Antioch Chalice," Annals
of American Schools of Oriental Research 5 (1923-24): 6-8, 19; Yahuda, Accuracy of the
Bible, 106-13.
98. For China, see Culin, "Chess and Playing Cards," 882-83; on Ghenghis Khan and Prester
John, see The Travels of Marco Polo, ed. Manuel Komroff (Garden City: Garden City,
1926), 87-88 (I, 49), the arrow nature of the staves being clear from William Crooke,
Religion and Folklore of Northern India (Oxford: University Press, 1926), 309-10. On wands
of office in the Near East, Clarke, "Lituus," 398; cf. the chart by T. Canaan, "Mohammedan
Saints and Sanctuaries in Palestine," Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society 6 (1926): 129,
pl. 4, who also shows how the weapon became a banner, 121, 123, 125-29; cf. Al-Waqidi,
Futuh al-Sham (Calcutta: Thomas, 1854), 34; Joseph von Karabacek, "Zur orientalischen
Altertumskunde I: Sarazenische Wappen," Sitzungsberichte der kaiserlichen Akademie der
Wissenschaften in Wien. Philologisch-historische Klasse 157 (1908): 20-21.
99. Frederick J. E. Raby, A History of Secular Latin Poetry in the Middle Ages, 2 vols.
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1934), 1:13-15; the pedigree of the Imperial eagle is Asiatic; Bacon,
"Eagle and Basket," 7. On Khian as first Cosmocrator, Moret, Histoire de l'Orient, 1:475.
100. Bertram Thomas, Arabia Felix (New York: Scribner, 1932), 204, n. 1; 379, 69; Danzel,
Anfänge der Schrift, 35. That the wasm of heraldry was originally an arrow-mark is clear
from Al-Hariri, Maqamat, index, s.v. "wasm al-qidh."
101. Williams, "On the Land of Ditmarsh," 384-87; Danzel, Anfänge der Schrift, 34-41;
Edwin Freshfield, "Mason's Marks at Westminster Hall," Archaeologia 50 (1887): 2-4. "The
Marks of Sundrye of Chief Mene of Virginia" (1590), as published in William W. Tooker,
"The Swastika and Other Marks among the Eastern Algonkins," American Antiquarian 20
(1898): 339-40, are all arrows.
102. As in Scotland the arrow "crest" reproduces the mark of the owner's tartan, so the Arabs
call the marked arrow and the striped garment of the nobility by the same name, sahm;
Edward W. Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon (London: William & Norgate, 1872),
1:4:1454-55, no. 8; Mal'uf, Al-Munjid (Beirut: Al-Tabca al-Kathaw-likiya, 1937), 30, s.v.
"burd"; Ahlwardt, ed., Mu callaqat I, 79. For a like identity in the New World, see Meyer,
"Bows and Arrows in Central Brazil," 553.
103. Hoernes, Natur- und Urgeschichte, 1:550-57.
104. August Wünsche, Salomons Thron und Hippodrom, Abbilder des babylonischen
Himmelsbildes (Leipzig: Pfeiffer, 1906), passim; August von Gall, Basileia tou Theou
(Heidelberg: Winter, 1926), 128-205; Morris Jastrow, "Adam and Eve in Babylonian
Literature," American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures 15 (1899): 193-214;
Darmesteter, Zend-Avesta, 1:11-12, 15-18; 2:98-101, 202; Albrecht Götze, Kleinasien
(Munich: Beck, 1933), 133-35; Michael Psellus, Xiphilin 442-44; Lucian, De Astrologio
987; Dio Chrysostom, Oratations XL, 32-41; XXXII, 63-66. Friedrich Dieterici, Thier und
Mensch vor dem König der Genien (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1879). Thaclabi, in Rudolf Brünnow,
Chrestomathy of Arabic Prose-Pieces (Berlin: Reuther & Reichard, 1895), 2. The literature
on this theme is very voluminous. For early Christian versions, see Clement, First Epistle to
the Corinthians 43, in PG 1:295; Apostolic Constitutions II, 56-57, in PG 1:722-38.
105. The Travels of Marco Polo, Komroff, ed., 104-8 (I, 60-61) (Great Khan); Grousset,
L'Asie orientale, 341-43, 367, 364 (China and Indochina): Huart and Delaporte, L'Iran
Antique, 283, 372; Eduard Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums, 4 vols. (Stuttgart: Cotta,
1925-44), 4:37, 39, 55, 56 (Persia); Jeremias, Handbuch der altorientalischen Geisteskultur,
177-80, 193; Daniel 4:21-37 (Babylonian-Assyrian).
106. William W. Tarn, "Ptolemey II," JEA 14 (1928): 247; Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De
Caeremoniis Aulae Byzantinae (On the Ritual of the Byzantine Court), Joseph J. Reiske, ed.,
in Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae, 2 vols. (Bonn: Weber, 1829), 1:404-6 (I, 89);
Corippus, Justin II, 62; Byzantine Ceremonialbook (tenth century) in Gustav Soytes,
Byzantinische Geschichtschreiber und Chronisten (Heidelberg: Winter, 1929), 33. On the
Baghdad version, Adam Mez, The Renaissance of Islam (London: Luzac, 1937), 199.
107. Al-Biruni, Chronologie orientalischer Völker, ed. Eduard C. Sachau (Leipzig:
Harrassowitz, 1923), 226; cf., Mez, Renaissance of Islam, 419. The ancient feast of Artemis
the huntress at Laphria was such an animal-drive, Pausanius, Description of Greece VII, 18,
8-13. On the jiwar, Jacob, Altarabisches Beduinenleben, 83, 220-21; cf. Hermann Gollancz,
The Book of Protection (London: Oxford University Press, 1912), xxxiv, xliii-xliv, esp.
lxxxiv (no. 24); Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, 4:142; Bächtold-Stäubli, Handwörterbuch
des deutschen Aberglaubens, 6:1400, 1404-6. See especially A. F. L. Beeston, "The Ritual
Hunt: A Study in Old South Arabian Religious Practice," Le Muséon 61 (1948): 183-96.
108. W. Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites (London: Black, 1901), 95-96; Boaz
Cohen, "An Essay on Jewish Law," Proceedings of the American Academy of Jewish
Research 6 (1934-35): 124-25, 127, 136; Walter Ashburner, "The Farmer's Law," Journal of
Hellenic Studies 30 (1910): 97; 32 (1912): 87. Cf. Plutarch, Solon XV, 5; Hesiod, Erga
(Works and Days) 272-314; Varro, De Re Rustica I, 10, 2; Plutarch, Numa 16; Dionysius of
Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities III, 1, 3-5.
109. John Y. Akerman, "On Some of the Weapons of the Celtic and Teutonic Races,"
Archaeologia 34 (1852): 186. Yet in the Middle Ages only the rich used the bow; Thomas D.
Kendrick, A History of the Vikings (New York: Scribner, 1930), 35; Müller, Nordische
Altertumskunde, 1:253, 148; cf. La Flesche, "Osage Tribe," 364.
110. Hilary Jenkinson, "Exchequer Tallies," Archaeologia 62 (1911): 367-80; "Medieval
Tallies, Public and Private," Archaeologia 74 (1924): 289-324.
Notes to Chapter 2
1. Hector M. Chadwick, The Heroic Age (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1912),
and Hector M. Chadwick and Nora K. Chadwick, The Growth of Literature (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1932). The situation was suggested by Hugo Winckler,
"Geschichte und Geographie," in Eberhard Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das Alte
Testament, 3d ed. (Berlin: Reuther and Reichard, 1903), 4.
2. Alfred O. Haldar, The Notion of the Desert in Sumero-Accadian and West-Semitic
Religions (Uppsala: Lundequist, 1950), 29; in every case the land is turned into a desert,
ibid., 22, 26-29. The great violence of the winds at the time of the Flood is indicated in
fragments of the Gilgamesh Epic, Tab. V, 12-20; Alexander Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic and
Old Testament Parallels (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946), 48-49; cf. W. G.
Lambert, "New Light on the Babylonian Flood," Journal of Semitic Studies 5 (1960):
117-18, and "A New Look at the Babylonian Background of Genesis," Journal of
Theological Studies 16 (1965): 296. Johannes B. Bauer, "Der priesterliche
Schöpfungshymnus in Gen. 1," Theologische Zeitschrift 20 (1964): 3, notes that the wind
which blows over the waters in Genesis 8:1 is really a Gottessturm, gewaltiger Sturm (divine
storm, a powerful storm). Cf. Pyramid Texts (PT) 298b-c, 326d, and Hesiod, Theogony
654-714. Many later sources are cited in Robert Eisler, Iesous Basileus ou Basileusas, 2 vols.
(Heidelberg: Winter, 1929-30), 2:107-9, 113, 626-28. The great wind is mentioned in
Jubilees 10:26, and E. A. Wallis Budge, tr., The Chronography of Gregory Abû'l Faraj, the
Son of Aaron, the Hebrew Physician, Commonly Known as Bar Hebraeus, 2 vols. (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1932), 1:8; and there are interesting Arabic accounts in Rosa
Klinke-Rosenberger, ed., Das Götzenbuch: Kitâb al-Asnâm des Ibn al-Kalbî (Leipzig:
Winterthur, 1941), 58, and Ferdinand Wüstenfeld, "Die älteste ägyptische Geschichte nach
den Zäuber- und Wundererzählungen der Araber," Orient und Occident 1 (1862): 331. For
early Christian references, see Eusebius, Chronicon (Chronicle) I, 4, in PG 19:116;
Epiphanius, Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies) I, 1, 5, in PG 41:184; Pseudo-Melito, in
J. C. T. Otto, Corpus Apologetarum Christianorum Saeculi Secundi, 9 vols. (Jena: Mauke,
1872), 9:510-11; cf. T. Francis Glasson, "Water, Wind and Fire (Luke III. 16) and Orphic
Initiation," New Testament Studies 3 (1956): 69-71.
3. E. Demougeout, "Variations climatiques et invasion," Revue historique 233 (1965): 11. In
the twelfth century B.C. the island of Cyprus was covered by wind-driven sand, ibid., 8, and
what classical writers call the great flooding of the northlands in the second century A.D.
was accompanied by heavy deposition of such sands, ibid., 17-18. Today it is maintained
that the deserts of the Near East and the Sahara itself were produced largely through human
agency within historic times; Henri Lhote, Vanished Civilizations, ed. Edward Bacon (New
York: McGraw-Hill, 1963), 12-32.
4. Samuel N. Kramer, "New Light on the Early History of the Ancient Near East," AJA 52
(1948): 159.
5. For Horus and his royal counterparts, see PT 393a-414c, 298a-299b, 308a-312a, 261, and
so forth; J. Zandee, "Seth als Sturmgott," Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache 90 (1962):
144-56; Pierre Montet, Le drame d'Avaris (Paris: Geuthner, 1941), 87-88; for the famous
"Cannibal Hymn," see Raymond O. Faulkner, "The `Cannibal Hymn' from the Pyramid
Texts," JEA 10 (1924): 97-103. The oldest shrine of Egypt was the "Thunderbolt-city"
founded by the Stormgod, whose high priest was "the Warrior," Gerald A. Wainwright, "The
Bull Standards of Egypt," JEA 19 (1933): 46-47. "This storm was the raging of Ra at the
thunder-cloud," and so forth, E. A. Wallis Budge, The Papyrus of Ani, 3 vols. (New York:
Putnam, 1913), 2:384-85. Enlil, Anu, and Ningirsu came into Mesopotamia as lords of the
storm; Thorkild Jacobsen, "Primitive Democracy in Ancient Mesopotamia," in Henri
Frankfort et al., Before Philosophy (New York: Penguin, 1951), 147, 150, 153; see also
Marduk, R. Labat, Le Poème babylonien de la Création (Paris: Maisonneuve, 1935), 33-34.
The earthly king is "the storm-wind of battles," Bruno Meissner, Die babylonisch-assyrische
Literatur (Wildpark-Potsdam: Athenaion, 1927), 39, and aspires "to shine as Lord in the
storm," M. Witzel, "Zu den Enmerkar-Dichtungen," Orientalia 18 (1949): 276. Jürgen
Smolian, "Kultischer Hintergrund bei Wagenrennen," Zeitschrift für Religions- und
Geistesgeschichte 17 (1965): 264-65. The Greek Zeus is nephelegeretes, lord of
thunder-storms; Martin P. Nilsson, Griechische Feste (Leipzig: Teubner, 1906), 2-3; Arthur
B. Cook, Zeus, 3 vols. (Cambridge: University Press, 1925), 2:851, 830-58. On Apollo, the
migrating hero, Wernicke, "Apollon," in RE 2:20-21; as storm-god, J. Rendel Harris,
"Apollo at the Back of the North Wind," Journal of Hellenic Studies 45 (1925): 229-42; on
Hermes as such, Wilhelm H. Roscher, "Hermes als Wind- und Luftgott," in Wilhelm H.
Roscher, ed., Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, 7 vols.
(Hildesheim: Olms, 1965), 1:2:2360-62; and on Herakles, Bernhard Schweitzer, Herakles
(Tübingen: Mohr, 1922), 47-48. For the Hittite Teshub, Oliver R. Gurney, The Hittites (New
York: Penguin, 1952), 192-94. "Der Wettergott von Halab" dominates the entire Near East,
see Horst Klengel, "Der Wettergott von Halab," Journal of Cuneiform Studies 19 (1965):
87-93. The insignia of the chief Celtic god were the wheel, thunderbolt, and hammer; Carl
Clemen, Religionsgeschichte Europas, 2 vols. (Heidelberg: Winter, 1926) 1:319-23. Othinn
as successor to Thor is both a wanderer and a storm-god; Cornelius P. Tiele,
Tiele-Söderbloms Kompendium der Religionsgeschichte, 5th ed. (Berlin: Grabow, 1920),
480-82; Schweitzer, Herakles, 86. Even Alexander as a world-conquerer is Lord of the
Storm, his birth being announced by supernatural thunder and lightning;
Pseudo-Callisthenes, Life of Alexander I, 12, in Karl Müller, ed., The Fragments of the Lost
Historians of Alexander the Great (Chicago: Ares, 1979). In Hebrew tradition "Geisteswind"
and the "Heere des Himmels" appear on the scene together, recalling actual prehistoric
upheavals; Klaus Koch, "Wort und Einheit des Schöpfergottes in Memphis und Jerusalem,"
Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche 62 (1965-66): 276.
6. Sir Dudley Stamp, "Man and His Environment," Scientific Journal 1 (May 1965): 76-78.
7. Julian Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod, and the `Tent of Meeting,' " Hebrew Union
College Annual 17 (1942-43): 263. Since the function of the tent is shelter, ibid., 183, it is
the palladium or symbol of protection, 160, 184. While the root meaning of the Greek skene
is to shadow or shelter, "to live in tents" had the popular sense of living adventurously:
"Hypo skenais kai en allodapei diatemenoi" (dwelling in tents and in a foreign land),
Heliodorus, Aethiopica 5 (2, 13). The tent in the backyard still holds for the young the
double appeal of adventure and cozy security.
8. See Hugh Nibley, "Hierocentric State," Western Political Quarterly 4 (1951): 238-44;
reprinted in this volume, pages 114-23. The distinction between the leader of a migrating
band and a king in the conventional sense has been treated by Karl H. Bernhardt, Das
Problem der altorientalischen Königsideologie im Alten Testament (Leiden: Brill, 1961),
who finds the transition from the leader of a nomadic band (mkrb) to the sacral
"Grosskönigtum" (mlk) to follow normally on the establishment of a settled capital, ibid.,
169, 178-79. "The holy tent itself was a visible and potent title to his [David's] position as
king," i.e., there was no conflict between the two conceptions of dominion; Morgenstern,
"The Ark, the Ephod, and the `Tent of Meeting,' " 242.
9. Bernhard Grdseloff, "Nouvelles données concernant la tente de purification," Annales du
service des antiquités de l'égypte 51 (1951): 130-31, 134, 138-39: Even the great ceremonial
buildings retain the name of sh-ntr, "tent of the god," and íbw, "reed house." The royal tent
appears on predynastic ivory tablets, émile Massoulard, Préhistoire et protohistoire d'égypte
(Paris: Institut d'Ethnologie, 1949), 446, and is often mentioned in the PT 319, 345, 349,
363, 690; "O King, Horus has woven his tent before thee; Seth has stretched out thy canopy;
the father is sheltered by the divine tent . . . in thy favorite [camping] places."
10. Adriaan de Buck, ed., The Egyptian Coffin Texts, 7 vols. (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1935-61), 1:253-54, Spell 60, is quite vivid. The lighting of fires in the shrine
(represented by the ideogram of a tent) is to drive away the evil things that lurk about at
night; Alexandre Moret, Le rituel du culte divin journalier en égypte (Paris: Leroux, 1902),
11. Jacobsen, "Primitive Democracy in Ancient Mesopotamia," 153.
12. Johannes Pedersen, Israel: Its Life and Culture, 2 vols. (London: Oxford University
Press, 1947), 2:454-55; W. H. Irwin, "Le sanctuaire central israélite," Revue biblique 72
(1965): 164; see above, n. 7.
13. Haldar, Notion of the Desert, 19. "Men of all conditions and nations . . . look to the Arab
camp as a safe retreat and refuge," Philip J. Baldensperger, "The Immovable East," Palestine
Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement (1922): 170-71.
14. In the Tent of Tryst the leader communes with God and transmits the divine instructions
to the people; Menahem Haran, "The Nature of the 'Ohel Mocedh in Pentateuchal Sources,"
Journal of Semitic Studies 5 (1960): 52-54, 57-58; Alois Musil, Arabia Petraea, 3 vols.
(Vienna: Hölder, 1907-8), 3:130, 353-55. All the great patriarchs dwelt and communed with
God in tents; Immanuel Benzinger, Hebräische Archäologie (Leipzig: Mohr, 1894), 11. The
veil of the temple would seem to be a survival of a nomad tent representing heaven; André
Pelletier, "Le grand rideau du vestibule du temple de Jérusalem," Syria 35 (1958): 218,
223-26; the antiquity of the idea goes back to the prehistoric "reed wall" through which
Ut-Napishtim (the Babylonian Noah) conversed with deity; Lambert, "New Light on the
Babylonian Flood," 118-19. We seem to detect an Egyptian parallel in de Buck, Egyptian
Coffin Texts, 1:157, Spell 38.
15. Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod, and the `Tent of Meeting,' " 248; cf. 191-92, 194,
198, 201-2, 204, 206, 228, 254-55. The author favors an original camel-mounting, yet the
oldest authentic example, from Dura Europos, shows the Ark of the Covenant as "plainly a
small tent" mounted on a wagon drawn by oxen, ibid., 250.
16. András Alföldi, "Die Geschichte des Throntabernakels," Nouvelle Clio 1-2 (1950):
537-66. Alföldi emphasizes the idea of the sheltering baldachin as the worldwide symbol of
royal authority, an aspect also treated by Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod, and the `Tent of
Meeting,' " 171-72, 174-76, 178, 180-81, 196-97, 208, 212, 228.
17. Jürgen Smolian, "Vehicula Religiosa: Wagen in Mythos, Ritus, Kultus und Mysterium,"
Numen 10 (1963): 202-27.
18. So paradoxical do these combinations appear that scholars still have difficulty
envisaging the biblical picture of Solomon's throne or bed beneath a sheltering pavilion
supported by cedar poles and mounted on a wagon; Jacques Winandy, "La Litière de
Solomon," Vetus Testamentum 15 (1965): 103-10. On the flying throne, August Wünsche,
Salomons Thron und Hippodrom, Abbilder des babylonischen Himmelsbildes (Leipzig:
Pfeiffer, 1906). The Persian world-capital is Hvaniratha, the cosmic hub of the "loud-moving
chariot," the real city being built on the plan of the wheel; Jürgen Trumpf, "Stadtgründung
und Drachenkampf," Hermes 86 (1958): 139. See especially Werner Müller, Die heilige
Stadt: Roma quadrata, himmlisches Jerusalem und die Mythe vom Weltnabel (Stuttgart:
Kohlhammer, 1961), 101, 127-34. Throne, temple, and holy city have often been identified;
H. P. l'Orange, Studies on the Iconography of Cosmic Kingship in the Ancient World (New
York: Caratas, 1982), 9-17, 51-62, and so forth.
19. As early as 2400 B.C., Shamash is depicted as traveling in his wagon by day and his boat
by night; Smolian, "Vehicula Religiosa," 203, 220; J. van Dijk, "La fête du nouvel an dans
un texte de Sulgi," Bibliotheca Orientalis 11 (1954): 83-88. In Egypt such ceremonial boats
and wagons are attested in the Old Kingdom; Smolian, "Vehicula Religiosa," 214. The great
gods of the Indo-Aryans are all wagon-riders of the skies, ibid., 204. Jacob Grimm, Teutonic
Mythology, ed. James S. Stallybrass, 3 vols. (London: Bell, 1883), 1:252. Ancient shamans
regularly commuted between earth and heaven in their wagons; Alföldi, "Geschichte des
Throntabernakels," 548-49; Smolian, "Vehicula Religiosa," 208-11.
20. This is the sense of the "cloud [that] presumably rested upon the tent containing the Ark"
at its "various camping stations," Haran, "Nature of the 'Ohel Mocedh," 50. While Smolian,
"Vehicula Religiosa," 226, scouts the theory of some that it was the contemplation of the
stars of the Big Dipper (Charlie's Wain) that first gave men the idea of constructing a wagon,
he does suggest the ingenious theory that wagon-springs were invented to hold the
wagon-box and its sacred contents in a state of suspension above the earth, ibid., 215.
Alexander's funeral car that moved from Babylon to Alexandria was a huge cutfa, or
suspended shrine containing a throne; Diodorus, Bibliotheca Historica XVIII, 26.
21. Franz Altheim, Weltgeschichte Asiens im griechischen Zeitalter, 2 vols. (Halle:
Niemeyer, 1947), 1:166. On the cleansing offices of the wind, Eisler, Iesous Basileus ou
Basileusas 2:104-6. "As a swift-rushing mighty wind cleanses the plain," Zend-Avesta, frag.
VIII, v, 30, in James Darmesteter, The Zend-Avesta, 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1880-87),
22. The Egyptians felt the heavens to be all around them: "The King's horror is to march in
the darkness without being able to see those [stars] which are above him and those which are
below him," PT 260:323; see R. T. Rundle Clark, Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt (New
York: Grove, 1960), 130-32. Benjamin Schwartz, "A Hittite Ritual Text," Orientalia 16
(1947): 31, gives a Hittite incantation expressing the common belief that one can approach
the stars by climbing a very high mountain. According to the cosmology of Theon, "the sun
and the planets around it form a party of travelers, a `caravan' -- this being the exact meaning
of the Greek word synodia." Erik V. Erhardt-Siebold, The Astronomy of John Scot Erigena
(Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1940), 16. The Arabic names of the constellations show
that the nomads thought of themselves as moving and living among the stars on their hunting
migrations, Georg Jacob, Altarabisches Beduinenleben (Berlin: Mayer and Müller, 1897),
23. The kings' ceremonial wagons are taken over directly from the sky-cars of their divine
ancestors; Smolian, "Vehicula Religiosa," 212, 214, 217, 219, 221-22. Some ancient
societies simply lived by lightning; Seneca, Quaestiones Naturales II, 34; cf. Jacobsen,
"Primitive Democracy in Ancient Mesopotamia," 138-40, 153-57.
24. Cf. Gustave E. von Grunebaum, Muhammadan Festivals (New York: Schumann, 1958),
19; Knut Tallquist, "Himmelsgegenden und Winde," Studia Orientalia 2 (1928): 147-50.
Qibla and qubba are cognate with Babylonian-Assyrian kibrat, "die 4 Weltquadraten des
Alls," and with the Sumerian kippat, "die 4 Weltecken," Friedrich Jeremias, "Semitische
Völker in Vorderasien," in Alfred Bertholet and Edvard Lehmann, eds., Lehrbuch der
Religionsgeschichte, 2 vols. (Tübingen: Mohr, 1925), 1:513. Without the qibla, the
wandering nomad would be lost in space, Thaclabi, Qisas al-Anbiya' (Cairo, 1922), 70.
25."Templum tribus modis dicitur . . . ab natura in caelo, ab auspiciis in terra, a similitudine
sub terra," Varro, De Lingua Latina VII, 6-9; the claim that this idea is of Greek origin does
not detract from its significance, Stefan Weinstock, "Templum," in RE 2:5:481; and Stefan
Weinstock, "Templum," Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts. Römische
Abteilung 47 (1932): 100-101, 104, 107, 109. On the universality of the concept, W. Kroll,
"Mundus," in RE 16:563. It was as leader of a migrating band that Romulus would take his
bearings on the heavens from the door of his sacred tent; Samuel Pitiscus, Lexicon
Antiquitatum Romanarum, 3 vols. (Venice: Balleoniana, 1719), 2:908. The tent-temples of
the Mongols were such observatories; Henning Haslund-Christensen, Men and Gods in
Mongolia (New York: Dutton, 1935), 282.
26. The cosmic nature of various tents as the "Himmelsgewölbe des Weltherrschers" is
discussed by Alföldi, "Geschichte des Throntabernakels," 560-61. In Israel the tent was a
representation of heaven; Pelletier, "Grand rideau du vestibule du temple de Jérusalem,"
223-26; Albert Vanhoye, "Par la tente plus grande et plus parfaite (He 9, 11)," Biblica 46
(1965): 5. Our quotation is from Comas of Prague, Topographia Christiana (Christian
Topography) 5, in PG 88:201.
27. The prehistoric Ben-stone at Heliopolis seems to have been such a cosmic tent-pole;
Hermann Kees, Aegypten (Tübingen: Mohr, 1928), 1, 4, 6. Clark, Myth and Symbol in
Ancient Egypt, 59, quotes a Coffin Text: "The Great God lives fixed in the middle of the sky
upon his support; the guide-ropes are adjusted for that great hidden one, the dweller in the
city." In PT 254 (280), the king is "the star of those who stand in the presence of the pillar
[pole] of the stars." The concept is basic in shamanism: "The pole in the middle of the
shaman's tent or house is the symbol of the world-pillar. . . . The posjo thus pictures that part
of the universe where heaven and earth meet, and where there is an opening . . . through
which one can pass to the outer world," Nils Lid, "The Mythical Realm of the Far North,"
Laos: Comparative Studies of Folklore and Regional Ethnology 1 (1951): 62. The Arabs call
the World Mountain "the Central Pole of the Tent," Trumpf, "Stadtgründung und
Drachenkampf," 133, n. 1, citing Eliade.
28. As the tent is a scale-model of the heaven, so the royal Schirmdach is a "Miniaturbild des
Himmelszeltes," Alföldi, "Geschichte des Throntabernakels," 538. For a general treatment,
Robert Eisler, Weltenmantel und Himmelszelt, 2 vols. (Munich: Beck, 1910). The festival
wagon of the Panathenaeon was covered with a tent woven of the same stuff as the cosmic
mantle of Athenia, see Smolian, "Vehicula Religiosa," 225; and PT 587 (1596-97); cf. PT
690 (2094), the Lady Nut receives such a garment when the King builds his holy city. The
Tabernacle is the likeness of the heavenly Temple, 2 Baruch 4:3-4.
29. See n. 24 above. The four corner-poles of the cutfa, the Ark, and so forth, as well as the
central pole were decorated with astral symbols; Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod, and the
`Tent of Meeting,' " 179, 183, 194, 201. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are called "the three
tent-poles of the world," Eisler, Weltenmantel und Himmelszelt, 2:286, just as Peter, James,
and John are "the three styloi (wooden poles) of the church," Galatians 2:9.
30. The round capitol dome with its supporting columns goes back to the Imperial Rundsaal
derived from the domed mobile pavilion of the Asiatic monarch; Alföldi, "Geschichte des
Throntabernakels," 563-64. Four tall wooden poles stood in front of every Egyptian temple,
suggesting the "4 pure poles" of the tent of Osiris; PT 303; cf. 264. The pillars of the Torah
shrine represent the four tent-poles of the Ark; Joseph Sloane, "The Torah Shrine in the
Ashburnham Pentateuch," JQR 25 (1934-35): 4-5.
31. Sources in n. 18 above. The idea of organic extension is treated by L. Voelkl, "
`Orientierung' in Weltbild der ersten christlichen Jahrhunderte," Rivista di Archeologia
Cristiana 25 (1949): 155, and Hugh W. Nibley, "Christian Envy of the Temple," JQR 50
(1959): 101-3; reprinted in CWHN 4:394-95. For a bibliography, Hans Herter, "Die
Rundform in Platons Atlantis und ihre Nachwirkung in der Villa Hadriani," Rheinisches
Museum für Philologie 96 (1953): 5, n. 9. "The first clear-cut trend [towards urbanization] to
appear in the archaeological record is the rise of the temple." Robert M. Adams, "The Origin
of Cities," Scientific American 203 (September 1960): 159.
32. The oldest known stone temples are modeled after tents, C. M. Firth, "Excavations of the
Service des Antiquités at Saqqara (November 1926-April 1927)," Annales du service des
antiquités de l'égypte 27 (1927): 109, as is also apparent from prehistoric Mesopotamian
seals. The cutfa or qubba, according to Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod, and the `Tent of
Meeting,' " may be of leather, 207-9, of "thin wooden boards," 157, or of wooden
lattice-work, 160. The same is true of the Roman templum and tabernaculum, and even of
the golden domes of the great Khans; Ibn Batuta, Rihla (Cairo: 1938), 1:213. In studying
archaic Mesopotamian shrines, E. S. Stevens, "The Cult-hut or Mandi of the Mandaeans,"
Ancient Egypt and the East (1934): 44, notes that "if a nomad tribe settles it at once uses
reed mat instead of the woven wool tent-cloth," the former being cheap and easily
replaceable. Thus the material of the tent does not change its essential form or nature.
33. H. G. May, "The Ark -- A Miniature Temple," American Journal of Semitic Languages
and Literatures 52 (1936): 215-34; Haran, "Nature of the 'Ohel Mocedh," 50. "Solomon did
not dare infringe the primary significance of the Ark. It might `rest' in a house of cedar . . .
but it must never cease to be the mobile vehicle of His presence, ready at any moment to
resume its activity," W. J. Phythian-Adams, The People and the Presence (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1942), 16; cf. 23, 47.
34. Cf. Stevens, "Cult-hut or Mandi of the Mandaeans," 39-41. The common Indo-European
root mand- signifies a structure of woven stuff; Julius Pokorny, Indogermanisches
etymologisches Wörterbuch, 2 vols. (Bern: Francke, 1959), 1:699.
35. Memphis, the first Egyptian city, takes its name from "the King's campground," Kurt H.
Sethe, Beiträge zur ältesten Geschichte ägyptens (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1905), 124-25.
Jerusalem was laid out on the pattern of the camp of Israel; Haran, "Nature of the 'Ohel
Mocedh," 61, 64-65. All great Moslem conquerors "established cities, or more precisely
fortified camps, which later became cities," Claude Cahen, "Zur Geschichte der städtischen
Gesellschaft in islamischen Orient," Saeculum 9 (1958): 62. So also the great Asiatic
conquerors, Priscus Rhetor, De Legationibus Gentium ad Romanos 58, in PG 113:724
(Attila). The Mongol capitol was the urga or örgö, "meaning `princely camp, palace,' "
George N. Rörich, Trails to Inmost Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1931), 135.
For the same system in Africa, Hans C. Peyer, "Das Reisekönigtum des Mittelalters,"
Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte 51 (1964): 17-18; Paul Radin, Social
Anthropology (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1932), 79. For Europe see below, nn. 162-65.
Archaeology bears this out: the oldest Egyptian towns were camps of mat huts or
windscreens, Massoulard, Préhistoire et protohistoire d'égypte, 33-34; so also in Palestine,
John Waechter, "The Beginning of Civilization in the Middle East," Palestine Exploration
Fund Quarterly Statement 85 (1953): 130-31. "Polybius VI, 31, 10, compares the Hellenistic
city to the camp of a Roman legion," William W. Tarn, Hellenistic Civilization, 3d ed. (New
York: Meridian, 1951), 310, such camps following the same pattern as those of the Hittites,
Hurrians, and Assyrians, Alexandre Moret, Histoire de l'Orient, 2 vols. (Paris: Presses
universitaires, 1941), 1:462-63.
36. Cyrill von Korvin-Krasinski, "Die heilige Stadt," Review of Werner Müller, Die heilige
Stadt, in Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte 16 (1964): 268, 270.
37. See Nibley, "The Hierocentric State, 241-42; reprinted in this volume, pages 118-21. The
Greek expression for "hold a festival" is simply skenein, to put up a tent; Martin P. Nilsson,
Geschichte der griechischen Religion, 2 vols. (Munich: Beck, 1955), 1:779-80.
38. The fathers cannot decide whether Jerusalem is in heaven or earth as it moves between,
Augustine, Contra Donatistas X, 26, in PL 43:409-10; Jerome, Epistolae (Epistle) 46, in PL
22:485, 489; Paul Baudrus Notae in Librum de Mortibus Persecutorum, in PL 7:621; Cyril of
Alexandria, Commentarius in Isaiam Prophetam (Commentary on Isaiah) 18:18, in PG
70:468; Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica (Ecclesiastical History) III, 16-17, in PL 95:256-58.
39. Jerome, Commentarius in Isaiam Prophetam (Commentary on Isaiah) 10:33, in PL
24:369. The Jews call the heavenly Jerusalem "the true tent," since it "descends from heaven
as a tent," H. Rusche, "Himmlisches Jerusalem," in Michael Buchberger, ed., Lexikon für
Theologie und Kirche, 10 vols. (Freiburg: Herder, 1930-38), 5:367-68. The Fathers believe
that the veil of the Temple represents the original tent of communion with God; e.g.,
Epiphanius, Against Heresies II, 1, in PG 41:1049; Cyril of Jerusalem, De Adoratione in
Spiritu et Veritate 9, in PG 68:589; Cyril of Alexandria, In Joannis Evangelium IV, 4, in PG
73:617; Theodoret, Ecclesiastical History IV, 16, in PG 82:1161; Jerome, Epistle 20, in PL
22:992; Raban Maurus, Expositio super Jeremiam (Exposition on Jeremiah) XIII, 33, in PL
111:1065; Thomas Aquinas, Summa III, 457-58.
40. Origen, Commentaria in Evangelium Joannis (Commentary on John) 10:23, in PG
14:381. The Church is a tent because it represents God's coming to earth for temporary
sojourns with men; Richard of St. Victor, In Apocalypsim Joannis (On the Revelation of
John) VII, 2, in PL 196:860. The pitching of the tent outside the camp represents God's
remoteness from this impure world, Maximus Confessor, Capita Theologiae et Oeconomiae,
I, 83-84 in PG 90:1117; Wolber, Commentaria in Canticum Canticorum (Commentary on the
Song of Solomon) III, 5, in PL 195:1203. In a very early Christian source "the Father comes
down from above with his tent of light," Evangelium Bartholomei, in PO 2:190. The Holy of
Holies "is everywhere called a tent because God tents there," Theophylactus, Expositio in
Epistolam ad Hebraeos 9, in PG 125:297.
41. Cf. Vanhoye, "Par la tente plus grande," 1-3. Cf. also Cyril of Alexandria, De Adoratione
in Spiritu et Veritate 14, in PG 68:901. John 1:14 reads literally, "the logos was made flesh
and pitched his tent [eskenosen] among us"; and after the Resurrection the Lord "camps"
with the disciples, Acts 1:4. At the Transfiguration Peter prematurely proposed setting up
three tents for taking possession, Matthew 17:4; Mark 9:5; Luke 9:33; see Hilary, Tractatus
in Psalmos 14, in PL 9:300.
42. Eduard Meyer, Ursprung und Anfänge des Christentums, 3 vols. (Stuttgart: Cotta,
1921-23), 2:48.
43. Yigael Yadin, The Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness,
tr. Batya and Chaim Rabin (London: Oxford University Press, 1962), 4-5: the two camps
represent "the cosmic powers of light and darkness," 5; the camp is a holy place set apart
from all earthly contamination, ibid., 70-75.
44. Heinrich Zimmern, "Religion und Sprache," in Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das alte
Testament, 352-53, notes that the "Kingdom of God" seems to be localized at the North Pole,
where it corresponds to the divine mountain. In Egypt the Urhügel (primeval mound) is
preeminently the point of contact between heaven and earth; Hans Bonnet, "Benben," in
Reallexikon der ägyptischen Religionsgeschichte (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1952), 100.
45. Herter, "Rundform in Platons Atlantis," 1-20. In Pharaoh's garden all creatures enjoy a
safe asylum "suspended in the sky," Edouard Naville, "La destruction des hommes par les
dieux," Biblical Archaeological Society Transactions 4 (1875): 12-13. Such an island shrine
in Egypt was the island of Bigge, which was identical with the hidden World-Mountain;
Hermann Junker, Das Götterdekret über das Abaton, in Denkschriften der Akademie der
Wissenschaften in Wien 56 (1913): 35-37. Such a combined world-mountain and island was
Mt. Kardu, from which the Ark sailed and to which it returned; Hippolytus, De
Consummatine Mundi (spuria) (On the Consummation of the World), Fragmenta Dubia 5, in
PG 10:709. All holy places are abstracted from the world; Iamblichus, Protrepticus 21.
46. One must swim to the shrine of the goddess, which is in a moon-boat; Lucian, De Syria
Dea (On the Syrian Goddess) 12-13, 32. Smolian, "Vehicula Religiosa," 203, notes that the
moon itself "swims" in the clouds. The Midrash to Genesis 6:16 speaks of the Ark as a
floating temple. Hippolytus, Fragment 3, On the Consummation of the World, in PG 10:707,
tells how Noah took the body of Adam to the top of a holy mountain "which was the
Paradise of God, the dwelling of religion and purity," to keep it from the flood, and there
"placed it in the midst of a ship mounted on a wooden framework." From the wood of this
structure Noah made a thunder-drum which summoned his sons to the Ark and brought the
storm. At the great Jubilee festival the Egyptians beat on such a shaman's drum, which
represented the cosmos; Ludwig Borchardt, "Die Rahmentrommel im Museum zu Kairo,"
Memoires de l'Institut Français d'archéologie orientale 66 (1935-38): 1-6.
47. Wünsche, Salomons Thron und Hippodrom; also n. 45 above. The Kacba orbited the
earth during the Flood, returning as the Black Stone -- a meteorite; Ad-Diyarbakri, Tarikh
al-Khamis (Cairo, 1284 AH), II, 88.
48. André Parrot, Ziggurats et la Tour de Babel (Paris: Michel, 1949), 208-9; and André
Parrot, "La Tour de Babel et les Ziggurats," Nouvelle Clio 2 (1950): 159. Pierre Amiet,
"Ziggurats et `Culte en hauteur' des origines à l'époque d'Akkad," Revue d'assyriologie et
d'archéologie orientale 47 (1953): 30; Georges Contenau, Le déluge babylonien (Paris:
Payot, 1952), 246-47. In Egypt "la pyramide et le mastaba sont des terrains de transition
entre la terre et l'au-delà" (the pyramid and the mastaba are the places of transition between
the earth and the netherworld), Moret, Histoire de l'Orient, 1:235.
49. Alexander Scharff and Anton Moortgat, ägypten und Vorderasien im Altertum (Munich:
Bruckmann, 1950), 56.
50. Alföldi, "Geschichte des Throntabernakels," 544-56. Towers were actually put on
wheels, e.g., by the Scythians; Xenophon, Cyropaedia VI, 29.
51. Haldar, Notion of the Desert, 68. Mildred Cable, The Gobi Desert (New York:
Macmillan, 1944), 16, describes "the acute terror with which the Chinese regard the Gobi
regions," which begin at the very gates of some cities. For the earliest city-dwellers "the
dead-world of the steppe . . . began just outside the city wall," Knut Tallquist,
"Sumerish-akkadische Namen der Totenwelt," Studia Orientalia 5/4 (1934): 21; and the city
gates provided "the ritual of shutting up of a city so that sorcery might be excluded," E.
Douglas van Buren, "The salmé in Mesopotamian Art and Religion," Orientalia 10 (1941):
52. Henri Frankfort, The Birth of Civilization in the Near East (Garden City, NY:
Doubleday, 1956), 54.
53. Sigmund Mowinkel, Religion und Kultus (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck, 1953), 70; cf. 36,
75. The basic "ritual pattern" goes back to the "Urhaltung des Menschen gegenüber seiner
Umwelt" (the primeval attitude of man toward his environment), and proved "Sicherung
seiner ständig bedrohten Existenz" (a defense for his constantly threatened existence),
Bernhardt, Das Problem der altorientalischen Königsideologie, 54.
54. The Vara is both a city and a paradise; Zend-Avesta, frag. II, 25-38 (61-123), in
Darmesteter, Zend-Avesta 1:16-19; Moses Khorenatsci, History of the Armenians, tr. Robert
W. Thomson (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978), 182-84 (II, 40-42); this is
comparable to the rabbinic picture in Babylonian Talmud Ta canith 31a. Such a blessed oasis
of refuge is the jiwar where men and animals escape the violence of the elements; Thaclabi,
Qisas al-Anbiya', 24, 213; cf. Pierre Grimal, Les jardins romains à la fin de la République et
aux deux premiers siècles de l'Empire (Paris: Boccard, 1943), 44, 86-90. The ancient ringed
camp of the nomads gave protection from danger threatening equally from all sides, and
gave rise to some cities; Priscus Rhetor, De Legationibus Romanorum ad Gentes 3, in PG
113:713; Michael Prawdin, The Mongol Empire: Its Rise and Legacy, tr. Eden and Cedar
Paul (London: Allen and Unwin, 1940), 82-86; William of Rubruck, Journal 21, in Manuel
Komroff, ed., Contemporaries of Marco Polo (New York: Liveright, 1928), 98, compares
such ring-camps to the camp of Israel.
55. Al-Kazwini, Kosmographie, ed. Ferdinand Wüstenfeld, 2 vols. (Göttingen: Dieterich,
1848-49), 2:4-5.
56. Vivid accounts may be found in Nabih A. Faris, The Antiquities of South Arabia: Being
a Translation from the Arabic with Linguistic, Geographic, and Historic Notes of the Eighth
Book of Al-Hamdani's Al-Iklil (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1938); and (of great
antiquity) Wüstenfeld, "älteste ägyptische Geschichte," 331.
57. L. Vax, "Le sentiment du mystère dans le conte fantastique et dans le roman policier,"
Etudes philosophiques 6 (1951): 72, 74.
58. Cahen, "Zur Geschichte der städtischen Gesellschaft," 61, citing Xavier de Planhol, The
World of Islam (New York: Cornell University, 1957), ch. 1; cf. 64-66 in Cahen. V. G.
Kiernan, "State and Nation in Western Europe," Past and Present 31 (1965): 21, 25,
maintains that there is no real government at all in such cities.
59. A. H. Godbey, "The Semitic City of Refuge," Monist 15 (1905): 624-25. That a man was
completely free and secure only in the city, where alone he could realize his full
potentialities, was a favorite Sophist theme, e.g., Dio Chrysostom, Discourse L, 1; Philo,
Quod Omnis Probus Liber 1; cf. Al-Kazwini, Kosmographie, 2:4-5. As a city of refuge
Babylon offered freedom (duraru) to all the world; Godbey, "Semitic City of Refuge," 615.
