The Family And The State

All that may be called the patriarchal element in the state rested in Greece and Italy on the same foundations. Under this head comes especially the moral and decorous arrangement of social life,(9) which enjoined monogamy on the husband and visited with heavy penalties the infidelity of the wife, and which recognized the equality of the sexes and the sanctity of marriage in the high position which it assigned to the mother within the domestic circle. On the other hand the rigorous development of the marital and still more of the paternal authority, regardless of the natural rights of persons as such, was a feature foreign to the Greeks and peculiarly Italian; it was in Italy alone that moral subjection became transformed into legal slavery. In the same way the principle of the slave being completely destitute of legal rights--a principle involved in the very nature of slavery--was maintained by the Romans with merciless rigour and carried out to all its consequences; whereas among the Greeks alleviations of its harshness were early introduced both in practice and in legislation, the marriage of slaves, for example, being recognized as a legal relation.

On the household was based the clan, that is, the community of the descendants of the same progenitor; and out of the clan among the Greeks as well as the Italians arose the state. But while under the weaker political development of Greece the clan-bond maintained itself as a corporate power in contradistinction to that of the state far even into historical times, the state in Italy made its appearance at once complete, in so far as in presence of its authority the clans were quite neutralized and it exhibited an association not of clans, but of citizens. Conversely, again, the individual attained, in presence of the clan, an inward independence and freedom of personal development far earlier and more completely in Greece than in Rome--a fact reflected with great clearness in the Greek and Roman proper names, which, originally similar, came to assume very different forms. In the more ancient Greek names the name of the clan was very frequently added in an adjective form to that of the individual; while, conversely, Roman scholars were aware that their ancestors bore originally only one name, the later -praenomen-. But while in Greece the adjectival clan-name early disappeared, it became, among the Italians generally and not merely among the Romans, the principal name; and the distinctive individual name, the -praenomen-, became subordinate. It seems as if the small and ever diminishing number and the meaningless character of the Italian, and particularly of the Roman, individual names, compared with the luxuriant and poetical fulness of those of the Greeks, were intended to illustrate the truth that it was characteristic of the one nation to reduce all to a level, of the other to promote the free development of personality. The association in communities of families under patriarchal chiefs, which we may conceive to have prevailed in the Graeco-Italian period, may appear different enough from the later forms of Italian and Hellenic polities; yet it must have already contained the germs out of which the future laws of both nations were moulded. The "laws of king Italus," which were still applied in the time of Aristotle, may denote the institutions essentially common to both. These laws must have provided for the maintenance of peace and the execution of justice within the community, for military organization and martial law in reference to its external relations, for its government by a patriarchal chief, for a council of elders, for assemblies of the freemen capable of bearing arms, and for some sort of constitution. Judicial procedure (-crimen-, --krinein--, expiation (-poena-, --poinei--), retaliation (-talio-, --talao--, --tleinai--, are Graeco-Italian ideas. The stern law of debt, by which the debtor was directly responsible with his person for the repayment of what he had received, is common to the Italians, for example, with the Tarentine Heracleots. The fundamental ideas of the Roman constitution--a king, a senate, and an assembly entitled simply to ratify or to reject the proposals which the king and senate should submit to it--are scarcely anywhere expressed so distinctly as in Aristotle's account of the earlier constitution of Crete. The germs of larger state-confederacies in the political fraternizing or even amalgamation of several previously independent stocks (symmachy, synoikismos) are in like manner common to both nations. The more stress is to be laid on this fact of the common foundations of Hellenic and Italian polity, that it is not found to extend to the other Indo-Germanic stocks; the organization of the Germanic community, for example, by no means starts, like that of the Greeks and Romans, from an elective monarchy. But how different the polities were that were constructed on this common basis in Italy and Greece, and how completely the whole course of their political development belongs to each as its distinctive property,(10) it will be the business of the sequel to show.


It is the same in religion. In Italy, as in Hellas, there lies at the foundation of the popular faith the same common treasure of symbolic and allegorical views of nature: on this rests that general analogy between the Roman and the Greek world of gods and of spirits, which was to become of so much importance in later stages of development. In many of their particular conceptions also,--in the already mentioned forms of Zeus-Diovis and Hestia-Vesta, in the idea of the holy space (--temenos--, -templum-), in various offerings and ceremonies--the two modes of worship do not by mere accident coincide. Yet in Hellas, as in Italy, they assumed a shape so thoroughly national and peculiar, that but little even of the ancient common inheritance was preserved in a recognizable form, and that little was for the most part misunderstood or not understood at all.

The Period Anterior to the Abolition of the Monarchy Page 12

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