60. The King "is the pivot round which the life of the community revolves. Upon his
physical vigour . . . depend the various aspects of the well-being of the community," Lord
Fitz R. Raglan, The Origins of Religion (London: Watts, 1949), 74, citing Samuel H. Hooke;
cf. Bernhardt, Problem der altorientalischen Königsideologie, 54, 67, 80.
61. Peyer, "Reisekönigtum des Mittelalters," 17-20.
62. Radin, Social Anthropology, 79. Tor Istram, cited by Bernhardt, Problem der
altorientalischen Königsideologie, 58, compared the coronation rites of 62 African tribes and
found that they regularly end with the new king starting off on his Royal Progress.
63. Frankfort, Birth of Civilization, 97-98. The Pyramid Texts describe the dead king's
journey to heaven in terms of continuation of his Royal Progress on earth, e.g., PT 33
(24c-25b), 224 (218-20).
64. Alföldi, "Geschichte des Throntabernakels," 542-43. Among the Mongols the traveling
temple and tent-city accompany "the focus of the universe, the life-giving residence,"
Prawdin, Mongol Empire, 330; Haslund-Christensen, Men and Gods in Mongolia, 213, 283;
Rörich, Trails to Inmost Asia, 343.
65. Peyer, "Reisekönigtum des Mittelalters," 1, 21.
66. Cf. ibid., 1, 7-8, 12, 14.
67. Of the ritual drama of the Ramesseumpapyrus, Sethe writes that "das Spiel vielleicht auf
einer Reise, in der der neue Herrscher nach der Thronbesteigung sein Reich durchzog, an
verschiedenen . . . Orten widerholt werden sollte, in erster Linie in den drei grossen
Hauptstädten . . . vielleicht aber auch an anderen bedeutenden Orten" (perhaps the ritual
drama should be repeated in different places on the Royal Progress in which the new ruler
journeyed through the kingdom after his ascent to the throne, particularly in the three great
capitals, but perhaps also in other important places), which explains why the king "überall in
dem Spiele in einem Schiffe stehend auftritt" (appears everywhere in the drama standing in a
ship), Kurt Sethe, Dramatische Texte zu altägyptischen Mysterienspielen (Leipzig: Hinrichs,
1928), 96. On the Royal Progress of the new king and his mother, Junker, Das Götterdekret
über das Abaton, 27-29; and Hermann Junker, Die Onurislegende (Vienna: Hölder, 1917),
129-31, 168; also Hermann Junker, Der Auszug der Hathor-Tefnut aus Nubien (Berlin:
Reimer, 1911), 74-76; cf. Wilhelm Spiegelberg, Der ägyptische Mythus vom Sonnenauge
(Strassburg: Schultz, 1917), 53.
68. G. Adolf Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East (New York: Doran, 1927), 368-73.
69. Peyer, "Reisekönigtum des Mittelalters," 1, 7-9, 12, 14. On Pharaoh's tour as a
Besitznahme of the land, Siegfried Schott, Mythe und Mythenbildung im alten Aegypten
(Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1945), 17-19. There are vivid vignettes in PT 273 (the "Cannibal
Hymn"), 274, 317, 508, 690, and in the Coffin Texts, de Buck, Egyptian Coffin Texts, 1:77,
221, 268-70, 289, 328, 330; 2:163, 231.
70. Peyer, "Reisekönigtum des Mittelalters," 12.
71. See Hugh Nibley, "The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State," Western Political Quarterly
2/3 (1949): 344; reprinted in this volume, page 20.
72. So in Ireland, Peyer, "Reisekönigtum des Mittelalters," 12; Scandinavia, ibid., 14; Spain,
ibid., 7-9; and England, ibid., 1.
73. Kiernan, "State and Nation in Western Europe," 35-37. Peyer, "Reisekönigtum des
Mittelalters," passim, surveys the whole European scene and finds no country without the
74. Carl R. Unger, ed., Saga Didriks Konungs af Bern (Kristiania: Feilborg and Landmark,
1853), 220-23, 239-42. On the unique authority of this source, Heinrich Prell, "Wildrinder
und Drachen in der Siegfriedsage," Archiv für Kulturgeschichte 32 (1944): 53, 71.
75. See Nibley, "The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State, 343; reprinted in this volume, pages
18-19. The idea goes back to very early times, when the king as the "Man of the Steppes" is
the protector of animal and even vegetable life; Witzel, "Zu den Enmerkar-Dichtungen,"
279-80; Anton Moortgat, Tammuz: Der Unsterblichkeitsglaube in der altorientalischen
Bildkunst (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1949), 9-18, 22-26, 27-35. All animals like all nations were
expected to do homage to the Emperor on his throne, Wünsche, Salomons Thron und
76. Heinrich Rubner, Untersuchungen zur Forstverfassung des mittelalterlichen Frankreichs
(Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1965), 6; Hermann Thimme, "Forestis: Königsgut und Königsrecht
nach den Forsturkunden vom 6. bis 12. Jahrhundert," Archiv für Urkundenforschung 2
(1909): 101-54.
77. Cf. G. Waitz, "Die Anfänge des Lehnwesens," HZ 13 (1865): 90-91. Since the last thing
the peasant did was to hunt, that was the last thing forbidden him, Thimme, "Forestis,
Königsgut und Königsrecht," 127.
78. Down to the nineteenth century the basic idea was that forest rights were a matter of use
rather than of abstract ownership. The shift from Nutzungsrechte to Wildbann or hunting
rights began in Carolingian times, Thimme, "Forestis, Königsgut und Königsrecht," 127,
though the transfer from hunting rights to absolute ownership came very late.
79. The idea of the ritual hunt as part of the coronation ceremony, A. F. L. Beeston, "The
Ritual Hunt: A Study in Old South Arabian Religious Practice," Le Muséon 61 (1948): 148,
seems to go back to the earliest times, when the king appears in glyptic art as a hunter who
defends people and domestic cattle from dangerous beasts of prey; Moortgat, Tammuz, 9-18;
Witzel, "Zu den Enmerkar-Dichtungen," 279-80.
80. On the background of the Royal Road or King's Highway, Hans J. Rieckenberg,
"Königsstrasse und Königsgut in liudolfingischer und frühsalischer Zeit (919-1056)," Archiv
für Urkundenforschung 17 (1942): 32-154.
81. Peyer, "Reisekönigtum des Mittelalters," 6. The castles were the "main bases or
strongholds" of perpetually mobile monarchs; Kiernan, "State and Nation in Western
Europe," 32. The system can be traced back to the policy of the Severi in urbanizing and
militarizing peasants, both land-owners and tenants, by gathering them in stathmoi, stationes,
which were like forts, Michael Rostovzeff, Social and Economic History of the Roman
Empire, 2 vols., 2d ed. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1957), 2:426-27. Stathmoi and stationes both
mean "stopping place on the march." Caesar based his overall European strategy on castles,
Gallic War II, 8, as did Alexander his Asiatic strategy, Quintus Curtis, Vita Alexandri VII, 9
and 11. In the ancient Near East, marauding tribes and the kings who resisted them both
based their strategy on castles; Alan H. Gardiner, "New Literary Works from Ancient
Egypt," JEA 1 (1914): 31-32, 23-24. The system gave birth to marketplaces and cities in
Mesopotamia; Bruno Meissner, Babylonien und Assyrien, 2 vols. (Heidelberg: Winter,
1925), 1:340-41.
82. Castrum is traced ultimately to old Celtic words meaning "woven structure" and/or
"covering, shelter." The plural means "fortified camp." Castrum can also signify a shepherd's
hut or the distance between two camps; Alois Walde, Lateinisches etymologisches
Wörterbuch, 3 vols. (Heidelberg: Winter, 1965), 1:180.
83. Peyer, "Reisekönigtum des Mittelalters," 3; Alfred Ernout, Dictionnaire étymologique de
la langue latine, 2d ed. (Paris: Klinksieck, 1951), s.v. "palatium," deriving it from Etruscan.
"Tamerlaine built palaces using them for the same purpose his ancestors used tents. He
wandered from castle to castle, without spending more than a night or two in any," Prawdin,
Mongol Empire, 478.
84. Cf. German Betthimmel and Himmelbett. For definitions, see Oxford English Dictionary,
12 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1933).
85. Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod, and the `Tent of Meeting,' " 263.
86. Alfred Jeremias, Das Alte Testament im Lichte des alten Orients (Leipzig: Hinrichs,
1916), 316.
87. Alfred Adam, Die Psalmen des Thomas und das Perlenlied als Zeugnisse vorchristlicher
Gnosis (Berlin: Töpelmann, 1959), 3.
88. Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod, and the `Tent of Meeting,' " 190.
89.Iliad 1:152-57; 21:106-13. Cf. E. V. Gordon, An Introduction to Old Norse (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1927), introduction. The Wild Host itself is driven by the storm, n.
5 above.
90."I marched victoriously like a mad dog, spreading terror, and I met no conqueror," Daniel
D. Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia, 2 vols. (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1927), 2:99, no. 176. The Babylonian king is "the founder of cities, the one
who places troops under the yoke . . . who tramples their lands under foot . . . who expands
boundary and border," and so forth; Carl Bezold, Historische Keilschriftexten aus Assur
(Heidelberg: Winter, 1915), 11. On his Royal Progress the Canaanitish hero announces, "Nor
king, nor commoner shall make the earth his dominion. . . . 'Tis I alone that shall reign,"
Theodor H. Gaster, Thespis: Ritual, Myth, and Drama in the Ancient Near East (New York:
Schuman, 1950), 183. The image of the invader is that of the "ever-conquering and
unconquerable host," Herodotus, History II, 46. "No people could stand against them to
whatsoever land they came," Unger, Saga Didriks, 145.
91. Faulkner, " `Cannibal Hymn' from the Pyramid Texts," 98. When it is a necessity,
"raiding has always been regarded not only as a primordial right but as a noble tradition,"
Max A. S. Oppenheim, Die Beduinen, 4 vols. (Leipzig: Harrassowitz, 1939), 1:34.
92. Thus the bloody primordial contest between Horus and Seth has a strictly legal side from
the beginning, Rudolf Anthes, "Note Concerning the Great Corporation of Heliopolis,"
Journal of Near Eastern Studies 13 (1954): 191-92, as is clearly brought out in the text of
The Contending of Horus and Seth, in Alan H. Gardiner's The Library of A. Chester Beatty
(London: Oxford University, 1931), 8-26. The same is true of the fight between Marduk and
Kingu in the Enuma Elish.
93. Pharaoh is always the son of Horus or Re, warding off the attacks of Seth and his
depraved followers; Montet, Drame d'Avaris, 54-58. Alexander posed as liberator of the
people of Asia from the barbarian bandits; Quintus Curtis, Vita Alexandri VII, 6.
94. Trumpf, "Stadtgründung und Drachenkampf," 129-30, 142-45.
95. Friedrich Dieterici, Thier und Mensch vor dem König der Genien (Leipzig: Hinrichs,
1879), 1-6, 9, 11; cf. Aesop, Fables, no. 25. For the great antiquity of the concept,
Spiegelberg, Der ägyptische Mythus vom Sonnenauge, 47. The Persian king felt responsible
for the animals and fined himself a piece of gold for every beast slain in the hunt; Edward
Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 2 vols. (New York: Modern Library,
1932), 2:985.
96. This is clearly seen in the very early (c. 1960 B.C.) account of Sinuhe: While he was
among the Asiatics, a neighboring chieftain came to his tent (B 109-10) and challenged
Sinuhe as a trespasser (B 114-25); Sinuhe in formal combat "did to him what he would have
done to me: I seized what was in his tent and stripped his camp, and thereby became
enlarged in wealth and possessed of much cattle" (B 144-47). James B. Pritchard, Ancient
Near Eastern Texts (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955), 20.
97. Tacitus, Germania 33.
98. Down to modern times "each ruler saw himself first and foremost . . . as a warlord. He
figured in tournaments and might even lose his life in them," but he could not avoid them;
Kiernan, "State and Nation in Western Europe," 22, 31. The wandering heroes of the Avesta
view all other nomads as robbers and trespassers, to be challenged on the spot, Arthur E.
Christensen, "Die Iranier," in Albrecht Alt et al., Kulturgeschichte des alten Orients
(Munich: Beck, 1933), 211. Agathias, History V, 25, tells how the hordes of Asia consume
themselves in perpetual and ever-shifting combat which they think of as noble. This
culminates in the inevitable showdown between the two unconquerable hordes for the
possession of the world, Unger, Saga Didriks, 145 (Attila vs. Ostanrix); Xenophon,
Cyropaedia VII, 1 (Croesus vs. Cyrus).
99. The rule is that all who ride are equally noble, though not of equal rank, Unger, Saga
Didriks, 144. Wandering knights may not trust each other; Christensen, in Alt,
Kulturgeschichte des alten Orients, 211.
100. A. E. Crawley, "Ordeal: Introductory and Primitive," in James Hastings, Encyclopedia
of Religion and Ethics, 13 vols. (New York: Scribner, 1951), 9:507, and the series of articles
on the Ordeal that follows.
101. F. R. Bryson, The Point of Honor in Sixteenth-Century Italy (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1935), 35, 45.
102. Unger, Saga Didriks, 233. If a noble "did not maintain his own honor he could hardly
defend that of his prince or his country," Bryson, Point of Honor in Sixteenth-Century Italy,
103. Rubner, Untersuchungen zur Forstverfassung, 7-8.
104. Alan H. Gardiner, "Piankhi's Instructions to His Army," JEA 21 (1935): 219-20, and
Montet, Drame d'Avaris, 29, no. 3, both comment on the striking resemblance to medieval
105. Smolian, "Kultischer Hintergrund bei Wagenrennen," 264-65.
106. M. E. Moghadam, "A Note on the Etymology of the Word Checkmate," JAOS 58
(1938): 662; cf. L. Thorndike, "All the World's a Chess-board," Speculum 6 (1931): 461.
107."Wheryn is al to wynne or al to lese," R. Dyboski and Z. M. Arend, eds., Knyghthode
and Bataile (London: Early English Text Society, 1935), 11; an excellent source both for the
mechanics and for the philosophy of chivalrous warfare. The rule, citing Black Khalil, is that
"the conquered are the property of the conqueror, who is the lawful master of them, of their
lands, of their goods, of their wives, and of their children," Edwin S. Creasy, History of
Ottoman Turks: From the Beginning of Their Empire to the Present Time, 2 vols. (London:
Bentley, 1854-56), 1:21; cf. Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod, and the `Tent of Meeting,' "
173-74, 180-81, 187, 206, 209, and n. 123 below.
108. Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod, and the `Tent of Meeting,' " 207-23; the quotation
is from Alföldi, "Geschichte des Throntabernakels," 1.
109. Cf. von Grunebaum, Muhammadan Festivals, 19; Tha'labi, Qisas al-Anbiya', 24-25,
110. W. Helck, "Rp ct auf dem Thron des Gb," Orientalia 19 (1950): 430. Cf. the "white
towns" of the Creek Indians, "in which no violence could be done, and the `red towns' or
`war towns,' " Godbey, "Semitic City of Refuge," 607. "Mohammed himself continued to
employ the kubbe of red leather," even though he "had denounced red as the color of Satan,"
Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod, and the `Tent of Meeting,' " 217, 219.
111. On tent and banner as symbolic of each other, see Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod,
and the `Tent of Meeting,' " 160, 171, 179, 184, 187, 199, 205, 209; Haslund-Christensen,
Men and Gods in Mongolia, 125; T. Canaan, "The Palestinian Arab House: Its Architecture
and Folklore," Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society 13 (1933): 54-55; Stevens, "Cult-hut
or Mandi of the Mandaeans," 43. Tent and banner alike are a formal notice of defiance,
Giovanni P. Carpini, History 26, in Komroff, ed., Contemporaries of Marco Polo, 44; Unger,
Saga Didriks, 285.
112. Cited by Irwin, "Sanctuaire central israélite," 172-73, 183.
113. Jacob, Altarabisches Beduinenleben, 211.
114. Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod, and the `Tent of Meeting,' " 261; cf. 180-82, 178,
197, 262; for a modern-day version, Carl R. Raswan, The Black Tents of Arabia (London:
n.p., 1936), 86-97.
115. Origen, Commentary on John 10, in PG 14:380-81.
116. Yadin, Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light, 6-8, 70-75.
117. Alföldi, "Geschichte des Throntabernakels," 556. A thousand years earlier the hero of a
Ras Shamra ritual text drives his rival "out of the seat of his kingship, from the tent, from the
throne of his Sovereignty," Cyrus H. Gordon, Ugaritic Literature (Rome: Pontifical Biblical
Institute, 1949), 20, 26; later an Assyrian king boasts that his rival "left his royal tent [with
its] couch of gold, the golden throne, golden footstool, golden sceptre, silver chariot, golden
palanquin, and the chain about his neck, in the midst of his camp and fled alone."
Luckenbill, Ancient Records, 2:34, no. 67.
118. H. Idris Bell, Egypt from Alexander the Great to the Arab Conquest (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1948), 33.
119. Gaie-ochos means not "earth-shaker" as usually translated, but "earth-holder" or
possessor: "Posei-daon, oder Posei-das, was `Herr der Erde' heisst," Herman A. Hirt,
Indogermanische Grammatik, 6 parts (Heidelberg: Winter, 1927-37), 1:196.
120. Iliad 7:442-63. The Greeks realized that the Great King had no choice but to destroy
them once they had refused him tribute: "He cannot let us escape to laugh at him,"
Xenophon, Anabasis II, 4, 3-4.
121. Ludwig Preller, Griechische Mythologie, 2 vols. (Berlin: Weidmann, 1872) 1:49-50.
122. Livy, II, 50-51.
123. Varro, in Servius, Commentarius in Aeneidem IX, 52. The challenge: "Do you give
over your lands, your city, your implements, weapons, wives, children and property into the
hands of me and the Roman people?" Livy, I, 38, 2. The custom survives in the Eastern
Empire, as described in The 1001 Nights (Bulak edition), 1:157.
124. Unger, Saga Didriks, 52, 195-97, 202-4, 212. Quotation is from Georg von Below, "Die
Städtische Verwaltung des Mittelalters als Vorbild der späteren Territorialverwaltung," HZ
75 (1895): 410.
125. Froissart, Chronicle IV, 13.
126. Morgenstern, "The Ark, the Ephod, and the `Tent of Meeting,' "has much to say on this
subject, e.g., 187, 209; see n. 117 above.
127. Adam, Psalmen des Thomas, 11-12, citing Psalm of Thomas 7:1, 4-7.
128. John L. Burckhardt, Notes on the Bedouins and Wahábys, 2 vols. (London: Colburn &
Bentley, 1831), 1:142.
129. To divorce a man his wife has only to overturn his tent; Jacob, Altarabisches
Beduinenleben, 212. The most solemn oaths were taken with the right hand on the main
tent-pole: "If the tent trembles the oath is false," Gustaf Dalman, "Aus dem Rechtsleben und
religiösen Leben der Beduiner," Zeitschrift des Deutschen-Palästina Vereins 62 (1939): 60.
"The tent-poles are torn up immediately after [a] man [without a male heir] has expired, and
the tent demolished," Burckhardt, Notes on the Bedouins and Wahábys, 1:101. The antiquity
of the concept is attested in a Ras Shamra formula: "uptorn be the ropes of thy dwelling,
overturned the throne of thy kingdom, broken the sceptre of thy rule!" H. Louis Ginzberg,
"The Rebellion and Death of Ba'lu," Orientalia 5 (1936): 197.
130. John Zonaras, Annals XV, 15, in PG 134:1360-61.
131. Froissart, Chronicle I, 18 and 47 respectively.
132. Trumpf, "Stadtgründung und Drachenkampf," 149-54. See n. 129 above for a still older
133. On the three-day rule, Peyer, "Reisekönigtum des Mittelalters," 5, 7; cf. Egilssaga
78:59. The Arabs allow "a certain liberty" of pasturage to those passing through the country,
Antonin Jaussen, "Coutumes arabes," Revue biblique 12 (1903): 256-57. When an army is
merely passing through Israel "the taking of wood is to be allowed them; and . . . they may
also camp anywhere and may be buried where they fall," Babylonian Talmud Erubin 17a.
134. These definitions are substantially the same in the Oxford English Dictionary,
Universal Dictionary, and Friedrich L. K. Weigand's Deutsches Wörterbuch, 2 vols.
(Giessen: Töpelmann, 1909-10).
135. Cable, Gobi Desert, 86.
136. For a full description, Raymond W. Muncey, Our Old English Fairs (London: Sheldon,
1935); cf. P. H. Ditchfield, "Stourbridge Fair," Journal of the British Archaeological
Association 19 (1913): 161, 163-64, 167, 171, 173.
137. This of course is merely a suggestion. Just how far one may go with this sort of thing
can be learned from the Feugians, who, it is believed, "stabled ground sloths in caves on Last
Hope Island" within historic times, and still live in "portable skin toldas [!] or tent-houses,"
Carlton Beals, Nomads and Empire Builders (Philadelphia: Chilton, 1961), 41.
138. W. Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites (London: Harper, 1901), 244-54; cf.
458-65. Samuel N. Kramer, "Sumerian Historiography," Israel Exploration Journal 3 (1953):
230; M. San Nicolò, "Materialien zur Viehwirtschaft in den neubabylonischen Tempeln,"
Orientalia 18 (1949): 289-300; Witzel, "Zu den Enmerkar-Dichtungen," 279-80; Kees,
Aegypten, 42. The king shared the take with the temple; San Nicolo, "Materialien zur
Viehwirtschaft," 306.
139. Frankfort, Birth of Civilization, 54. To the earliest Sumerian temples one paid
"Feldrentenbrote," Anton Deimel, Sumerische Grammatik (Rome: Pontificical Biblical
Institute, 1924), 210.
140. See n. 120 above. Some early examples in Luckenbill, Ancient Records, 1:177-78, 182;
2:4, no. 7; 7-8, nos. 17-19; 8; Cf. Thimme, "Forestis, Königsgut und Königsrecht," 146.
141. Witzel, "Zu den Enmerkar-Dichtungen," 276. The earliest Indo-European kings
likewise paid to be left unmolested when challenged, Paul é. Dumont, L'Asvamedha (Paris:
Geuthner, 1927), 356. The definition of socage is from Webster's Dictionary.
142. Froissart, Chronicle I, 285. "Although moral virtue made even a private citizen
essentially `noble,' it could not give him rank," which had to be bought and maintained by
prowess in arms, Bryson, Point of Honor in Sixteenth-Century Italy, 15.
143. A tax is basically "a compulsory contribution" and to tax is "to charge a person with
some offence," Oxford English Dictionary; Walter W. Skeat's Etymological Dictionary
traces the root to "tagsare; from tag-, the base of tangere, to touch."
144. R. H. Hilton, "Freedom and Villeinage in England," Past and Present 31 (1965): 15-18;
Froissart, Chronicle II, 73. Everywhere peasants agitated for the right of paying guesting
charges in money; Peyer, "Reisekönigtum des Mittelalters," 5, 10-11.
145. Hilton, "Freedom and Villeinage in England," 3.
146. The stock objection to new taxes is that they nullify the agreement expressed in the
former taxes; Froissart, Chronicle I, 244; II, 83, 87, 158; III, 6. Anything beyond the original
tax was considered punitive, II, 128-29.
147. This is made clear in the fifteenth-century preface to Dyboski and Arend, Knyghthode
and Bataile.
148. The idea was not introduced into Germany until the late twelfth century; Von Below,
"Städtische Verwaltung des Mittelalters," 432. The nobility owe nothing to the common
people and disdain to bargain with them; Hilton, "Freedom and Villeinage in England," 19.
149. Cited by Kiernan, "State and Nation in Western Europe," 21. With the establishment of
the prehistoric sacral kingship, "history enters a groove from which it is never to deviate
appreciably," E. A. Speiser, "The Ancient Near East and Modern Philosophies of History,"
Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 95 (1951): 585.
150. See nn. 75-77 above. The quotation is from Rubner, Untersuchungen zur
Forstverfassung, 7.
151. Froissart, Chronicle II, 143; II, 157; cf. III, 6.
152. On the unique authority of Sir John Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, Spain,
and the Adjoining Countries, tr. and ed. by Thomas Johnes, 2 vols. (London: 1857), 1:xli.
Cf. Froissart, Chronicle I, 124; II, 103. Even a blind king must fight in the field, ibid., I, 129.
153. Froissart, Chronicle I, 207; III, 1.
154. Ibid., II, 131-35. Froissart, himself both a knight and a priest, closely identifies the
interests of clergy and nobility, I, 176; III, 25.
155. Ibid., I, 78. Both temporal and spiritual lords, bidding for the services of these outlaws
recognized their rights to plunder and even offered them titles of nobility, ibid., I, 254, 324;
III, 10. They differed from the true nobility only in being, as they styled themselves, "the
Late Comers," ibid., I, 214.
156. Wat Tyler and John Ball put themselves under Sir Robert Salle, ibid., II, 76, and the
Smithfield mob marched under the king's banner, desiring the king to lead them. The same
situation is found in France, I, 181-84.
157. Ibid., III, 1, 5, 7, 9-10.
158. Kiernan, "State and Nation in Western Europe," 26.
159. Froissart, Chronicle I, 115, 184; II, 41, 46-47; III, 36. The rich burghers adopted all the
trappings of nobility as their city corporations bargained and made war with kings and dukes
exactly as the latter did with each other, ibid., I, 43, 45, 98, 123.
160. Favoring an origin in trade are Fritz Rörig, Magdeburgs Entstehung und die ältere
Handelsgeschichte, in Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin 49 (1952);
Hermann Aubin, "Der Aufbau des Abendlands im Mittelalter," HZ 187 (1959): 497-520.
Markets were first introduced into Germany in the ninth century, "the building program of a
Roman provincial market is the same as that of the medieval German city," Friedrich
Philippi, "Der Markt der mittelalterlichen deutschen Stadt," HZ 138 (1928): 235; cf.
Ditchfield, "Stourbridge Fair," 161-74. Arnold's theory that cities grew up around forts is
refuted by Von Below, "Städtische Verwaltung des Mittelalters," 428, though Christopher
Hawkes, "Hill-Forts," Antiquity 5 (1931): 93, maintains that "politically the hill-fort . . . was
the Celtic version of the earlier Greek polis." Walther Gerlach, "Kritische Bemerkungen zu
neuen Untersuchungen über die Anfänge der Städte im Mittelalter," Historische
Vierteljahrschrift 19 (1919): 331-45, notes that the great cities of Europe did not begin as
markets, but became cities through Stadterhebung by royal favor, ibid., 345. Some ancient
cities were founded all at once, while others grew up gradually, Camillo Praschniker, "Die
griechische Stadt," Anzeiger der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.
Philosophisch-historische Klasse 84 (1947): 3.
161. Carleton S. Coon, The Story of Man (New York: Knopf, 1954), 122.
162. For civitas, Walde, Lateinisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, 1:224; for stadt, Friedrich
Kluge, Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1963), s.v.
"stadt," and Sigmund Feist, Vergleichendes Wörterbuch der gotischen Sprache (Leiden:
Brill, 1939), 450-51. For gorod, burg, and town, see Jan de Vries et al., Altnordisches
etymologisches Wörterbuch (Leiden: Brill, 1961), 164.
163. For mahallah as a camp, Peyer, "Reisekönigtum des Mittelalters," 18; for madinah,
Meir Fraenkel, "Zur Deutung von Medina `Bezirk, Staat'," Zeitschrift für die
alttestestamentliche Wissenschaft 77 (1965): 215.
164. Von Below, "Städtische Verwaltung des Mittelalters," 408.
165. Ibid., 401, 406-8, 432, 437-38.
166. Alfred Schultze, "über Gästerecht und Gastgerichte in den deutschen Städten des
Mittelalters," HZ 101 (1908): 487, 498-502.
167. Ibid.
168. Jean Albert-Sorel, "Le passe et l'avenir des droits de l'homme," La Revue des deux
Mondes (1 May 1965): 69-82, notes that the Rights of Man first come to their own in the
French Revolution; but the basic concepts are set forth in the Baconian doctrine that
"replaced the name `God' by the name `Nature' "; see Karl R. Popper, "Science: Problems,
Aims, Responsibilities," Federation Proceedings of the American Societies for Experimental
Biology 22 (1963): 961, who discusses the problem at length. As for the humanist, "if men
realize that their careers are limited to this world, that this earthly existence is all they will
ever have, then they are already more than half-way on the path toward becoming
functioning Humanists," Corliss Lamont, The Philosophy of Humanism (New York:
Philosophical Library, 1957), 68.
169. Nimrod is not only the archetype of the Wild Hunter, but he is also the founder of the
first state, the builder of the first walled city, and the organizer of the first real army. In
countless old legends Nimrod illustrates the idea that he who would own the world is insane.
For general references, see Nibley, "The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State, 339; reprinted in
this volume, pages 14-15.
170. Josef Köstler, "Wald und Forst in der deutschen Geschichtsforschung," HZ 155 (1937):
171. Compare the Egyptian "Regulator of the Festival or the Tent," Massoulard, Préhistoire
et Protohistoire d'égypte, 455, with "The King's Office of Revels and Tents," in William
Bray, "Observations on the Christmas Diversions Formerly Given by the Lord of Misrule,
and on the King's Office of Revels and Texts," Archaeologia 18 (1817): 313-32. The latter
was also a "Christmas Prince or Revel-Master," and "dined . . . under a cloth of estate," ibid.,
314. His main duty was "to keep the tents and pavilions belonging to the King," ibid., 317,
which moved all over the country on carts, accompanying the king as he held festival in one
place after another, ibid., 329-30.
172. Alföldi, "Geschichte des Throntabernakels," 554, 559-62, 564, tracing the institution
from Persia through "the royal festival tents of the Greeks," 562, to the domus aurea of Nero
and the garden pleasure-domes of the Roman magnates, 563. A general survey of the
institution in the East is given by Moortgat, Tammuz, 139-42; cf. Meissner, Babylonien und
Assyrien, 1:307-8, on the shrine and palace as gardens of Eden. Cf. Hugh W. Nibley,
"Sparsiones," Classical Journal 40 (1945): 524-26; reprinted in this volume, pages 152-54.
173. Frankfort, Birth of Civilization, 24; see Nibley, "Sparsiones," 532, 540-43; reprinted in
this volume, pages 158-59, 162-64.
174. The Greeks call any passing show or vanity a skene, or tent, for which many illustrative
passages are given in Henri Estienne, Greek Thesaurus (Geneva: Henricus Stephanus, 1573),
s.v. "skene."
175. In expressing their preference of tents to castles the lords of the steppes said, "Every
one who is shut up is [already] captured," Budge, The Chronography of Bar Hebraeus,
1:470. Until recent times in Mongolia it was "forbidden to all . . . to erect permanent
masonry. The free steppe is not to be `bound' by heavy buildings," Haslund-Christensen,
Men and Gods in Mongolia, 284-85. Early Jewish and Christian sectaries of the desert
deplored the Temple of Jerusalem as a depravation of the mobility of god's people on earth,
H. J. Schoeps, "Die ebionitische Wahrheit des Christentums," in William E. Davies and
David Daube, The Background of the New Testament and Its Eschatology (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1956), 121; Phythian-Adams, People and the Presence, 159-60;
William Manson, The Epistle to the Hebrews (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1951), 35.
176. The great sin of the human race was the attempt to pull up stakes and "from living in
tents to go over to settling in a fortified metropolis," Ernst Sellin, in "Nachtrag" to O. E.
Ravn, "Der Turm zu Babel," Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 91
(1937): 371. "The Ahl Hayt, or People of the Walls" must pay a tax to "the Ahl Bayl, or
dwellers in the Black Tents," because they "have forfeited right to be held Bedawin,"
Richard F. Burton, Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah, 2 vols.
(London: Bell & Sons, 1906), 1:114. From the beginning "the city was a questionable
institution, at variance, rather than in keeping, with the natural order," Frankfort, Birth of
Civilization, 52-53. There is an eloquent commentary on the theme in Thomas E. Lawrence,
Seven Pillars of Wisdom (Garden City: Doubleday, 1935), introduction.
177."This world is but a temporary tenement, our real dwelling is in the other world,"
Babylonian Talmud Mo ced-Qatan 9b. John Chrysostom, In Epistolam ad Hebraeos (On the
Epistle to the Hebrews) II, 24, in PG 63:167, notes that while the ancient Patriarchs "lived in
tents as strangers and pilgrims," being tried and tested by the rigors of a wandering
earth-life, the Church has become obsessed with a shameful passion for earthly security -"what a difference!" He actually recommends that Christians learn to live like the nomad
Scythians, despising security and rejecting the luxury and defilement of city life, cf. John
Chrysostom, Homilia in Matthaeum (Homily on Matthew) LXIX, 3, in PG 58:652. This is no
mere rhetoric, since John in a time of political and natural upheavals had been forced to flee
his city and live as a refugee in the camps of Asiatic nomads, John Chrysostom, Epistolae
127-43, in PG 52:687-97. Another important book is Ernst Käsemann, Das wandernde
Gottesvolk (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1939).
178."The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church," chap. 7 in The Pope Speaks 10 (1965):
391-94. "Until the appearance of new heavens and a new earth . . . the wayfaring church . . .
wears the ephemeral look of this world," 391; cf. 365, 382.
179. They were to pay taxes, e.g., Luke 20:22-25, to allow themselves to be exploited rather
than to become involved in litigation, Matthew 5:25-26, to play the world's game just
enough to allay suspicion, Luke 16:9, 11. They gladly conceded the rich man's right to his
worldly possessions, since they claimed only heavenly ones; Luke 16:25.
180."Scit se peregrinam in terris agere, inter extraneos facile inimicos venire, ceterum genus,
sedem, spem, gratiam, dignitatem in coelis habere" ([Truth] knows that she is a pilgrim in
the earth, that she easily finds enemies among strangers, but that she has her race, home,
hope, reward, and honor in heaven), Tertullian, Apology 1, in PL 1:307-8; cf. Epistle to
Diognetus 1. On owning lands, and so forth, Hermae Pastor (Shepherd of Hermas),
Similitudo (Similitudes) I, 1, in PG 2:951-53; Hugh W. Nibley, "The Passing of the Church:
Forty Variations on an Unpopular Theme," Church History 30 (1961): 138; reprinted in
CWHN 4:178.
181. On the purchase and sale of safe-conducts, Irving A. Agus, "Control of Roads by Jews
in Pre-Crusade Europe," JQR 48 (1957-58): 96-98. The custom is ancient, Eugen I.
Mittwoch, "Neue aramäische Urkunden aus der Zeit der Achämenidenherrschaft in ägypten,"
Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums 83 (1939): 95. On the
importance of passports and the reluctance of the nobility to issue and respect them,
Froissart, Chronicle I, 134, 189, 196, 225.
182. Urban's speech in 1095 lays strong emphasis on the total collapse of European society
and the need for a general escape, Fulcher, Historia Hierosolymitana I, 2, in PL 155:825-41.
Behind the Crusades was a universal "Sehnsucht nach Freiheit," Martin Grabmann, Die
Geschichte der scholastischen Methode, 2 vols. (Graz: Akademische Druck- und
Verlagsanstalt, 1957), 1:258.
183. On the Assizes of Jerusalem, see J. B. Bury, Cambridge Medieval History, ed. H. M.
Gwatkin and J. P. Whitney, 8 vols. (Cambridge: University Press, 1924-36), 5:303; Steven
Runciman, "The Crown of Jerusalem," Palestine Exploration Quarterly 93 (1961): 15;
Angelo S. Rappoport, History of Palestine (London: Allen & Unwin, 1931), 282-85.
184. Adolf Waas, "Der heilige Krieg," Welt als Geschichte 19 (1959): 215-16, describes the
Crusades as the feudalization of Christianity by the ancient chivalric tradition. The rival
claims of the nobility provided "a lawyer's paradise" with all the royalty of Europe at one
time or another claiming the crown of Jerusalem, Runciman, "The Crown of Jerusalem," 8-9.
See E. de Roziere, "Introduction to the Cartulary of the Holy Sepulchre," in PL 155:1106.
185. P. Leyhausen, "The Sane Community -- a Density Problem?" Discovery 26 (September
1965): 33.
186."The optimum conditions for maximum physical and mental achievement remain
unknown," Stamp, "Man and His Environment," 78.
187. Leyhausen, "The Sane Community," 31. For a general survey, E. S. Deevey, "The Hare
and the Haruspex," Yale Review 49 (December 1959): 161-79.
188. Leyhausen, "The Sane Community," 28. On territorial mystique among primitives, see
Adolphus P. Elkin, The Australian Aborigines (Garden City: Anchor, 1964), 27-39.
189. Leyhausen, "The Sane Community," 31-33.
190. Israel in the wilderness is cut off from the presence of God, Babylonian Talmud Mo
ced-Qatan 19b; this world is not their real home, ibid., 9b. Man's true home and origin is far
away, Zohar I, 245.
191. A very eloquent expression of this is the early hymn known as The Pearl, for which see
Adam, Psalmen des Thomas, 1-28, esp. 24; see also 42-47. When men fell away "the whole
order of life upon the earth was altered, with men in a state of rebellion against God,"
Clementine Recognitiones (Clementine Recognitions) I, 29, in PG 1:1223-24. The early
logia of Jesus (especially the Arabic ones) harp on man's lost glory.
192. For this see the enlightening study of L. Kákosy, "Ideas about the Fallen State of the
World in Egyptian Religion: Decline of the Golden Age," Acta Orientalia 17 (1964): 208-10;
P. Montet, "Le fruit defendu," Kemi 11 (1950): 85-116.
193. Plato, Phaedo 72E, 92D; Plato, Philebus 34C, 63E; Plato, Phaedrus 275A. The
departure of the gods from unrighteous mankind is mentioned by Hesiod, Solon, and Pindar.
194. Othmar Spann, "Vom Gemeinleben des Menschen mit der Natur," Zeitschrift für
philosophische Forschung 4 (1949): 527. "Why does the question, `What is man?' today
sound like a cry of distress?" asks Herman Dooyewerde, The Twilight of Western Thought
(Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1960), 174. Arland Essher, Journey through
Dread (New York: Devin-Adair, 1955), discusses Pascal's "Shudder before the Universe,"
Kierkegaard's "Shudder before God," Heidegger's "Shudder before Death," and Sartre's
"Shudder before the Other Person."
195. Wordsworth's "Ode on the Intimations of Immortality" is a classic example. Spann,
"Vom Gemeinleben des Menschen," 536, quotes Eichendorff: "Sagt, wo meine Heimat
liegt?/ Heut' im Traum sah ich sie wieder,/ Und von allen Bergen ging/ Solches Grüssen zu
mir nieder,/ Dass ich an zu weinen fing."
196. Mircea Eliade, "The Yearning for Paradise in Primitive Tradition," Diogenes 3 (1953):
197. "Yet this `adjustment' to mass communities does the human species no more good than
drug-addiction or alcoholism," Leyhausen, "The Sane Community," 32.
198. Deevey, "Hare and the Haruspex," 162, 165.
199. By the 1920s the idea of a hostile outer space was completely discredited: "The skies,
as far as the utmost star, are clear of any malignant Intelligences, and even the untoward
accidents of life are due to causes comfortably impersonal. . . . The possibility that the
Unknown contains Powers deliberately hostile to him is one the ordinary man can hardly
entertain even in imagination." Edwyn Bevan, Hellenism and Christianity (London: Allen
and Unwin, 1921), 81. Today "outer space is the space of openness, of danger and
abandonment," in which man is "the eternal hunted fugitive," O. F. Bollnow, "Lived-space,"
Philosophy Today 5 (1961): 31-39.
200. J. Pucelle, "Alienation et deracinement chez l'homme modern," Algemeen Nederlands
Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte en Psychologie 50 (1957-58): 58.
201. William M. McGovern, The Early Empires of Central Asia (Chapel Hill: University of
North Carolina Press, 1939), 47-49.
202. "Durch den donnernden Flutgang der Jahrtausende tönt eine Stimme, tröstend und
warnend: des Menschen Reich is nicht von dieser Welt. Aber daneben erklingt eine
brausende Gegenstimme; diese Erde . . . gehört Dir, dem Menschen; sie ist dein Werk und
Du das ihrige: ihr kannst Du nicht entfliehen. . . . Du musst ihr die Treue halten. Diese
unausgelöste Dissonanz bildet das Thema der Weltgeschichte." Egon Friedell,
Kulturgeschichte ägyptens und des alten Orients, 4th ed. (Munich: Beck, 1953), 3. Pere
Lagrange dreamed in the desert of "les images de la vie nomade, si naturelle, si simple, si
proportionée à la fragilité de notre existence!" But he reprimands himself for thus slipping
away from reality, M.-J. Lagrange, "Chronique," Revue biblique 12 (1915): 255-56.
Notes to Chapter 3
1. Martin P. Nilsson, Geschichte der griechischen Religion, 2 vols. (Munich: Beck, 1941),
2. Samuel H. Hooke, ed., The Labyrinth (London: Society for Promoting Christian
Knowledge, 1937); and Theodor H. Gaster, Thespis: Ritual, Myth, and Drama in the Ancient
Near East (New York: Schuman, 1950), are general treatments of the subject. See below for
other references.
3. For a general treatment of the year-feast, see Hugh Nibley, "Sparsiones," Classical Journal
40 (1945): 515-38; reprinted in this volume, pages 148-62.
4. See Wolfgang Golther's note in his edition of Ari's Islendingabók (Halle: Niemeyer,
1923), 11-12; also Paul Herrmann, Island in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart, 2 vols. (Leipzig:
Engelmann, 1907-10), 1:302-3; Felix Niedner, Islands Kultur zur Wikingerzeit (Jena:
Diederichs, 1913), 45-47.
5. Adam of Bremen, Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum (History of the
Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremem) IV, 26-27; Paul Herrmann, Nordische Mythologie
(Leipzig: Engelmann, 1903), 300, 501; and Paul B. Du Chaillu, The Viking Age, 2 vols.
(New York: Scribner, 1890), 1:296.
6. On the time, place, and nature of these assemblies, see Alexander Tille, Yule and
Christmas: Their Place in the Germanic Year (London: Nutt, 1899), 47-48, 71; Jacob
Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, tr. James S. Stallybrass, 3 vols. (London: Sonnenschein &
Allen, 1880), 1:66-87; Herrmann, Nordische Mythologie, 497-99, 503-4, 509; Carl Clemen,
Religionsgeschichte Europas, 2 vols. (Heidelberg: Winter, 1926), 1:355-61; Tacitus, Annals
X, 51; Thietmar Merseburg, Chronicon I, 17, in Robert Holtzmann, ed., Die Chronik des
Bischofs Thietmar von Merseburg und ihre Korveier überarbeitung, vol. 6, part 9, of
Monumenta Germaniae Historica (Berlin: Weidmann, 1955); and numerous references in the
sagas, especially Finnur Jónsson, Egils Saga Skalgrímssonar (Halle: Niemeyer, 1924). The
classic study of the survival of the old Germanic assemblies in the Middle Ages are Charles
Du Cange's dissertations, "Des assemblées solenelles des rois de France" and "Des cours et
des festes solenelles des roys de France," in Glossarium Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis, 10
vols. (Paris: Didot, 1850), 7:15-23.
7. John Rhys, Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion as Illustrated by Celtic
Heathendom (London: Williams and Norgate, 1898), 192. Another such stone, "a petra
quadrata in ora fontis," is described in the Book of Armagh, in Ioannes Zwicker, ed., Fontes
Historiae Religionis Celticae (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1934), 2:154. The stone of Tara was
moved to Tailtiu when that became the capital, Rhys, Lectures on the Origin and Growth of
Religion, 207, 576, 585. See also Henri Hubert, "Le culte des héros et ses conditions
sociales," RHR 70 (1914): 12, 15; and 71 (1915): 208-9; Henri Hubert, Greatness and
Decline of the Celts (London: Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1934), 241-42, and L. D. Agate,
"Pilgrimage," in James Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, 13 vols. (New York:
Scribner, 1928), 10:21.
8. Henry d'Arbois de Jubainville, The Irish Mythological Cycle and Celtic Mythology, tr.
Richard Best (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, 1903), 3; Hubert, Greatness and Decline of the Celts,
1-4, 242; Rhys, Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion, 409, 460, 514-17, 519-20,
459-60, 412, 581, 608, 614; J. A. MacCulloch, Celtic Mythology, vol. 3 in Louis H. Gray,
ed., Mythology of All Races, 13 vols. (Boston: Jones, 1918), 28, 34-36; Hadrian Allcroft,
The Circle and the Cross, 2 vols. (London: Macmillan, 1927-30), 2:73, 20, 207.
9. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum No. 4039K, cited in Allcroft, Circle and the Cross,
1:299; cf. Strabo, Geography XII, 5, 1.
10. British assemblies described in a letter from Gregorius Magnus(Gregory the Great),
Epistolae (Epistles) XI, 77, in PL 77:1215-16; at the Council of Cloveshove, A.D. 747, in
Joannes D. Mansi, Sacrorum Concilorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio, 31 vols. (Graz:
Akademische, 1901), 12:400; by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum Britanniae III, 5;
see especially the Welsh version, tr. Acton Griscom (London: Longmans, Green, 1929), IX,
1; III, 3. The year-drama is described by Rhys, Lectures on the Origin and Growth of
Religion, 155-58, 160-65, 562; cf. Mary Williams, "An Early Ritual Poem in Welsh,"
Speculum 13 (1938): 43-51; and Raymond W. Muncey, Our Old English Fairs (London:
Sheldon, 1935), 46, 103, 116, 145-47, 156, 162-63, 166.
11. General descriptions: Athenaeus, Deipnosophists IV, 34 (150-52); Venatius Fortunatus,
Vita Sancti Amantii X, 108-10, in PL 88:522-23; Strabo, Geography IV, 3, 2-3; V, 11, 1;
Gregory of Tours, De Gloria Confessorum 11, in PL 71:836-37; Rhys, Lectures on the
Origin and Growth of Religion, 383-86, 390, 394-96, 407-9, 419-21, 429.
12. Cicero, In Verrem III, 48, 106-7; LIII, 117-18.
13. André Piganiol, "Les origines du forum," Melanges de l'école de France de Rome 28
(1928): 250-51, 271-72, 276-78; Stefan Weinstock, "Templum," Mitteilungen des Deutschen
Archäologischen Instituts. Römische Abteilung 45 (1930): 118. On the mundus as the model
of the universe, J.-A. Hild, "Mundus," in Charles V. Daremberg and Edmond Saglio,
Dictionnaire des antiquités grecques et romaines, 6 vols. in 10 (Paris: Hachette, 1877-1919),
3:2:2021-22; and Wilhelm Kroll, "Mundus," in RE 16:560-64.
14. The basic descriptions in Zosimus, Historia Nova II, 5-6; the Acta Ludorum Saecularium
in Theodor Mommsen, Gesammelte Schriften, 8 vols. (Berlin: Weidmann, 1905-13),
8:572-73, 598-99; Statius, Silvae I, 6; Ovid, Fasti III, 525-30; Cassiodorus, Variae VIII, 33.
See especially André Piganiol, Recherches sur les jeux Romains (Strasbourg: Librairie Istra,
1923); E. Diehls, "Das Saeculum, seine Riten und Gebete," Rheinisches Museum für
Philologie 81 (1934): 256-58; Georg Wissowa, "De Feriis Anni Romanorum Vetustissimi
Observationes Selectae," in Gesammelte Abhandlungen zur römischen Religions- und
Stadtgeschichte (Munich: Beck, 1904), 154-74; Otto Huth, Janus (Bonn: Rohrscheid, 1932);
Fritz Blumenthal, "Ludi Saeculares," Klio 15 (1917-18): 232.
15. Plutarch, Quaestiones Graecae no. 12, in William R. Halliday, The Greek Questions of
Plutarch (Oxford: Clarendon, 1928), 72; also 9, 35, and 59.
16. Nilsson, Geschichte der griechischen Religion, 1:778-82; and Martin P. Nilsson,
Griechische Feste (Leipzig: Teubner, 1906), 156-57, 319, n. 1; Paul Stengel, Die
griechischen Kultusaltertümer (Munich: Beck, 1920), 190-216.
17. Jane Harrison, Themis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1912), 389-96
(Delphi); cf. also Francis M. Cornford's study on Olympia, "The Origin of the Olympic
Games," in ibid., 212-59, and Gilbert Murray, "An Excursus on the Ritual Forms Preserved
in Greek Tragedy," in ibid., 341-63.
18. Clemen, Religionsgeschichte Europas, 1:374-77, 386-87. Descriptions of the various
assemblies in Karl H. Meyer, ed., Fontes Historiae Religionis Slavicae (Berlin: de Gruyter,
1931), 7, 35 (Ebbo), 63-64, 66-67 (Dlugosz), 70, 77, 94-95 (Ibn Rusta). Cf. Jan Machal,
Slavic Mythology, vol. 3 in Gray, Mythology of All Races, 279-80, 286-87, 281-84, 295,
305, 307-9, 311-12, and A. Brueckner, "Slaven und Litauer," in Alfred Bertholet and Edvard
Lehmann, eds., Lehrbuch der Religionsgeschichte, 2 vols., 4th ed. (Tübingen: Mohr, 1925),
2:510-21; Helmold, Chronicle of the Slavs I, 16; 52; 69; and 83.
19. Hermann Kees, ägypten, in Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft, vol. 3, pt. 1, 3a
(Munich: Beck, 1933), 28, 175, 177-78, 195; Adolf Erman, ägypten und ägyptisches Leben
in Altertum (Tübingen: Mohr, 1923), 41, 59-60, 294; Arthur Weigall, History of the
Pharaohs, 2 vols. (London: Butterworth, 1931), 1:118.
20. C. N. Deedes, "The Labyrinth," in Hooke, The Labyrinth, 3-5, 13-14; Fritz Hommel,
Ethnologie und Geographie des alten Orients (Munich: Beck, 1926), 882-83, 761-63,
935-38, 939-41, 948, 955-56; Kees, ägypten, 155-58; see especially H. R. Hall, Review of
Adriaan de Buck, De Egyptische voorstellungen betreffende den oerheuvel, in JEA 10
(1924): 185-87.
21. On the rites: Plutarch, Isis and Osiris; Herodotus, History II, 58-65; Deedes, "Labyrinth,"
3-42; Hugo Gressmann, Tod und Auferstehung des Osiris nach Festbräuchen und Umzügen
(Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1923).
22. Richard F. Burton, Guidebook to Meccah (London: Philpot, 1924), 54.
23. Ibid., 32, 43-44; Christiaan S. Hurgronje, Het Mekkaansche feest (Leiden: Brill, 1899);
Julius Wellhausen, Reste arabischen Heidentums (Berlin: Reimer, 1897), 84-94. Arabic
literature is full of the great assemblies of men, jinns, animals, birds, and so forth, the most
impressive treatment of the theme being in the text edited by Friedrich Dieterici, Thier und
Mensch vor dem König der Genien (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1881), passim.
24. Aubrey R. Johnson, "The Role of the King in the Jerusalem Cultus," in Hooke,
Labyrinth, 73-77; and also Eric Burrows, "Some Cosmological Patterns in Babylonian
Religion," in ibid., 53-56; A. J. Wensinck, "The Semitic New Year and the Origin of
Eschatology," Acta Orientalia 1 (1922): 158, 176; Julius Wellhausen, Prolegomena to the
History of Israel, tr. J. Sutherland Black and Allan Menzies (Edinburgh: Black, 1885),
17-28, 103-8; Alfred Jeremias, Das Alte Testament im Lichte des alten Orients (Leipzig:
Hinrichs, 1916), 647-48. That there was originally only one festival, see Albert Brock-Utne,
"Eine religionsgeschichtliche Studie zu dem ursprünglichen Passahopfer," Archiv für
Religionswissenschaft 31 (1934): 272-78.
25."Our Ras Shamra text affords the prototype of New Year rituals still surviving in
Jerusalem in the 6th century B.C.," says Theodor H. Gaster, "Ras Shamra, 1929-39,"
Antiquity 13 (1939): 316. Widely identified with other rites by Theodor H. Gaster, "The
Story of Aqhat, I," Studi e Materiali di Storia delle Religioni 12 (1936): 127-32. See
especially Lucian, De Syria Dea (On the Syrian Goddess).
26. E.g., that at Abraham's Oak in Mamre, Sozomen, Historia Ecclesiastica (Ecclesiastical
History) II, 4, in PG 67:941-44, and Eusebius, Vita Constantini (The Life of Constantine) III,
53, in PG 20:1116.
27. Burrows, "Some Cosmological Patterns," 46-57; Heinrich Zimmern, Das babylonische
Neujahrsfest (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1926); Jeremias, Das Alte Testament, 6-34, 65-87. For the
Sumerian version, Morris Jastrow, Jr., "Sumerian and Akkadian Views of Beginnings,"
JAOS 36 (1916): 276-78.
28. William F. Albright and Paul é. Dumont, "A Parallel between Indic and Babylonian
Sacrifical Ritual," JAOS 54 (1934): 107-28; Paul é. Dumont, L'Asvamedha (Paris: Geuthner,
1927), is the classic treatment of the subject. On the Indian "navel of the earth," see Ananda
K. Coomaraswamy, "The Pilgrim's Way," Journal of the Bihar and Orissa Research Society
33 (December 1937): 457, and E. Washburn Hopkins, "The Divinity of Kings," JAOS 51
(1931): 309, 311.
29. Al-Biruni, Chronologie orientalischer Völker, ed. Edward C. Sachau (Delhi: Chard,
1923), 221-24, 226-27, 230; Herodotus, History IX, 110; Athenaeus, Deipnosophists IV,
145a; Clemen, Religionsgeschichte Europas, 1:181-83; Albert J. Carnoy, Iranian Mythology,
vol. 6 in Gray, Mythology of All Races, 269-71, 293, 297, 299-300, 304-5, 307-8, 313-19,
and Albert J. Carnoy, "Iranian Views of Origins in Connection with Similar Babylonian
Beliefs," JAOS 36 (1916): 300-320.
30. Thus among the Quechua of Peru, Paul Radin, Social Anthropology (New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1932), 85-90, and the Baganda, 82-84.
31. To works cited above, add Cyril J. Gadd, Ideas of Divine Rule in the Ancient East,
Schweich Lectures, 1945 (London: Oxford University Press, 1948); and Henri Frankfort,
Kingship and the Gods: A Study of Ancient Near Eastern Religions as the Integration of
Society and Nature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948).
32. Alan H. Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar (Oxford: Clarendon, 1927), 74; Alexandre Moret,
Histoire de l'Orient, 2 vols. (Paris: Presses universitaires, 1929), 1:213.
33. Eduard Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums, 4 vols. (Jena: Diederich, 1928), 2:72; cf. Kees,
ägypten, 172-85.
34. Gadd, Ideas of Divine Rule, 34.
35. Moret, Histoire de l'Orient, 1:355, 357. Albrecht Goetze, Hethiter, Churriter und Assyrer
(Oslo: Aschehoug, 1936), 15-16, 39-40.
36. Daniel D. Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia, 2 vols. (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1926), 1:passim.
37. Ibid., 170, 185.
38. Clément Huart and Louis Delaporte, L'Iran antique: Élam et Perse et la civilisation
iranienne (Paris: Michel, 1943), 115-19.
39. Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums, 4:21-22; Huart and Delaporte, L'Iran antique, 289,
40. Sven Hedin, My Life as an Explorer, tr. Alfhild Huebsch (Garden City: Boni and
Liveright, 1925), 85. In A.D. 562, Chosroes called himself "divine, beneficent," "King of
Kings," "giant of giants," "whose nature is from the gods," and so forth. Menander, De
Legationibus Romanorum ad Gentes, in PG 113:860.
41. Optatianus Porfyrius, Carmina II; cf. Rutilius Namatianus Claudius, De Reditu Suo I,
47-48 and 61-66; Aelius Aristides, Encomium Romae (To Rome) 30, 72, and 77; Propertius,
Elegies III, 1; IV, 2 and 6; Claudius Claudianus, Bellum Geticum (The Gothic War) 623-47;
Horace, Odes III, 5; IV, 2.
42. Horace, Carmen Saeculare; Vergil, Aeneid VI, 793-800; Vergil, Eclogues IV, 48-49. On
the hierocentric idea, "Janus est mundus et mundus quattuor partibus constat" (Janus is the
world and the world consists of four quarters), Augustine, De Civitate Dei (The City of God)
VII, 8.
43. Dio Chrysostom, Discourses I, 37; II, 75; IV, 4; XIV, 23; XXXVI, 22-23, 36; LVI, 4-5.
44. Charles Diehl and Georges Marçais, Le monde oriental de 395 à 1081 (Paris: Presses
universitaires, 1936), 55-56, 487-95.
45. Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Administrando Imperio, intro., in PG 113:160, with
much more to the same effect.
46. Gunter, cited in Du Cange, "Des cours et des festes solenelles des roys de France," in
Glossarium Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis, 7:20, unconsciously quoting Esarhaddon: "Where
shall a fox go to escape the sun?" Luckenbill, Ancient Records, 2:210, n. 523.
47. Du Cange, "De la prééminence des rois de France au-dessus des autres rois de la terre,"
in Glossarium Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis, 7:112-15.
48. Jordanes, Historia Getica Getarum (Gothic History) 35.
49. Priscus Rhetor, De Legationibus Romanorum ad Gentes 3, in PG 113:708, 716.
50. Menander, De Legationibus Romanorum ad Gentes 14, in PG 113:904 (A.D. 575).
51. Herodotus, History IV, 126.
52. René Grousset et al., L'Asie orientale des origines au XV e siècle (Paris: Presses
universitaires, 1941), 351-52, 355-56, 361-62, 364, 367, 369, 406-7.
53. Michael Prawdin, The Mongol Empire: Its Rise and Legacy, tr. Eden and Cedar Paul
(London: Allen and Unwin, 1940), 283.
54. Boris Vladimirstov, The Life of Chingis-Khan, tr. D. S. Mirsky (Boston: Houghton
Mifflin, 1930), 65-66; Prawdin, Mongol Empire, 367.
55. Prawdin, Mongol Empire, 173.
56. Ibid., 282. On the seal, Giovanni P. Carpini, History, 26, in Manuel Komroff, ed.,
Contemporaries of Marco Polo (New York: Liveright, 1928), 44.
57. René Grousset, Histoire des Croisades (Paris: Plon, 1936), 3:569-70.
58. Ernst F. K. Rosenmueller, Institutiones Iuris Mohammedani circa Bellum contra Eos Qui
ab Islamo Sunt Alieni (Leipzig: Barth, 1825), nos. 1, 3, 4, 5.
59. Adam Mez, Die Renaissance des Islams (Heidelberg: Winter, 1922), 132-33, 136, 332.
60. Prawdin, Mongol Empire, 389. "According to Chinese political philosophy there could
be in the world only one rightful `Emperor,' however many kings there might be." Thus
William M. McGovern, The Early Empires of Central Asia (Chapel Hill: University of North
Carolina Press, 1939), 321.
61. Prawdin, Mongol Empire, 414.
62. Ibid., 512-18.
63. August Müller, Der Islam in Morgen- und Abendland, 2 vols. (Berlin: Grote, 1885-87),
2:268, gives a psychological explanation for this phenomenon.
64. William of Rubruck, Journal 54, in Komroff, ed., Contemporaries of Marco Polo, 188.
65. Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums, 2:72, 311.
66. Grousset, L'Asie orientale, 42: "La notion du monarque universel ou tchakravartin . . .
provient des vastes dominations de l'Asie Anterieure" (the idea of a universal ruler or
tchakravartin originates in the vast realms of Western Asia).
67. McGovern, Early Empires of Central Asia, 224, 245, 255, 268, 288, 294.
68. Mez, Renaissance des Islams, 136; cf. 130-43.
69. Works cited above (nn. 4 to 29 inclusive) nearly all mention this combination, but
special treatment of the theme may be found in Gaster, Thespis: Ritual, Myth, and Drama,
138, 169-71, 185-86, 388; and Hall, Review of de Buck, Egyptische voorstellingen
betreffende den oerheuvel, 185-87.
70. Elliot Smith and others have shown that the special business of all dragons is to prevent
people from reaching water. Can this otherwise unaccountable peculiarity be explained by
the retreat of amphibious monsters -- snakes and saurians -- to the shrinking water holes of a
drought-ridden world, there to become a frightening obstacle to those who came there for the
"water of life"? T. Elliot Smith, The Evolution of the Dragon (Manchester: Manchester
University Press, 1919).
71. For the literal reality of the situation among the Mongols of today, see Henning
Haslund-Christensen, Men and Gods in Mongolia (New York: Dutton, 1935), 246, 281; the
election of Chingis Khan was at such a place, Friedrich E. Krause, Cingis Han: Die
Geschichte seines Lebens nach den chinesischen Reichsannalen (Heidelberg: Winter, 1922),
11, 14, 18-19, 25, 28, 30, as was that of the Mongol emperors of China, according to The
Travels of Marco Polo the Venetian, ed. John Masefield (London: Dutton, 1908), 166-71 (II,
6), the Naimans, Krause, Cingis Han, 28, and Turks, Edwin S. Creasy, History of the
Ottoman Turks, 2 vols. (London: Bentley, 1854-56), 1:9-11; Menander, De Legationibus
Romanorum ad Gentes, in PG 113:904, 885; the Golden Horde, Carpini, History 25, in
Komroff, ed., Contemporaries of Marco Polo, 42-43; the Armenians, Moses of Chorene,
Armenische Chrestomathie, ed. Max Lauer, 2 vols. (Wien: Braumüller, 1881), 2:40-41,
101-2; Persians, Friedrich von Spiegel, Erânische Alterthumskunde, 3 vols. (Leipzig:
Engelmann, 1871-78), 2:53-54; Xenophon, Anabasis I, 2, 7, as well as the ancient Indians,
Hanns Bächtold-Stäubli, Handwörterbuch des deutschen Aberglaubens, 10 vols. (Leipzig: de
Gruyter, 1927-42), 6:1418-21; Hedin, My Life as an Explorer, 460-61, 467-68, 122, all held
their great assemblies in such a setting. The Assyrian kings built their parks "like unto
Mount Amanus," with special channels "for the watering of horses" (cf. fig. 9, p. 103),
Luckenbill, Ancient Records, 2:162, 170, 185, 188, 269. The Goths met in such a place,
Jordanes, Gothic History 51, as did the Scythians before them, Herodotus, History IV, 52;
and the Arabs believe that Mecca was transported from Adam's Mount in Ceylon, which is
such a place, Masefield, ed., The Travels of Marco Polo, 372 (III, 23). Even the oasis of
Ammon followed the plan, according to Arthur B. Cook, Zeus, 3 vols. (Cambridge:
University Press, 1925), 1:369, as certainly did the shrine of Dodona -- the oldest in Greece
-- which was transported from Ammon's oasis. The whole picture is given in certain
Babylonian hymns; see Meissner, Babylonien und Assyrien, 2:165, 167. The same in the
ancient North, Gylfaginning 4.
72. Pindar, Olympian Odes II, 1-4, cf. I, 1-17; Tertullian, Ad Nationes II, 10; Augustine, The
City of God VI, 7, 2; Plutarch, Quaestiones Romanae no. 35; Plutarch, Romulus 4-5.
73. Henri Frankfort, Cylinder Seals (London: Macmillan, 1939), pl. XVIIc; p. 90; Meissner,
Babylonien und Assyrien, 2:165.
74. Qur'an 22:28, 34, 36.
75. Hommel, Ethnologie und Geographie des alten Orients, 118.
76. Du Cange, "Des assemblées solenelles des rois de France," and "Des cours et des festes
solenelles des roys de France," in Glossarium Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis, 7:15-23.
77. Hyginus, Fabulae 140.
78. William of Rubruck, Journal, 19, in Komroff, ed., Contemporaries of Marco Polo, 95.
79. Prawdin, Mongol Empire, 205; cf. 239.
80. Vladimirstov, Life of Chingis-Khan, 38.
81. Al-Fakhri, Al-Adab as-Sultaniyya wa'd-Dawla al-Islamiyya (Cairo: n.p., n.d.), 117, 119.
82. Luckenbill, Ancient Records, 1:295-96, 59, 156, 154.
83. Ibid., 2:170-71, 190, 268, 314, and so forth.
84. Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums, 4:49, 55; Herodotus, History I, 95; Xenophon,
Anabasis IV, 4, 4.
85. Xenophon, Anabasis V, 3.
86. Spiegel, Erânische Altertumskunde, 2:106.
87. Xenophon, Cyropaedia III, 1, 8; Priscus Rhetor, De Legationibus Romanorum ad Gentes
3, in PG 113:720-21; Jordanes, Gothic History 10; cf. Herodotus, History I, 205-14; the best
description is in Ibn Batuta, Rihla, 2 vols. (Cairo: 1938), 1:214.
88. Xenophon, Anabasis V, 6, 17.
89. Thus Adam, Cain, and Noah, Book of Jubliees 4:9, following the divine pattern,
Sibylline Oracles 3:772-76. Gadd, Ideas of Divine Rule, 6, comments on the strange
persistence of building motifs in the earliest creation legends.
90. Haslund-Christensen, Men and Gods in Mongolia, 151-52, 156. Cf. the case of the Hun
Jïjï in A.D. 43, McGovern, Early Empires of Central Asia, 191.
91. Mildred Cable, The Gobi Desert (New York: Macmillan, 1944), 133. Cf.
Haslund-Christensen, Men and Gods in Mongolia, 125, 128. Huart and Delaporte, L'Iran
antique, 307; Priscus Rhetor, De Legationibus Romanorum ad Gentes 3, in PG 113:725
(Attila's palace).
92. George Vernadsky, Ancient Russia, vol. 1 in George Vernadsky and Michael Karpovich,
A History of Russia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1943), 237-40, 248; cf. 292.
93. Moret, Histoire de l'Orient, 1:278.
94. See Hugh Nibley, "The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State," Western Political Quarterly 2
(1949): 338-40; reprinted in this volume, pages 12-16.
95. Prawdin, Mongol Empire, 185; Vladimirstov, Life of Chingis-Khan, 51-52.
96. Xenophon, Cyropaedia II, 4, 19-22.
97. Giovanni P. Carpini, History, 6, in Komroff, ed., Contemporaries of Marco Polo, 12.
98. Ammianus Marcellinus XXXI, 2.
99. Luckenbill, Ancient Records, 1:82, 86-87, 121-22, 189, 271; 2:392.
100. Max Seligsohn, "Nimrod," in Isidore Singer, ed., Jewish Encylopedia, 12 vols. (New
York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1905), 9:309-11; Clementine Homily IX, 4, in PG 2:244;
Jeremias, Das Alte Testament, 158-59; Book of Jasher 7:39-46; 9:20-22.
101. Homer, Hymn to Pythian Apollo 370-74; Euripides, Iphigeneia at Taurus 1234-82.
102. Snorri Sturluson, Edda Formali, chs. 10-11.
103. Moret, Histoire de l'Orient, 1:298.
104. Haslund-Christensen, Men and Gods in Mongolia, 310, 132-49. There were Christian
tent churches to match these temple tents, Grousset, Histoire des Croisades, 3:564, 722; cf.
E. A. Wallis Budge, ed., The Chronography of Gregory Abû'l Faraj, the Son of Aaron, the
Hebrew Physician, Commonly Known as Bar Hebraeus, 2 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1932), 1:505-6.
105. Daniel 7:9; 1 Enoch 14:18; Menander, De Legationibus Romanorum ad Gentes, in PG
113:885; Odoric, Journal, 12, in Komroff, ed., Contemporaries of Marco Polo, 239-40.
106.Life of Adam and Eve 22:3; 2 Enoch 8:3.
107. William of Rubruck, Journal, 21, in Komroff, ed., Contemporaries of Marco Polo, 98.
108. Jordanes, Gothic History 40, the shield-wall duplicated in the funeral-ring, ibid., 49;
Ammianus Marcellinus XXXI, 2; 7-8; and 12; Xenophon, Anabasis I, 8, 12; Huart and
Delaporte, L'Iran antique, 380; William of Rubruck, Journal, 29, in Komroff, ed.,
Contemporaries of Marco Polo, 124.
109. Herodotus, History IV, 158.
110. Attila moved constantly from palace to palace, accompanied by his mighty host, "in the
manner of the Scythians," says Priscus Rhetor, De Legationibus Romanorum ad Gentes 3, in
PG 113:720. Cf. for the same picture, William of Rubruck, Journal, 12, in Komroff, ed.,
Contemporaries of Marco Polo, 76; and Ammianus Marcellinus XXXI, 2.
111. Odoric, Journey, 11, in Komroff, ed., Contemporaries of Marco Polo, 237; see n. 112.
112. Attila sat on heaped-up rugs and cushions, Priscus Rhetor, De Legationibus
Romanorum ad Gentes, in PG 113:732, and his dining hall was hung with curtains and rugs
"like a Greek or Roman bridal bed," ibid., in PG 113:737. Batu's throne was "like a bed,"
William of Rubruck, Journal, 21, in Komroff, ed., Contemporaries of Marco Polo, 99, and
Scacatar "sat upon his bed holding a guitar in his hand, and his wife sat by him, ibid., 12, in
Komroff, ed., Contemporaries of Marco Polo, 77. Ibn Batuta, Rihla, 1:26-27, actually calls
the Khan's throne a firash (bed).
113. The throne must be covered by a tent, Menander, De Legationibus Romanorum ad
Gentes, in PG 113:885, and, indeed, "the canopied throne" is part of the original equipment
of the primitive nomad tent-temple, according to Haslund-Christensen, Men and Gods in
Mongolia, 283.
114. Gadd, Ideas of Divine Rule, 36.
115. Prawdin, Mongol Empire, 477-78; Tamerlane built his palaces like pavilions, "using
them for the same purpose as his ancestors used tents." The palace at Peking was
"supported" by two hundred silken tent-cords, Masefield, ed., The Travels of Marco Polo
146 (I, 57); cf. 166-71 (II, 6); cf. Odoric, Journey, 11, in Komroff, ed., Contemporaries of
Marco Polo, 237.
116. Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums, 4:111; Diehl and Marçais, Le monde oriental, 339;
Huart and Delaporte, L'Iran antique, 373. The same artisans who built St. Sophia also built
the Mosque of Damascus, Ibn Batuta, Rihla, 1:52-53. It has often been observed that domed
tents are found originally only in Central Asia, where the royal white yurt, covered with
brilliant color and design, reached enormous proportions. It is hard not to see in the "golden
dome" of the Grand Khan, Ibn Batuta, Rihla, 1:213, the prototype of these golden domes that
everywhere rose above the heads of kings and the altars of cathedrals. The Travels of Marco
Polo, ed. Masefield, 169 (II, 6), speaks of what can only be colored glass windows at the
court of the Khan.
117. Moritz Hoernes, Natur- und Urgeschichte des Menschen, 2 vols. (Vienna: Hastlben
1909), 1:380. Mohammedan law defines legitimate spoils as "clothes, arms, and wagons."
Rosenmueller, Institutiones Iuris Mohammedani, no. 28.
118. Hedin, My Life as an Explorer, 107, notes that the court ceremonial of Samarkand is
exactly the same as described by Clavijo; and Haslund-Christensen, Men and Gods in
Mongolia, 297-98, observed in the royal camp of the Torguts exactly the same tent
arrangement as the one which Xenophon tells us was used 2,400 years before in the camp of
119. Rosenmueller, Institutiones Iuris Mohammedani, no. 53, pp. 11-13. Only the horse
makes noble; camels, mules, etc., do not count -- which betrays the Central Asiatic origin of
the code, ibid., nos. 31-32.
120. Goetze, Hethiter, Churriter und Assyrer, 39-41, 110-12.
121. Quotation from Odoric, Journal, 12 and 14, in Komroff, ed., Contemporaries of Marco
Polo, 238, 242; cf. Priscus Rhetor, De Legationibus Romanorum ad Gentes 3, in PG
113:713, 737-38; Carpini, History, 20, in Komroff, ed., Contemporaries of Marco Polo, 35;
Menander, De Legationibus Romanorum ad Gentes 8, in PG 113:885; William of Rubruck,
Journal, 4, in Komroff, ed., Contemporaries of Marco Polo, 63; Masefield, ed., The Travels
of Marco Polo, 182-86 (II, 10); Ibn Batuta, Rihla, 1:213, 218.
122. Edvard Lehmann, "Die Perser," in Bertholet and Lehmann, Lehrbuch der
Religionsgeschichte, 2:257. The Byzantine court went so far as to imitate flying angels: Note
of Anselmus Bandurius, cited in Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Administrando Imperio
36, in PG 113:305-7.
123. The colors stand for the four quarters, Carpini, History, 24, in Komroff, ed.,
Contemporaries of Marco Polo, 40; William of Rubruck, Journal, 53, in ibid., 187; The Story
of Ahikar, 6:10-13, in R. H. Charles et al., eds., The Apocrypha and Pseudipigrapha of the
Old Testament, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1913), 2:758-59. On western livery, Du Cange,
"Des cours et des festes solenelles des roys de France," in Glossarium Mediae et Infimae
Latinitatis, 7:19-23.
124. Du Cange, "Des cours et des festes solenelles des roys de France," in Glossarium
Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis, 7:19-23.
125. Jordanes, Gothic History 56.
126. Budge, The Chronography of Bar Hebraeus, 1:496.
127. Varro, De Lingua Latina V, 33.
128. Claudius Claudianus, The Gothic War 355.
129. Rosenmueller, Institutiones Iuris Mohammedani, nos. 13, 16, 22, 27, 39, 47-48, 55.
130. Jordanes, Gothic History 52.
131. Robert Eisler, Iesous Basileus ou Basileusas, 2 vols. (Heidelberg: Winter, 1930), 2:625;
August von Gall, Basileia tou Theou (Heidelberg: Winter, 1926), 241-42.
132. See Wilhelm Nestle, Der Friedensgedanke in der antiken Welt (Leipzig: Dieterich,
1938), and Harald Fuchs, Augustin und der antike Friedensgedanke (Berlin: Weidmann,
1926), 39-40, 115-17.
133. Budge, The Chronography of Bar Hebraeus, 1:490.
134. This is exhaustively demonstrated by Semen Lipkin, Manas Velikodushnyu (Moscow:
Sovietski Pisatyel, 1947), a study of the Kirghiz, in which the enemy chieftains are
invariably inarticulate monsters, while the friendly ones are holy knights.
135. Rosenmueller, Institutiones Iuris Mohammedani, no. 17.
136. Ammianus Marcellinus XXXI, 3, 8.
137. George of Pisidia, De Expeditione Persica II, 240-55, in PG 92:1226-27; Menander, De
Legationibus Gentium ad Romanos, in PG 113:824-25; though the other side do everything
we do, with us it is virtue; with them a base perversion. See Theodore the Alan, Alanicus 6,
in PG 140:393.
138. Illustrated by the arguments and discussions in Priscus Rhetor, De Legationibus
Romanorum ad Gentes 3, in PG 113:708, 725, 728-29, 732. While the West posed as
champion of liberty, everyone was fleeing to Persia: "Malunt enim sub specie captivitatis
vivere liberi, quam sub specie libertatis esse captivi" (they prefer to live as free men in the
guise of bondage, rather than to be slaves in the guise of freedom), Salvianus, De
Gubernatione Dei V, 5.
139. Jordanes, Gothic History 58.
140. Ammianus Marcellinus, XXXI, 2, 12.
141. Jordanes, Gothic History 34.
142. Ibid., 53.
143. Ibid., 58.
144. Agathias, History V, 23, in PG 88:1589-96; Menander, De Legationibus Romanorum ad
Gentes, in PG 113:852; Justinian showed this partiality even before he became emperor,
according to Procopius, Anecdota XI, 5.
145. Procopius, Anecdota XI, 12.
146. Ibid., XXI, 26, 28-29; XXV, 25.
147. Ibid., VII, 8-9; 11-14.
148. Ibid., VII, 11-14.
149. Ibid., VI, 21.
150. Ibid., XI, 1.
151. Ibid., VIII, 5.
152. Ibid., VIII, 9.
153. Ibid., VIII, 4-5.
154. Ibid., XXX, 24.
155. Ibid., XI, 3; XXVI, 23.
156. Ibid., XXX, 26.
157. Ibid., XXX, 23.
158. Ibid., XII, 25.
159. Ibid., XIV, 2.
160. Ibid., XIX, 14-15.
161. Ibid., XIX, 16.
162. Ibid., XXX, 30.
163. Fulcher, Historia Hierosolymitana I, 1-7, especially Urban's speech, chs. 2-3, in PL
164. Guglielmo Ferrero, Characters and Events in Roman History (New York: Putnam,
1909), 233.
165. "Christianity had adopted the astrological Weltbild given by the East to the West,"
Frederick J. E. Raby, A History of Christian-Latin Poetry (Oxford: Oxford University Press
1927), 70. One might trace the unbroken descent of the hierocentric universe from the
Pythagoreans to Dante. Clementine Homily 14, in PG 2:349, is a good description.
166. Éttienne Gilson, La philosophie au Moyen Age (Paris: Payot, 1944), 253-58.
167. Diehl and Marçais, Le monde oriental, 487-95; Eusebius, Life of Constantine, passim,
in PG 20; Louis Duchesne, Early History of the Christian Church, 3 vols. (London: Murray,
1931), 2:518-26.
168. Louis Duchesne, Origines du culte chrétien (Paris: De Boccard, 1925), 47-88.
169. E.g., Saint Ignatius, Liturgy, in PG 5:972. Of course, one spoke much of the monarch's
all-pervading justice and compassion, Theodore Silverstein, "The Throne of the Emperor
Henry in Dante's Paradise and the Mediaeval Conception of Christian Kingship," Harvard
Theological Review 32 (1939): 115-29, but what pagan autocrat's supporters did not do the
170. Grousset, Histoire des Croisades, 3:565.
171. Franz Oppenheimer, The State, tr. J. M. Gitterman (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1914),
ch. 2; Goetze, Hethiter, Churriter und Assyrer, 33-42, 85-87, 96-97, 117-20, 126-32.
172. Arnold J. Toynbee, "The Unification of the World and the Change in Historical
Perspective," History 33 (1948): 25-26.
173. Petrus Patricius, De Legationibus Romanorum ad Gentes 12, in PG 113:668-69.
Notes to Chapter 4
1. Treatment of the sparsiones must be sought for in works dealing primarily with other
things. The most instructive of these are Michael Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae (Aalen:
Scientia, 1969); Joachim Marquardt, Römisches Staatsverwaltung, 3 vols., 2d ed. (Leipzig:
Hirzel, 1885), 3:475-96; Ludwig Friedländer, Darstellungen aus der Sittengeschichte Roms,
4 vols., 8th ed. (Leipzig: Hirzel, 1910), 2:316-18; Ph. Fabia, "Sparsio," in Charles V.
Daremberg and Edmond Saglio, Dictionnaire des antiquités grecques et romaines, 6 vols. in
10 (Paris: Hachette, 1877-1919), 4:2:1418-19. The ritual side of the sparsio is discussed at
length by Martin P. Nilsson, Geschichte der griechischen Religion, 2 vols. (Munich: Beck,
1941), 1:110-25; Francis M. Cornford, The Origin of Attic Comedy (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1934), 100-102 and passim; Samson Eitrem, Opferritus und Voropfer der
Greichen und Römer (Kristiania: Dybwad, 1915), 261-69. Less important works are
indicated in the course of the present study.
2. Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae, is the classic treatment of the tokens, which he also
discusses in "Congiarium," in RE 4:875-80. Berve, "Liberalitas," in RE 13:86-93, also deals
with the tokens, as does Martin Lipenius in his extensive Strenarum Historia, in Johannes G.
Graevius, Thesaurus Antiquitatum Romanarum, 12 vols. (Rhen.: Halmam, 1694),
3. Types of bellaria are listed by Friedländer, Sittengeschichte Roms, 2:316-18.
4. The liquid sparsio is discussed by Fabia, "Sparsio," in Daremberg and Saglio, Dictionnaire
des antiquités grecques et romaines, 4:2:1418-19, with the exception of the oil, which
figures in the old bridal sparsio (see below, n. 31), and in certain primitive scrambles, see
Servius, Commentarius in Georgica 384.
5. The blood of the October horse, mixed with the ashes of the Fordicidia calves, was
distributed to all the people and strewn over the fields; see Georg Wissowa, Religion und
Kultus der Römer (Munich: Beck, 1912), 200-201; Franz Altheim, Terra Mater:
Untersuchungen zur altitalischen Religionsgeschichte (Giessen: Töpelmann, 1931), 121. The
fullest treatment of these bloody sparsiones is Samson Eitrem, Beiträge zur griechischen
Religionsgeschichte, 3 parts (Kristiania: Dybwad, 1917-19), 2:19-49. Both animals in
question had been the victims of violent dismemberment, a wild tussle being held for the
right to sprinkle the blood of the horse; in Sextus Pompeius Festus, De Verborum Significatu
Quae Supersunt cum Pauli Epitome, ed. Wallace M. Lindsay (Leipzig: Teubner, 1913),
190-91. The Greek pharmakoi were hung with objects used in sparsiones, such as figs,
cakes, and so forth, and their own ashes were scattered, in Cornford, Origin of Attic
Comedy, 55-56; see below, n. 118.
6. Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae, 117; Theodor Mommsen, "Das römische Gastrecht
und die römische Clientel," Historische Zeitschrift 1 (1859): 340-41; cf. "symbol" in James
Murray, ed., Oxford English Dictionary, 12 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1933).
7. For a broad treatment of this subject, see Eitrem, Opferritus und Voropfer, 261-80;
Nilsson, Geschichte der griechischen Religion, 1:113-15; Edvard Lehmann, "Erscheinungsund Ideenwelt der Religion," in Alfred Bertholet and Edvard Lehmann, eds., Lehrbuch der
Religionsgeschichte, 2 vols., 4th ed. (T bingen: Mohr, 1925), 1:26, 40-43.
8. Scholiast to Persius, Satires V, 177-79.
9. Ovid, Fasti I, 187-88: " `Omen,' ait [Janus], `causa est, ut res sapor ille sequatur, et peragat
coeptum dulcis ut annus iter.' " ("It is because of the omen," said [Janus], " . . . that the taste
follows the event, and that the whole course of the year may be sweet like its beginning.")
10. Whether or not the sigillaria and the dulces figuras scattered at the Saturnalia (Martial,
Epigrams XIV, 222) were the same, as some commentators on Statius, Silvae I, 6, 17, have
maintained, originally representing the body of the slain vegetation god (Cornford, Origin of
Attic Comedy, 102), it is certain that as New Year's gifts both impart luck and prosperity.
The principle of substitution is very conspicuous in the sparsiones. The rule, in sacra
simulata pro veris accipi (to accept imitation holy objects as though they were genuine),
makes possible, says Servius, Commentarius in Aeneidem (Commentary on the Aeneid) II,
116, the use of models de pane vel cera (of bread or wax) for any costly object. Types of
substitution in sparsiones are discussed by Eitrem, Opferritus und Voropfer, 277-78. A
special coin takes the place at Rome of every kind of food offering or contribution, so that in
time such terms as visceratio, epulum, cibus, sportula, congiarium, munus, and so forth,
come to mean simply "a coin"; vid. lexicons, Hug, "Sportula," in RE 2:3:1884; Berve,
"Liberalitas," in RE 13:85, 88; Mommsen, "Das romische Gastrecht und die römische
Clientel," 340-42; Otto Toller, De Spectaculis, Cenis, Distributionibus in Municipiis
Romanis Occidentis Imperatorum Aetate Exhibitis (Altenburg: Bond, 1889), 77-90. This
substitution is very ancient with the Romans, see Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Römer,
428-29; cf. Deuteronomy 14:23-26.
11. Suetonius, Domitian 4; cf. Suetonius, Nero 11; Suetonius, Augustus 98.
12. Joannes Malalas, Chronographia XIII, 322-23, in PG 97:481-84; Chronicon Paschale, in
PG 92:641; cf. Plutarch, Crassus 2.
13. Aristophanes, The Birds 725-52 (a typical year-song of the quête variety).
14. Nilsson, Geschichte der griechischen Religion, 1:116-18, 439, 503.
15. Sparsio rejuvenates (Aristophanes, Plutus 1197-207) and restores the dead; see Cicero,
De Legibus II, 25 [63]; cf. Eitrem, Opferritus und Voropfer, 262.
16. Propertius, Elegies IV, 2; cf. Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Romer, 287-88.
17. The festival of Flora was a duplicate of that of Acca Larentia, Plutarch, Romulus 4-5; cf.
K. Schwenck, "Hercules und Acca Larentia," Rheinisches Museum 22 (1867): 129-31;
Wilhelm H. Roscher "Acca Larentia," in Wilhelm H. Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der
griechen und römischen Mythologie, 7 vols. (Leipzig: Teubner, 1884-1937), 1:6; Altheim,
Terra Mater, 142-43), which was a chthonian "Totenmahl" held on Midwinter Night; see
Macrobius, Saturnalia I, 10, 17; Varro, De Lingua Latina VI, 23-24; Gellius, Noctes Atticae
(Attic Nights) VII, 7, 7; Plutarch, Romulus 4-5; and
Plutarch, Quaestiones Romanae nos. 34-35.
18. Scholiast to Persius, Satires V, 177-79; cf. Altheim, Terra Mater, 136. This seems to
have been the classic sparsio at Rome, for when in A.D. 217 such distributions were
abolished, the Floralia was specifically excepted; see Marquardt, Römische
Staatsverwaltung, 3:497; Dio Cassius, LXXIX, 22, 1.
19. The laurel switch was used in the water sparsiones that accompanied the sprinkling of
ashes, blood, and bean-straw at the Palilia; see Ovid, Fasti IV, 721-40; V, 675-80; Zosimus,
Historia Nova VI, 6; cf. Marquardt, Romische Staatsverwaltung, 3:248, n. 7. Is it possible
that the word strena is to be referred to sterno, struo, rather than to the hypothetical *st(e)re
suggested by Alois Walde, Vergleichendes Wörterbuch der indogermanischen Sprachen, 3
vols. (Leipzig: de Gruyter, 1927-32), 2:627-28?
20. See below, n. 81, passages describing the hypateia of the emperors at Constantinople.
21. Cornford, Origin of Attic Comedy, 58-69, 85-86, 90-102, is especially convinced that a
sparsio must follow a sparagmos (tearing, mangling) of the divine victim, with all the
connotations which Frazer has made familiar. Cf. James G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, 12
vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1935), 7:214-69.
22. Ancient tradition gave the bloodless form priority: Empedocles, in Hermann Diels,
Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 3 vols., 6th ed. (Zrich: Weidmann, 1951), 1:362-63, frg. 128;
Plutarch, Numa VIII, 8; cf. Eitrem, Opferritus und Voropfer, 273-74. Wissowa, Religion und
Kultus der Römer, 410, 412, holds the strewing of meal to be the older form at Rome.
23. E.g., in the clumsy strewing of bloodless offerings over animal victims (Dionysius of
Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities VII, 72, 15-18; Hyginus, Fabulae 277). The October horse
was decked with bread, and human victims were adorned with the bloodless objects of the
sparsiones, see Cornford, Origin of Attic Comedy, 55-56. On the association of bloody and
bloodless sparsio, cf. Eitrem, Opferritus und Voropfer, 261-80.
24. Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae, 20-21, and in "Congiarium," in RE 4:875, 880, is
particularly insistent on this point, while Berve, "Liberalitas," in RE 13:82-83, actually
maintains that the sparsiones were not only strictly private, but entirely spontaneous and
devoid of any motive but the desire for a little fun.
25. Occasions listed by Rostovzeff, "Congiarium," in RE 4:878; cf. Terence, Phormio I,
41-51, on the gift days. On these occasions one gave a coin to each member of the
community (Pliny, Epistulae [Epistles] X, 117; Plautus, Aulularia V, 107), or to a common
fund (Georg Wissowa, "Iuventas," in Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon, 2:1:764; Wissowa,
Religion und Kultus der Romer, 58, 128, 135, 168), or received gifts from the same;
Terence, Phormio I, 41-51; Theodor Mommsen, Romische Geschichte, 8 vols., 2d ed.
(Berlin: Weidmann, 1856), 1:787, on "Pfennigcollecten" at funerals.
26."Il n'y avait point de solennit au sein d'une famille riche qui ne fût célébrée par une
gratification au peuple, par un festin public ou des jeux" (there was no celebration observed
by a rich family that was not also marked by a gift to the people, by a public festival or by
games), in V. Duruy, "Du régime municipal dans l'empire romain," Revue historique 1
(1876): 348. The interested presence of all the race, living and dead, at these affairs is the
subject of Erich Bethe, Ahnenbild und Familiengeschichte bei Römern und Griechen
(Munich: Beck, 1935), 1-5.
27. Polybius, Histories VI, 53.
28. Victor, De Viris Illustribus 15; Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities VIII, 58;
Livy, II, 16, 7; cf. III, 18, 11; II, 61, 8-9; Dio Cassius, XXXIX, 64; XL, 49, 1-3; XLVIII, 53,
29. Cf. Duruy, "Régime municipal dans l'empire romain," 349, for references; Johann
Kirchmann, De Funeribus Romanorum (L beck: Jauchius, 1625), 583-84. From Livy, VIII,
22, 2-3, it is plain that Flavius's distribution never would have been tolerated on any other
occasion than a funeral. The compulsory public distribution is found in ancient funeral
practices elsewhere, e.g., Josephus, Jewish Wars II, 1.
30. Victor, De Viris Illustribus 32 and 18; cf. Pliny, Natural History XXI, 10, in which this
public contribution accompanies an actual shower of flowers. On showering the dead with
good things, especially grain, cf. Eitrem, Opferritus und Voropfer, 261-80.
31. Vergil, Eclogues VIII, 30, "Sparge, marite, nuces" (scatter, bridegroom, the nuts; cf.
Festus, Lindsay, ed., 178-79), is matched by a like obligation put upon the bride; Apuleius,
Apologia 88; cf. Diodorus, XIII, 84; Pliny, Natural History XV, 86. Other wedding
sparsiones were the scramble for the spina alba, which was broken up and distributed among
the people tanquam vitae praesidia (cf. modern bride's bouquet), and the sprinkling of the
threshold with oil by the bride; Pliny, Natural History XXVIII, 135; Servius, Commentary on
the Aeneid IV, 458, a custom still observed in Syria. The private katachysmata (handfuls of
figs, nuts, and so forth) that introduced a Greek bridegroom or new-bought slave to his new
life (Aristophanes, Plutus 768) is not to be distinguished from the great public showers;
ibid., 794-822.
32. On the showering of the victorious emperor or contestant by the people, cf. Herodian,
Histories VII, 10, 8; for the similar phylloboloi (showering with leaves), cf. Pindar, Pythian
Odes IX, 123-25. The symbolism of the triumphal shower is treated by Eitrem, Opferritus
und Voropfer, 266-67, and Ludwig Deubner, "Die Bedeutung des Kranzes im klassischen
Altertum," Archiv für Religionswissenschaft 30 (1933): 79. Vortumnus, showered with
fruits at the turn of the year, was the prototype of the triumphator; Wissowa, Religion und
Kultus der Römer, 287-88. On the scattering of gifts by the victorious emperor, see below, n.
33. Lord Fitz R. Raglan, "Magic and Religion," Folklore 50 (1939): 129. Thus the symbolic
nut shower of the wedding (Festus, Lindsay, ed., 178) also appears in the year-rites of the
Saturnalia (Martial, Epigrams V, 30, 8) and at funerals; see Eitrem, Opferritus und Voropfer,
262-63. On the identity of funeral and triumph in ritual, cf. Ch. Picard, "Les Bûchers sacrés
d'Eleusis," RHR 107 (1933): 137-54.
34. Cf. Wilhelm Schmidt, Geburtstag im Altertum (Giessen: Töpelmann, 1908), 36-37. All
bellaria were of the nature of second tables (Gellius, Attic Nights XIII, 11, 7), which would
make them necessarily New Year's rites at Rome; Athenaeus, Deipnosophists XIV, 639; cf.
Jane Harrison, Themis, 2d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1927), 250-51. On
the significance of Roman festivals as anniversaries, cf. Andre Piganiol, Recherches sur les
jeux romains (Strasbourg: Librairie Istra, 1923), 145-48.
35. The identity of birthday and New Year is especially evident in the economy of the more
ancient collegia. Thus the Arval Brethren and the Salii had the primary duty of celebrating
birthdays and the New Year with identical rites, Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Römer,
345-47, and "Arvales Fratres," in RE 2:1472-73, 1485. The college of Aesculapius and
Hygeia gave its sparsiones out on the emperor's birthday, the birthday of the college, and at
the New Year; Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae, 98. The identity of the emperor's birthday
with the New Year (the official birthday of all Romans, for that matter, Wissowa, "Arvales
Fratres," in RE 2:1485), is emphasized by Statius, Silvae IV, 1-2. The genesia is at once
birthday and "Totenfeier" (Schmidt, Geburtstag im Altertum, 9-13, 37-45; Erwin Rohde,
Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality among the Greeks [London: Kegan
Paul, 1925], 167), held at Rome for all the dead on Midwinter Night (Wissowa, Religion und
Kultus der Römer, 233), when alone, says Macrobius, Saturnalia I, 10, 18, the cry of "Io
Saturnalia!" was legal. The Matronalia, on March 1, the old Roman New Year, resembled a
birthday celebration in every respect (Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Römer, 185), while
every Roman bride celebrated her marriage with coin- and cake-tokens not on the marriage
day, but at the Compitalia at the end of the Saturnalia; see ibid., 167-68.
36. Malalas, Chronographia, in PG 97:481-82; Chronicon Paschale 262-63, in PG 92:641.
Cicero, Pro Archia Poeta XII, 30, shows how established the custom was. At all periods the
rewards for gifts of grain to the people was a statue in one's memory; Pliny, Natural History
XVIII, 15; Gellius, Attic Nights VII, 7, 1; Chronicon Paschale 391, in PG 92:1004. The
statue and feast that went with it amounted to cult veneration, writes W. Buckler, "A
Charitable Foundation of A.D. 237," Journal of Hellenic Studies 57 (1937): 1-10; cf. Duruy,
"Régime municipal dans l'empire romain," 347; Samuel Dill, Roman Society from Nero to
Marcus Aurelius (New York: Wold, 1905), 275.
37. In all the above instances the statue marks the scene of such a feast. Not a single instance
is known in which a group observes a memorial feast at its own expense (cf. Schmidt,
Geburtstag im Altertum, 37-38). To be rich was to be a hero (Pausanias, Description of
Greece IV, 32, 2; Diodorus, XIII, 84 and 90). Such donatives were "a manifestation of power
and enhancement of the personality" exalting the status of the giver to a superhuman level;
cf. Athenaeus, Deipnosophists X, 418B, and the discussion by Bronislaw Malinowski, Crime
and Custom in Savage Society (London: Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1926), 29; quote from the
38. The definitive studies are by Georg Wissowa, "De Feriis Anni Romanorum Vetustissimi
Observationes Selectae," in Geschichtliche Abhandlungen zur römischen Religions- und
Stadtgeschichte (Munich: Beck, 1904), 154-74; Ludwig Deubner, "Zur
Entwicklungsgeschichte der altrömischen Religion," Neue Jahrbücher für das klassische
Altertum 27 (1911): 321-35; Alfred von Domaszewski, "Die Festcyclen des römischen
Kalenders," Archiv für Religionswissenschaft 10 (1907): 333-34; and Eitrem, Beiträge zur
griechischen Religionsgeschichte, 2:19-22. All are in agreement that a single great festival
was either repeated or prolonged by installments throughout the year; cf. Mommsen,
Römische Geschichte, 1:788.
39. No one was allowed to be absent from the secular rites held in his generation, and no one
might live to behold those of another; Zosimus, Historia Nova II, 5, 1; Suetonius, Divus
Claudius 21; Acta Ludorum Saecularium, lines 52-57, in Theodor Mommsen, Gesammelte
Schriften, 8 vols. (Berlin: Weidmann, 1905-13; reprinted 1965), 8:572; cf. 578-80.
40. E. Diehl, "Das Saeculum, seine Riten und Gebete," Rheinisches Museum für Philologie
83 (1934): 255-56; cf. Fritz Blumenthal, "Ludi Saeculares," Klio 15 (1917-18): 242.
41. Zosimus, Historia Nova II, 5. The redistribution appears "unsinnig" to Blumenthal, "Ludi
Saeculares," 232, and puzzling to Mommsen, Gesammelte Schriften, 8:596, but has been
explained convincingly by Piganiol, Recherches sur les jeux romains, 92-101.
42. Plutarch, Quaestiones Graecae no. 12; see William R. Halliday, The Greek Questions of
Plutarch (Oxford: Clarendon, 1928), 72-73. On the primitive bringing of first-fruits to
Delphi, cf. Plutarch, Quaestiones Graecae no. 35. The function of the god there was to
bestow equally crops and children; Euripides, Io 301-3.
43. See below, nn. 83, 86, 91. The ludi saeculares are the founder's festival, the saeculum
urbis conditae; Diehl, "Das Saeculum, seine Riten und Gebete," 370; cf. 371-72. The day of
sowing is the day of creation, for the Romans considered "Erzeugung" and birthday one and
the same event; cf. Franz Altheim, "Altitalische und altrömische Gottesvorstellung," Klio 30
(1937): 51.
44. This subject has particularly engaged the attention of Albert Schwegler, Römische
Geschichte, 3 vols. (Tübingen: Mohr, 1884), 1:212-39; and Ludwig Preller, Römische
Mythologie, 2 vols. paginated sequentially, 2d ed. (Berlin: Weidmann, 1865), 92-146,
294-374, 401-501. Of the large Janus literature, it is sufficient to cite the summary of the
god's offices and his predominance in the economy of tokens and distributions (Ovid, Fasti I,
185-86) by Otto Huth, Janus: Ein Beitrag zur altrömischen Religionsgeschichte (Bonn:
Rhrscheid, 1932), 23 and passim. Does the Jano struem of Cato, De Agri Cultura 134, refer
to the sparsio of cakes? The identity of New Year's distribution with feasts of the dead and
the gifts of the sower is generally explained on the ground that the act of opening the
subterranean corn-bin is both a chthonian and a New Year's rite: this theory, introduced by
Otfrid Müller, has been popular since its revival by William W. Fowler, Religious
Experience of the Roman People from the Earliest Times to the Age of Augustus (London:
Macmillan, 1911) or The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (London:
Macmillan, 1899); cf. Stefan Weinstock, "Templum," Römische Mitteilungen 45 (1930):
115; W. Kroll, "Mundus," in RE 16:561-63; Martin P. Nilsson, "Die Griechen," in Bertholet
and Lehmann, Lehrbuch der Religionsgeschichte, 2:297-98, 369; see below, n. 101.
45. That the private sportulae were never bestowed in kind, as the public often were,
indicates their later origin; Hug, "Sportula," in RE 2:3:1885. Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares
XI, 28, speaks of distributions as private in the sense of having no constitutional
significance, i.e., as nonpolitical; but there is no issue as to the priority of private or public
sparsio, since any liberalitas is meaningless unless the gift is made both (a) from private
means and (b) to parties outside one's family circle. Thus Augustus, in Monumentum
Ancyranum I, 32-35, boasts: "populum universummis impensis liberarem" (I freed the whole
people by my generosity), his private gift to 320,000 Romans being given on the very public
occasion of his assuming the tribunate and consulship; ibid., III, 15-17. So Crassus "out of
his own means" fed all the Romans for three months, but this again was to celebrate a
consulship (Plutarch, Crassus 2); so too with Caesar (Plutarch, Caesar 55-56).
46. For sources, cf. Theodor Mommsen, "Sp. Cassius, M. Manilius, Sp. Maelius, die drei
Demagogen des 3. und 4. Jahrhunderts der römischen Republik," Hermes 5 (1871): 228-71;
and Schwegler, Römische Geschichte, 3:132-36, 282-98. The Gracchi and even Caesar
would come under this head. Maelius expected to restore the monarchy by giving but two
pounds of grain to every plebeian, a ridiculously small bribe, unless for the people it had a
deeper significance. Cf. ibid., 3:314-15.
47. Cicero, De Officiis II, 61-64; Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum I, 16, 12; Cicero, Pro Murena
36; cf. Tacitus, Annals IV, 62; Appian, Samnite History XI, 1, where he writes that to give
money and gifts to the populace is an archaic Roman tradition.
48. Cicero, De Officiis II, 73, 77; Cicero, Pro Ligario VII, 23; Cicero, Epistulae ad
Familiares IX, 13, 4; Cicero, Pro Rege Deiotaro 26.
49. Emphasized by Theodor Mommsen, De Collegiis et Sodaliciis Romanorum (Kiel:
Libraria Schwersiana, 1843): 50-55; and Mommsen, Römische Geschichte, 1:787.
50. Sparsiones are never objected to on principle, but only because they have become the
plaything of the lowest classes; Persius, Saturnalia V, 177; Minucius Felix, XI, 37.
Epictetus, Discourses IV, 7, 22-24, objects to scrambling for figs and nuts since dignified
men do not scramble "for such small stakes!"; cf. Cicero, Pro Murena 19; Appian, The Civil
Wars V, 12-13, 128; Cicero, De Officiis II, 57.
51. Just as the popular burials in the Forum, though dreaded by the senate (Dio Cassius,
XXXIX, 64; XLVIII, 53, 5; cf. Livy, VIII, 22, 2-4), weathered every attack because they
were a primitive popular custom. Cf. Lucan, Bellum Civile II, 222; David Randall-MacIver,
Villanovans and Early Etruscans (Oxford: Clarendon, 1924), 73-83.
52. Cf. Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae, 11, 39-40; Rostovzeff, "Congiarium," in RE
4:876, 880; cf. Viktor E. Gardthausen, Augustus und seine Zeit, 1 vol. in 3 parts (Leipzig:
Teubner, 1891-96), 1:2:588; Otto Hirschfeld, Untersuchungen auf dem Gebiete der
römischen Verwaltungsgeschichte (Berlin: Weidmann, 1877), 120.
53. No emperor could escape loud popular censure if he failed to give lavishly; Suetonius,
Divus Claudius 12; Zosimus, Historia Nova IV, 16; Plutarch, Galba 18, and so forth.
54. See Berve, "Liberalitas," in RE 13:89-90.
55. The evidence is collected in Friedländer, Sittengeschichte Roms, 2:299-305.
56. Thus, during the sparsiones, "tollunt innumeras ad astra voces Saturnalia principis
sonantes et dulci dominum favore clamant: hoc solum vetuit licere Caesar" (they raise
countless voices to heaven proclaiming the Saturnalia of the emperor and saluting their lord
with warm admiration; this alone Caesar forbade) -- Statius, Silvae I, 6, 81-84. Augustus
strictly forbade this dominus title (Suetonius, Augustus 53), as did Tiberius (Suetonius,
Tiberius 27). According to Victor, De Caesaribus XXXIV, 4, Diocletian "primus omnium
post Caligulam Domitiumque dominum se palam dici passus et adorari se appellarique uti
deum" (after Caligula and Domitian, Diocletian was the first of all of them who allowed
himself to be called "lord" [dominus] openly and to be venerated and addressed as though he
were a god). Cf. Victor, De Caesaribus XI, 2, and Victor, Epitome III, 8; XI, 6. The dominus
title would never have caused the scandal it did, had it originated, as Theodor Mommsen,
Römisches Staatsrecht, 3 vols., 3d ed. (Leipzig: Hirzel, 1885-87), 2:760-63, claims, in the
old economy of the Roman household, nor would it have been inseparably connected with
the title of deus (ibid.) had it referred strictly to the private relationship of servant and mast
57. Cf. Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (Leipzig: Teubner, 1934), s.v. "dominus"; Suetonius,
Domitian 13.
58. Suetonius, Domitian 13; cf. Livy, XXIII, 8, 6-7. When Trimalchio regales his guests with
a sparsio, they immediately interpret it as a religious donative stemming not from their host
but from the emperor: "Rati ergo sacrum esse ferculum tam religiso apparatu perfusum,
consurreximus altius et `Augusto patri patriae, feliciter' diximus. Quibusdam tamen etiam
post hanc venerationem poma rapientibus, et ipsi iis mappas implevimus." (We thought that
it must be a sacred dish that was drenched with such holy trappings; we stood up straight and
said, "May it go well for Augustus the father of his country." But since many were grabbing
for the fruit even after this solemnity, we filled our napkins ourselves.) Petronius, Satyricon
59. Claudius's behavior at his revived version of the archaic year-feast, where he waited on
tables, addressed his guests as domini, and so forth (Suetonius, Divus Claudius 21), closely
resembles that of King Cotys; Athenaeus, Deipnosophists IV, 131; cf. X, 439. At the
Saturnalia (Macrobius, Saturnalia I, 7, 26; Athenaeus, Deipnosophists XIV, 639-40), as at
the old sparsiones-festival of the Floralia (Dio Cassius, LVIII, 19, 1), the emperor was
treated in every way as a festival king. Since these celebrations are beyond doubt archaic, the
origin of the supreme office cannot be dissociated from them (see below, n. 70).
60. Aristophanes, Ecclesiazusae 1144-65; cf. Altheim, Terra Mater, 19. At the Saturnalia the
emperor keeps open house (Statius, Silvae I, 6, 39-50).
61. Amid all the vicissitudes of the late Republic the common people of Italy remained loyal
to the folk-memory of a Golden Age, and at the end of the Republic were looking forward
with particular enthusiasm to the return of the Saturnia regna. Cf. Guglielmo Ferrero,
Greatness and Decline of Rome, 5 vols. (New York: Putnam and Sons, 1909-10), 2:339;
Vergil, Eclogues 4.
62. Cassiodorus, Variae VI, 18; Plutarch, Pompey 28; Velleius Paterculus, Historiae
Romanae II, 40.
63. Preller, Römische Mythologie, 650, 653-54, 657. At Rome the prototype of the
feast-giving year-king is Hercules, who takes the place of the old local Cererius and Jovius
as sponsor of public feasts; cf. Piganiol, Recherches sur les jeux romains, 121-25. It is he
who presides over the food distribution of the Ara Maxima, an event which Wissowa,
Religion und Kultus der Römer, 277, holds to be the oldest public rite of the Romans: it was
a true year-feast of abundance, at which food was ostentatiously thrown away; ibid., 278.
Wissowa, in ibid., 276-77, 282-83 (cf. 271), identifies this Hercules with the autochthonous
Garanus, as in this same office he is identified with the old native sowing-god Semo Sancus;
Schwegler, Römische Geschichte, 4:346, 368-69, 375-76; Preller, Römische Mythologie, 79,
238, 634, 637-38. "The ancients had a way of calling all mighty men Hercules," says
Servius, Commentary on the Aeneid VIII, 203, and everywhere the hero appears as the
year-king; Dio Chrysostom, Orations I, 50-74; Schwenck, "Hercules und Acca Larentia,"
129-31; cf. Michael Rostovzeff, Mystic Italy (New York: Holt, 1927), 137, on Hercules as
the great mysta. Even the Oriental year-king, as Ningizzida, Ninurta, Ningirsu, Tammuz, and
so forth, "seems to be in possession of all the attributes of Herakles," Henri Frankfort, "Gods
and Myths on Sargonid Seals," Iraq 1 (1934): 14.
64. Appian, Civil Wars III, 21, 23-24; cf. Kenneth Scott, "The Political Propoganda of 44-30
B.C.," Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 11 (1933): 7-49.
65. Cicero, Philippics II, 84-85; Athenaeus, Deipnosophists IV, 148.
66. Mommsen, Römische Geschichte, 3:290-91.
67. Dio Cassius, L, 10, 2; Florus, Epitome II, 13; Suetonius, Caesar 79. Caesar's public
feasts, given on a royal scale (Plutarch, Caesar 5), are described as archaic by Ausonius,
Technopaegnion IX, 5.
68. Plutarch, Caesar LV, 57; Tacitus, Annals I, 2.
69. Herodotus, History I, 126. On Cyrus as the model year-king, cf. Alfred Jeremias, The
Old Testament in the Light of the Ancient East, 2 vols. (London: Williams and Norgate:
1911), 2:231-32, 274-76.
70. In that way the gardener Ellil-banai became king of Babylon in grauer Vorzeit (in the
mists of time); Bruno Meissner, Babylonien und Assyrien, 2 vols. (Heidelberg: Winter,
1925), 2:99. At Tarsus the Epicurean Lysias, chosen "crown wearer" (Priest of Heracles),
refused to give up the insignia after the festival and made himself absolute tyrant, "first of all
dividing the wealth of the rich among the poor, killing all who refused to contribute";
Athenaeus, Deipnosophists V, 215. Later, when the people of that city formed factions, they
crowned Cassius and Dolabella as rival kings; Appian, Civil Wars IV, 64. Cornford, Origin
of Attic Comedy, 26, has very plausibly suggested that the famous ruse of Pisistratus and his
masquerade-Athena succeeded because, insofar as it concerned the old year-king, he could
rely "on the conception being familiar to the simple-minded folk in ritual." When Timaeus
wanted to become king of Cyzicus, he began by "bestowing a largess of money and grain
upon his fellow citizens"; Athenaeus, Deipnosophists XI, 509. The formula was followed in
Sicyon, where "the king receives honors and in turn gives gifts" of land, grain, and money to
everyone (Livy, XXXII, 40, 8-9). Distributions as a rule follow confiscations, as in the case
of Molpagoras at Cius (Polybius, Histories XV, 21, 1-2), Charops in Epirus (ibid., XXXII,
5), Chaeron at Sparta (ibid., XXIV, 7, 2-3), Phintias in Sicily (Diodorus, XXII, 2), Nabis at
Sparta (ibid., XXVII, 1), and so forth. In Roman legend there are many traces of such
practice. When all the people chose Tullus Hostilius king, he divided up all the royal lands
among them (Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities III, 1), following the example
of Romulus himself, who willed to each Roman a couple of jugera as an heredium (Varro,
De Re Rustica I, 10, 2). King Numa "abolished poverty by force" when he gave to the
masses "all the land which Romulus had won by the spear"; Plutarch, Numa 16. When
Sextus, son of Tarquin, became King of Gabii, he "destroyed the more influential citizens
and distributed their wealth among the populace"; Zonaras, Annals VII, 10. Lepidus had the
people plunder and divide the effects of all who opposed his (royal) triumph, Appian, Civil
Wars IV, 5, 31.
71. Cf. Diehl, "Das Saeculum, seine Riten und Gebete," 348-52. It was at the great
year-festival of the Gauls at Lyons that Drusus induced these people to accept Augustus as
ruler and god; it is evident from the ease with which this plan succeeded that he was
following a pattern as familiar to the Gauls as the secular celebration was to the Romans; H.
W. Lawton, "The Religion of the Gallo-Romans," in Speculum Religionis: Studies in Honor
of Claude G. Montifiore (Oxford, Clarendon, 1929), 73.
72. Such symbolic titles are very common, e.g., Martial, Epigrams XII, 62, 1-4; Statius,
Silvae I, 6, 2; IV, 1: Vergil, Bucolics I, 6-7; Seneca, Epistulae I, 73; Claudianus Mamertus,
Panegyrics V, 2; VI, 1; Cassiodorus, Variae VI, 4; IX, 17; XII, 11; Corippus, Justin IV,
165-74; Nicolaus Damascenus, Vita Caesaris 12, and so forth. The familiar concept of the
king as the ultimate source of the food supply, expressed in these passages, needs no
discussion. "AUG" on coins "in effect raises the Emperor to the level of a symbol typifying,
in a more than earthly capacity, the blessings which the more humble of the earth may
enjoy"; C. H. V. Sutherland, "The Historical Evidence of Greek and Roman Coins," Greece
and Rome 9 (February 1940): 74. Caesar was the first Roman to put his own image on coins,
an honor reserved before that time for deity; ibid., 72.
73. Cassiodorus, Variae III, 29.
74. Berve, "Liberalitas," in RE 13:90.
75. Herodian, Histories V, 6, 9.
76. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews XIX, 1, 5.
77. R. Lepsius, Denkmäler, 3:103-9; reproduced in E. A. W. Budge, A History of Egypt from
the End of the Neolithic Period to the Death of Cleopatra, 8 vols. (London: Kegan Paul,
Trench, Trübner, 1902), 4:121, 123; cf. 127: the gifts include all the fruits of the earth, but
also many ankh tokens, showing that the god is bestowing life itself.
78. Dio Cassius, LIX, 25, 1-5: Gaius had ordered a high bema erected on the shore and from
it supervised his soldiers as they gathered shells from the beach, following a mock combat.
Then he gave them rich presents, as if they had won a great victory, and marched with the
booty back to Rome, where he immediately mounted another platform to watch the people
gathering silver and gold in the same manner. The whole story of the farcical British
expedition, with its island objective, its mock combats, its triumph and collecting of shells
and gold, and so forth, closely resembles Alexander's mythical expedition to the underworld
(Pseudo-Callisthenes, Life of Alexander II, 41), a tradition with an Oriental year-rite
background (cf. Julius Zacher, Pseudocallisthenes [Halle: Buchhandlung des Walsenhauses,
1867], 141-42); also Octavian's unsuccessful attempt to satisfy his soldiers with such a token
triumph; Appian, Civil Wars V, 13, 128.
79. Cicero, Philippics II, 16.
80. Besides sparsiones, memorial speeches were given from the rostra (Polybius, Histories
VI, 53, 2), where stood the golden statue of Memory (Cicero, Philippics II, 84). Herodotus,
History IV, 26, describes the same remarkable combination of sparsio, memorial rites, and
golden statue among the Scythians, and compares it with the Western genesia. The actual
distribution of the dismembered body of the defunct in the Eastern rite may well represent
the original form of the visceratio or Roman funeral distribution of meat (Livy, VIII, 22, 2;
XXXIX, 46, 2; cf. above n. 21). The older rostra, to which Cicero refers (Wissowa, Religion
und Kultus der Römer, 77), was the seat of Lupercus (Cicero, Philippics II, 84; Suetonius,
Caesar 79), and stood on the site of the earlier Volcanal, a raised platform from which the
kings would address the people (references in Samuel B. Platner and Thomas Ashby, A
Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome [London: Oxford University Press, 1929], 583).
Livy, XXXIX, 46, 5; XL, 19, 2, tells of showers of blood in Area Vulcani, implying that the
spot was actually the scene of bloody sparsiones. For another type of chthonian sparsio
taking place there, see below, n. 116.
81. Heliogabalus varied the platform routine with the golden chariot; Herodian, Histories V,
6, 6-9. The solar costume went with both, for at Constantinople the emperors wore it for
their chariot sparsiones (Theophanes, Chronographia, anno 791; Cedrenus, I, 710). In a relief
from an ivory plaque one sees the deified emperor in a chariot mounted on a very high
wooden platform hung with draperies (cf. fig. 118, p. 117); Henri Leclerq, "Éléphant," in
Fernand Cabrol and Henri Leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, 15
vols. (Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 1907), 4:2656; cf. Herodian, Histories, IV, 2, 1-4; Lucius
Ampelius, VIII, 19. Representations of exalted chariots are very common (see fig. 11, p. 117
in this volume).
82. The Babylonian year-god scatters seed from his heavenly car or mountain top; cf. below,
n. 91. His special symbol is the plow (V. Scheil, "La Charrue Symbole de Ningirsu," Revue
d'Assyriologie et d'Archéologie Orientale 34 [1937]: 42), which identifies him with
year-gods everywhere (cf. Frankfort, "Gods and Myths on Sargonid Seals," 13-14), notably
with Triptolemus (Hyginus, Fabulae 147, with specific reference to sparsiones), of whom
Arthur B. Cook, Zeus, 3 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1925), 1:214, 225,
observes "a remarkable similarity between the equipment of Triptolemus and that of
Dionysus," including chariot and plow.
83. Herodotus, History IV, 5: the sacred gold of the Scythians fell from the sky at the
creation, along with a plow. The one able to take up this gold was declared king.
84. Of great antiquity is the story of Lo(v)ernius, Luernes, Ariamnes, etc., who feasted all the
Celts for a year and was acclaimed leader and benefactor of the race as he "drove his chariot
across the fields, scattering gold and silver for the thousands of Celts who followed him";
Athenaeus, Deipnosophists IV, 152; Strabo, Geography IV, 2, 3.
85. Cf. Hyginus, Fabulae 147. The practice of scattering seeds and chopped straw in the
wake of a plow or wagon at New Year's still survives in Northern Greece; Cornford, Origin
of Attic Comedy, 63.
86. The Greek custom is found among the Germans as well (Jacob Grimm, Teutonic
Mythology, tr. James S. Stallybrass, 3 vols. [London: Bell, 1883], 1:275-76), imitating in
this case the Earth-Goddess and/or her consort, who ride through the sky on Midwinter
Night scattering shavings and straw from their wagon or plow, bits which on being picked
up turn to gold; cf. Pseudo-Callisthenes, Life of Alexander II, 41; Stith Thompson,
Motif-Index of Folk-Literature (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1932-36), F342.
87. The chariot of the triumphator is that of Jupiter himself; Ludwig Deubner, "Die Tracht
des römischen Triumphators," Hermes 69 (1934): 320. It is also the royal chariot (Velleius
Paterculus, Historiae Romanae II, 40) and the victorious chariot of the games, to judge from
Suetonius, Vespasian 5.
88. This quadriga had been placed by Romulus himself in the temple of Vulcan (Dionysius
of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities II, 54, 2; cf. Platner and Ashby, Topographical
Dictionary, 583), the source of the archaic sparsiones (see above, n. 80). It goes back to the
time when Vulcan ruled before the arrival of Jove, Jérôme Carcopino, Vergile et les origines
d'Ostie (Paris: de Boccard, 1919), 98-102.
89. Plutarch, Publicola 13; cf. Emil Aust, Die Religion der Römer (Münster: Aschendorff,
1899), 49-55.
90. Martial, Epigrams VIII, 78, 7-12; Statius, Silvae I, 6, 9-10; 20-27; Ovid, Fasti I, 185-86,
and so forth.
91. To cases cited above in nn. 83-86 may be added the golden sparsiones (soma, rice,
butter, gold, and so forth) of the Asvamedha, the archaic New Year's celebration of India;
Paul É. Dumont, L'Asvamedha (Paris: Geuther, 1927), v-viii, 252-53. This rite has been
identified with the oldest Sumerian year-practices by William F. Albright and Paul É.
Dumont, "A Parallel between Indic and Babylonian Sacrificial Ritual," JAOS 54 (1934):
107-28; cf. the Babylonian sprinklings of honey and milk in Meissner, Babylonien und
Assyrien, 2:238-39. For interesting Armenian sparsiones, cf. Zabelle C. Boyajian, Armenian
Legends and Poems (London: Dent and Sons, 1916), 49, commenting on Moses of Khorene.
At the Persian creation golden streams flow down and a golden shower falls from heaven to
earth; Albert J. Carnoy, "Iranian Views of Origins in Connection with Similar Babylonian
Beliefs," JAOS 36 (1916): 301; and Albert J. Carnoy, Iranian Mythology, vol. 6 in Louis H.
Gray, ed., Mythology of All Races, 13 vols. (Boston: Jones, 1917), 299-300. For the flowing
gold of the Ras Shamra ritual texts, cf. George A. Barton, "The Second Liturgical Poem from
Ras Shamra," JAOS 55 (1935): 38-44. At the founding of Athens and the birth of Athena,
Zeus sent a shower of gold over the place (Pindar, Olympian Odes VII, 8 and 50). The cases
of Danae and others will come to mind. The golden tears of the goddess give life to the
world as rain; J. Rendell Harris, Picus Who Is Also Zeus (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1916), 45-47; cf. Pausanias, Description of Greece II, 31, 14.
92. In the chariot sparsiones cited above, n. 81, it is specifically reported that the chariot was
of gold; cf. Pindar, Olympian Odes I, 37-41.
93. Martial, Epigrams VIII, 33, 3-4; and in Martial, Liber Spectaculorum II, 3; for saffron,
Martial, Epigrams V, 25, 7-8. The throne of Lupercus on the rostra (see above, n. 80) was the
sella aurea; Cicero, Philippics II, 3; cf. Pindar, Nemean Odes I, 37.
94. This theme is treated by Fabia, "Sparsio," in Daremberg and Saglio, Dictionnaire des
antiquités grecques et romaines 4:2:1419; on gilding, cf. Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae,
116; Martial, Epigrams XIII, 27; cf. Mirabilia Romae I, 4 on the "golden bread," reminding
one of the Dutch-gold on the gingerbread figures at old-world fairs.
95. Dumont, L'Asvamedha, 249; cf. 15-16. Of the importance of gold as a universal luckand fertility-charm nothing need here be said.
96. It is so described by Statius, Silvae I, 6, 40; cf. Vergil, Eclogues IV, 6-10, where "nova
progenies caelo demittitur alto" (a new generation is sent down from heaven on high) refers,
of course, to the gens aurea of line 9.
97. It is the marriage of "the Earth-Mother and the Heaven-Father, whose rain falls in a
life-giving stream into the womb of Earth"; Cornford, Origin of Attic Comedy, 19; cf.
Morris Jastrow, "Sumerian and Akkadian Versions of Beginnings," JAOS 36 (1916):
290-95, and the broad treatment by G. W. Elderkin, "The Marriage of Zeus and Hera and Its
Symbol," American Journal of Archaeology 41 (1937): 424-35. Water in the New Year's
rites has a special fertilizing power, discussed by A. J. Wensinck, "The Semitic New Year
and the Origin of Eschatology" Acta Orientalia 1 (1922): 164-65 and passim. In the Indian
year-rites "water is seed"; F. Max Müller, ed., The Upanishads, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon,
1879-84), 1:238-39. In the ancient Easter rite the wax of the Easter Taper "is dropped into
the font in the form of a cross, and the candle itself is dipped into it. . . . Then the people are
sprinkled with this Easter water" (Henry J. Feasey, Ancient English Holy Week Ceremonial
[London: Baker, 1897], 238-39), while the wax of the taper itself may be distributed among
the multitude in the form of little wafer-tokens to bring prosperity for the year; ibid., 203-4.
Greek sparsiones were accompanied by liberal water lustrations over the multitude;
Aristophanes, Pax 962-72; cf. Cornford, Origin of Attic Comedy, 101-2. The liquid and
flower showers of the Isis cult (Apuleius, Metamorphoses XI, 9) and the sprinkling of Nile
water in the same (Servius, Commentary on the Aeneid II, 116, and IV, 512) certainly have
the same significance as the life-giving "drop" of the Egyptian New Year. The sprinkling of
the life-giving water by the Pharaoh at the great year-festival (the Sed Festival) is often
depicted in murals and reliefs; for example, see Edouard H. Naville, Festival-Hall of
Osorkon II (London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1892), pl. XI and p. 24. Befeuchter and
Befruchter are concepts identical with those of the ancients; Altheim, Terra Mater, 150;
Preller, Römische Mythologie, 335. Cf. G. Dossin, "Un rituel du culte d'Istar," Revue
d'Assyriologie 35 (1938): 9.
98. From the golden horde of Demeter came the sparsiones of the Thalysia; Homer, Iliad
9:534; Nilsson, Geschichte der griechischen Religion, 1:117; Cornford, Origin of Attic
Comedy, 27. Frigg, or Freyja, was called Folla, Abundia, Dame Habonde, and so forth,
because "she bestowed prosperity and abundance on mortals"; she kept "the divine mother's
chest (eski), out of which gifts were showered upon [the people]"; Grimm, Teutonic
Mythology, 1:308. This treasure was "the gold of Frigg"; ibid., 1:307. The treasure chamber
of the goddess always appears in close connection with the royal marriage motif (Cornford,
Origin of Attic Comedy, 26-27), of which the story of King Solomon and the Queen of
Sheba in its numerous Oriental versions is perhaps the most instructive instance, though the
reader may recall various Celtic legends of the same intent, such as Geoffrey of Monmouth,
Historia Regum Britanniae II, 14; cf. Herodotus, History II, 121-26; II, 135; I, 187, and so
99. This was the penus (provisions) of the community and the arca pontificum (treasury of
the pontifices), from which festival expenses were paid; Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der
Römer, 407, 471. After half the blood of the October horse had been sprinkled, the other half
was stored there for future sparsiones (ibid., 145; see above, n. 5).
100. Ibid., 300; it was the "Archiv und Kasse" into which all fines were paid, and from
which the cura annonae was administered; cf. ibid., 302, 297; cf. Altheim, Terra Mater, 118;
Piganiol, Recherches sur les jeux romains, 2, 12, 85, 91, 101, and so forth; Fowler, The
Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic, 74-79.
101. In connection with the sparsiones the goddess appears most often as Fortuna (see
below, nn. 141-46) and as Annona: the Annona Augusti Ceres of the Imperial coins
representing "Ceres . . . in her guise as Imperial Corn Supply"; Sutherland, "Greek and
Roman Coins," 74-75. Annona is the emissary (Oehler, "Annona," in RE 1:2320), and the
indigitamentum of Ceres; Georg Wissowa, "Annona," in Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon,
1:360; Berve, "Liberalitas," in RE 13:89-90. Ceres received and dispensed the praemitiae as
archaic patroness of the cura annonae and of the primitive games (see above, n. 100). Her
mate is the year-god Janus-Cerus; Huth, Janus, 22-23, 93; Wilhelm Roscher, "Ianus," in
Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon, 2:1:30; Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Römer, 103-4,
109; and it has often been noted that her festival was the year-festival (Piganiol, Recherches
sur les jeux romains, 91; Fowler, Roman Festivals, 74-79), the primitive year being marked
by the opening and shutting of her subterranean corn bin; see above, n. 44; cf. Altheim,
"Altitalische und altrömische Gottesvorstellung," 47-50; Wissowa, "De Feriis Anni
Romanorum Vetustissimi," 154-55. The name Annona refers specifically to the yearly office
of distribution.
102. Ovid, Fasti V, 221; on Flora as Ceres, cf. Altheim, Terra Mater, 132-33.
103. The treasury of the goddess is also that of Pluto, and the counterpart of the heavenly
treasury of Zeus; Cornford, Origin of Attic Comedy, 27; Aristophanes, Plutus 131-34.
Lydus, De Mensibus IV, 85, argues that Pluto is the Sun in the underworld with Kore, who
personifies "that power which is upon the seeds as they fall from heaven to earth." At all
times the substance of the Roman sparsiones was taken in theory from the aerarium Saturnii
(Oehler, "Annona," in RE 1:2319), and Saturn's temple was the city treasury; Wissowa,
Religion und Kultus der Römer, 57. In the East the waters of heaven and those of the
underworld are identical, and the gold shower is supplied from a heavenly rain-pond, which
is at the same time the water of the abyss; cf. Lehmann, "Erscheinungs- und Ideenwelt der
Religion," in Bertholet and Lehmann, Lehrbuch der Religionsgeschichte, 1:105-6; and
Edvard Lehmann, "Die Perser," in Bertholet and Lehmann, Lehrbuch der
Religionsgeschichte, 2:228.
104. Alan H. Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar (Oxford: Clarendon, 1927), 296, cites references
to this.
105. Anton Deimel, Sumerische Grammatik (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1924), 119;
cf. 110: "von Phallus berschssiger Kraft, vom Hause des Sturmflutes, vom Gebirge, dem
heiligen Orte werde ich dir [i.e., the King] einen Wind schicken: das Land wird er mit
Lebenshauch beschencken." It is the goddess who brings forth this shower; Jastrow,
"Sumerian and Akkadian Versions of Beginnings," 292-93
106. Hammurabi Code, prologue, cols. 2-4; Robert F. Harper, Code of Hammurabi (Chicago:
University of Chicago, 1904), 5-9. The Persian god sits in heaven "on a golden throne . . .
with hands overflowing"; Carnoy, Iranian Mythology, 229-300.
107. Psalms 78:23-29 (for the New Year); cf. Malachi 3:10.
108. Cf. Wensinck, "Semitic New Year and the Origin of Eschatology" 158-99; Feasey,
Ancient English Holy Week Ceremonial, 55-72.
109."Domine aperi fenestram. Sol veni! Luna veni! Nubes celestis cum manna veni!" (Henri
Leclerq, "Laudes Pueriles," in Cabrol and Leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et
de liturgie, 8:2:1913.)
110. Feasey, Ancient English Holy Week Ceremonial, 74, 76-77; cf. 58.
111. Suetonius, Augustus 98. As princeps iuventutis (Augustus, Monumentum Ancyranum
III, 1-6) he would distribute tokens marked MAG(ister) IUVENT(utis); Rostovzeff,
Römische Bleitesserae, 59; cf. Hubert Démoulin, "Encore les collegia iuvenum," Muse
Belge 3 (1899): 177-92.
112. Henri Leclerq, "Annone," in Cabrol and Leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne
et de liturgie, 1:2275-76, fig. 776. Leclercq's explanation is that "deux gnies couvrent les
poux de fleurs" (two geniuses are showering the married couple with flowers), although the
objects on the strings in no way resemble flowers, and the strings are not held lightly like
garlands, but are clutched firmly and hang straight, though at odd angles, as if they were
being shaken.
113. Plutarch, Romulus 11. The best-known example is that of the Lacus Curtius, into which
every Roman tossed a coin or fruit offering "quotannis ex voto pro salute eius" (each year in
fulfillment of a vow for his welfare); Suetonius, Augustus 57; cf. Livy, VII, 6, 3-6;
Propertius, Elegies IV, 2, 61. The mouth of the underworld was the mundus, which has been
persistently identified with the subterranean public silo from which the grain distributions
were made, the mundus Cereris (Festus, Lindsay, ed., 144; Macrobius, Saturnalia I, 16-18;
see above, n. 101).
114."Diese Sitte der Münzspende an Quellen und Flsse geht durch die ganze antike Welt,"
according to Franz Dölger, "Die Münze im Taufbecken und die Münzenfunde in Heilquellen
der Antike Kultur- und Religionsgeschichtliches zum Kanon 48 der Synode von Elvira in
Spanien," in Antike und Christentum, 6 vols. (Münster: Aschendorff, 1929), 3:13, who has
treated the subject extensively; ibid., 3:1-24. Additional instances of the throwing of
year-offerings into the abyss of the netherworld are to be found in Sozomen, Historia
Ecclesiastica (Ecclesiastical History) 2, 4; Gregory of Tours, De Gloria Confessorum 2, in
PL 71:830-31; Pausanias, Description of Greece I, 18, 7; VII, 24, 2; III, 23, 9; III, 26, 1 (this
Ino is identified with the Roman Mater Matuta in ritual; cf. Schirmer, "Leukothea," in
Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon, 2:2:2012); Lucian, De Syria Dea (On the Syrian Goddess)
12, and so forth. The Demeter pigs of the Thesmophoria were thrown into a pit before being
scattered over the fields, according to Gilbert Murray, Five Stages of Greek Religion
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1925), 30.
115. Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Römer, 429. One is reminded of the Greek katabolia,
the act of contributing one's offering to a public feast by throwing it onto the common pile;
Athenaeus, Deipnosophists VII, 362; Johann Tzetzes, Ad Hesiodum 2.
116. Cf. H. J. Rose, "The Cult of Volkanus at Rome," Journal of Roman Studies 23 (1933):
58-61; J. Toutain, "Sur un rite curieux et significatif du cult de Vulcain Rome," RHR 103
(1931): 136-37.
117. Leviticus 5; 8:26-30; 14:6-7, 16; 23:11, 20, and so forth. These rites are a complicated
series of throwing, waving, sprinkling, and mixing of oil, blood, water, bits of meat, and
fruits of the earth, with much liquid sparsio over altar, priests, and congregation. They are
full of instructive parallels which cannot be treated here.
118. As seen in the scattering of ashes to the winds, in which every vestige of the object of
sacrifice follows the course of the flame and smoke to the other world. The ashes of various
"vegetation gods" were sown abroad in true sparsiones; Jane Harrison, Prolegomena to the
Study of Greek Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1908), 97-98. On
burning as a means of banishment, cf. Pausanias, Description of Greece II, 10, 1.
119. Cornford, Origin of Attic Comedy, 55-56; Eitrem, Opferritus und Voropfer, 280-94.
120. Roman practices of banishment recall the Hittite system, which puts things "on the road
to the Sungod in the Underworld" by throwing them into a fire, a stream, or a pit; Albrecht
Götze, Kleinasien (Munich: Beck, 1933), 146-47. The Sumerian compound for "dedicate,"
"sacrifice," is a-ru, literally "throw into the water," writes Deimel, Sumerische Grammatik,
42. Objects tossed into the year-fires of Europe (Grimm, Teutonic Mythologie, 1:43) were
also cast into holy fountains, both acting as "Bote zwischen der göttlichen und der
menschlichen Welt" (a messenger between the divine and the human worlds); Paul
Herrmann, Altdeutsche Kultgebräuche (Jena: Diederichs, 1928), 33; cf. 40, 59. The year-fire
itself is transmitted from heaven by a burning-glass, a "type of the Orient on high," passing
from the world above to that below without any contact of the two; Feasey, Ancient English
Holy Week Festival, 187-88, 180-81.
121. Eitrem, Opferritus und Voropfer, 282-90; Rose, "Cult of Volkanus at Rome," 61; Paul
Radin, Social Anthropology (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1932), 306. The throwing of food or
stones keeps the spirits at a distance either by satisfying them (Cerberus) or scaring them off;
cf. Thompson, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, H331; R231 (Atalanta motif); G512. With the
sparsio as a form of combat (e.g., confetti) the present study is not concerned. It will be
enough to note that the adorea of kisses, flowers, fruits, and vegetables (Plutarch, Cato
Minor 46) thrown to actors in the theater could, if an actor did badly, take the form of a
shower of stones: in either case it was a sparsio; but Franciscus B. Ferrarius, De Veterum
Acclamationibus et Plausu, in Graevius, Thesaurus Antiquitatem Romanorum, 6:82-88,
warns against confusing ritual combats with stoning rites (cf. Eitrem, Opferritus und
Voropfer, 290).
122. The spirits were waiting to snatch it: they were the Harpies, the rapacious dead;
Kirchmann, De Funeribus Romanorum, 578-80; Georg Weicker, Der Seelenvogel in der
alten Litteratur und Kunst (Leipzig: Teubner, 1902), 20. In Babylonia the stray animals that
snatched food from the ground were "the shadow-spirits of the dead"; Meissner, Babylonien
und Assyrien, 1:419. To appease such the Philageians would carry some crumbs from the
year-feast; Athenaeus, Deipnosophists IV, 149C; cf. Franz Dölger, "Die Eucharistie als
Reiseschutz: Die Eucharistie in den Händen der Laien," in Antike und Christentum,
5:232-47, 258. After the German year-feast the crumbs were scattered over the fields with
cries of "wôld! wôld!" (Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, 1:156), the sowing of the fields and the
feeding of the dead being the same act; Eitrem, Opferritus und Voropfer, 262. For the
Pythagoreans all food that fell from the table passed tois erosi and could not be used by
mortals; Diels, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 1:463; Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent
Philosophers VIII, 34. Whatever is thrown or dropped is lost to this world, whatever is
caught is gained; Pausanias, Description of Greece I, 17, 3; Aelius Spartianus, Hadrian
XXVI, 7.
123. Hecate takes a deipnon from the rich to feed the poor, who must snatch the food before
it is set down; Aristophanes, Plutus 594-99; Joannes Tzetzes, Commentarii in Aristophanem,
vol. 6:1 of Scholia in Aristophanem, ed. W. J. W. Koster (Groningen: Wolters, 1960), 142.
The crumbs for Hecate (see Gulick's note on Athenaeus, Deipnosophists IV, 149C; cf. III,
110C) were a sort of Hygeia-bread, like the cakes of the Kollyridian rites; Franz Dölger,
"Heidnische und christliche Brotstempel mit religiösen Zeichen: Zur Geschichte des
Hostienstempels," in Antike und Christentum, 1:13-14. The remnants of the Christian agape,
heavenly food, were distributed among the poor; Evagrius, Ecclesiastical History IV, 36, in
PG 86:2:2769; I. Bekker, ed., Georgius Cedrenus 1:686-88, as were the untouchable remains
of the great Slavic year-feast for the dead; Jan Machal, Slavic Mythology, vol. 3 in Gray,
Mythology of All Races (Boston: Jones, 1918), 236. In Israel what fell from the sacred
bread-fruit tree in the temple could be picked up only by the poor; Babylonian Talmud Pesah
52b; cf. the gleaning-law, Leviticus 19:9-10. Eitrem, Opferritus und Voropfer, 263-64, 267,
gives other cases in which "die Armen vielfach den Platz der Totenseelen eingenommen"
(the poor took the place of the dead).
124. Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, 1:273-74, 282. Unless the god unexpectedly lets fall a
shoe or ring, and so forth, from his statue, these must be snatched from him unawares by one
who would obtain prosperity; ibid., 1:114, n. 2. Cf. such year-motifs as Gilgamesh snatching
the tablets of Destiny, Prometheus stealing fire, and so forth. The throwing or accidental
dropping of a spindle into running streams at the New Year gratifies the earth-goddess; cf.
Adolf Wuttke, Der deutsche Volksaberglaube der Gegenwart (Berlin: Wiegandt and
Grieben, 1900), 26 (24), 29-30, 32; Thompson, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, G423, a
motif occurring very anciently in the Ras Shamra fragments; Barton, "Second Liturgical
Poem from Ras Shamra," 38.
125. See Thompson, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, E545, 561, 373.
126. Athenaeus, Deipnosophists IV, 145; cf. 146B; Herodotus, History IX, 110.
127. Götze, Kleinasien, 153, 155 (of the Hittite king).
128. Athenaeus, Deipnosophists IV, 153. The symbol of Orestes' utter banishment from the
world of men is his eating alone at a table set apart (Euripides, Iphigeneia at Taurus 949-54).
129. Athenaeus, Deipnosophists IV, 145; Herman Kees, Ägypten, in Handbuch der
Altertumswissenschaft, vol. 3, pt. 1, 3a (Munich: Beck, 1933), 64.
130. Athenaeus, Deipnosophists IV, 151 (Thracian), 153 (Parthian). It is still considered an
ill omen in the East for food to pass directly from the hand of a giver to that of a receiver.
131. Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae, 13, 16-17, 38, 55, is insistent on this point.
132. Many were actually killed in scrambles for tesserae (Dio Cassius, LIX, 25, 5; Herodian,
Histories V, 6, 10). Yet for Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae, 4, "Ausstreuen" is nothing
more than a convenient means of distribution.
133. Gifts were flung until "desunt qui rapiant, sinusque pleni gaudent" (there are too few to
grasp them all, and full laps shout for joy); Statius, Silvae I, 6, 79-80. When "omne genus
rerum missilia sparsit, et . . . pars maior intra popularia deciderat" (he scattered gifts of all
sorts of things, and the greater part fell among the people), Domitian gave the knights and
senators a special repeat shower, Suetonius, Domitian IV, 5; cf. Suetonius, Augustus 41, and
Duruy, "R gime municipal dans l'empire romain," 348. Rich senators complained if they
failed to get their share of these trivial "hand-outs," a plain indication of their symbolic
nature (Symmachus, Epistolae IX, 153; cf. Commodian, Instructiones II,
134. Quite apart from the fun of the licentia diripiendi (Suetonius, Augustus 98; Josephus,
Antiquities of the Jews XIX, 1, 13, 93), there is an archaic background to the rixae (brawls),
as seen in Apollodorus, I, 9, 23; Hyginus, Fabulae 22, where Jason's sparsio of stones that
begets a race of men is followed by yet another which sets them fighting by the ears.
Altheim, Terra Mater, 136, surmises a "kultische Bedeutung" (cultic meaning) in the rixanti
populo (brawling mob) of Persius, Saturnalia V, 176, but is not more specific. The rixa
figures also in the Greek sparsio; Aristophanes, Wasps 58-59; cf. Cornford, Origin of Attic
Comedy, 100-101.
135. Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae, 56, and Friedländer, Sittengeschichte Roms, 2:317,
both use the term without following up the clue.
136. Hermann Dessau, Geschichte der römischen Kaiserzeit, 2 vols. (Berlin: Weidmann,
1924-26), 1:339.
137. Alexander Tille, Yule and Christmas: Their Place in the Germanic Year (London: Nutt,
1899), 31-32, 114-15. The famous year-cake of the Slavs (Machal, Slavic Mythology,
218-19) recalls the round Janus cakes of the Roman New Year (Wissowa, Religion und
Kultus der Römer, 111, n. 3). Contributions to the Greek feast had to be caught, not
purchased; Athenaeus, Deipnosophists IV, 141; Pausanias, Description of Greece VII, 18, 7;
cf. 1 Samuel 2:13-14, where the priest receives his share by a sort of grab-bag. A fowl
alighting on the emperor's table during the scrambles of the Saturnalia was hailed as the best
of omens; Aelius Lampridius, Severus Alexander XXXVII, 6; cf. Franz Dölger, "Die
Apollinarischen Spiele und das Fest Pelusia," in Antike und Christentum, 1:153; and
Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae, 89, on "die sacrale Grundlage der Jagd" (the sacral basis
of the hunt)
138. All this is implied in the symbol of the cornucopia, the impartiality motif in the formula,
"O dominum aequum et bonum" (O just and good lord)! (Suetonius, Augustus 53; cf. Dio
Chrysostom, Orations III, 73; Athenaeus, Deipnosophists I, 13; Livy, XXXI, 4, 6-7; Tacitus,
Annals IV, 64).
139. E.g., Aelius Lampridius, Heliogabalus 22; Suetonius, Augustus 75.
140. V. E. Ehrenberg, "Losung," in RE 13:1459; A. Bouché-Leclercq, "La Divination
italique," RHR 1 (1880): 43-44; cf. Cicero, De Divinatione I, 34; II, 85-87. It should not be
overlooked that sero, serere also means to "sow."
141. Ehrenberg, "Losung," in RE 13:1455-57; Bouché-Leclercq, "Divination italique,"
44-45. In this capacity Fortuna is an old autochthonous version of the Mother Goddess (see
above, n. 101).
142. Ehrenburg, "Losung," in RE 13:1455-57. The great shrine of Fortuna Primigenia at
Praeneste was open only at the New Year (cf. refs. in Bouché-Leclercq, "Divination
italique," 46-47); so also the Pythian originally gave oracles only one day a year, on the
god's birthday (Plutarch, Quaestiones Graecae no. 9).
143. Bouché-Leclercq, "Divination italique," 44; Ehrenberg, "Losung," in RE 13:1475;
Cicero, De Divinatione II, 85-87.
144. The numerous tesserae from the shrine of Aesculapius and Hygeia on the Tiber Island
fulfil all these conditions; Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae, 2-3, 99.
145. Hers is the most common name on all tokens; Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae, 97;
Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Römer, 246; and designates the goddess as "Spenderin
von materiellen G tern" (distributor of material goods); Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae,
146. Seneca, Epistulae I, 74, 6: "ad haec, quae a fortuna sparguntur, sinum expandit et
sollicitus missilia exspectat" (opens his arms for what is scattered by fortune and waits
anxiously for her gifts).
147. Cf. lexica; Mommsen, "Das römische Gastrecht und die römische Clientel," 340-41; K.
Regling, "Tessera," in RE 2:5:851-54.
148. Pausanias, Description of Greece VII, 25, 6; II, 20, 3 (where Tyche corresponds to the
Italian Fortuna).
149. The classic treatment of this is by Mommsen, "Das römische Gastrecht und die
römische Clientel," 339-42, and Theodor Mommsen, "Das römische Gastrecht," in Römische
Forschungen, 2 vols. (Berlin: Weidmann, 1864), 1:338-43. The need for such tickets argues
their origin in public rather than in the intimate private cult 150. Cf. Regling, "Tessera," in
RE 2:5:851-54; Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae, 1; Marquardt, Römische
Staatsverwaltung, 2:128: the incisi (those whose names are inscribed) possess "ein für
allemal eine tessera" (a permanent tessera) to match their names in the list. Cf. Livy, VIII,
20, 8, and Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Römer, 131, on the great tessera of the state.
151. Deimel, Sumerische Grammatik, 73, 77-78 (dated New Year), 86-87, 210, 224.
152. Throughout the Middle East it was the custom for everyone coming to the king's feast at
the New Year to contribute an arrow; Carnoy, Iranian Mythology, 306-8. These were the
baresmen used by the king in divination as he sat "on a golden throne, on a golden cushion,
on a golden carpet . . . with hands overflowing" (ibid., 299-300), as appears from comparison
with the Tartar custom described by Joinville, Histoire de St. Louis (Paris: Foucault, 1824),
475-78. For the Scythian version cf. Herodotus, History IV, 81; for the Caucasus, William E.
D. Allen, A History of the Georgian People (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1932),
331. The use of lucky arrows in determining portions at feasts is frequently mentioned in
Arabic sources, e.g., Qur'an 2:216; Mucallaqat, 2, 104. The same association of arrow-token
(or seal) and feast is apparent in very early Babylonia, where seals seem to have originated
as arrows or reeds (William H. Ward, The Seal Cylinders of Western Asia [Washington,
D.C.: Carnegie Institute, 1910], 5), the earliest of these being devoted to New Year's banquet
themes. According to Frankfort, "Gods and Myths on Sargonid Seals," 7, 6, their "designs of
good omen," which reflect "the Babylonian New Year festival . . . antedate by 2,000 years
the texts upon which we must draw." The favorite subjects of the very earliest seals are
banquet and hunting scenes; Leon Legrain, Archaic Seal Impressions (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1936), 4. The arrow appears as a device for carrying a message between
this world and the world above in much folklore, e.g., Herodotus, History V, 105. See "The
Arrow, the Hunter, and the State," pages 1-32 in this volume.
153."Marks were cut on pieces of wood, . . . and each person had his mark. Sometimes the
places at feasts were assigned by lot; . . . images of some of the gods were sometimes marked
on the lots"; Paul B. Du Chaillu, The Viking Age, 2 vols. (New York: Scribner, 1890),
1:350. Runes and ogam characters take their form from being cut on such pieces of wood
(John Rhys, Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion as Illustrated by Celtic
Heathendom [London: Williams and Norgate, 1898], 268), just as Babylonian characters
appear on seals "long before we meet any instance of writing on clay tablets"; Legrain,
Archaic Seal Impressions, 4. Such marks exactly resemble the Hausmarken, or private seals,
derived anciently from some southern European alphabet "most like the North-Etruscan,"
according to Gustav Neckel, "Die Runen," Acta Philologica Scandinavica 12 (1937-38):
114-15; cf. 112-13.
154. For admission to the primitive Greek feasts the poor would present a section of reed or
a laurel leaf; Athenaeus, Deipnosophists IV, 140, 141E. The leaf would be given back to the
holder with a paste of oil and barley on it, both laurel (ibid., IV, 140C) and reed serving as
cheap and convenient containers; Campbell Bonner, "Notes on the Use of the Reed, with
Special Reference to Some Doubtful Passages," Transactions and Proceedings of the
American Philological Society 39 (1908): 35-48. The laurel leaf here has a token value, for
one could pay certain fines either with a cake (kamma) or with a laurel leaf (kammatis);
Athenaeus, Deipnosophists IV, 141A. The leaf was put to the same use by the early Romans,
who would cook their New-Year and birthday cakes on them and call them panes laureati;
Cato, De Agri Cultura 75-76 and 121. In the East the strena takes the alternative form of
sections of reed under the Empire; Malalas, Chronographia, in PG 97:481-84; Chronicon
Paschale, in PG 92:641. An unexplained passage from Wilhelm Henzen, ed., Acta Fratrum
Arvalium Quae Supersunt (Berlin: Reimer, 1874), 26, seems to imply that there was a
scramble in the giving out of the panes laureati: "et panes laureat(os) per public(os) partiti
sunt; ibi omn(es) lumemulia cum rapinis acceperunt" (they distributed the panes laureati
among the crowd; everyone got the lumemulia there in wild scrambles). Since the meaning
of lumemulia is entirely unknown (ibid., 32), may not the rapinae refer to rixae of the
distributions rather than to "beets"?
155. Wensinck, "Semitic New Year and the Origin of Eschatology," 172 and passim, citing
especially Ephraim Syrus, Hymn II, 2; VI, 13. The heavenly Book of Life is matched by like
tablets kept in the underworld; Aeschylus, Eumenides 273-75. The worst of all penalties is to
be blotted out from the Book of Life, to be "cut off from among the people," and so forth.
156. Blumenthal, "Ludi Saeculares," 231-32; cf. Herodian, Histories III, 8, 10.
157. The Golden Tablets of the Orphic mysteries as "passports to the other world" (Rohde,
Psyche, 249-50 [vii, 21]) resemble the coins or cakes with which the dead were expected to
pay their admission to the banquets of the beyond, thus assuring their non-return; Paul
Sartori, "Die Totenmünze," Archiv für Religionswissenschaft 2 (1899): 210, 213. A dos or
sportula had to be presented by all seeking entrance to the feasts of the various collegia and
mysteries; Dölger, "Die Münze im Taufbecken," in Antike und Christentum 3:9-12;
Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Römer, 407.
158. The Phyllobolia was one of the formal steps of initiation into the mysteries; references
in Eitrem, Opferritus und Voropfer, 279. In the famous picture of the heavenly banquet of
Vibia, depicting certain mysteries (Rostovzeff, Mystic Italy, 145-46; cf. Johannes Leipoldt,
Die Religionen der Umwelt des Urchristentums [Leipzig: Deichert, 1926], no. 166), two
youths are seen in the foreground on a flowering field; one of them scatters small objects
which the other gathers up and puts in his mouth; Raffaele Garruci, Storia dell'arte cristiana
nei primi otto secoli della Chiesa, 6 vols. (Prato: Giachetti, 1880), 6, pl. 494; Henri Leclerq,
"Agape," in Cabrol and Leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie,
1:839-40, fig. 186. Cf. Aischrion, I, 43, in Poetae Lyrici Graeci, ed. Theodorus Bregk
(Leipzig: Teubner, 1882), 2:517: "kai theon (broma) agrostin heures, hen Kronos
katespeiren" (you have found dog's-tooth grass, the food of the gods, which Kronos scattered
about); and Carnoy, Iranian Mythology, 308: "And there shalt thou place the meadow where
unceasingly the golden-colored, where unceasingly the invincible food is eaten." The feast
on the grass with its miraculous abundance occurs in Herodotus, History I, 126; Matthew
14:19; and Mark 6:39; and in the archaic Roman year-feasts; Ovid, Fasti III, 532-40; this
Anna Perenna, the year-goddess, is identical with Ceres; Altheim, Terra Mater, 93; Henzen,
Acta Fratrum Arvalium, 26: "in cespite . . . sacr(um) fecer(unt)" (they held the banquet . . .
on the grass).
159. A remarkable parallel is the Indian Asvamedha feast, at the end of which the king gave
to each priestly guest a piece of gold of 100 grains, "because the life of man is 100 years"
(Dumont, L'Asvamedha, iii, 15-16; cf. v; 249). Just so, after the Arval banquet each of the
brethren received a sportula of gold coin, which is always specified as 100 denarii (Henzen,
Acta Fratrum Arvalium, 13, 16-17, 26-27, 45-46); though it is not stated that this is for one
hundred years, such was in fact the secular life-span, and the coin was exchanged for the
wish, "augeat t(ibi) I(uppiter) a(nnos)" (may Jupiter increase your years); ibid., 45-46; cf.
Wissowa, "Arvales Fratres," in RE 2:1475.
160. P. Nigidius Figulus, frg. 99; Scholia ad Germanicum (ed. Maas), 85, 154.
161. Apollodorus III, 4, 1; Euripides, Madness of Heracles 4-7; Hyginus, Fabulae 178; Ovid,
Metamorphosis III, 101-30; cf. Thompson, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, A1245. On
Spartoi from speirein, cf. Türk, "Spartoi," in RE 2:3:1538-40.
162. Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Römer, 261-62.
163. Marquardt, Römische Staatsverwaltung, 2:130.
164. The seal was a contract between god and man as it was between men; Otto Weber,
Altorientalische Siegelbilder (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1920), 1, 5. It was "the emblem of the
Creator God, as a symbol and guarantee of his assistance," W. M. Flinders Petrie, Scarabs
and Cylinders with Names (London: University of London, 1917), 3-4; also "a peculium of
their owner," that had "a protective virtue . . . [and] may have conveyed a sense of divine
companionship," Arthur J. Evans, The Palace of Minos at Knossos, 4 vols. (London:
Macmillan, 1935), 3:144. On the tessera as contract, see above, n. 149.
165. Such were the song of the Sicilian bukoliasts (Nilsson, Geschichte der griechischen
Religion, 1:118), the Eiresione song (ibid., 1:114), and the typical "quête" song in
Aristophanes, The Birds 723-36. Latin equivalents of these are the laudes pueriles, a
collection of which may be found in Leclerq, "Laudes Pueriles," in Cabrol and Leclercq,
Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, 8:1910-16, and the panegyrics, collected
in Henri Leclerq, "Panégyrique," in ibid., 13:1016-45. The activities of these youthful New
Year's choruses closely resemble those of the Arval and Salian brethren; cf. Robert S.
Conway, Ancient Italy and Modern Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1933), 2-10. When a sparsio is given at a private party, the guests spring to their feet and
recite an acclamatio to the Emperor; Petronius, Satyricon 60.
166. This appears in a very ancient form of marriage contract, wherein one party catches the
gold or silver thrown by the other; Poetae Lyrici Graeci 2:299 (epigrams 2-3), also in Elegy
and Iambus with the Anacreontea, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968),
2:6-7 (epigrams 7-8); Herodotus, History I, 199; Thompson, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature,
H316, where both throwing and catching serve to establish a contract. If the gifts thrown into
the abyss at the New Year disappeared, it was believed that the god had accepted the
contract; if not, it was taken as a bad sign; Pausanias, Description of Greece III, 23, 9.
167. Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae, 41. Many of these acclamations are collected by
Ferrarius in Graevius, Thesaurus Antiquitatem Romanorum, 6:104-15, 123-36, 150-83,
199-230; and Leclerq, "Laudes Pueriles," in Cabrol and Leclerq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie
chrétienne et de liturgie, 8:1910-16. The hundreds of acclamationes almost without
exception (1) hail the donor as worthy and victorious, and (2) wish him multos annos (many
168. The principle of substitution is here in full force. The common resemblance of tesserae
to coins is explained by the substitution of coins and dice alike for those primitive astragals
of which Neolithic Italy has yielded a great harvest, but which disappear completely in
historic times to survive in altered form both as coins and as dice; Ehrenberg, "Losung," in
RE 13:1485; Hugo Blümner, Die römischen Privataltertümer (Munich: Beck, 1911), 412, n.
12. The Lydians, who are traditionally said to have invented money, also invented lots and
games of chance, and that in an attempt to solve the food-distribution problem; Herodotus,
History I, 94. Since writing possibly began with seals, it is significant that Cadmus, who
begot the race by sowing tokens, is also credited with the invention of written symbols.
Diogenes recommended the universal use of dice as money; Athenaeus, Deipnosophists IV,
159; and indeed gilt astragals marked like dice still serve as money in the most civilized
parts of the East Indies. Blmner, Römischen Privataltertümer, 415, finds that the Romans
never diced except for money, so that the coin was part of the game. While coins may have
originated from seals (Arthur R. Burns, Money and Monetary Policy in Early Times [New
York: Kelley, 1927], 37), dice and seals are also confused and identified in archaic times;
Fritz Hommel, Ethnologie und Geographie des alten Orients (Munich: Beck, 1926), 48-49
(Hittite), 66 (Etruscan).
169. A large class of bronze and the whole class of bone tesserae are tesserae lusoriae;
Regling, "Tessera," in RE 2:5:851-54.
170. Regling, "Spintria," in RE 2:3:1814, and Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae, 56-57.
171. Horace, Carmen Saeculare I, 4, 14; II, 7, 25-26; Mau, "Astragalos," in RE 2:1795,
suggests that this is the reason for calling Venus basilikos; cf. Plautus, Curculio 357.
172. Tacitus, Annals XIII, 15; Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum V, 20, 5; Lucian, Saturnalia 2-4,
and 9; Seneca, Apocolocyntosis 8. The Roman emperor learned the fortune of his rule by
dicing at the New Year in the shrine of Fortuna at Praeneste (Suetonius, Domitian 15)
exactly as the Babylonian monarch would dice in the Chamber of Destiny, or the kings of the
North would cast dice in the temple of Uppsala to win 300 years of life; Paul Herrmann,
Nordische Mythologie (Leipzig: Engelmann, 1903), 531. King, high-priest (Cicero, In
Verrem II, 2, 126), and scapegoat (Leviticus 16:8; Babylonian Talmud Yoma 63b; Helmold,
Chronicle of the Slavs I, 52, and so forth) were all chosen by lot.
173. Martial, Epigrams V, 84; XI, 6; cf. Suetonius, Augustus 71.
174. E.g., Rostovzeff, Römische Bleitesserae, 59; Regling, "Spintria," in RE 2:3:1814. Far
from being a late invention, just such "obscöne Bleispiegel und Bleiplaketten" (obscene lead
mirrors and lead plaques) were found in the temple of Ishtar at Assur (Meissner, Babylonien
und Assyrien, 2:438), and refer no doubt to that system of ritual prostitution for which
Herodotus, History I, 196, actually finds parallels in Italy; cf. Joshua Whatmough, The
Foundations of Roman Italy (London: Methuen, 1937), 173.
175. Best known in its Celtic versions; cf. Henry d'Arbois de Jubainville, The Irish
Mythological Cycle and Celtic Mythology, tr. Richard I. Best (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis,
1903), 178-82. A very old version of the story is the Setna legend, dating at least from the
Twelfth Dynasty in Egypt, Max Pieper, Ägyptische Literatur (Potsdam: Athenaion, 1927),
93-94; Gaston Maspero, Les contes populaires de l'Égypte ancienne, 3d ed. (Paris: Guilmoto,
1906), 100-101. Pieper identifies it with the Rhampsinitus cycle; Herodotus, History I,
121-26, with its remarkable dicing episode, ibid., I, 122, and its tesserae lasciviae, ibid., I,
176. Macrobius, Saturnalia I, 10, 12-14; Tertullian, Ad Nationes II, 10; Augustine, De
Civitate Dei (The City of God) VI, 7, 2, in PL 41:184-85; Plutarch, Quaestiones Romanae
no. 35; Plutarch, Romulus 4-5. Acca divided up all her property among the Roman people, as
did her mate at the Ara Maxima, and they celebrated her bounty in a midwinter feast at her
tomb; Gellius, Attic Nights VII, 7, 7, citing Cato; cf. Macrobius, Saturnalia I, 10, 16; Varro,
De Lingua Latina VI, 23-24; Plutarch, Romulus 4-5; Plutarch, Quaestiones Romanae no. 34.
From Herodotus, History II, 121-22, it is plain that the lady of the Setna cycle, whom
Herodotus calls Demeter, is none other than Acca's indigitamentum, Ceres.
177. Aristophanes, Ecclesiazusae 687-88, 834-37. Tyche, like Fortuna, was a dicing
goddess, and as such, like Acca, the companion of Hercules; Pausanias, Description of
Greece II, 20, 3.
Notes to Chapter 5
1."We are facing an utterly new problem in American life. . . . Others believe that some or all
`loyalty measures' taken to safeguard the nation in the cold war reveal ignorance of the
lessons of history and violate fundamental democratic principles." Thus Morris Ernst,
Loyalty in a Democratic State, ed. John C. Wahlke (Boston: Heath, 1952), vi. Cf. Public
Affairs Pamphlet No. 179 (Ithaca: Cornell University, 1952), 1-6. H. Westmann, "On
Conflicts of Loyalties," Question 5 (Winter 1952): 5-15; C. R. Nixon, "Freedom vs. Unity: A
Problem in the Theory of Civil Liberty," Political Science Quarterly 68 (March 1953): 88.
2. András Alföldi, A Conflict of Ideas in the Late Roman Empire, the Clash between the
Senate and Valentinian, tr. Harold Mattingly (Oxford: Clarendon, 1952), 40. Cf. below, n. 6.
3. Johannes Straub, "Christliche Geschichtsapologetik in der Krisis des römischen Reiches,"
Historia 1 (1950): 52, citing Johann Burckhardt, goes so far as to call it a crisis unique in
history; cf. Johannes Straub, "Parens Principum," Nouvelle Clio 3-4 (1952): 94.
4. R. M. Henry, "Pietas and Fides in Catullus," Hermathena 75 (1950): 63, and 76 (1951):
5."Carere patria intolerabile est. Aspice agedum hanc frequentiam, cui vix urbis immensae
tecta sufficiunt . . . ex toto denique orbe terrarum confluxerunt" (Being without a country is
unbearable. Look at this crowd, for whom the roofs of this vast city is scarcely enough. . . .
They have gathered from every part of the world), Seneca, Ad Helviam Matrem De
Consolatione XII. Cf. Cicero, Oratio Pro L. Cornelio Balbo IX, 24 ("libertas id est civitas");
Claudius Rutilius Namatianus, De Reditu Suo I, 66 ("urbem fecisti, quod prius orbis erat"),
and so forth. The philosophers of the time "addressed themselves to a world of dracins. They
preached . . . salvation in `society' regarded as distinct from and independent of political
forms." Thus Charles N. Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture (Oxford: Clarendon,
1944), 31.
6. To the previously mentioned works of Alföldi, Straub, and Cochrane (especially
Cochrane's second chapter "Romanitas"), add András Alföldi, The Conversion of
Constantine and Pagan Rome (Oxford: Clarendon, 1948); Joseph Vogt, Constantin der
Grosse und sein Jahrhundert (Munich: Münchner, 1949); Walther Eltester, "Die Krisis der
alten Welt und das Christentum," Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 42
(1949): 1-19; Andr Piganiol, "L'Etat actuel de la question constantinienne 1939-49," Historia
1 (1950): 82-96; Aldo Marsili, "Roma nella poesia di Claudiano. Romanit occidentale
contrapposta a quella orientale," Antiquitas 1 (1946): 3-24, and other studies cited in the
course of this paper. For a complete survey of the field and a demonstration of the great
increase of interest in it, K. F. Stroheker, "Das konstantinische Jahrhundert im Lichte der
Neuerscheinungen 1940-51," Saeculum 3 (1952): 654-80.
7. Vogt, Constantin der Grosse und sein Jahrhundert, 12-15; Aelius Aristides, Orationes, ed.
Wilhelm Dindorf (Leipzig: Weidmann, 1829), 14:206-8 (360-62); 225-27 (393-95);
Prudentius, Contra Orationem Symmachi II, 578-633; Claudius Rutilius Namatianus, De
Reditu Suo I, 47-66: "fecisti patriam diversis gentibus unam" (you have created a single
country for many diverse peoples).
8. Vogt, Constantin der Grosse und sein Jahrhundert, 16.
9. See below, nn. 69-73; P. Chavanne, "Le patriotisme de Prudence," Revue d'histoire et de
litterature religieuses 4 (1899): 333-34, 412-13; Cassiodorus, Variae I, 21. Gustave Bardy,
L'Église et les derniers Romains (Paris: Laffont, 1948), 48.
10. Vogt, Constantin der Grosse und sein Jahrhundert, 13; Marsili, "Roma nella poesia di
Claudiano," 17-18, 23.
11. Hugh Nibley, "The Hierocentric State," Western Political Quarterly 4 (1951): 244-47;
reprinted in this volume, pages 123-26.
12. Vogt, Constantin der Grosse und sein Jahrhundert, 19-20; Priscus Rhetor, De
Legationibus Romanorum ad Gentes 3, in PG 113:736; Jordanes, Historia Getica Getarum
(Gothic History) 36; Claudius Claudianus, Bellum Geticum (The Gothic War) 364-79;
Horace, Carmen Saeculare I, 12 and 53-60.
13. Priscus Rhetor, De Legationibus Romanorum ad Gentes 3, in PG 113:726-29.
14. Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 2 vols. (New York: Modern
Library, 1932), 2:256
15. Agathias, History II, 29-30, in PG 88:1393-95.
16. Procopius, Anecdota XXV, 25.
17. Salvianus, De Gubernatione Dei (On the Government of God) V, 3-11, in PL 53:96-97.
The same sort of thing was going on 200 years earlier; Michael Rostovzeff, The Social and
Economic History of the Roman Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, 1926),
18. Priscus Rhetor, De Legationibus Romanorum ad Gentes 1 and 3, in PG 113:704-5, 708,
716, where each side accuses the other of retaining its subjects, while denying the charge
against itself. The Romans were constantly demanding the return of "deserters" who chose to
live among the barbarians; E. A. Thompson, "Peasant Revolts in Late Roman Gaul and
Spain," Past and Present 2 (November 1952): 15-18. Thompson cites a number of texts,
including the fifth-century comedy Querolus, illustrating the degree to which the Romans
idealized the free and simple barbarian way of life.
19. Henri Grgroire, "La `conversion' de Constantin," Revue de l'Université de Bruxelles 36
(1930-31): 231-34; and Grégoire Cassimatis, "La Dixième `Vexation' de l'Empereur
Nicéphore," Byzantion 7 (1932): 152-54, has spread consternation among the learned by
showing how historians have confused and even reversed the roles of the great protagonists.
20. Eusebius, Vita Constantini (Life of Constantine) II, 4-6, in PG 20:981-93.
21. Ibid. I, 28-31; II, 6, in PG 20:944-45, 985. By an interesting coincidence, just such a
heavenly manifestation is attributed to Cyrus, the archetype of the divine king, Xenophon,
Cyropaedia IV, 2 and 15.
22. Agathias, History IV, 29, in PG 88:1532.
23. Hilary, Ad Constantium Augustum (To Constantius Augustus) II, 5, in PL 10:566-67.
24. Ludwig Friedländer, Darstellungen aus der Sittengeschichte Roms, 4 vols., 8th ed.
(Leipzig: Hirzel, 1910), 2:338-39.
25."Eine Audienz bei Chosrau mit Vela, strenger Rangordnung der Dignitäre, dem
Silentiumsruf des Zeremonienmeisters unterscheidet sich in nichts von der strengen Etikette
eines byzantinischen Silention" (an audience at Chosrau's court with veils, with a strict
ordering of dignitaries, with a silentium called out by the master of ceremonies cannot be
distinguished from the strict court etiquette of the Byzantine silention); A. M. Schneider,
"Das byzantinische Zeremoniell und der alte Orient," Jahrbuch für kleinasiatische Forschung
2 (1952): 163. The Roman emperors were forced to adopt this ritual in the Prestigekampf
(struggle for prestige) with the East, according to András Alföldi, "Die Geschichte des
Throntabernakels," Nouvelle Clio 2 (1950): 541.
26. George of Pisidia, De Expeditione Persica II, 240-51, in PG 92:1226-27: "He [the
General of Error] occupies himself with musical instruments, cymbals, impious din of song,
dances of indecent women in lustful nudity. While thou, our General of Wise Panoply, dost
take thy pleasure in Psalms played upon mystic instruments, a godly singing rejoiceth thy
heart as thou holdest solemn sport with virgins. . . . He puts his hope in the moon, but suffers
violent eclipse seeking to eclipse thy sun." On the exact resemblance of Christ and
Antichrist, Romanus, De Judicio Extremo 8-10, in Jean B. Pitra, Analecta Sacra Spicilegio
Solesmensi Parata (Paris: Tusculan, 1876), 1:38-39. The antagonist is the perfect image of
the hero, but wickedly inverted, as in a mirror: Eusebius, Life of Constantine II, 4, in PG
20:981; Julius Firmicus Maternus, De Errore Profanorum Religionum (The Error of the
Pagan Religions) 23, in PL 12:1032-33; Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis XV de Secundo
Christi Adventu (Instruction XV about the Second Coming of Christ) 12, in PG 33:885,
1639. Naturally the painful resemblance of the adversary to the hero was attributed to a
clever act of forgery by the demons.
27. Thus when Attila came upon a heroic painting in Milan depicting himself at the feet of
the Roman emperor, he simply transposed the figures of the two leaders -- the rest was as it
should be, the clash being not between "ideologies" but personalities pure and simple,
Suidas, cited by Gibbon, Decline and Fall, 2:289, n. 53.
28. This is fully illustrated by the references given, under the heading of barbarus and related
words, in any large Greek or Latin lexicon.
29. Thus J. B. Bury, A History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great (London:
Macmillan, 1913), 230, who sees in the Persian War "the first encounter in that still unclosed
30. Eduard Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums, 4 vols. (Jena: Diederich, 1928), 4:222-23,
277-316, 315-16, 340-75.
31. Ibid., 4:342.
32. Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture, 65-72.
33. Vogt, Constantin der Grosse und sein Jahrhundert, 59; Cochrane, Christianity and
Classical Culture, 188-89, sees in these titles an Oriental borrowing inseparable from the
"diadem and jewelled robes instituted by his [Constantine's] immediate predecessors."
34. Catullus beautifully illustrates both these points; cf. Henry, "Pietas and Fides in
Catullus," 63-68.
35. E.g., Prudentius, Contra Orationem Symmachi II, 488-91 and 503-23; Marsili, "Roma
nella poesia di Claudiano," 11-13.
36. Salvianus, On the Government of God VII, 2-3, in PL 53:130-32; V, 2-4, in PL 53:91-96.
This reflects the traditional belief that "it is natural for Greeks to rule over Barbarians,"
Euripides, Iphigeneia in Aulis 1400, and that "among Barbarians no distinction is made
between women and slaves," Aristotle, Politics 1252B. The unquestioned acceptance of
Roman Goodness remained part of the permanent heritage of the West, Nancy Lenkeith,
Dante and the Legend of Rome (London: Brill, 1952), 17.
37. On government patronage and control of literary education, Heathcote W. Garrod, The
Oxford Book of Latin Verse (Oxford: Clarendon, 1944), xxvi-xxxvii (introduction).
38. Rostovzeff, Social and Economic History, 458, 123-24, 201, 414; Vogt, Constantin der
Grosse und sein Jahrhundert, 19-21; F. Vittinghoff, "Zur angeblichen Barbarisierung des
römischen Heeres . . . , "Historia 1 (1950): 389-407; Zosimus, Historia Nova II, 34.
39. The embassy was almost wrecked when the report reached Attila that one of the Romans
had said at dinner that his master was a god while Attila was only a mortal; the remark nearly
produced a riot.
40. Synesius, Oratio de Regno 15, in PG 66:1093.
41. Ibid., in PG 66:1096-97.
42. Ibid., in PG 66:1132, 1096-97.
43. On imperial foreign policy during Justinian's reign, see Charles Diehl and Georges
Marais, Le monde oriental 395 1081 (Paris: Presses universitaires, 1936), 79-81.
44. Ibid., 71-72, 79; Jordanes, Gothic History 38.
45. Sulpicius Severus, Chronicon Historia Sacra II, 3, in PL 20:130: "exercitibusque nostris,
urbibus atque provinciis permistas barbaras nationes . . . inter nos degere, nec tamen in
mores nostros transire, videamus."
46. Victor Vitensis, De Persecutione Vandalica 5, in PL 58:255b.
47. Lenkeith, Dante and the Legend of Rome, 4.
48. Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Administrando Imperio (On the Administration of the
Empire) 13, in PG 113:184-85.
49. Cf. the hysterical security rules of Valens, given in Ammianus Marcellinus XXX, 1, and
discussed by Gibbon, Decline and Fall, 1:856-58, nn. 53-59.
50. Describing the siege of Ancona by the Saracens, a Florentine monk writes: "Ignis hi
conficitur tantum per Paganos/ Ignis hic exterminat tantum Christianos/ Incantatus namque
est per illos prophanos/ Ab hoc perpetuo, Christe, libera nos." Cited in Charles Du Cange,
Glossarium ad Scriptores Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis, 3 vols. (Paris: Osmont, 1733-36),
51. For Cicero the solution of "the problem of leadership in a free state," was the existence
of a natural, unforced loyalty -- "concensus, concordia ordinum." Cochrane, Christianity and
Classical Culture, 58-59.
52. Rostovzeff, Social and Economic History, 449.
53. The essence of Romanitas is restoration, according to Cochrane, who notes of
Constantine's program: "Once more, as in the far-off days of Augustus Caesar, the Roman
world was stirred by a sense of fresh hopes and fresh beginnings," Cochrane, Christianity
and Classical Culture, 183. In his inscriptions Constantine claims to be restoring the Empire
"to its ancient splendor and glory," Eusebius, Life of Constantine I, 40, in PG 20:956.
Caelius Sedulius, Carmen Paschale, in PL 19:549-752, is simply a Christian elaboration of
the Carmen Saeculare that launched the Principate. Restoration is the normal theme of the
panegyrics: even Authulf in taking over Romania calls himself "Romanae restitutionis
auctor" (the father of the Roman restoration), Orosius, Historiae adversum Paganos (History
against the Pagans) VII, 43, in PL 31:1172.
54. For new light on the special terminology which demonstrated the "lealismo dei Cristiani"
(loyalty of the Christians) to the old majesty, see L. Alfonsi, "L'epistola I clementina, i papiri
magici, i ludi saeculari," Aegyptus 27 (1947): 111-14. Cf. Juvencus, De Laudibus Domini, in
PL 19:385; and Juvencus, Triumphus Christi Heroicus, in PL 19:385-88, for typical ties
between the old loyalty and the new.
55. Compare Julian's painted glory, Sozomen, Historia Ecclesiastica (Ecclesiastical History)
V, 17, in PG 67:1265-69, with Constantine's as described in the whole fourth book of
Eusebius, Life of Constantine, in PG 20:1115-229. Also Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis XIV
de Christi Resurrectione , in PG 33:841-44; F. Gerke, "Das Verhltnis von Malerei und
Plastik in d. Theodos.-Honorianischen Zeit," Rivista di Archaeologica Cristiana 12 (1935):
140: the new art of majestas was the result of a "politisch gewordenen christlichen
Weltanschauung" (politicized Christian world view). The super-ceremonial was no longer
mere form, but a "Wirklichkeit auf einer neuen und hheren Ebene des Seins" (reality on a
new and higher plane of being), according to Schneider, "Das byzantinische Zeremoniell und
der alte Orient," 154.
56. Elias Bickermann, "Die römische Kaiserapotheose," Archiv für Religionswissenschaft 27
(1929): 21, citing Vegetius, II, 5. Cf. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History X, 4 and 9, in PG
20:848-80, 901-6; Eusebius, De Laudibus Constantini 17, in PG 20:1429-32, 1357;
Eusebius, Life of Constantine II, 19 and 29, in PG 20:936-37, 1005-8. F. Cumont, "L' ternit
des empereurs romains," Revue d'histoire et de litterature religieuses 1 (1896): 435-52. The
New Order is greater and holier (timiotera) than heaven itself, according to John
Chrysostom, Expositio in Psalmum (Exposition on Psalm) 148, in PG 55:483.
57. Ammianus Marcellinus, XIV, 6, 3 and 6: "Virtue and Fortune have formed a pact of
eternal peace . . . the tranquility of Numa's time has returned." Eusebius, De Laudibus
Constantini 17, in PG 20:1429; Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History X, 4 and 9, in PG
20:848-80, 901-6; I, 3-4, in PG 20:68-80; IV, 7, in PG 20:316-21 (quoting panegyric
orations); Lactantius, De Justitia V, 6-7, in PL 6:569-74, 590-92; Epiphanius, Adversus
Haereses III, 2, 7, in PG 42:784-85, and III, 2, 2-3, in PG 42:776-77; Jerome, Commentarius
in Isaiam Prophetam (Commentary on Isaiah) 18:66, in PL 24:674, 885; John Chrysostom,
De Sancta Pentecoste Homilia (Homily on the Holy Pentecost) 1, in PG 50:454; John
Chrysostom, Contra Judaeos et Gentiles, quod Christus Sit Deus (Against the Jews and the
Gentiles That Christ Is God) 11-12, in PG 48:829-30; Ambrose, Epistolae (Epistles) 12, in
PL 16:987-90; Cyprian, Epistolae (Epistles) 7, in PL 5:246-51; and Cyprian, Liber de Lapsis
(On the Lapsed), in PL 4:479; Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis XVIII de Carnis Resurrectione
XII, 18, in PG 33:1049, and so forth.
58. The quotation is from Gibbon, Decline and Fall, 1:644, describing the legend of
Constantine's vision. The justice of its application in this instance may be seen from J. Gag,
"Stauros Nikopolos: La victoire imperiale dans l'empire chrétien," Revue d'histoire et de
philosophie religieuses 13 (1933): 370-400, on the steps by which conflicting "Mystiques
triomphales" were ultimately fused into a single whole in the Christian Imperial Cult. "The
Roman world, whether for the moment dazzled by the prestige of the imperial physician or,
perhaps because of its sickness ready for the most desperate expedient, appears to have
accepted his ministrations without much visible indication of the scepticism which they
deserved," thus Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture, 197.
59. Caecilius, Octavius IV-VIII.
60. Straub, "Christliche Geschichtsapologetik," 58-60, 76-77; Chavanne, "Patriotisme de
Prudence," 349, 385, 400, 412.
61. Orosius, History against the Pagans V, 2, in PL 31:921-22.
62. Prudentius, Contra Orationem Symmachi II, 816-17: "Sed tantum distant Romana et
barbara quantum/ Quadrupes abiuncta est bipedi vel muta loquenti." Cf. Ambrose, Epistolam
ad Romanos I, 14, in PL 17:57. For the Byzantine emperors "barbarian" is synonymous with
"pagan," and intermarriage with barbarians is a crime, Constantine Porphyrogenitus, On the
Administration of the Empire 13, in PG 113:185. A famous Byzantine formula states that
there are four mothers of heresy: Barbarism, Scythism, Judaism, and Hellenism; John
Damascus, De Haeresibus, in PG 94:677; Epiphanius, Anacephalaeosis, in PG 42:840-45,
849; Chronicon Paschale, in PG 92:112. A fourth-century wood carving from Egypt depicts
the "Vertreibung der Barbaren von der Feste des Glaubens," the Faith and Romania being
identical, Josef Strzygowski, Orient oder Rom: Beiträge zur Geschichte der spätantiken und
frühchristlichen Kunst (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1901), 81-84, table 3.
63. Lenkeith, Dante and the Legend of Rome, 25, citing the twelfth century Pseudo-Irnerius.
How Christianity actually deepened the gulf between Barbarian and Roman may be seen
from Origen, Commentaria in Epistolam Pauli ad Romanos (Commentary on the Epistle to
the Romans) I, 14, in PG 14:861; cf. Jerome, Commentarius in Epistolam ad Galatas
(Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians) 2:3, in PL 26:380.
64. Thus Tatian, Oratio adversus Graecos I, 27, 30, in PG 6:804-5, 865, 868; see especially
R. Massuetus, Dissertatio de Valentino, in PG 7:44-49; Clement of Alexandria, Stromata I,
15-17, in PG 8:776-802; Tertullian, De Anima (On the Soul) XILX, in PL 2:733-34;
Didymus Alexander, De Trinitate (On the Trinity) II, 18, in PG 39:729. Later writers
compared this Christian teaching with like teachings of the Greek Philosophers: Nicephorus
Callistus, Ecclesiastical History IV, 10, in PG 145:1000; Nicephorus Gregor, Byzantina
Historia VIII, 8, in PG 148:569; Theodoret, Graecarum Affectionum Curatio 5, in PG
65. Straub, "Christliche Geschichtsapologetik," 63-64; cf. Claudius Claudianus, Panegyric
on the Fourth Consulship of the Emperor Honorius 98-99; Marsili, "Roma nella poesia di
Claudiano," 15; Lenkeith, Dante and the Legend of Rome, 18: "If Rome were destroyed the
physical basis of the legitimacy of both Popes and emperors would be lost together."
66. Alföldi, Conversion of Constantine and Pagan Rome, 117; cf. 106, 110, 112, 115-16.
The fusion of Church and Empire is not without its modern panegyrists, e.g., A. Causse,
"Essai sur le conflit du chistianisme primitif et de la civilization," RHR 78 (1918): 98-142,
and 79 (1919): 175-223.
67. Walter Völker, "Von welchen Tendenzen liess sich Eusebius . . . leiten?" Vigiliae
Christianae 4 (1950): 157-80. Roman secular history was also rewritten to prove that the
Romans had from the first been God's people; Lenkeith, Dante and the Legend of Rome, 9.
68. Eusebius, De Laudibus Constantini 16, in PG 20:1421-29; cf. Prudentius, Contra
Symmachum II, 578-95 and 634-40.
69. Lactantius, De Ira Dei 11, in PL 7:110.
70. Aristides, Oration 14 (To Rome), ed. Dindorf, 200 (349), boasts that Rome has achieved
what Asia has always attempted to, the rule of one man over all the world; in Rome the
Asiatic ideal is realized, ibid., 205 (359), 222 (389). "There are not two suns in the heavens;
how can the people have two lords?" asks Ghenghis Khan, Friedrich E. Krause, Cingis Han:
Die Geschichte seines Lebens nach den chinesischen Reichsannalen (Heidelberg: Winter,
1922), 25. Bayazid's official pronouncement reads exactly like an excerpt from the
Theodosian Code: "The Koran says, `Disquiet is worse than death,' the Sultan, the shadow of
God upon earth, and the Lord of all true believers, ought to reign in conformity with the
ever-to-be-imitated example of God, alone upon the throne, and without possibility of
anyone revolting against him." Edwin S. Creasy, History of the Ottoman Turks, 2 vols.
(London: Bentley, 1854-56), 1:50-51. Typically Asiatic is Basil's panegyric to the Pope of
Alexandria, who shall trample his enemies under his feet: Basil, Liturgia Alexandrina, in PG
31:1632. Though Constantine "rejected the pretentions of the Oriental sacred monarchy,"
according to Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture, 179, he retained and strengthened
all that the West had learned from it; ibid., 186, 188-89. The Church Fathers of the age
remind us at times that all the pomp of this earth is mere empty show, "a game for children,"
a brief masquerade, and so forth, e.g., Eusebius, De Laudibus Constantini V, 6, in PG
20:1316-20, 1337-40; John Chrysostom, In Epistolam II ad Corinthios Homilia (Homily on
the Second Epistle to the Corinthians) 15, in PG 61:508-9; but these are the commonplaces
of the schools, in striking contrast to Hilary's frank and sorrowful admission that the Church
"diligi se gloriatur a mundo, quae Christi esse non potuit, nisi eam mundus odisset" (boasts
of being loved by the world, which could not be Christ's urch], unless the world hated it),
Hilary, Contra Arianos (Against the Arians) 4, in PL 10:611.
71. For Claudius Claudianus, The Gothic War, passim, all who deny humble submission to
Rome are faithless destroyers of peace, mad, demented, feeble-minded, insane, praedones,
proditores, scellerati, presuntuosi, superbi, barbari, clienti, audacii falsi inerti, impii, rabiosi,
perfidi, and so forth, see Marsili, "Roma nella poesia di Claudiano," 17-18.
72. Hilary, Against the Emperor Constantius 15, in PL 10:593, 586, 602-3; cf. Hilary, Contra
Arianos, in PL 10:609-10: peace is the greatest of blessings, but whoever accepts any peace
but ours is the Antichrist.
73. Lucifer of Caliaris, De Non Conveniendo cum Haeresibus, in PL 13:774, 786-87,
790-91, 806; Hilary, Against the Emperor Constantius 15, in PL 10:598-99, 583.
74. Hilary, Against the Emperor Constantius 8, in PL 10:584-85.
75. Lucifer of Caliaris, De Non Conveniendo cum Haeresibus, in PL 13:806.
76. Thus Optatus, De Schismate Donatistarum (On the Donatist Schism) II, 13, in PL
11:966, can show that "the true Church cannot be cruel," since "dum sanat, vulnerat" (it
causes pain while healing), ibid., in PL 11:1020. Those whom we kill are not martyrs, since
only members of our church can be martyrs, ibid., in PL 11:1013-15, 1019; our side cannot
persecute, since we are in the right, while anything that displeases us is necessarily
persecution, ibid, in PL 11:1013, 1017; since we have the Scriptures written in our hearts, all
Scripture we cite condemns you, while any you may cite against us is void, ibid., in PL
11:1101. Pacianus, Epistolae (Epistles) II, 5, in PL 13:1061-62, assures the Novatians that
his side does not persecute, since it attacks only with words: "We deal with you like doves,
ore potius quam dente confligimus." Yet Optatus tells the opposition that when they attack
with words only they cut more cruelly than any swords, "slaying with the sword of the
tongue," Optatus, On the Donatist Schism II, 13, in PL 11:979, 983. Augustine, Contra
Donatistas (Against the Donatists) II, 11, says that persecution by the Church is "the
persecution of love," and that as long as the Emperor persecutes on the right side he does
well, Augustine, Epistolae (Epistles) 43, in PL 33:321-23.
77. Lucifer of Caliaris, De Non Conveniendo cum Haeresibus, in PL 13:768-70, 774, 777,
787, 791. True, Lucifer is extreme, but Athanasius, Ad Luciferum Epistolae 2, in PL
13:1040-41, who calls him the most inspired voice of the age, is himself no less severe:
"Christus recusat et respuit obsequium tuum" (Christ rejects and disdains your compliance),
he writes to a too-tolerant emperor, Athanasius, Epistolae (Epistles) XVII, in PL 16:1002-5.
78."The common-sense republicanism of Tiberius Caesar had prompted the sentiment
"deorum injuriae dis curae" (the gods' injuries are matters of concern to the gods).
Constantine, however, undertook to support the prestige of deity by a law which forbade
blasphemous utterances under pain of a fine of one-half one's goods." Cochrane, Christianity
and Classical Culture, 204.
79. John Chrysostom, Homilia in Joannem (Homily on John) LIV, 4, in PG 59:301; Hilary,
Against the Emperor Constantius II, 9, in PL 10:585: "unigenitus Deus, quem in me
persequeris" (the only begotten God, whom you persecute in me).
80. Augustine, Enarrationes in Psalmos (Narrations on Psalms) 62:15, in PL 36:684-85;
Augustine, De Civitate Dei (The City of God) XX, 19, 3, in PL 41:686. "How can we be
blessed unless we loathe you utterly?" is Lucifer's refrain, in Lucifer of Caliaris, De Non
Conveniendo cum Haeresibus, in PL 13:770-71.
81. Augustine, Contra Julianum Pelagianum (Against Julian Pelagius) IV, 30-31, in PL
44:753-54, 763: "Unbelievers do evil even when they do good." Cf. Augustine, Sermones
(Sermons) CXLI, 3-4, in PL 38:777; Augustine, Epistles 113, in PL 33:322; Augustine,
Narrations on Psalms 57:15, in PL 36:684-85. To call the emperor Antichrist when he is
mistaken "non est temeritas, sed fides; neque inconsideratio, sed ratio" (it is not rashness but
loyalty, not thoughtlessness but concern), and so forth, Hilary, De Non Conveniendo cum
Hereticis, in PL 13:806. When the Emperor puts his official severitas at the disposal of the
Church, "neither brother, beloved wife, nor son" should be spared, all loyal subjects being
armed "to dismember the sacrilegious," Julius Firmicus Maternus, The Error of Pagan
Religions 30, in PL 12:1048. Writers of the fourth century sometimes yield to principles of
humanity, "nec potest aut veritas cum vi, aut justitia cum crudelitate conjugi" (truth cannot
be joined with violence nor justice with cruelty), says Lactantius, Divinae Institutiones
(Divine Institutions) V, 20, in PL 6:615; yet Lucifer can twist this sentiment into a proof that
the Church, being true and just, is never cruel, see n. 76 above. Jerome must confess a
definite conflict between the justa judicia of the Church and her irrationabili (!) clementia,
Jerome, Epistolae (Epistle) 17, in PL 22:828, while Optatus pays a touching compliment to
kindness when he declares that the Donatists should suffer death because they lack charity!
Optatus, On the Donatist Schism III, 8, in PL 11:1018-19.
82. John Chrysostom, De Virginitate 5, in PG 48:536-37.
83. Alföldi, Conflict of Ideas in the Late Roman Empire, 40.
84. John Chrysostom, Exposition on Psalm 50, in PG 55:530; John Chrysostom, Homilia in
Isaiam 6:1 (Homily on Isaiah 6:1) IV, 1-2, in PG 56:121; cf. John Chrysostom, Homilia in
Matthaeum (Homily on Matthew) XXXIII, 1, in PG 57:389, and John Chrysostom, Contra
Judaeos et Gentiles, quod Christus Sit Deus 6 and 12-13, in PG 48:821, 830-31; Eusebius,
Ecclesiastical History X, 4, in PG 20:847-80; Zeno, Tractatus II, 44, in PL 11:496: "zizania .
. . in laeta frumenta mutavit" (he changed tares into useful grains).
85. Cedrenus Georgius, Historiarum Compendium, 2 vols. (Bonn: Weber, 1838-39), 1:662.
86. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto (On the Holy Ghost) 76-77, in PG 32:213-17. This agrees
perfectly with the description in John Chrysostom, Adversus Oppugnatores Vitae
Monasticae III, 8-10, in PG 47:361-65. The fourth-century fathers "cast aside truth and
decency [Anstand] and converted controversy into the business of questioning personal
loyalty," thus Martin Schanz, Geschichte der römischen Literatur, 4 vols. (Munich: Beck,
1914), 4:1:534.
87. Basil, On the Holy Ghost 76-77, in PG 32:213-17. According to Chrysostom, the spirit of
the times is well expressed in the common remark: "I wish an earthquake would come and
kill everybody but me; then I would be the richest man in Antioch!" John Chrysostom, In
Epistolam II ad Timotheum (Commentary on the Second Epistle to Timothy) VII, 1-2, in PG
88. Jakob C. Burckhardt, Die Zeit Konstantins des Grossen (Stuttgart: Deutsche
Verlags-Anstalt, 1929), 452. Optatus affirms that if chastity and virginity are found among
any barbarian nations it is because something has gone wrong, for that simply cannot be, in
Optatus, On the Donatist Schism III, 3, in PL 11:999.
89. Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History II, 28, in PG 67:1013-17. Later churchmen used
Constantine's example to spur his successors to acts of increasing violence against
unbelievers, P. Petit, "Libanius et la Vita Constantini," Historia 1 (1950): 581. In the
Theodosian Code XVI, 1, 2, all who differ from the Emperor's theology are declared
"extravagant madmen" who "must expect to suffer the severe penalties, which our authority .
. . shall think proper to inflict upon them," cited in Gibbon, Decline and Fall, 2:8.
Constantine shows an "obvious lack of any sense of the limitations of law," says Cochrane,
Christianity and Classical Culture, 204; "Ses conseillers l'ont fait vivre dans un monde
d'illusions" (his advisers let him live in a dream world), Piganiol, "L' tat actuel de la question
Constantinienne 1939-49," 95.
90. The Emperor's famous letter is quoted in Eusebius, Life of Constantine II, 71, in PG
20:1044-45; Socrates, Ecclesiastical History I, 7, in PG 67:53-60; Sozomen, Ecclesiastical
History I, 16, in PG 67:909-12.
91. Ambrose, Epistles 12, in PL 16:988-89. John Chrysostom, De Sancto Babyla, Contra
Julianum et Gentiles (On Saint Babyla, Against Julian and the Gentiles) 8, in PG 50:544,
says that the Church was better off under pagan emperors, because the members fought less
savagely among themselves.
92. Gerhard Ladner, "Das heilige Reich des mittelalterlichen Westens," Welt als Geschichte
11 (1951): 143-53, especially 149. See below, n. 146.
93. Thompson, "Peasant Revolts in Late Roman Gaul and Spain," 20.
94. John Morris, "Early Christian Orthodoxy," Past and Present 3 (February 1953): 12, cf.
14: "In 500 A.D. the new world was Christian; it was a very different Christianity. The
church . . . belonged to the world of the rulers, not of the ruled." Cf. Jean-Paul Brisson, "Les
Origines du danger social dans l'Afrique chrétienne du IIIe sicle," Recherches de science
religieuse 33 (1946): 280-316.
95. Henry, "Pietas and Fides in Catullus," 63.
96. Marsili, "Roma nella poesia di Claudiano," 23.
97. C. D. Gordon, Review of C. Wirszubski, "Libertas" as a Political Idea at Rome during
the Late Republic and Early Principate, in Phoenix 6 (1952): 28, where the quotation is
98. Ibid.
99. Alföldi, Conflict of Ideas in the Late Roman Empire, 37.
100. Gibbon, Decline and Fall, 91-193, comments caustically on this.
101. Diehl and Marais, Le monde oriental, 78-79.
102. Rostovzeff, Social and Economic History, 477. Gibbon, Decline and Fall, 2:142: "The
nobles of Rome express an exquisite sensibility for any personal injury, and a contemptuous
indifference for the rest of the human species."
103. Philostratus, Vita Apollonii (The Life of Apollonius of Tyana) I, 15; cf. Zonaras,
Annals XII, 10.
104. Plutarch, Marcus Cato 5, says the Athenians treat their mules better than Cato did his
faithful slaves, but the Roman nobility regularly followed his example, Zonaras, Annals XII,
10. Though Cato opposed the foreign excesses of the rich, Cochrane, Christianity and
Classical Culture, 30-32, the "villa-system" and foreign policy he advocated as well as his
own acquisitiveness all favored the tendencies he was combatting, ibid., 34-35, 45, 55.
105. Tacitus, Histories II, 61, blushes with shame that "a plebeian had the presumption to
mix his name with the great events of the time." The Historia Augusta reflects the violently
partisan spirit of the nobility in the fourth century, according to Alföldi, Conflict of Ideas in
the Late Roman Empire, 25. Its fierce prejudices are apparent in Plutarch, Coriolanus;
Ammianus Marcellinus, XXVII, 4; Livy, VII, 6-7; Appian, Roman History XII, 4; XI, 4;
Zonaras, Annals VII, 14, and so forth.
106. Vogt, Constantin der Grosse und sein Jahrhundert, 46.
107. They were genuinely shocked when their Scythian house-slaves (who had been
captured by trickery and enslaved in disregard of solemn promises) staged a rebellion in Asia
Minor -- treachery, they called it, base ingratitude! Eunapius, De Legationibus Romanorum
ad Gentus 6, in PG 113:657. The same thing is described centuries earlier by Appian, Roman
History XII, 4; XI, 4. "If it were not for the wealth possessed by the rich," they said, "the
poor would have no one to lend them money in time of famine and so starve to death!"
Zonaras, Annals VII, 14. They believed all things were created for them alone, Symmachus,
Epistolae (Epistles) II, 46; even life was given to other creatures as a means of preserving
their flesh until they were ready to eat or sell it, Varro, De Re Rustica (On Agriculture) II, 4
and 10; III, 3-6; including human flesh, ibid. II, 10; Seneca, Epistles I, 95; Philo, On
Abraham 20-21.
108."Ruere in servitium consules, patres, eques. Quanto quis inlustrior, tanto magis falsi ac
festinantes." (Consuls, senators, and knights were rushing into slavery. The more
distinguished the individual, the greater his hypocrisy and haste.) Tacitus, Annals I, 7, 1, cf.
35. The groveling and timidity of the Senate is a leitmotiv of Roman history: Polybius,
Histories X, 3; Cicero, Letters to His Friends VI, 1; Tacitus, Annals XIII, 32; Aelius
Lampridius, Heliogabalus 20; Aelius Lampridius, Commodus 18-20; Suetonius, Caius
Caligula 11; Dio, Roman History LIII, 20; LXXIII, 20; LXXVII, 8; LXXIX, 20.
109. Thompson, "Peasant Revolts in Late Roman Gaul and Spain," 12; Salvianus, On the
Government of God IV, 6, in PL 53:76-77; A. Hoepffner, "Un aspect de la lutte de
Valentinien Ie r contre le Snat: La cration du `Defensor plebis,' " Revue historique 182
(1938): 225-38.
110. P. de Jonge, "Scarcity of Corn and Cornprices in Ammianianus Marcellinus,"
Mnemosyne, Ser. 4, vol. 1 (1948): 238-45; on the complex speculations of the corn-dealers,
P. de Jonge, "A Curious Place in Ammianus Marcellinus Dealing with Scarcity of Corn and
Cornprices," Mnemosyne, Ser. 4, vol. 1 (1948): 73-80.
111."The world is turned upside down that a few men may be magnificent," Salvianus, On
the Government of God IV, 4, in PL 63:75; see Rostovzeff, Social and Economic History,
475-77, 451; Ambrose, De Officiis Ministrorum (On the Duties of the Clergy) III, 7, in PL
16:169; Basil, Homilia Dicta Tempore Famis et Siccitatis, in PG 31:304-9, 321, 324;
Cassiodorus, Variae II, 12; Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius of Tyana I, 15.
112. William E. Heitland, The Roman Republic, 3 vols. (Cambridge: University Press,
1909), 2:235-37, describes the growth of the system in which the owner "took little thought
of the horrors perpetrated with his sanction in the country side," and the only means of
protest was rebellion.
113. Cicero, De Officiis III, 22, 88.
114. Straub, "Parens Principum," 115; E. Nischer-Falkenhof, Stilicho (Vienna: Seidel,
1947), 149-52.
115. Thompson, "Peasant Revolts in Late Roman Gaul and Spain," 20; cf. 14-15.
116. Ibid., 19-20.
117. Walther von Wartburg, Les origines des peuples romans (Paris: Presses universitaires,
1941), 269; Ammianus Marcellinus, XXXI, 6; Sidonius, Epistolae (Epistles) II, 1, 3-4;
Orosius, History against the Pagans V, 9, 5; Joannes Malalas, Chronographia XVII, 420;
Appian, Roman History III, 1; I, 5; IV, 6, 43; Tacitus, Histories II, 51; II, 61; Zonaras,
Annales VII, 14. Heitland, Roman Republic, 2:379, notes that it was traditionally the
freemen rather than the slaves who ravaged the great estates.
118. Erwin Rohde, Der griechische Roman und seine Vorläufer (Leipzig: Breitkopf &
Härtel, 1900), 319.
119. Ibid., 316-17, 347; Schanz, Geschichte der römischen Literatur, 3:235.
120. Ammianus Marcellinus; the four yokes are orating Sophists, lawyers, legal advisers,
and hack-writers; cf. Philo, On Drunkenness 79. The good men were snowed under by the
fast-talkers, Dio Chrysostom, Discourses XXXII, 6-13; Lucian, Astrology, Rhetor Praecox
(A Professor of Public Speaking), and Nigrinus.
121. Aristotle, The "Art" of Rhetoric I, 1, 14; I, 2, 1; Dio Chrysostom, Discourses XXXV, 7.
122. Augustine, De Ordine II, 13, in PL 32:1013.
123. Plato, Phaedrus 267A; Clement of Alexandria, Stromata VIII, 376, in PG 9:753. It can
"exercise persuasive powers on any subject at all," says Aristotle, The "Art" of Rhetoric I, 2,
124. Aristotle, The "Art" of Rhetoric I, 2, 11-13.
125. Seneca, Controversiae IX, preface 1. "The beginning of rhetoric is the probable, the
process is epicherrema, and the end is persuasion . . . and admiration," Clement of
Alexandria, Stromata VIII, 376.
126. Philo, On Joseph XIII, 64; XIV, 67; cf. Dio Chrysostom, Discourses XLVII, 19.
127. Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana (On Christian Doctrine) IV, 6; 29; 37; and 51, in PL
34:91-115; cf. Gustave Combès, Saint Augustin et la culture classique (Paris: Plon, 1927),
128. Dio Chrysostom, Discourses 32-34; Lucian, Nigrinus; The Dead Come to Life or the
Fisherman; Rhetor Praecox; The Dream or Lucian's Career.
129. F. James E. Raby, A History of Secular Latin Poetry in the Middle Ages, 2 vols.
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1934), 1:1-47. The education of Augustine was "celle d'un lettré de la
décadence formé par le grammaticus et le rhéteur, avec en plus la dialectique. Grammaire et
dialectique! Mais ce sont là les bases réeles de la scholastique" (that of a well-read person of
the late Empire influenced by the grammaticus and the rhetorician, as well as dialectic.
Grammar and dialectic! But these are the real foundations of scholasticism)! Henri I.
Marrou, Saint Augustin et la fin de la culture antique (Paris: Boccard, 1938), 275. The only
difference between Augustine's brand of Christian rhetoric and that of the pagan schools was
that his was a simpler, streamlined course, even more superficial than the other, ibid.,
517-18, denoting "cet abaissment du niveau général de la civilization, qui déjà, tout autour
d'Augustin, annonce les temps barbares" (that lowering of the general level of culture that
heralds, all around Augustine, the onset of the barbarian age), 518.
130. Gibbon, Decline and Fall, 1:941. Johann Zellinger, "Der Beifall in der altchristlichen
Predigt," in Festgabe Alois Knopfler (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1917), 403. Eduard
Norden, Die antike Kunstprosa vom VI. Jahrhundert v. Chr. bis in die Zeit der Renaissance,
2 vols. (Leipzig: Teubner, 1898), 2:623-24.
131. Henri Leclerq, "Panégyrique," in Fernand Cabrol and Henri Leclercq, Dictionnaire
d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturigie, 15 vols. (Paris: Letouzey and An, 1907),
132. Ibid.; G. Manthey, "Il significato primitivo della legenda `Pax perpetua' sulle monete
degli imperatori romani," Rivista di Archeologia Cristiana 28 (1952): 45-75.
133. Augustine, On Christian Doctrine IV, 26, in PL 34:117-18. On the early Christian
abhorrence of rhetoric, Zellinger, "Beifall in der altchristlichen Predigt," 403-4.
134. Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture, 207-8; cf. Italo Lana, Velleio Patercolo o
della propaganda (Turin: University of Turin, 1952), 261, 294.
135. "Et les assistants applaudissent avec fureur pour prouver leur fidélité" (and the
assistants applaud furiously in order to show their loyalty). Leclerq, "Panégyrique," in
Cabrol and Leclerq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, 13:1:1043.
136. Ibid., 13:1:1042-44.
137. Thus in the great prototype of Latin Panegyrics, that of Pliny the Younger to Trajan, the
orator protests loudly and repeatedly that this is a sincere, not a rhetorical, discourse: Pliny,
Panegyricus 54 and 72-74.
138. Combès, Saint Augustin et la culture classique, 75. Norden, Antike Kunstprosa,
2:623-24; Rohde, Der griechische Roman, 348.
139. Rohde, Der griechische Roman, 348; Dio Chrysostom, Discourse XXXVI, 18;
XXXVIII, 40; Polybius, Histories VI, 57.
140. Raby, History of Secular Latin Poetry, 1:73; Norden, Antike Kunstprosa, 2:652.
141. See n. 128 above; Engelbert Krebs, "Die Geschichte der scholastischen Methode bis
zum Beginn des 13. Jahrunderts," Römische Quartalschrift 27 (1913): 33. Of a piece with the
panegyric was the grandiose monumental architecture, "Panegyric in stone" that the Middle
Ages inherited from this period, Gerke, "Verhltnis von Malerei und Plastik," 140, 159-60,
162-63; K. Felis, "Die Niken und die Engel in altchristlicher Kunst," R mische Quartalschrift
26 (1912): 24-25. It was Gaul, "das Land der Rhetoric," that preserved antique culture
through the Middle Ages, Norden, Antike Kunstprosa, 2:631-33.
142. Marsili, "Roma nella poesia di Claudiano," 21. The first three pages of Pliny's model
panegyric to Trajan (Pliny, Panegyricus) contain the abstractions: castitas, sanctitas, libertas,
fides, veritas, humanitas, frugalitas, clementia, liberalitas, benignitas, continentia, potestas,
pietas, abstinentia, mansuetodo, divinitas, temperantia, facilitas, amor, gaudium, modestia,
moderatio, virtus, gloria, gratiae, laus, severitas, reverentia, conordia, concentus, hilaritas,
gravitas, simplicitas, honor, dignitas, and maturitas. A full-blown "Christian" vocabulary.
143. John Chrysostom, De Incomprehensibili Dei Natura III, 6, in PG 48:725; John
Chrysostom, De Baptismo Christi 1, in PG 49:363-65; John Chrysostom, Reprehensio 1, in
PG 51:143-45; John Chrysostom, De Melchisedeco, in PG 56:257; John Chrysostom,
Homily on Matthew XXXIII, 1-3, in PG 57:387-92; John Chrysostom, Homilia 1, in PG
63:461-62, and Ecloga de Non Contemnenda Ecclesia Dei et Sanctis Mysteriis Homilia 9, in
PG:623-25, 629.
144. Frederick M. Powicke, Legacy of the Middle Ages (Oxford: Clarendon, 1938), 46. The
failure of Rome to capture the real allegiance of Europe is the theme of Powicke's essay. See
below, n. 150.
145. Jordanes, Gothic History 36.
146. András Alföldi, "Die Geburt der kaiserlichen Bildsymbolik," Museum Helveticum 8
(1951): 215.
147. Straub, "Christliche Geschichtsapologetik," 63.
148. John B. Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire, 2 vols. (New York: Dover, 1958),
149. Rostovzeff, Social and Economic History, 469.
150. Ladner, "Das heilige Reich des mittelalterlichen Westens," 149.
151. John Bligh, "The `Edict of Milan'; Curse or Blessing?" Church Quarterly Review 153
(1952): 309. Origen believed that conversion to Christianity would save the Empire. "Alas!"
says Bligh, "Things did not turn out that way. . . . Corruption and oppression continued
unabated, and brought the tottering Empire to its fall." Ibid., 313. Have we any guarantee
that an even less pristine Christianity can overcome that "corruption and oppression" which
earlier Christianity could not even alleviate?
152. Rostovzeff, Social and Economic History, 476.
153. Ibid., 459; cf. 452-53, 457, 473: "There was indeed equality of a negative kind, for no
political freedom was tolerated, no remnant of self-government was left, no freedom of
speech, thought, or conscience was permitted, especially after the victory of Christianity."
154. Alföldi, Conflict of Ideas in the Late Roman Empire, 40.
155. Rostovzeff, Social and Economic History, 460.
156. Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture, 211.
157. Athanasius, De Synodis (On the Councils) I, 1-2 and 6-7, in PG 26:684, 689; Hilary, To
Constantius Augustus II, 6, in PL 10:566-67, 569; cf. Philostorgius, Historia Ecclesiastica II,
3, in PG 65:468; Basil, Epistolae (Epistles) 82, in PG 32:457.
Notes to Chapter 6
1. Cicero, De Oratore I, 20.
2. Ibid., I, 21.
3. Ibid., I, 23; cf. I, 14-15.
4. Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria II, 15, quoting among others Isocrates' famous
definition, the peithous demiourgon, "maker or deviser of persuasion."
5. Corax is cited by Aristotle, The "Art" of Rhetoric II, 24, 11; Dio Chrysostom, Discourses
XXXV, 7; Augustine, Principia Rhetorices, in appendix to PL 32:1441.
6. Cicero, De Oratore I, 2, 10-11; III, 44, 174; XX, 68.
7. Wilhelm Schmid, Geschichte der griechischen Literatur (Munich: Beck, 1940), 1:1:50-57.
8. Gustave Combès, Saint Augustin et la culture classique (Paris: Plon, 1927), 126.
9."Prolegomena," Panathenaic Oration, in Wilhelm Dindorf, ed., Aristides, 3 vols. (Leipzig:
Weidmann, 1829), 3:737.
10. Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 480.
11. Ibid., 482.
12. Ibid., 483; Plato, Gorgias.
13. According to Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers VIII, 57.
14. His verses on the subject are quoted by Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors VII,
123-24 (=Against the Logicians I, 123-34) and are given in Heinrich Ritter and Ludwig
Preller, Historia Philosophiae Graecae, 10th ed. (Gotha: Klotz, 1934), 128-29.
15. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers VIII, 54 and 77, and Ritter and
Preller, Historia Philosophia Graecae, 126.
16. Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 482-83.
17. Schmid, Geschichte der griechischen Literatur, 1:1:77-78.
18. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers IX, 50-52.
19. Ibid., IX, 51.
20. Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 511; 507. For the best general treatment, see Wilhelm
von Christ, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur bis auf die Zeit Justiniens, revised by
Schmid and Stählin, 2 vols., 6th ed. (Munich: Beck, 1924), 2:682-92.
21. Von Christ, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur, 2:690.
22. Ibid., 2:691.
23. Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 485, 487; Dio Chrysostom, Discourses XLIX, 6-15.
Barkowski, "Sieben Weise" in RE 2:2:2242-62, hardly does justice to the theme, to which a
better introduction is Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, or the speeches of Dio
24. Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 487-90. The endless ramifications of the theme of the
Seven Wise Men carry one all over the East and back to very early times: it was an ancient
and established concept that the Greeks adopted as a mainstay of their own social order:
"The sixth century, the most critical period in the mental development of the Greeks, came to
be known afterwards as the age of the Seven Sages." Thus see J. B. Bury, A History of
Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great (London: Macmillan, 1929), 321.
25. Barkowski, "Sieben Weise," in RE 2:2:2262, could have made a much stronger case.
26. Most of the thirty-three Sophists in Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists, engage in these
activities: his Apollonius engages in all of them. See below, n. 27.
27. Lucian, Herodotus 1-3; Isocrates, Panathanaicus; Apuleius, Florida 3; Philostratus, Lives
of the Sophists 493, for a few illustrations. The first Roman orators were "ambassadors sent
to kings and nations by the Roman people to represent our republic," being chosen for their
skill as speakers, according to Festus, s.v. Oratores.
28. The picture is drawn from Dio, Libanius, Eunapius, the Roman Panegyrists, Philostratus,
Philo, etc. Apuleius praises the people who have come to hear him that "if there is to be a
mime you will laugh; if a tightrope-walker you will tremble . . . if a comedian applaud . . . if
a philospher learn," Apuleius, Florida 5.
29. Dio Chrysostom, Discourses XXXII, 5.
30. Ibid., XXX, 3 and 19; XIII, 11.
31. Ibid., XII, 14-15.
32. The same combination was the secret of Euripides' matchless success. Professor Jaeger
sees in Euripides "the two Janus faces of Sophistry." See Werner W. Jaeger, Paideia: The
Ideas of Greek Culture, tr. Gilbert Highet, 3 vols. (New York: Oxford University Press,
1945), 1:329.
33. Eduard Norden, ed., Die antike Kunstprosa, 2 vols. (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche
Buchgesellschaft, 1898), 2:508; cf. Epictetus, IV, 8.
34. Cicero, De Oratore I, 34, 158; cf. II, 7, 30: "oratoris autem omnis actio opinionibus, non
scientia continentur" (the activity of the orator has to do with opinion, not knowledge). On
doxa, Schmid, Geschichte der griechischen Literatur, 3:38, n. 7.
35. Cicero, Brutus XI, 22.
36. Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria II, 15, 22.
37. Clement of Alexandria, Stromatum (Stromata) 8, in PG 9:557-602; cf. Clement of
Alexandria, Paedagogus I, 3, in PG 8:260; I, 10, in PG 8:356.
38."Summa autem laus eloquentiae est amplificare rem oranando." The orator seeks what is
"ad exaggerandam et amplificandam orationem accomodatum." Cicero, De Oratore III,
39. Plato, Phaedrus 267A.
40. Gellius, Noctes Atticae (Attic Nights) I, 6, contrasting the integrity of Metellus with this
commonly held idea of rhetoric.
41. Aristotle, The "Art" of Rhetoric I, 1, 13; Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana (On
Christian Doctrine) II, 36: "non est facultas ipsa culpabilis, sed ea male utentium perversitas"
(it is not the ability itself that is to be blamed but the perversity of those who put it to bad
42. Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 491.
43. Von Christ, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur, 2:1006-7.
44. Gellius, Attic Nights I, 6.
45. Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 499.
46. Augustine, Epistolae (Epistles) XVII, 1, in PL 33:83; "Sed me ipse cohibeo, ne a te
rhetorice potius quam veridice agere existimer."
47. Norden, Antike Kunstprosa, 2:623-24; Erwin Rohde, Der griechische Roman und seine
Vorläufer (Leipzig: Breitkopf and Härtel, 1914), 348.
48. Cicero, Pro Cluentio LI, 142; cf. Pliny the Younger's insistence that his famous
Panegyric to Trajan is a sincere, not a rhetorical discourse, Pliny, Panegyric 54 and 72-74.
49."Nihil iratum habet, nihil invidum, nihil atrox, nihil miserabile, nihil astatum; casta
verecunda virgo incorrupta quodam modo"; Cicero, Orator XIX, 64.
50. Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria XII, 1, 1 and 27-45; II, 15, 20.
51. Cicero, Orator I, 3; IV, 14; V, 17; Cicero, De Oratore I, 2-5; 7; 18; and 50; Cicero,
Brutus VI, 23 and 25; Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria XII.
52. Cicero, De Oratore I, 6 and 26-28; III, 22 and 84.
53. Ibid., and n. 50 above.
54. Petronius, Satyricon 1-4; in Lucian, Nigrinus, a common theme of satire. Tacitus,
Dialogus 30.
55. Theodor Mommsen, "Boden- und Geldwirthschaft der römischen Kaiserzeit,"
Gesammelte Schriften, 8 vols., 2d ed. (Berlin: Weidmann, 1965), 5:617.
56. Rohde, Der griechische Roman, 315.
57. Cicero, De Oratore II, 38, 160. Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria XII, 1, 35, calls him
an unjust man because he spoke on succeeding days and with equal facility both for and
against Justice.
58. Lucian, Harmodes.
59. Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 506.
60. Schmid, Geschichte der griechischen Literatur, 3:78.
61. Cicero, De Oratore II, 4.
62. Seneca, Controversiae II, preface 3.
63. Seneca, Epistulae LXXXVIII, 4; 10; 20; and 39.
64. Seneca, Controversiae IX, preface 1.
65. Cicero, Pro Archia Poeta XI, 28; XII, 30.
66. Ibid., XI, 26.
67. Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 511 (on Nicetas in Smyrna); Libanius, Oration 40, is
comfort for a friend who failed to be applauded in the streets. Cicero's anxious attention to
the volume and direction of applause when he entered the theater, as depicted in the letters,
is typical.
68. Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 499.
69. Taking the form of gratia, opes, and dignatis, respectively, Cicero, De Oratore I, 4, 15.
70. John Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire, 2 vols. (London: Macmillan, 1923),
1:47; Rohde, Der griechische Roman, 324.
71. Rohde, Der griechische Roman, 310, 362; Martin Schanz, Geschichte der römischen
Literatur, 4 vols. (Munich: Beck, 1914), 4:1:546-47.
72. Philo, On the Special Laws II, 20.
73. Cicero, De Oratore I, 8, 34.
74. Libanius, Epistulae 175.
75. Lucian, Nigrinus 14-15.
76. Dio Chrysostom, Discourses XLIII, 6; cf. Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 497.
77. Augustine, Confessiones (Confessions) IV, 2, in PL 32:693.
78. Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria XII, 4.
79. Cicero, De Oratore II, 44, 187. That orator was "made" who could speak fluently and
ingeniously on any and all subjects: "qui de omnibus rebus possit varie copioseque dicere,"
ibid., I, 13, 59.
80. Dio Chrysostom, Discourses XXXII, 12; XLIII, 6; Lucian, The Dead Come to Life 35.
The most vivid account of the depredations of these people is found in the letters of St.
81. Isocrates, Panathenaicus 95; cf. Rohde, Der griechische Roman, 348-49.
82. Schmid, Geschichte der griechischen Literatur, 3:37: the attitude was both unsocial and
83. Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 501-2; a like case was Antiphon's, in ibid., 498.
84. Plato, Gorgias 457B. The case of Hermodes the Sophist and Pausanias the assassin is
discussed by A. Thysius, Valerius Maximus (Leiden: Hackium, 1670), I, 8, 2, 9, p. 122, n. 3.
85. Lucian, Philosophies for Sale 9.
86. Isocrates, Nicocles 1. The same frank confession of self-interest may be found in Cicero,
Epistulae ad Familiares III, 10, 9; Augustine, De Disciplina Christiana 11-12, in PL
87. Finely expressed in John Chrysostom's harangue against marriage, De Virginitate 60-74,
in PG 48:580-87; celibacy is easier, less complicated, does not raise so many problems, and
so forth. "It is pleasanter to walk than to ride a mule."
88. Apuleius, Florida 18.
89. Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria II, 16, 1-10, illustrates this strikingly when he
compares the bad uses of rhetoric to the good: the former are all lively and profitable, the
latter all stuffy and ornamental, i.e., rhetoric gives courage to mighty armies, guides great
cities, teaches moral precepts, and sets man apart from the beast.
90. Plato, Gorgias 464D-E.
91. They even paid students to come to them, Libanius, Oration I, 13; 15; 61 and 76; cf. I, 3
and 25-30.
92. Lucian, The Dream; Lucian, Nigrinus. On the pampering of students with easy courses,
see Albertus Müller, "Studentenleben im 4. Jahrhundert nach Christus," Philologus 69
(1910): 303-6.
93. Cicero, De Oratore II, 28, 124.
94. Augustine, Confessions I, 10, in PL 32:668; Augustine, De Utilitate Credendi ad
Honoratum VII, 16, in PL 42:76. For an excellent discussion, Franz X. Eggersdorfer, Der
heilige Augustinus als Pädagoge und seine Bedeutung für die Geschichte der Bildung
(Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1907), 10-13. Cf. Dio Chrysostom, Discourses XXXV, 8.
95."Statim sapiunt, statim sciunt omnia, neminem verentur, imitantur neminem atque ipsi
sibi exempla sint," Pliny, Epistulae VIII, 23. The same in Dio Chrysostom, Discourses
XXXIII, 22. Cicero, De Oratore I, 4, 14, says that every fame-hungry kid in Rome insists on
becoming an orator; cf. Augustine, Confessions I, 17-18, in PL 32:673-74; Cicero, Letters to
His Friends I, 4-5.
96. Petronius, Satyricon 1-4.
97. Proclus, Chrestomathia, ed. Hiller, 16, cited in Fritz Schemmel, "Die Hochschule von
Athen im IV. und V. Jahrhundert, P. Ch. N," Neue Jahrbcher für das klassische Altertum,
Geschichte und deutsche Literatur und für Pädagogik 22 (1908): 507-8.
98. Ibid., 512. Rohde, Der griechische Roman, 387, says rhetoric ended up in the "trunkenen
Taumel neuplatonischer Phantastik" (drunken frenzy of neo-Platonic fantasy).
99. Augustine, De Ordine II, 13, in PL 32:1013.
100. Philo, On Joseph XIII, 64; XIV, 67; cf. XII, 35 and 59.
101. Dio Chrysostom, Discourses XLVII, 19.
102. Cicero, Brutus XXX, 114.
103. Seneca, Epistulae Morales VII, 7.
104. Stobaeus, Eclogae (Eclogues) II, 31, 76, cited by Ritter and Preller, Historia
Philosophiae Graecae, 222.
105. Libanius, Oration 2-3; 41; 63-64; Apuleius, Apologia 6 and 9.
106. Cicero, De Oratore I, 51, 221; cf. I, 52.
107. Heracleitus, in Hermann Diels, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 3 vols. (Berlin:
Weidmann, 1956), 1:178, no. 121; cf. Cicero, Brutus XXII, 84: "Sed est mos hominum, ut
nolint eundem pluribus rebus excellere" (but it is typical of human nature not to concede that
the same person can excel in several fields).
108. Cicero, De Oratore II, 36; and II, 31, 136; XLI, 177; Cicero, Orator XXXIII, 117-18.
109. Cicero, De Oratore III, 25, 97-98; on trial and error, III, 25, 98; III, 26, 103.
110. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata I, 3, in PG 8:712; cf. Augustine, Epistles I, 22, in PL
33:90-94. The actual operation of rhetorical technique is extremely easy, according to
Cicero, De Oratore III, 45, 176 -- it is the most pliable of tools.
111. Thus Dio Chrysostom, Discourses XXXII, 6-13; 18-20; and 31.
112. Julian, Misopogon, is the classic illustration, but Constantius and even Constantine had
the problem on their hands, as we see from the letters of Lucifer of Caliaris and Eusebius,
Vita Constantini (Life of Constantine). Cf. Ammianus Marcellinus, XVII, 9, 1-7. The
Emperor was expected to declaim and be acclaimed in the strictly conventional manner of
the rhetorical schools, for which see Edmond Saglio, "Acclamatio," in Charles V. Daremberg
and Edmond Saglio, Dictionnaire des antiquites grecques et romaines, 6 vols. (Paris:
Hachette, 1877-1919), 1:20, and Johann Schmidt, "Acclamatio," in RE 1:148.
113. Sozomen, Historia Ecclesiastica (Ecclesiastical History) I, 11, in PG 67:885-89;
Theophanes, Chronographia, anno 437. We have a great many notes on this and related
subjects, but it is hard to believe that the reader wishes to see them.
114. Augustine, Confessions I, 16, in PL 32:672-73, speaking expressly of the rhetorical
115. Arthur C. McGiffert, A History of Christian Thought, 2 vols. (New York: Scribner,
1932-33), 2:112; cf. 114.
116. Augustine, De Utilitate Credendi ad Honoratum 12, in PL 42:84; cf. Augustine, Contra
Donatistas (Against the Donatists) XII, 31-33, in PL 43:413-16.
117. Plato, Gorgias 471D-472A.
118. Etienne Gilson, Introduction a l'étude de Saint Augustin (Paris: 1929), 220-21;
Augustine, On Christian Doctrine I, 29-30, in PL 34:30-32. For some interesting examples,
cf. Dio Chrysostom, Discourses XXXII, 4; Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews XIX, 8, 2;
Chronicon Paschale, 297, in PG 92:684-85.
119. The rhetorical panorama is best represented by the Panegyrics, culminating in Dante,
Paradiso. See Hugh Nibley, "Hierocentric State," Western Political Quarterly 4/2 (1951):
226-53; reprinted in this volume, pages 99-147.
120. Cicero, De Oratore II, 83, 338: "Orator sine multitudine audiente eloquens esse non
possit." Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria I, 9, believes that even the degrading moral
atmosphere of the rhetorical schools is out-balanced by the crowded and busy environment
they provide, so necessary to the student of rhetoric.
121. Augustine, Confessions XI, 2, in PL 32:809-11. "Steeped to the lips in vulgarity" is
Professor Coulton's apt phrase.
122. Augustine, De Cathechizandis Rudibus 2, in PL 40:311-12; ibid., 6, in PL 40:317; cf.
Augustine, De Civitate Dei (The City of God) IV, 31; Augustine, Epistles 125, in PL
33:473-76; 126; cf. PL 33:476-83; Frederick J. E. Raby, A History of Secular Latin Poetry in
the Middle Ages, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1934), 1:48-49. Norden, Antike Kunstprosa,
123. Charles Merivale, History of the Romans under the Empire, 7 vols. (London: Longman,
Brown, Green and Longmans, 1852), 1:42.
124. Cicero, Orator VIII, 24; the law is quoted in Gellius, Attic Nights XV, 11; it is against
both rhetors and philosophers, who were of course confounded.
125. Tacitus, Histories I, 18.
126. Ammianus Marcellinus, XXX, 4. Anonymous, Breves Enarrationes Chronographicae I,
in Immanuel Bekker, ed. (Bonn: Weber, 1843), 184-85, says the Sophists were everywhere
expected to criticize and tear down everything; cf. Thysius, Valerius Maximus I, 8, 2, 8.
127. Dio Chrysostom, Discourses XXXII, 44; 48; 58-62; and 69-70; Philo, On Husbandry
7-8; Jerome, Epistolae (Epistle) XXII, 10, in PL 22:400; Ad Eustochium 13; Pliny, Natural
History X, 43; Augustine, De Cathechizandis Rudibus 16, in PL 40:328-30: the whole desire
of the people is "gaudere et requiescere in theatris atque spectaculis" (to relax and enjoy
themselves at the theaters and games).
128. Cicero, De Officiis II, 16, 56-57; Dio Chrysostom, Discourses XXXII, 9.
129. Seneca, De Ira III, 6; Apuleius, De Mundo 35; Samuel Dill, Roman Society from Nero
to Marcus Aurelius (New York: World, 1911), 232-50.
130. For a recent treatment, Eleanor Clark, Rome and a Villa (New York: Doubleday, 1952),
131. For some examples, Dio Chrysostom, Roman History LIV, 17; Philo, On Drunkenness
198; Philo, De Monarchia, in On the Special Laws I, 8; Corippus, De Laudibus Iustini
Augusti Minoris II, 245-55, in Merobandes et Corippus, ed. Immanuel Bekker (Bonn:
Weber, 1836); Cassiodorus, Variae XII, 11, in PL 69:362-63; Augustine, De Utilitate Jejunii
11, in PL 40:716; Steven Runciman, Byzantine Civilization (London: Arnold, 1966), 20;
Norman H. Baynes, "Byzantine Civilization," History n.s. 10 (1926): 294: "It was precisely
when you were strongest, when you were most alive, that you were most rigorously
132. The extinction of laughter is a striking phenomenon: Schmid, Geschichte der
griechischen Literatur, 1:1:17, n. 3; cf. Runciman, Byzantine Civilization, 219-20; the
permanent mood because one of "fickleness . . . bitterness, and uncharitable cynicism. . . . It
was not human life but human nature that they rated too low." William G. Holmes, The Age
of Justinian and Theodora, 2 vols., 2d ed. (London: Bell, 1912), 1:86; Commodian,
Instructiones I, 26, in PL 5:220-21; Salvian, De Gubernationi Dei VII, 1 (on hollow
laughter). The mob was shocked by the informal behavior of Antiochus; Athenaeus,
Deipnosophists V, 193-97. Directed applause is often mentioned; Joannes Malalas,
Chronographia, XIV, 370-71, ed. Ludwig Dindorf (Bonn: Weber, 1831), also in PG 97:552;
Corippus, Justin I, 345-46, 358; Anonymous, Breves Enarrationes Chronographicae 171; cf.
Acts 19:34.
133. Raby, History of Secular Latin Poetry, 1:92.
134. Lucian, Nigrinus 5-6; Dio Chrysostom, Discourses LXVI, 21 (the Gordon's head);
Philo, On Drunkenness 198. "Noose of suaviloquentia" is Augustine's expression,
Augustine, Confessions V, 3, in PL 32:707-8, though he advises that "dictionis suavitas pro
ratione argumenti procuranda est" (smoothness of delivery is to be preferred to force of
argument), in On Christian Doctrine IV, 14, in PL 34:101.
135. Augustine, On Christian Doctrine 4, in PL 34:89-122, passim; see Combès, Saint
Augustin et la culture classique, 54-55.
136. Cicero, De Oratore II, 45, 189-90; cf. II, 46, 191.
137. Ibid., II, 46, 193-94; II, 47, 196; II, 48; and II, 51; I, 62, 262-65.
138. Cicero, Brutus VII, 27; this is of a piece with the observation that an orator should be
honest because that makes it easier for him to work on people, Quintilian, De Institutione
Oratoria XII.
139."A period of stagnation set in, tending gradually towards settled apathy and indifference
to all purposive effort." By the third century, "an aimless abandonment to pleasure became
the distinctive mark of the age," thus Holmes, Age of Justinian and Theodora, 2:558-59.
140. Dio Chrysostom, Discourses LIV, 1; XXXIV, 31.
141. Plato, Gorgias 459.
142. Cicero, De Oratore II, 14, 59; cf. Lucian, Nigrinus 17.
143. Friedrich Cauer, "Die Stellung der arbeitenden Klassen in Hellas und Rom," Neue
Jahrbücher für das klassische Altertum, Geschichte und deutsche Literatur und für
Pädagogik 3 (1899): 700-702.
144. Von Christ, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur, 2:929-31.
145. Schanz, Geschichte der römischen Literatur, 4:1:501-8, 514, 516-50; cf. Norden, Antike
Kunstprosa, 2:643; by the middle of the fifth century "die absolute Geschmacklosigkeit"
(absolute tastelessness) was achieved, ibid., 652. The "new mentality . . . was . . . not only
indifferent but hostile to the intellectual achievements of the higher classes," says Michael
Rostovzeff, Social and Economic History of the Roman Empire, 2d ed. (Oxford: Clarendon,
1957), 533-34. Guglielmo Ferrero, Characters and Events of Roman History (New York:
Putnam, 1909), 227: "The picture of the Empire, so brilliant from the economic standpoint,
is much less so from the intellectual: here we touch its great weakness."
146. Schanz, Geschichte der römischen Literatur, 3:238-44. Klaus Dockhorn, Die Rhetorik
als Quelle des vorromantischen Irrationalismus in der Literatur- und Geistegeschichte.
Nachrichten der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Gttingen. Philologisch-historische Klasse
(Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1949).
147. See the discussion by H. W. Garrod, The Oxford Book of Latin Verse (Oxford:
Clarendon, 1944), xxxiv-xxxvii. Plato, Gorgias 455.
148."It was of the essence of the rhetorical method from Ovid onward to treat of a given
theme in detail until there was no more left to be said," thus Raby, History of Secular Latin
Poetry, 1:343.
149. Augustine, On Christian Doctrine IV, 19, in PL 34:106-7.
150. Norden, Antike Kunstprosa, 2:466; Schanz, Geschichte der römischen Literatur
4:507-11; Johann Zellinger, "Der Beifall in der altchristlichen Predigt," in Festgabe Alois
Knopfler (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1917), 403-4.
151. Norden, Antike Kunstprosa, 2:466; Frederick J. E. Raby, A History of Christian-Latin
Poetry (Oxford: Clarendon, 1927), 4-6; "Artificiality and a servile imitation . . . tended
therefore to flourish. That scholar was near perfection who could compose in verse or prose
according to the recognized rules; provided that the form was acceptable, the content was
more or less indifferent," 5.
152. Augustine, On Christian Doctrine IV, 2, in PL 34:89-90; II, 50; Augustine, Epistles
LXIX, 2, in PL 33:239-40.
153. András Alföldi, "The Crisis of the Empire," Cambridge Ancient History, 12 vols.
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 12:225-26 (speaking of the plastic arts); cf.
Rostovzeff, Social and Economic History, 521-22, on "the utter incapacity to invent anything
new . . . typical of an age devoid of all creative power."
154. Raby, History of Secular Latin Poetry, 1:351.
155. Henri I. Marrou, Saint Augustine et la fin de la culture antique (Paris: Boccard, 1938),
517-18; cf. 275.
156. Eggersdorfer, Der heilige Augustinus als Pädagoge, 4-6; Rohde, Der griechische
Roman, 345-56.
157. Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria XII, 10, 16-17; Norden, Antike Kunstprosa,
158. Charles Diehl and Georges Marais, Le monde oriental de 395 1081 (Paris: Presses
universitaires, 1936), 3:113-15. The numbers of the Sophists and rhetors were recruited in
steadily increasing proportions from men of Oriental blood, who by the fifth century
completely dominated the field.
159. Max Pieper, Die ägyptische Literatur (Potsdam: Athenaion, 1927), 21.
160. Ibid., 34-36. Alfred Wiedemann, Das alte Ägypten (Heidelberg: Winter, 1920), 85-88.
161. Adolf Erman, Ägypten und ägyptisches Leben im Altertum (Tübingen: Mohr, 1923),
375, 434.
162. Herman Kees, Ägypten, in Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft, vol. 3, pt. 1, 3a
(Munich: Beck, 1933), 284.
163. T. Eric Peet, A Comparative Study of the Literature of Egypt, Palestine and
Mesopotamia (London: British Academy, 1931), 130.
164. Alan Gardiner, "The Eloquent Peasant," JEA 9 (1923): 6; Pieper, Die ägyptische
Literatur, 34-36.
165. Alan H. Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar (London: Oxford University Press, 1927), 2; cf.
4-5, 17-24.
166. Pieper, Die ägyptische Literatur, 88; Kees, Ägypten, 79.
167. Kees, Ägypten, 80; Rohde, Der griechische Roman, 387.
168. Erich Ebeling, Keilschrifttexte aus Assur religiösen Inhalts (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1915), 1,
no. 111.
169. Bruno Meissner, Babylonien und Assyrien, 2 vols. (Heidelberg: Winter, 1920-25),
170. Otto Weber, Die Literatur der Babylonier und Assyrier (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1907), 2;
Bruno Meissner, Die babylonische-assyrische Literatur (Wildpark-Potsdam: Athenaion,
1927), 1-2; both cited in Peet, Comparative Study of the Literature of Egypt, 8, n. 1.
171. Meissner, Babylonien und Assyrien, 2:155, 335-37, 353-54, 357-59, 361-62, 429-30,
172. Carl Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Literatur (Leipzig: Amelangs, 1909),
173. Paul Kahle, The Cairo Geniza (London: Oxford University Press, 1947), 79-84, 94;
Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Literatur, 92-101; the literature was completely
dominated by rhetoric from the first.
174. Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Literatur, 201. Al-Bistani wrote a history of
the world entirely in words of double meaning, ibid., 209.
175. Ibid., 179; cf. 200, 227.
176. Carl Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Literatur, 2 vols. (Weimar: Felber, 1898),
1:245-46 and the following section.
177. Adam Mez, Die Renaissance des Islams (Heidelberg: Winter, 1922), 162-80, an
amazingly close resemblance to the ancient Sophists.
178. Ignaz Goldziher, Vorlesungen ber den Islam (Heidelberg: Winter, 1925), 67;
Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Literatur (1909 ed.), 90 (on Mutanabbi).
179. Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Literatur (1898 ed.), 1:15; Ibn Qutayba,
Introduction au Livre de la poésie et des poètes Muqaddimatu Kitabi s-sicri wa s-sucara', tr.
Gaudefroy-Demombynes (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1947), pt. 23; cf. Goldziher,
Vorlesungen ber den Islam, 74.
180. The quotation is from Ibn al-Muqaffac, Kalila and Dimna (Beirut: Imprimerie
Catholique, 1927), 136; cf. 31, panegyric and praise of intelligence; 39, assembly of the
learned; 30, fame and notoriety are all that count; 42-44, gloria the one object of life; 57,
four tropes of rhetoric; 132, a formal disputatio, and so forth.
181. Adam Mez, Abulkâsim, ein bagdâder Sittenbild (Heidelberg: Winter, 1902): Abu
'l-Qasim is the most celebrated Oriental version of the vagabond-rhetor. Mez's introduction
is a vivid description of the rhetorical-mindedness of the decadent East.
182. Libanius, Oration XXV, 1: the polarity of free and slave dominates every aspect of life;
"a world of ants and camels without any true equality," says Lucian, Epistula ad Saturnum 1,
in Saturnalia 20; cf. Philo, De Monarchia I, 9, in On the Special Laws I, 59-65; Plutarch, De
Amore 26. "General servitude was, indeed, the distinctive feature of the age, but while there
were different grades and shades of bondage, there was no equality," Rostovzeff, Social and
Economic History, 527.
183. Jaeger, Paideia, 1:332.
184. This is seen in the translation literature, which was all from Eastern to Western
languages, Von Christ, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur, 2:166, 315, 542-624, 665.
185. Diehl and Marais, Le monde oriental, 3:320-21, 417-86. Speaking of Christians and
barbarians alike, Von Christ, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur, 2:955, says "der
Hellenismus zwingt sie in seine Schule."
186. Norden, Antike Kunstprosa, 2:631-32, notes that "Gaul, . . .von jeher das land der
Rhetorik," continued to be so and to act as "die Erhalterin der antiken Kultur," "whrend des
ganzen Mittelalters."
187. One thinks immediately of the Thousand-and-One Nights and of the degenerate
Christian literature of the East, of which some good examples may be found in Montague R.
James, The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1925), 49, 53-55, 58-65, 70,
80-83, 337-49, and so forth. The Oriental Acts are public disputations in which the Apostles
display their rhetorical skill to packed theaters. The pseudo-scientific element is not lacking,
e.g., in the Pseudo-Callisthenes, Life of Alexander II, 38, the king sails under the sea in a
glass vessel or flies through space, as in Lucian's trip to the moon sequence in Lucian, The
Dream or Lucian's Career 15; cf. Lucian, Zeuxis. For comic-strip trivia, Seneca,
Controversiae I, 7, 4-5; V, 6; VII, 1, 4-5; IX, 6; X, 3, and so forth.
188. H. Idris Bell, "The Decay of Civilization," JEA 10 (1924): 215.
Notes to Chapter 8
1. Warren E. Blake, "Joseph Justus Scaliger," Classical Journal 36 (1940): 83-91.
2. George W. Robinson, Autobiography of Joseph Scaliger (Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press, 1927), 21.
3. Written with long alif where a short one (on which the accent would fall naturally) would
have done as well, and with emphatic qaf instead of kaf; the transliteration does not give the
name its Arabic form, which would be Iskalliji(i)r, but attempts only to preserve its current
4. Joseph Justus Scaliger, Epistolae Omnes Quae Reperiri Potuerunt (Frankfurt: Aubriorum
& Schleichii, 1628), LXII (1606).
5. Ibid., Epistola XXXV (1594).
6. Henry Nettleship, ed., Essays by the Late Mark Pattison, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon,
1889), 1:139.
7. Jakob Bernays, Joseph Justus Scaliger (Berlin: Hertz, 1855), 5; cf. Blake, "Joseph Justus
Scaliger," 85.
8. Pierre Bayle, An Historical and Critical Dictionary, 4 vols. (London: Harper, 1710), s.v.
9. Nettleship, ed., Essays by the Late Mark Pattison, 138; Bernays, Joseph Justus Scaliger,
36. We find Scaliger, very shortly after taking up the language, seeking instruction from
various experts, ibid., 122-24; Nettleship, ed., Essays by the Late Mark Pattison, 1:202-5.
10. Scaliger was greatly angered that one of Meursius's early promises should have been
spoiled by too much success, Joseph J. Scaliger, Prima Scaligerana (Utrecht: Petrus
Elzevirius, 1670), s.v. "Meursius"; Bayle, Dictionary, s.v. "Meursius," writes: "We learn
from Vossius's 114th Letter that Scaliger had many strokes in them (i.e., his epistolae)
against Meursius, whose name was suppressed in the impression by substituting an asterisc
[sic]." Cf. Eyssenhardt, "Meursius," in R. v. Lilieneron, ed., Allgemeine deutsche
Biographie, 56 vols. (Leipzig: Duncker & Homblot, 1885), 21:538; and Weiss, "Mersius
(Jean Ie r)," in Joseph F. Michaud, Biographie universelle ancienne et moderne, 45 vols.
(Paris: Desplaces, 1854-65), 28:155-57.
11. Weiss, "Gillot (Jacques)," in Michaud, Biographie universelle, 16:464-65. It was at
Gillot's house that the authors of the Satyre Menippee "were united in a veritable cult of the
absent Scaliger," Mark Pattison, Isaac Casaubon, 1559-1614, 2d ed. (Oxford: Clarendon,
1892), 115.
Notes to Chapter 9
1. Carl Kerényi, The Gods of the Greeks (New York: Grove, 1960), 4-8.
2. Synesius Ptolemais, De Insomniis 147, in PG 66:1305.
3. This is brought out, for example, in Aristides, Apology 13, in J. Rendel Harris, The
Apology of Aristides on Behalf of the Christians (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1893), 108-9.
4. Eric V. Gordon, An Introduction to Old Norse (Oxford: Clarendon, 1927), xxxi.
5. Plato, Apology 19C, 20C.
6. Ibid., 21E-23D.
7. Eduard Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums, 3 vols., 5th ed. (Berlin: Cotta, 1926),
8. I. E. S. Edwards, The Pyramids of Egypt (New York: Penguin Books, 1964), 29-30.
9. Louis Speelers, Textes des cercueils du Moyen Empire égyptien (Bruxelles: Dept, 1947),
10. Westcar Papyrus 7, 6-7, in Alan H. Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar, 3rd ed. (Oxford:
Griffith Institute, 1957), 228.
11. Alfred N. Whitehead, quoted in Lucien Price, "To Live without Certitude," Atlantic
Monthly 193 (March 1954): 59.
12. Josephus, Against Apion I, 236.
13. Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica I, 9, in PG 21:65.
14. Aristotle, Oeconomica II, 2, 33.
15. Dio Chrysostom, Discourse XII, 15.
16. Erwin R. Goodenough, Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman Period, 13 vols. (New
York: Pantheon Books, 1953), 1:18-21.
17. Synesius Ptolemais, De Insomniis, in PG 66:1305.
18. Goodenough, Jewish Symbols, 1:17-18, 20-21.
19. Empedocles, in Sextus Empericus, Against the Logicians I, 122.
20. Charles H. Kahn, "Religion and Natural Philosophy in Empedocles' Doctrine of the
Soul," Archiv für Geschichte und Philosophie 42 (1960): 3.
21. O. D. Chwolsohn (Khvol'son), Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus, 2 vols. (St. Petersburg:
Buchdruckerei der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1856), 2:15.
22. Morton S. Enslin, "A Gentleman among the Fathers," Harvard Theological Review 47
(1954): 238-39.
23. Ibid., 230.
24. Kostas Papaioannou, "Nature and History in the Greek Conception of the Cosmos,"
Diogenes 25 (1959): 14.
25. Commenting on Sophocles' Eleusinian fragment, in F. J. H. Letters, The Life and Work
of Sophocles (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1953), 63-66.
26. H. H. Rowley, "Ritual and the Hebrew Prophets," in S. H. Hooke, ed., Myth, Ritual, and
Kingship (London: Oxford University Press, 1958), 246-47, 258.
27. Letters, The Life and Work of Sophocles, 64.
28. C. G. Jung, "Transformation Symbolism in the Mass," in Joseph Campbell, ed., The
Mysteries: Papers from the Eranos Yearbooks (New York: Pantheon Books, 1955), 318-19.
In the same volume, Hugo Rahner's article, "The Christian Mystery and the Pagan
Mysteries," observes that "it is of the utmost importance for the understanding of this
mystery of the Cross that we recall the fundamental structure of all mysteries," 371; and
Hans Leisegang's article, "The Mystery of the Serpent," notes that "the Christian cosmos can
be shown to be directly related, both formally and conceptually, to the Orphic cosmos," 228;
while Paul Schmitt observes in his article, "The Ancient Mysteries in the Society of Their
Time: Their Transformation and Most Recent Echoes," that Homer's Hymn to Demeter is an
"almost medieval hymn," 106.
29. Jung, "Transformation Symbolism in the Mass," 319.
30. Ernst Benz, "Christus und Sokrates in der alten Kirche," Zeitschrift für die
neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 43 (1950): 195-97; and Erich Fascher, "Sokrates und
Christus," Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 45 (1954): 1-41.
31. Cf., for example, Clement, Epistola I ad Corinthios (First Epistle to the Corinthians) VI,
25, in PG 1:220-21, 261-66. "Solon eidem regi finem longae vitae intuendum praedicavit
non aliter, quam prophetae [Solon told the same king that the end of a long life must be seen
much as the prophets did]," says Tertullian, Apologeticus adversus Gentes XIX, 1, in PL
32. Hugh Nibley, "The Hierocentric State," Western Political Quarterly 4 (1951): 230-35,
250-51; reprinted in this volume, pages 103-10, 130-31.
33. Ibid., 226-30; reprinted in this volume, pages 99-103.
34. Pindar, frg. 137: "Blessed is he who hath seen these things before he goeth beneath the
hollow earth; for he understandeth the end of mortal life, and the beginning (of a new life)
given of god"; John Sandys, tr., The Odes of Pindar including the Principal Fragments
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968), 593-95.
35. Walter Wili, "The Orphic Mysteries and the Greek Spirit," in Campbell, The Mysteries,
36. Walter F. Otto, "The Meaning of the Eleusinian Mysteries," in Campbell, The Mysteries,
37. Wili, "Orphic Mysteries," 87.
38. Theodor Gomperz, Griechische Denker: Eine Geschichte der antiken Philosophie, 3 vols.
(Leipzig: Veit, 1903), 1:65.
39. Otto, "Eleusinian Mysteries," 25, comments on "the veneration of the Mysteries by such
men as Sophocles and Euripides."
40. Ibid., 30.
41. Walter F. Otto, Die Musen und der gttliche Ursprung des Singens und Sagens
(Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1961), 47.
42. John E. Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship, 3 vols. (London: Cambridge
University Press, 1921), 1:105-6.
43. Dio Chrysostom, Discourse LXXII, 12.
44. Chrysostom constantly harps on this theme in his discourses delivered at the ancient cult
centers which had been converted to Christian uses.
45. Pindar, frg. 31, quoted by Aristides, In Defense of Oratory 142D, 420.
46. Plato, Phaedo 97B-C.
47.Clementine Recognitions II, 65-67, in PG 1:1278-79.
48. Dio Chrysostom, Discourse I, 58: Synesius, Dio 10, in PG 66:1145; Sandys, History of
Classical Scholarship, 1:70-72.
49. Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship, 1:71.
50. Pindar, Olympian Odes II, 81-87.
51. Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship, 1:71.
52. See Philostratus II, quoted in Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship, 1:336.
53. Pindar, Olympian Odes II, 86-88. On Pindar's Mantic association see Basil L.
Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes (New York: Harper and Brothers,
1885), Olympian Odes II, 96-97.
54. References in Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship, 1:72, 389; Dio Chrysostom,
Discourse 1.
55. H. W. Garrod, Oxford Book of Latin Verse (London: Oxford University Press, 1952),
56. Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship, 1:303.
57. Francis M. Cornford, Thucydides Mythistoricus (New York: Greenwood, 1969), 201,
58. Plato, Republic X, 595B, 600E, 607A.
59. Plato, Meno 99D.
60. Plato, Apology 22C.
61. Plato, Laws VII, 809-11.
62. Plato, Meno 81B.
63. Plato, Phaedrus 245A.
64. Werner Jaeger, Aristotle, tr. Richard Robinson (Oxford: Clarendon, 1948), 240-41.
65. Plutarch, The Oracles at Delphi 22 (405A-D).
66. Justin Martyr, Discourses to the Greeks 8, in PG 6:256-57.
67. Erwin Rohde, Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality among the Greeks, tr.
W. B. Hillis, 2 vols. (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1966), 2:257, 260, 294-97.
68. Josephus, Against Apion I, 236: However great his yearning for the gifts of prophecy
and revelation, the Pharaoh knew "that he would incur the wrath of the gods if he tried to see
them by force."
69. Walter Burkert, "Goes: zum griechischen Schamanismus," Rheinisches Musuem für
Philologie 105 (1962): 36-56.
70. Plato, Phaedo 96A-97B.
71. Ibid., 97C.
72. Plato, Sophist 265C.
73. Plato, Apology 33C.
74. Plato, Gorgias 523-26.
75. Ibid., 527A-B.
76. Plato, Apology 26D.
77. Ibid., 24B-C, 26C-27E, 31C-D.
78. Ibid., 23B, 32A, 41A-B.
79. Plato, Crito 54B-E.
80. Gaylord Simpson, "The World into Which Darwin Led Us," Science 131 (April 1960):
974. Cf. Gaylord Simpson, Concession to the Improbable: An Unconventional
Autobiography (London: Yale University Press, 1978), 26.
81. Plato, Laws IV, 715E-716B.
82. Edwyn Bevan, Sibyls and Seers (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1929), 99-103,
shows how feeble the Greek Mantic manifestations were compared with those of the
Hebrew. Socrates' grateful acceptance of his Delphic message suggests snatching at straws;
that oracle, as Heraclitus observes (frg. 11), "neither declares nor conceals, but gives a sign."
At no time does Mantic inspiration seem to have been general. Theophilus, To Autolycus III,
384, 7, in PG 6:1132; even the Egyptians were beset by doubts from the very first, Erich von
Lüddeckens, "Untersuchungen über religiösen Gehalt, Sprache und Form der ägyptischen
Totenklagen," Mitteillungen des Deutschen Instituts für ägyptische Altertumskunde in Kairo
11 (1943): 171-72; Speelers, Textes des cercueils, lviii.
83. For example, the "Greek people never gave up the alluring fancy of a distant land of
blessedness," Rohde, Psyche, 1:64.
84. Schmitt, "The Ancient Mysteries," in Campbell, The Mysteries, 97; Herbert Braun, "Der
Fahrende," Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche 48 (1951): 32-38; Ejnar Dyggve, "Les
traditions cultuelles de Delphes et l'église chrétienne," Cahiers Archéologiques 3 (1948):
9-28; Bevan, Sibyls and Seers, 165-68.
85. Karl Jaspers, The Origin and Goal of History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953),
86. Lasaulx, in ibid., 8.
87. J. B. Bury and Russell Meiggs, A History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great,
4th ed. (New York: St. Martin's, 1975), 199. Cf. Diogenes Laertius, Thales I, 22: "He was
the first to receive the name of sage, in the archonship of Damasias at Athens, when the term
was applied to all Seven Sages."
88. Ivan M. Linforth, Solon the Athenian (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1919),
89. Ibid., 167.
90. Ibid., 165-67.
91. Ibid., 166-69.
92. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1952), 33.
93. Richard Courant and Herbert Robbins, What Is Mathematics? An Elementary Approach
to Ideas and Methods (New York: Oxford University Press, 1941, 1961), xvii-xviii
(emphasis added).
94. Wallace O. Fenn, "Front Seat for Biologists," AIBS Bulletin (December 1960): 16.
95. Used with reference to Heraclitus in Pseudo-Aristotle, De Mundo (On the Cosmos)
396b20; Cicero, De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum II, 5, 15.
96. Heraclitus, On the Universe 41.
97. Ibid., 69.
98. Plato, Apology 24C, 26B, 27C, E.
99. Heraclitus, On the Universe 97.
100. Ibid., 121.
101. Ibid., 1.
102. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata II, 21, in PG 8:1076; in Otto Stählin, ed., Clemens
Alexandrinus, 6 vols., 4th ed. (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1985), 2:184; in Hermann Diels,
Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 3 vols, 6th ed. (Berlin: Weidmann, 1951), 1:149.
103. Hippocrates, The Art XXI, 1-4.
104. Plato, Lesser Hippias 365B.
105. Aristotle, Poetics XIX, 7-9.
106. Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship, 1:36.
107. Gilbert Murray, Aristophanes (London: Oxford University Press, 1933), 19-20.
108. Bury and Meiggs, A History of Greece, 199.
109. Plutarch, Pericles VI, 1; cf. IV, 4: "But the man who most consorted with Pericles . . .
was Anaxagoras, . . . whom men of that day used to call `Nous,' . . . because he was the first
to enthrone in the universe, not Chance, nor yet Necessity, as the source of its orderly
arrangement, but Mind (Nous) pure and simple, which distinguishes and sets apart, in the
midst of an otherwise chaotic mass, the substances which have like elements."
110. Plato, Gorgias 518-19.
111. Plato, Republic X, 595B, C, 600E, 607A.
112. Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship, 1:52.
113. H. D. F. Kitto, Sophocles: Dramatist and Philospher (London: Oxford University Press,
1958); C. M. Bowra, Sophoclean Tragedy (Oxford: Clarendon, 1944); J. T. Sheppard, The
Oedipus Tyrannus of Sophocles (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1920); Letters,
The Life and Work of Sophocles.
114. Letters, The Life and Work of Sophocles, 218, 221 (emphasis added).
115. Ibid., 226, 229-30.
116. Ibid., 220.
117. Ibid., 230.
118. Pliny, Natural History XXXIII, 82-83; Cicero, De Oratore III, 129; Pausanias,
Description of Greece, X, 18, 7.
119. Schmitt, "The Ancient Mysteries," 114.
120. Hugh R. Trevor-Roper, Men and Events (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1957), 313.
121. András Alföldi, A Conflict of Ideas in the Late Roman Empire, tr. Harold Mattingly
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1952), 40.
122."Notes of Recent Exposition," Expository Times 73 (1962): 226.
123. S. Vernon McCasland, "The Unity of the Scriptures," Journal of Biblical Literature 73
(1954): 6.
124. E. Cherbonnier, "The Logic of Biblical Anthropomorphism," Harvard Theological
Review 55 (1962): 190.
125. Paul Tillich, "Die Wiederentdeckung der prophetischen Tradition in der Reformation,"
Neue Zeitschrift für systematische Theologie 3 (1961): 237.
126. Goodenough, Jewish Symbols, 1:18-21.
127. Life in Other Worlds, A Symposium Sponsored by Joseph E. Seagram and Sons (1
March 1961).
128. Robert Graves, Difficult Questions, Easy Answers (New York: Doubleday, 1964), 93.
129. Hugh W. Nibley, "Victoriosa Loquacitas: The Rise of Rhetoric and the Decline of
Everything Else," Western Speech 20 (Spring 1956): 76; reprinted in this volume, pages
273-74; Montague R. James, Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1925), 49,
53-55, 58-60, 70, 80-82, 83, 337-39. The pseudoscientific element is not lacking, e.g., in the
Pseudo-Callisthenes, Life of Alexander I, 38, the king sails under the sea in a glass vessel or
flies through space, as in Lucian's trip to the moon sequences in The Dream; cf. Lucian,
Zeuxis; cf. Seneca, Controversiae I, 7, 4-5; V, 6; VII, 1, 4-5; IX, 6; X, 3.
130. Fenn, "Front Seat for Biologists," 14-16.
131. Martin Grabmann, Geschichte der scholastischen Methode, 2 vols. (Graz: Akademische
Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, 1957).
132. Ibid.
133. Louis M. O. Duchesne, The Early History of the Church, tr. Claude Jenkins, 3 vols.
(London: Murray, 1924), 2:1.
134. Hegesippus, Fragmenta, in PG 5:1321, quoted in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History IV,
22, in PG 20:377-84.
135. Alfred N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (New York: Macmillan, 1962),
136. Eduard Norden, Antike Kunstprosa, 2 vols., 3rd ed. (Leipzig: Teubner, 1915), 2:711-12.
137. Reinhold Seeberg, Text-Book of the History of Doctrines, vol. 2: History of Doctrines
in the Middle and Early Modern Ages (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1952), 105.
138. William Shakespeare, The Tempest, act IV, scene 1, lines 152-56.
139. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, XXXVIII, tr. Edward Fitzgerald.
140. Goethe, Faust, 454.
Notes to Chapter 10 Part 1
1. Allen Wheelis, The End of the Modern Age (New York: Basic Books, 1971), 3.
2. Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1946).
3. G. A. Kerkut, ed., Implications of Evolution, International Series of Monographs on Pure
and Applied Biology; Division: Zoology, vol. 4 (New York: Pergamon, 1960), 3.
4. Henry G. Liddell and Robert Scott, Greek-English Lexicon (London: Oxford University
Press, 1975)
5. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers I, 12.
6. Dio Chrysostom, Discourse XII,15.
7. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers I, 13.
8. Ibid., I, 12.
9. Stobaeus, Eclogues III, 9, 23, lines 51-53, in Ivan Linforth, Solon the Athenian (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1919), 167-68.
10. Sextus Empiricus, Against the Logicians I, 122.
11. Lawrence K. Frank, Nature and Human Nature (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University
Press, 1951), 39.
12. Lancelot L. Whyte, Accent on Form (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1954), 125.
13. Lyall Watson, Supernature (New York: Doubleday, 1973), 8.
14. Ibid., 5.
15. Aristotle, Physics III, 8, 208a.
16. Aristotle, Metaphysics I, 3, 983b.
17. Plato, Sophist 265C.
18. Plato, Phaedo 96A-C.
19. Alexandre Koyré, From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe (Baltimore, MD:
Johns Hopkins, 1957), 213.
20. Philostorgius, Historia Ecclesiastica VIII, 10, in PG 65:564.
21. Cyril E. M. Joad, God and Evil (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1943), 108.
22. Ibid., 113-14.
23. George G. Simpson, "The World into Which Darwin Led Us," Science 131 (April 1960):
24. Ibid.
25. Hans Reichenbach, The Rise of Scientific Philosophy (Berkeley: University of California
Press, 1951), 199.
26. Harlow Shapley, in Life in Other Worlds, A Symposium Sponsored by Joseph E.
Seagram and Sons (1 March 1961): 27.
27. David Bidney, "The Ethnology of Religion and the Problem of Human Evolution,"
American Anthropologist 56 (February 1954): 17.
28. Corliss Lamont, The Philosophy of Humanism, 4th ed. (New York: Philosophical
Library, 1957), 68.
29. Theodor Hopfner, Orient und griechische Philosophie (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1925), 65.
30. Wilhelm Schmid, Geschichte der griechischen Literatur (Munich: Beck, 1940), 3:1:1:38.
31. Ibid., 3:1:1:37.
32. Plato, Republic II, 365D.
33. Schmid, Geschichte der griechischen Literatur, 1:1:129-30.
34. Aristotle, Poetics XIX, 7-9.
35. John E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, 3 vols. (New York: Hafner, 1958),
36. Ibid., 1:36.
37. Plato, Lesser Hippias 365B.
38. Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship, 1:33, 108-9.
39. Schmid, Geschichte der griechischen Literatur, 3:1:1:38.
40. Koyré, From the Closed World, 276.
41. Ibid., 234.
42. Simpson, "The World," 969.
43. Ibid., 974.
44. Joseph W. Krutch, "If You Don't Mind My Saying So . . . ," American Scholar 35
(Spring 1966): 182.
45. Frank, Nature and Human Nature, 39-40.
46. Stephen Toulmin, "Contemporary Scientific Mythology," in Metaphysical Beliefs
(London: SCM, 1957), 61.
47. Koyré, From the Closed World, 276.
48. Plutarch, Pericles VI, 1.
49. Plutarch, Superstition 168B-C.
50. Schmid, Geschichte der griechischen Literatur, 3:1:1:37.
51. Herbert Spencer, First Principles (New York: Appleton, 1882), 11.
52. Edwyn Bevan, Hellenism and Christianity (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1921),
53. Frank, Nature and Human Nature, [146].
54. Robert L. Schuyler, "Man's Greatest Illusion," Proceedings of the American
Philosophical Society 92 (1948): 50; cf. Georgio de Santillana, The Origins of Scientific
Thought (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), 7-20.
55. Paul Herrmann, Conquest by Man, tr. Michael Bullock (New York: Harper and Brothers,
1954), 9.
56. Bevan, Hellenism and Christianity, 14-15.
57. Lucretius, De Rerum Natura V, 925-1010; Seneca, Epistles XC, 7; Vitruvius, On
Architecture II, 1; Firmicus, Disputationes Adversus Astrologiam Divinatricem III, 1; E. D.
Phillips, "The Greek Version of Prehistory," Antiquity 38 (September 1964): 171-78.
58. Nicephorus Gregor, Byzantina Historia VIII, 8, in PG 148:569.
59. Eduard Norden, Antike Kunstprosa, 2 vol., 3rd ed. (Leipzig: Teubner, 1915), 1:308-9.
60. Shahrastani II, 201, in O. D. Chwolsohn (Khvol'son), Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus, 2
vols. (St. Petersburg: Buchdruckerei der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1856),
61. Sainte-Beuve, quoted in Charles C. Gillispie, "Lamarck and Darwin in the History of
Science," The American Scientist 46 (December 1958): 397.
62. Charles Darwin, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin: 1809-1882 (New York:
Harcourt, Brace, 1958), 85-87.
63. Cf. Ibid., 87, n. 1.
64. T. Neville George, Evolution in Outline (London: Thrift Books, 1951), 16 (emphasis
65. C. P. Snow, The Affair (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1960), 271-72.
66. Albert Guérard, Fossils and Presences (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1957),
67. John Stuart Mill, "Notes of Recent Exposition," Expository Times 70 (December 1958):
68. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers X, 2.
69. Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship, 1:316.
70. Ibid., 1:317.
71. J. F. Dobson, Greek Orators (London: Methuen, 1919), 53-57.
72. Norden, Antike Kunstprosa, 1:156.
73. Plato, Lesser Hippias 364B-365B.
74. Schmid, Geschichte der griechischen Literatur, 1:1:131.
75. Alfred N. Whitehead, quoted in Lucien Price, "To Live without Certitude," Atlantic
Monthly 193 (March 1954): 58; for examples of this sublime confidence no matter what, see
James R. Newman, "William Kingdom Clifford," Scientific American 183 (February 1953):
76. Albert W. Heere, in a letter to the editor, in American Institute of Biological Science
(AIBS) Bulletin (December 1960): 5.
77. Karl Pearson, "The Knowledge of the Natural World," Part B, in Troy W. Organ, The
Examined Life (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1956): 118-19.
78. Warren Weaver, "The Imperfections of Science," American Scientist 49 (March 1961):
79. Hugh Nibley, "Victoriosa Loquacitas: The Rise of Rhetoric and the Decline of
Everything Else," Western Speech 20 (Spring 1956): 57-58; reprinted in this volume, pages
80. Theodosius Dobzhansky, "The Present Evolution of Man," Scientific American
(September 1960): 206; Sir Ronald Fisher, "The Discontinuous Inheritance," The Listener
(17 July 1958): 85, who notes that the concept "was an old fancy which had been revived by
the philosophers of the eighteenth century." C. D. Darlington, "The Natural History of Man,"
The Listener (31 July 1958): 161, 165: "We are ready to apply Darwin's principles of natural
selection and evolution . . . in understanding and controlling the future."
81. Ernest Jones, "Nature of Genius," Scientific Monthly 84 (February 1957): 82.
82. D. M. S. Watson, "The Record of the Rocks," The Listener (10 July 1958): 52; cf. P. T.
Matthews, The Nuclear Apple (London: Chatto and Windus, 1971), 143.
83. Ronald Good, "Natural Selection Re-examined," The Listener (7 May 1959): 797.
84. Harry Grundfest, "Opinions on Darwin a Century After," Science and Society 24 (1960):
153, attempts to prove natural selection being "still largely unsuccessful," 152.
85. Von Otto H. Schindewolf, "Neokatastrophismus," Zeitschrift der deutschen geologischen
Gesellschaft 114 (1963): 430.
86. William D. Thornbury, Principles of Geomorphology (New York: John Wiley and Sons,
1954), 16.
87. Nigel Calder, The Restless Earth: A Report on the New Geology (New York: Viking,
1972), 15.
88. Diehls, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, frg. 73.
89. Plato, Cratylus 402A; Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers IX, 9, 11;
Aristotle, On the Soul I, 2, 405a; on the necessity of accepting fallible human concensus as
proof see Sextus Empiricus, Against the Logicians VII, 133.
90. See the interpretation in Heinrich Ritter and Ludwig Preller, Historia Philosophiae
Graecae (Hildesheim: Gerstenberg, 1975), 25.
91. Hippocrates, The Sacred Disease XXI, 1-4.
92. Ibid., II, 1-10, 27-32.
93. Hippocrates, The Art 2.
94. Ibid., 3-6.
95. Hippocrates, The Sacred Disease 21.
96. J. B. S. Haldane, in Arnold Lunn and J. B. S. Haldane, Science and the Supernatural
(New York: Sheed and Ward, 1935), 251.
97. Sir Arthur Eddington, quoted in Joad, God and Evil, 111.
98. Heere, AIBS Bulletin, 5.
99. Geoffrey Bibby, "The Idea of Prehistory," in Samuel Rapport and Helen Wright, eds.,
Archaeology (New York: New York University Press, 1963), 18-20.
100. John Rowland, "Science and Religion," Hibbert Journal 60/236 (1961/62): 5.
101. M. G. Rutten, The Geological Aspects of the Origin of Life on Earth (New York:
Elsevier, 1962), 2, 4. Cf. Rutten, The Origin of Life by Natural Causes (New York: Elsevier,
1971), 2.
102. Francis Bacon, Novum Organum I, 59.
103. Ibid., I, 64.
104. George, Evolution in Outline, 16.
105. Sir Joseph J. Thomson, Recollections and Reflections (New York: Macmillan, 1937),
106. Pearson, "The Knowledge of the Natural World," 118.
107. Koyré, From the Closed World, 274.
108. Lucretius, De Rerum Natura V, 564.
109. Ibid., V, 578.
110. Ibid., V, 1194-95.
111. Meletus, in Plato, Apology 26D.
112. Charles N. Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1944), 97; cf. Vitruvius, On Architecture 8, on the Milesian school.
113. Cicero, De Officiis II, 16, 56-57, and De Haruspicum Responsis, 12.
114. Hippocrates, The Sacred Disease II, 20-46.
115. Ibid.
116. Ibid.
117. Chwolson, Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus, 2:469.
118. Ibid., 2:41-46.
119. Hippocrates, The Art 6.
120. Hippocrates, Ancient Medicine 13-15.
121. Hippocrates, The Sacred Disease 2.
122. Chwolson, Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus, 2:470.
123. Hippocrates, The Sacred Disease XXI, 25, 26.
124. Peter T. Mora, "The Folly of Probability," in Sidney W. Fox, The Origins of
Prebiological Systems (New York: Academic, 1965), 45 (emphasis added).
125. Norman W. Pirie, "Some Assumptions Underlying Discussion on the Origins of Life,"
Annals New York Academy of Sciences 69 (1957): 373.
126. Julian Jaynes, "The Routes of Science," American Scientist 54 (March 1966): 95.
127. Louis V. Pirsson and Charles Schuchert, Introductory Geology (New York: John Wiley
and Sons, 1920), 5-6.
128. Marshall D. Sahlins, "The Origin of Society," Scientific American 203 (September
1960): 77-78, 82.
129. William W. Howells, "The Distribution of Man," Scientific American 203 (September
1960): 114.
130. Joad, God and Evil, 124-25.
131. Ibid., 111.
132. Sir Gavin de Beer, "Natural Selection after 100 Years," The Listener (3 July 1958): 12.
133. Sir Wilfrid LeGross Clark, "The Humanity of Man," Advancement of Science 18
(September 1961): 218.
134. A. Thoma, "Mtissage ou transformation essai sur les hommes
fossiles de Palestine," L'Anthropologie 62 (1958): 47.
135. Calder, Mind of Man, 17-18.
136. Dobson, Greek Orators, 9-10.
137. Good, "Natural Selection," 797.
138. Hippocrates, The Art II, 6-11.
Notes to Chapter 10 Part 2
1. Jacob Bronowski, "The Logic of the Mind," American Scientist 54 (March 1966): 4; cf.
Julian Jaynes, "The Routes of Science," American Scientist 54 (March 1966): 95.
2. Luís A. Sánchez, quoted in Carleton Beals, Nomads and Empire Builders (New York:
Chilton, 1961), 64.
3. Detlev W. Bronk, quoted in Vance Packard, The Waste Makers (New York: David
McKay, 1960), 318.
4. Werner Jaeger, Aristotle, tr. Richard Robinson (Oxford: Clarendon, 1948), 335.
5. Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion, tr. and ed. James Strachey (New York: Norton,
1961), 56. This concluding sentence was once required reading for all freshman at the
University of California.
6. Karl Pearson, "The Knowledge of the Natural World," Part B, in Troy W. Organ, The
Examined Life (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1956): 120.
7. Sir Gavin de Beer, "Natural Selection after 100 Years," The Listener (3 July 1958): 12
(emphasis added). Cf. John Wild, "The Exploration of the Life-World," Proceedings and
Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 34 (October 1961): 18, on science as
the only truth.
8. Jaeger, Aristotle, 373-74 (emphasis added).
9. Dio Chrysostom, Discourse XII, 57-58.
10. Jaeger, Aristotle, 376.
11. Arthur W. Munk, "Philosophy, Science and Man's Plight," Pacific Philosophy Forum 6
(September 1967): 13-16.
12. Richard McKenna, "The Secret Place," in The Nebula Award Stories: Number Two
(Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967), 15.
13. Nicolas Berdyaev, Solitude and Society (London: Centenary, 1938), 12.
14. Pearson, "The Knowledge of the Natural World," 120. Cf. Francis Bacon, Novum
Organum I, 54.
15. Rudolf Jordan, The New Perspective (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951), 171.
16. Marvin Minsky, "Machines Are More Than They Seem," Science Journal 4 (October
1968): 3.
17. Pearson, "The Knowledge of the Natural World," 119.
18. Midrash Genesis Rabbah (Noach) 38:6.
19. Hugh Nibley, "How to Have a Quiet Campus, Antique Style," BYU Studies 9 (Summer
1969): 448-50; reprinted in this volume, pages 297-99.
20. Leslie A. White, "Evolutionism in Cultural Anthropology: A Rejoinder," The American
Anthropologist 49 (July-September 1947): 402.
21. John C. Greene, "Darwin and Religion," Proceedings of the American Philosophical
Society 103 (1959): 717.
22. Sir Ronald Fisher, "The Discontinuous Inheritance," The Listener (17 July 1958): 85.
23. Dorsey Hager, "Fifty Years of Progress in Geology: The Presidential Address to the Utah
Geological Society," Geotimes 2 (August 1957): 12.
24. Hermann J. Muller, "One Hundred Years without Darwinism Are Enough," The
Humanist 19 (June 1959): 139-40.
25. Ernest Jones, "Nature of Genius," Scientific Monthly 84 (February 1957): 81.
26. J. B. Bury and Russell Meiggs, A History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great,
4th ed. (New York: St. Martin's, 1975): 199.
27. Erwin Rohde, Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality among the Greeks, tr.
W. B. Hillis, 2 vols. (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1966), 2:290.
28. Theodor Hopfner, Orient und griechische Philosophie (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1925), 64-65.
29. Dio Chrysostom, Discourse XII, 57.
30. Albert Guérard, Fossils and Presences (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1957),
31. N. S. Sutherland, "Machines Like Men," Science Journal 4 (October 1968): 47.
32. Karl R. Popper, "Science: Problems, Aims, Responsibilities," Federation Proceedings of
the American Societies for Experimental Biology 22 (1963): 962 (emphasis added).
33. Ibid., 963-64.
34. Ibid., 964, 970.
35. Karl R. Popper, quoted in Warren Weaver, "The Imperfections of Science," American
Scientist 49 (March 1961): 112.
36. Eduard Meyer, "Die Bedeutung der Erschliessung des alten Orients für die
geschichtliche Methode und für die Anfänge der menschlichen Geschichte Überhaupt,"
Sitzungsberichte der berlinischen Akademie 25 (1908): 648-52.
37. Charles Darwin, quoted in Max Rosenberg, Introduction to Philosophy (New York:
Philosophical Library, 1955), 286.
38. Heinrich Schirmbeck, "Evolution und Freiheit," Merkur 14 (June 1960): 523.
39. J. T. Merz, Religion and Science, A Philosophical Essay (Edinburgh: Blackwood and
Sons, 1915); 103, quoted in A. P. Elkin, "A Darwin Centenary and Highlights of Field-Work
in Australia," Mankind 5 (November 1959): 333.
40. Nikolai Kozyrev, "An Unexplored World," Soviet Life (November 1965): 45, in which
the foremost Russian astrophysicist rejects the finality of entropy.
41."Man Superior to Machine," Science Newsletter 71 (12 January 1957): 22.
42. Richard Courant and Herbert Robbins, What Is Mathematics? (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1941): xvii-xviii.
43. Pierre L. du Noüy, Human Destiny (New York: Longmans, Green, 1947), 3.
44. Berdyaev, Solitude and Society, 15-17.
45. R. Buckminster Fuller, Intuition (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1972), 39.
46. Ibid., 41, 42, 46, 70.
47. Plato, Gorgias 527B; and Pindar, Olympian Odes II, 91-97, are two examples.
48. George Saintsbury, A History of Criticism and Literary Taste in Europe, 3 vols.
(London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1949), 1:22.
49. Gilbert Murray, Aristophanes (London: Oxford University Press, 1933), 20; Saintsbury,
A History of Criticism, 1:22-23.
50. Wilhelm Nestle, Vom Mythos zum Logos (Stuttgart: Scientia Verlag Aalen, 1966), 539.
51. Jaeger, Aristotle, 402.
52. Karl R. Popper, Conjectures and Refutations (New York: Basic Books, 1962), 51.
53. Ibid., 12-15, 49-51.
54. Herwig Maehler, "Review of E. N. Tigerstedt's Plato's Ideas of Poetical Inspiration,"
Gnomon 44 (November 1972): 645.
55. Jones, "Nature of Genius," 81.
56. Isaac Newton, quoted in Alexandre Koyré, From the Closed World to the Infinite
Universe (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1957), 178-79.
57. Ibid., 225.
58. Ibid., 241.
59. Lancelot L. Whyte, Accent on Form (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1954), 71-72.
60. Newton, quoted in Koyré, From the Closed World, 208-9 (emphasis added).
61. Edwin A. Burtt, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science (London:
Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1950), 282-84.
62. George Berkeley, quoted in Koyré, From the Closed World, 233.
63. Newton's conclusion of his General Scholium; Koyré, From the Closed World, 234.
64. Koyré, From the Closed World, 232.
65. Jones, "Nature of Genius," 80.
66. Jacques Maritain, The Dream of Descartes, tr. Mabelle L. Andison (New York:
Philosophical Library, 1944): 18.
67. Ibid., 19-23. Cf. Carl Sagan, The Cosmic Connection (New York: Doubleday, 1973),
103-4, and I. Bernard Cohen, Revolution in Science (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
1985), 131-32.
68. Weaver, "The Imperfections," 100.
69. P. B. Medawar, "Is the Scientific Paper Fraudulent?" Journal of Human Relations 13
(1965): 6.
70. Ibid., 5.
71. Albert Einstein, quoted in James T. Adams et al., Living Philosophies (New York: Simon
and Schuster, 1931), 6.
72. Jaeger, Aristotle, 337, 339.
73. Wilhelm Schmid, Geschichte der griechischen Literatur (Munich: Beck, 1940), 1:1:131;
Aristotle, Poetics 25.
74. Nestle, Vom Mythos zum Logos, 540-42.
75. Popper, Conjectures and Refutations, 89.
76. Ibid., 92.
77. Lucian, Bion Prasis (Philosopher's Auction) 3.
78. Popper, Conjectures and Refutations, 126-27.
79. E. N. Tigerstedt, quoted in Maehler, "Review of E. N. Tigerstedt," 645 (emphasis added).
80. Carl Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Literatur (Leipzig: Amelang, 1901), 1:12.
81. Macrobius, Saturnalia I, 14, 19.
82. Charles N. Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1944), 32.
83. John E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, 3 vols. (New York: Hafner, 1958),
84. Murray, Aristophanes, 93.
85. Plato, Gorgias 508.
86. Plato, Phaedo 96A.
87. Ibid., 97C.
88. Plato, Meno 99D.
89. Psellus, cited in Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, 1:389.
90. Plato, Apology 22C.
91. Plato, Laws VII, 809B-11E; Plato, Republic III, 394A-395E.
92. Plato, Apology 33C.
93. Plato, Gorgias 524, 527.
Notes to Chapter 10 Part 3
1. Herbert Spencer, First Principles (New York: Appleton, 1898), 12.
2. Nicolas Berdyaev, Solitude and Society (London: Centenary, 1938), 5, 12.
3. Karl R. Popper, Conjectures and Refutations (New York: Basic Books, 1962), 136-37.
4. Gottfried Martin, Kant's Metaphysics and Theory of Science, tr. P. G. Lucas (Manchester:
Manchester University Press, 1955), 129.
5. Nigel Calder, Mind of Man (New York: Viking, 1970), 262.
6. Ibid., 95 (emphasis added).
7. Warren Weaver, "The Imperfections of Science," American Scientist 49 (March 1961):
8. Russell Housfeld, "Dissembled Culture: An Essay on Method," Mankind 6 (November
1963): 50.
9. Gilbert Murray, Aristophanes (London: Oxford University Press, 1933), 101.
10. Plutarch, Pericles VI, 1.
11. Plato, Gorgias 518-19; Werner Jaeger, Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture, tr. Gilbert
Highet, 3 vols. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1945), 1:330-31.
12. Karl R. Popper, "Science: Problems, Aims, Responsibilities," Federation Proceedings of
the American Societies for Experimental Biology 22 (1963): 961.
13. Weaver, "The Imperfections," 101.
14. Edmund R. Leach, "We Scientists Have the Right to Play God," Saturday Evening Post
241 (16 November 1968): 20. Cf. Carl Sagan, The Dragons of Eden (New York: Random
House, 1977), 237-38.
15. Wallace O. Fenn, "Front Seats for Biologists," AIBS Bulletin (December 1960): 16. Cf.
Carl Sagan, The Dragons of Eden (New York: Random House, 1977), 237-38
16. Stephen Toulmin, "Contemporary Scientific Mythology," in Metaphysical Beliefs
(London: SCM Press, 1957), 61.
17. Morris R. Cohen, American Thought: A Critical Sketch (New York: Collier Books,
1962), 240
18. Lawrence K. Frank, Nature and Human Nature (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University
Press, 1951), 151.
19. Julian Jaynes, "The Routes of Science," American Scientist 54 (March 1966): 95.
20. Alfred N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, Lowell Lectures, 1925 (New
York: Macmillan, 1962), 275.
21. G. M. Trevelyan, History and the Reader (London: Cambridge University Press, 1945),
22. Harlow Shapley, in Life in Other Worlds, A Symposium Sponsored by Joseph E.
Seagram and Sons (1 March 1961): 27.
23. Fenn, "Front Seats," 14.
24. Toulmin, "Contemporary Scientific Mythology," 61.
25. Dorsey Hager, "Fifty Years of Progress in Geology: The Presidential Address to the Utah
Geological Society," Geotimes 2/2 (August 1957): 12.
26. Albert Guérard, Fossils and Presences (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1957),
27. Hugh R. Trevor-Roper, Men and Events (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1957), 311,
28. Popper, "Science: Problems," 961.
29. Toulmin, "Contemporary Scientific Mythology," 62.
30. Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie, When Worlds Collide (New York: Lippincott, 1933),
31."The Integrity of Science: A Report by the AAAS Committee on Science in the
Promotion of Human Welfare," American Scientist 53 (June 1965): 194.
32. Charles R. Dechert,"Cybernetics and the Human Person," International Philosophical
Quarterly 5 (February 1965): 32-33.
33. Commodian, Instructiones adversus Gentium Deos 19 and 22, in PL 5:215-18.
34. Murray, Aristophanes, 236.
35. Ibid., 226-27.
36. Plutarch, Moralia 853, quoted in Murray, Aristophanes, 215.
37. J. F. Dobson, Greek Orators (London: Methuen, 1919), 198.
38. Hugh Nibley, "Victoriosa Loquacitas: The Rise of Rhetoric and the Decline of
Everything Else," Western Speech 20 (Spring 1956): 60; reprinted in this volume, pages
39. Edward Chiera, They Wrote on Clay: The Babylonian Tablets Speak Today (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1938), 110.
40. Hugo Winckler, "Staat und Verwaltung," in Eberhard Schrader, ed., Die Keilinschriften
und das Alte Testament (Berlin: Reuther and Reicherd, 1903), 169-70.
41. John E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship (New York: Hafner, 1958), 1:373.
42. J. B. Bury, A History of the Later Roman Empire, From Arcadius to Irene, 2 vols. (New
York: Macmillan, 1889), 1:315.
43. Jean Gage, "La propagande srapiste et la lutte des empereurs flaviens avec les
philosophes (Sto ciens et Cyniques)," Revue philosophique de la France 149 (1959): 73-100.
44. Hugo Rahner, Greek Myths and Christian Mystery (New York: Harper and Row, 1963),
45. Wilhelm Schmid, Geschichte der griechischen Literatur, in Walter Otto, ed., Handbuch
der Altertumswissenschaft (Munich: Beck, 1940), 3:1:1:37.
46. Cf. Nibley, "Victoriosa Loquacitas," 63-64, 70-71; reprinted in this volume, pages
253-54, 265-67.
47. Goldziher, Vorlesungen, 44.
48. Eduard Norden, Antike Kunstprosa, 2 vols., 3rd ed. (Leipzig: Teubner, 1915), 2:771.
49. Francis Bacon, Novum Organum I, 71.
50. M. A. MacConaill in "European vs. American Anthropology," Current Anthropology 6
(June 1965): 306.
51. Albert G. Ingalls,"The Carboniferous Mystery," Scientific American 162 (January 1940):
52. E. Hirshler, "Prehistory and the Birth of Civilization," Comparative Studies in Society
and History 7 (1964): 97.
53. L. Hudson, "The Stereotypical Scientist," Nature (21 January 1967): 229.
54. M. G. Rutten, The Geological Aspects of the Origin of Life on Earth (New York:
Elsevier, 1962), 125.
55. I. Bernard Cohen, "Orthodoxy and Scientific Progress," Proceedings of the American
Philosophical Society 96 (1952): 505.
56. Ibid., 505-6.
57. Walter Sullivan, We Are Not Alone, The Search for Intelligent Life on Other Worlds
(New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), 147-48.
58. Anthony Standen, Science Is a Sacred Cow (New York: Dutton, 1950), 18.
59. Science News Letter (17 July 1954): 40.
60. Ronald Good, "Natural Selection Re-examined," The Listener (7 May 1959): 797.
61. Robert H. Lowie, "Evolution and Cultural Anthropology," American Anthropologist 48
(April-June 1946): 231
62. G. A. Kerkut, gen. ed., Implications of Evolution, International Series of Monographs on
Pure and Applied Biology; Division: Zoology, vol. 4 (New York: Pergamon, 1960), 155-56.
63. Carleton Beals, Nomads and Empire Builders (New York: Chilton, 1961), 67-68.
64. Norman W. Pirie, "Some Assumptions Underlying Discussion on the Origins of Life,"
Annals New York Academy of Sciences 69 (1957): 373.
65. Tatian, Oratio adversus Graecos (Oration to the Greeks) 3, in PG 6:809.
66. Epictetus, Discourses I, 12, 21; I, 18, 2-4; II, 8, 7. Cf. Titus Maccius Plautus, The
Captives 300-308.
67. Philostratus, Life of Apollonius II, 30.
68.The Life of Apa Cyrus, in E. A. Wallis Budge, Coptic Texts: Coptic Martyrdoms Etc. in
the Dialect of Upper Egypt, 5 vols. (London: Oxford University Press, 1914), 4:383-85, fol.
25b, 27a.
69. F. J. E. Raby, A History of Secular Latin Poetry in the Middle Ages, 2 vols. (London:
Oxford University Press, 1934), 1:75.
70. John Chrysostom, Adversus Oppugnatores Eorum Qui Vitam Monasticum Inducant 3, in
PG 47:363.
71. Hippocrates, The Nature of Man I, 1-35.
72. Hippocrates, Ancient Medicine I, 1-27.
73. Paul E. Kahle, The Cairo Geniza, The Schweich Lectures of the British Academy, 1941
(London: Oxford University Press, 1947), 193.
74. Reynold A. Nicholson, A Literary History of the Arabs (London: Cambridge University
Press, 1953), 134; cf. Carl Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Literatur (Leipzig:
Amelang, 1901), 1:13, 80-81, 95, 126, 128, 185-86, 197, 200, 220-27.
75. Alfred N. Whitehead, quoted in Lucien Price, Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead
(Boston: Little, Brown, 1954), 132.
76. Harry Grundfest, "Opinions on Darwin a Century After," Science and Society 24 (1960):
77. Nikolai Kozyrev, "An Unexplored World," Soviet Life (November 1965): 27.
78. Kenneth E. Bock, "Evolution and Historical Process," American Anthropologist 54
(October-December 1952): 494.
79. Charles F. Hockett and Robert Ascher, "The Human Revolution," American Scientist 52
(March 1964): 73 (emphasis added).
80. P. LeCorbeiller, "Crystals and the Future of Physics," Scientific American 188 (January
1953): 56.
81. C. P. Snow, The Search (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958), 168-69.
82. N. Goodman, quoted in Weaver, "The Imperfections," 109.
83. Price, Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead, 7.
84. Henri Poincaré, The Foundations of Science (New York: Science, 1929), 129.
85. Vannevar Bush, quoted in Eric Hodgins, "The Strange State of American Research,"
Fortune (April 1955): 214.
86. Michael Polanyi, "The Unaccountable Element in Science," Philosophy 37 (January
1962): 14.
87. P. W. Bridgman, "Science and Common Sense," Scientific Monthly 79 (July 1954): 36.
88. Warren S. McCulloch, "Mysterium Iniquitatis of Sinful Man Aspiring into the Place of
God," Scientific Monthly 80 (January 1955): 39.
89. Popper, Conjectures and Refutations, 152.
90. Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity (New York: Science, 1933), 68.
91. Weaver, "The Imperfections," 109.
92. Ibid., 106-7, 111.
93. See Rollin W. Workman, "What Makes an Explanation," Philosophy of Science 31 (July
1964): 241-54.
94. Harold E. Driver and William C. Massey, "Comparative Studies of North American
Indians," Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 47 (July 1957): 438.
95. Kozyrev, "An Unexplored World," 43.
96. Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), 64.
97. Fenn, "Front Seats," 16.
98. George H. Mead, Movements of Thought in the Nineteenth Century (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1962), 507-8.
99. P. T. Matthews, The Nuclear Apple (London: Chatto and Windus, 1971), 127.
100. Ibid., 141-42.
101. McCulloch, "Mysterium Iniquitatis," 39 (emphasis added).
102. F. A. Vick, "The Making of Scientists," The Listener 61 (29 January 1959): 196.
103. Korzybski, Science and Sanity, 152-53 (emphasis added).
104. C. D. Hardie, Background of Modern Thought (London: Watts, 1947), 124-25.
105. Bridgman, "Science and Common Sense," 33 (emphasis added).
106. Heraclitus, On the Universe 4.
107. Ibid., 41.
108. Ibid., 69.
109. Plato, Apology 24C, 26B, 27C, E.
110. Heraclitus, On the Universe 97; in Socrates's works see Plato, Apology 24C, 26B, 27C,
111. Heraclitus, On the Universe 1.
112. Nibley, "Victoriosa Loquacitas," 57-58; reprinted in this volume, pages 243-45.
Notes to Chapter 10 Part 4
1. Albert Guérard, Fossils and Presences (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1957),
2. For laughs, see John Jacob Astor's, A Journey in Other Worlds: A Romance of the Future,
6th ed. (New York: Appleton, 1898), 34-35; these pages provide a sketch of the year 2000.
3. Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of the Future (New York: Harper and Row, 1962), chaps. 1 and
4. "The Integrity of Science: A Report by the AAAS Committee on Science in the Promotion
of Human Welfare," American Scientist 53 (June 1965): 176.
5. See Julian H. Steward, "Cultural Evolution," Scientific American 194 (May 1956): 69-80.
6. Joseph W. Krutch, "If You Don't Mind My Saying So. . . . .," American Scholar 35
(Spring 1966): 181.
7. William H. Whyte, Jr., Organization Man (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956), 208.
8. Ibid., 215, 223.
9. Ibid., 226.
10. Albert W. Heere, in a letter to the Editor, in American Institute of Biological Science
(AIBS) Bulletin (December 1960): 5.
11. Eric Hodgins, "The Strange State of American Research," Fortune (April 1955): 113.
12. A. L. Kroeber, "Statistics, Indo-European, and Taxonomy," Language 36 (1960): 19.
13. William K. Wright, "The End of the Day," The Philosophical Review 55 (July 1946):
14. Julian Jaynes, "The Routes of Science," American Scientist 54 (March 1966): 94-95.
15. Edwyn Bevan, Hellenism and Christianity (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1921), 41
(emphasis added).
16. Eduard Norden, Antike Kunstprosa, 2 vol., 3rd ed. (Leipzig: Teubner, 1915), 2:655-56.
17. John Chrysostom, Oratio in Epistolam ad Hebraeos XII, 30, in PG 63:211.
18. Hugh Nibley, "Victoriosa Loquacitas: The Rise of Rhetoric and the Decline of
Everything Else," Western Speech 20 (Spring 1956): 70-71; reprinted in this volume, pages
19. Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War III, 45, 5.
20. Werner Jaeger, Aristotle, tr. Richard Robinson (Oxford: Clarendon, 1948), 5.
21. Norden, Antike Kunstprosa, 2:807.
22. Ibid., 778.
23. C. E. M. Joad, Guide to Philosophy (New York: Dover, 1936), 524-25.
24. F. W. Ostwald, Die Philosophie der Werte, quoted in Stephen Toulmin, "Contemporary
Scientific Mythology," in Metaphysical Beliefs (London: SCM, 1957), 30.
25. T. Neville George, Evolution in Outline (London: Thrift Books, 1951), 118-19.
26. Rudolf Jordan, The New Perspective (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951), 177.
27. Bertrand Russell, quoted in Clarke, Profiles of the Future, 248.
28. Nikolai Kozyrev, "An Unexplored World," Soviet Life (November 1965): 43.
29. Alexandre Koyré, From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe (Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins Press, 1957), 43.
30. John Dewey, Living Philosophies (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1931), 27.
31. Warren Weaver, "The Imperfections of Science," American Scientist 49 (March 1961):
32. J. C. Loehlin, "Machines with Personality," Science Journal 4 (October 1968): 98.
33. Gordon Taylor, "Focus," Science Journal 4 (June 1968): 31.
34. Warren S. McCulloch, "Mysterium Iniquitatis of Sinful Man Aspiring into the Place of
God," Scientific Monthly 80 (January 1955): 37.
35. Jordan, The New Perspective, 144.
36. Lester G. Crocker, An Age of Crisis: Man and World in Eighteenth Century French
Thought (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1959), 82-83.
37. Nolin P. Jacobson, "The Cultural Meaning of Science," Hibbert Journal 65 (Spring
1967): 92 (emphasis added).
38. Joad, Guide to Philosophy, 565.
39. M. G. Rutten, The Origin of Life by Natural Causes (New York: Elsevier, 1971), 4.
40. Theodosius Dobzhansky, "Evolution at Work," Science 127 (9 May 1958): 1091.
41. Morton S. Enslin, "A Gentleman among the Fathers," Harvard Theological Review 47
(October 1954): 241.
42. Ibid., 230, 238, 239.
43. Origen, In Leviticum Homilia 7, in PG 12:488-89.
44. Pavel Poucha, "Das tibetische Totenbuch im Rahmen der eschatologischen Literatur,"
Archiv Orientální 20 (1952): 162, who compares Pliny the Elder, Natural History VII, 55,
45. Wilhelm Schmid, Geschichte der griechischen Literatur (Munich: Beck, 1940), 3:3:11.
46. Horace, Epistle I, 6, 1.
47. Adolf Erman, The Ancient Egyptians: A Sourcebook of Their Writings, tr. Aylward M.
Blackman (New York: Harper and Row, 1966), 85-88.
48. W. G. Lambert, Babylonian Wisdom Literature (London: Oxford University Press,
1960), 33, 35, 41, 77, 81, 109, 266-67, 278.
49. Karl Jaspers, quoted in Gerald W. Johnson, "Some Cold Comfort," American Scholar 35
(Spring 1966): 193.
50. Kozyrev, "An Unexplored World," 27.
51. John Langdon-Davies, Man and His Universe (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1930),
52. Johnson, "Some Cold Comfort," 195.
53. Ibid.
54. Jacques Maritain, Science and Wisdom, tr. Bernard Wall (New York: Charles Scribner's
Sons, 1954), 48.
55. Ibid., 50.
56. Whyte, The Organization Man, 395.
57. Alfred N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, Lowell Lectures, 1925 (New
York: Macmillan, 1962), 274.
58. W. G. Haverbeck, Das Ziel der Technik (Freiburg, 1965), reviewed in Zeitschrift für
Geopolitik 15 (1967): 6.
59. Karl R. Popper, Conjectures and Refutations (New York: Basic Books, 1962), 229.
60. Joseph Jacobs, quoted in Grey H. Skipwith, "The Origins of the Religion of Israel,"
Jewish Quarterly Review 12 (1900): 381.
61. Robin S. Allan, "Geological Correlation and Paleoecology," Bulletin of the Geological
Society of America 59 (January 1948): 2.
62. Ibid.
63. John R. Platt, quoted in R. Buckminster Fuller, "Vision 65 Summary Lecture," American
Scholar 35 (Spring 1966): 218.
64. Wiesner, quoted in ibid.
65. Krutch, "If You Don't Mind," 183.
66. Clarke, Profiles of the Future, 216.
67. Ibid., 213.
68. Herman Kahn and Anthony J. Wiener, The Year 2000 (New York: Macmillan, 1967),
69. Iago Galdston, "Existentialism as a Perennial Philosophy of Life and Being," Journal of
Existential Psychiatry 1 (Fall 1960): 379.
70. Norden, Antike Kunstprosa, 2:453-55.
71. Bevan, Hellenism and Christianity, 156.
72. Ibid., 145-54.
73. Friedrich Cauer, "Die Stellung der arbeitenden Klassen in Hellas und Rom," Neue
Jahrbücher für das klassische Altertum, Geschichte und deutsche Literatur 3 (n.d.): 700-702.
74. Nibley, "Victoriosa Loquacitas," 70-72; reprinted in this volume, pages 265-69.
75. Justin, in PG 6:1316 (see response to question 74).
76. Hugh Nibley, "The Unsolved Loyalty Problem: Our Western Heritage," Western
Political Quarterly 6 (December 1953): 632-35; reprinted in this volume, pages 196-200.
77. Norden, Antike Kunstprosa, 1:20-21, 2:507.
78. Plato, Gorgias 518-19; Werner Jaeger, Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture, tr. Gilbert
Highet, 3 vols. (New York: Oxford University, 1945), 1:330-31.
79. W. Bossuet, Jüdisch-christlicher Schulbetrieb in Alexandria und Rom (Gttingen:
Vandenhoeck, 1915), 6.
80. Arnold Lunn and J. B. S. Haldane, Science and the Supernatural (New York: Sheed and
Ward, 1935), 50.
81. Arnold Lunn, The Flight from Reason (New York: Dial, 1931), 21.
82. Nicolas Berdyaev, Solitude and Society (London: Centenary, 1938), 6.
83. Norden, Antike Kunstprosa, 2:712-13.
84. Maurice de Wulf, History of Mediaeval Philosophy, 2 vols. (New York: Dover, 1952),
85. Ibid., 210.
86. James Hastings, ed., "Mysticism," in Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 12 vols. (New
York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1951), 9:100.
87. Charles Dickens, "In the Name of the Prophet -- Smith!" Household Words 3 (19 July
1851): 385.
88. Eduard Knig, "The Modern Attack on the Historicity of the Religion of the Patriarchs,"
Jewish Quarterly Review 22 (1931/32): 120-21.
89. Herbert W. Schneider, "Evolution and Theology in America ["The Influence of Darwin
and Spencer on American Philosophical Theology"]," Journal of the History of Ideas 6
(January 1945): 3-18.
90. Morris R. Cohen, American Thought: A Critical Sketch (New York: Collier Books,
1962), 240.
91. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, 270.
92. Nels F. S. Ferré, "Which Way British Theology?" Expository Times 70 (July 1959): 305.
93. Henri Leclercq, "Église," in Henri Leclercq and Fernand Cabrol, eds., Dictionnaire
d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie (Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 1907), 4:2228-30.
94. J. Lebreton, "Le désaccord de la foi populaire et de la théologie savante," Revue
d'histoire ecclésiastique 19A (1923): 481-83.
95. Reinhold Seeberg, Text-Book of the History of Doctrines, vol. 1 of History of Doctrines
in the Ancient Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1952), 160.
96. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History V, 28, 13-14, in PG 20:516.
97. Anna Miura-Stange, Celsus und Origenes (Giessen: Töpelmann, 1926) in Zeitschrift für
die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche, Beiheft 4 (1926):
98. Minucius Felix, Octavius, in G. Goetz, Die literarhistorische Stellung des Octavius von
Minucius Felix (Giessen: Töpelmann, 1926), 161-63.
99. Justin, in PG 6:1316, Question 74.
100. G. Florovsky, "Eschatology in the Patristic Age," in Kurt Aland and F. L. Cross, eds.,
Studia Patristica II in Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur
64 (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1957), 246, 248.
101. Martin Grabmann, Geschichte der scholastischen Methode, 2 vols. (Graz: Adademische
Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, 1957), 2:87-91.
102. Franklin L. Baumer, Religion and the Rise of Scepticism (New York: Harcourt, Brace,
1960), 19-20.
103. Alfred N. Whitehead, quoted in Lucien Price, "To Live without Certitude," Atlantic
Monthly 193 (March 1954): 59.
104. Pierre L. du Noüy, Human Destiny (New York: Longmans, Green, 1947), 264.
105. Cf. Hugh Nibley, "The Return of the Prophets?" in The World and the Prophets (Salt
Lake City: Deseret Book, 1966), 258-72; reprinted in CWHN 3:284-98.
106. Hugh Nibley, "Jerusalem: In Christianity," in Encyclopedia Judaica 9:1570-75, and
Hugh Nibley, "Christian Envy of the Temple," Jewish Quarterly Review 50 (1959/60):
109-23; reprinted in CWHN 4:323-54 and 391-434 respectively.
107. O. R. Frisch, "Tactics and Strategy of Science," Science Journal 5 (November 1969):
84, a review of P. B. Medawar's Induction and Intuition in Scientific Thought.
108. Martin Greenberg, ed., The Robot and the Man (New York: Gnome, 1953), vi.
109. Berdyaev, Solitude and Society, 20 (emphasis added); cf. Norbert Samuelson, "That the
God of the Philosophers Is Not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," Harvard Theological
Review 65 (1972): 1-28; Robin Attfield, "The God of Religion and the God of Philosophy,"
Religious Studies 9 (March 1973): 1-9.
110. See Hugo Rahner, Greek Myths and Christian Mystery (New York: Harper and Row,
1963), xv, 387-90.
111. Karl R. Popper, "Science: Problems, Aims, Responsibilities," Federation Proceedings of
the American Societies for Experimental Biology 22 (1963): 962.
112. "Fifth General Epistle," Deseret News, 22 March 1851, 225.
113. Joseph Fielding Smith, Selections from Answers to Gospel Questions: A Course of
Study for the Melchizedek Priesthood Quorums of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints 1972/73 (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1972), 191.
114. Ibid., 190-91.
115. Allen Wheelis, The End of the Modern Age (New York: Basic Books, 1971), 33.
116. Ibid., 34.
117. Ibid., 43.
118. Ibid., 64.
119. P. T. Matthews, Nuclear Apple, 117-18.
120. Ibid., 116-17.
121. Ibid., 16.
122. Ibid., 19.
123. Robert Jastrow, Red Giants and White Dwarfs (New York: Harper and Row, 1971).
124. Ibid., 5.
125. Ibid., 123.
126. Ibid., 130-31.
127. Ibid., 139.
128. Ibid., 152.
129. Ibid., 155.
130. Ibid., 157.
131. Popper, "Science: Problems, Aims, Responsibilities," 964.
132. M. G. Rutten, The Geological Aspects of the Origin of Life on Earth (New York:
Elsevier, 1962), 124.
133. Ibid., 125.
134. Ibid., 46.
135. G. A. Kerkut, ed., Implications of Evolution, International Series of Monographs on
Pure and Applied Biology; Division: Zoology, vol. 4 (New York: Pergamon, 1960), 8.
136. Ibid., 17.
137. P. T. Matthews, The Nuclear Apple (London: Chatto and Windus, 1971), 143.
138. Lyall Watson, Supernature (New York: Doubleday, 1973), 5.
139. J. G. Kemeny, A Philosopher Looks at Science (Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand, 1959),
140. Peter T. Mora, "The Folly of Probability," in Sidney W. Fox, The Origins of
Prebiological Systems (New York: Academic, 1965), 46.
141. J. Challinor, "Palaeontology and Evolution," in P. R. Bell, ed., Darwin's Biological
Work, Some Aspects Reconsidered (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1959), 53.
142. Kerkut, Implications of Evolution, 157.
143. Ibid., 154.
144. Otto H. von Schindewolf, "Neokatastrophismus," Zeitschrift der deutschen
geologischen Gesellschaft 114 (1963): 430.
145. Ibid., 431.
146. Mora, "The Folly of Probability," 50.
147. Norman W. Pirie, "Some Assumptions Underlying Discussion on the Origins of Life,"
Annals, New York Academy of Sciences (1956): 370.
148. Ibid., 371.
149. G. H. R. von Koenigswald, "Early Man: Facts and Fantasy," Royal Anthropological
Institute of Great Britain and Ireland Journal 94 (1964): 76.
150. Ibid., 69.
151. Kemeny, A Philosopher Looks at Science, 200.
152. Ibid., 199.
153. Ibid., 207.
154. Kerkut, Implications of Evolution, 7.
155. Watson, Supernature, 8.
156. Matthews, The Nuclear Apple, 105.
157. Mora, "The Folly of Probability," 47-48.
158. Fuller, Intuition, 70.
159. Matthews, The Nuclear Apple, 143.
160. Ibid., 142.
161. Cf. Mora, "The Folly of Probability," 43, 49.
162. Ibid., 71-72.
163. Ibid., 142.
164. Ibid., 49.
165. Wheelis, The End of the Modern Age, 61.
166. Ibid., 62.
167. Ibid., 70.
168. Ibid., 77.
169. Ibid., 115.
170. Ibid., 65.
171. Matthews, The Nuclear Apple, 141.
172. Ibid., 142.
173. J. B. S. Haldane, in Clarke, Profiles of the Future, 139.
174. Fuller, Intuition, 50.
175. R. Buckminster Fuller, Intuition (New York: Doubleday, 1972), 42.
176. Giorgio de Santillana, The Origins of Scientific Thought (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1961).
177. Matthews, The Nuclear Apple, 100.
178. For a discussion of cosmological patterns in early Christian (Gnostic) and Jewish
works, see Hugh Nibley, "Treasures in the Heavens: Some Early Christian Insights into the
Organizing of the Worlds," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 8/3-4 (1973): 76-98;
reprinted in CWHN 1:171-214.