It could not be otherwise; for, just as in the peoples themselves the great contrasts, which during the Graeco-Italian period had lain side by side undeveloped, were after their division distinctly evolved, so in their religion also a separation took place between the idea and the image, which had hitherto been but one whole in the soul. Those old tillers of the ground, when the clouds were driving along the sky, probably expressed to themselves the phenomenon by saying that the hound of the gods was driving together the startled cows of the herd. The Greek forgot that the cows were really the clouds, and converted the son of the hound of the gods--a form devised merely for the particular purposes of that conception--into the adroit messenger of the gods ready for every service. When the thunder rolled among the mountains, he saw Zeus brandishing his bolts on Olympus; when the blue sky again smiled upon him, he gazed into the bright eye of Athenaea, the daughter of Zeus; and so powerful over him was the influence of the forms which he had thus created, that he soon saw nothing in them but human beings invested and illumined with the splendour of nature's power, and freely formed and transformed them according to the laws of beauty. It was in another fashion, but not less strongly, that the deeply implanted religious feeling of the Italian race manifested itself; it held firmly by the idea and did not suffer the form to obscure it. As the Greek, when he sacrificed, raised his eyes to heaven, so the Roman veiled his head; for the prayer of the former was contemplation, that of the latter reflection. Throughout the whole of nature he adored the spiritual and the universal. To everything existing, to the man and to the tree, to the state and to the store-room, was assigned a spirit which came into being with it and perished along with it, the counterpart of the natural phenomenon in the spiritual domain; to the man the male Genius, to the woman the female Juno, to the boundary Terminus, to the forest Silvanus, to the circling year Vertumnus, and so on to every object after its kind. In occupations the very steps of the process were spiritualized: thus, for example, in the prayer for the husbandman there was invoked the spirit of fallowing, of ploughing, of furrowing, sowing, covering-in, harrowing, and so forth down to that of the in-bringing, up-storing, and opening of the granaries. In like manner marriage, birth, and every other natural event were endowed with a sacred life. The larger the sphere embraced in the abstraction, the higher rose the god and the reverence paid by man. Thus Jupiter and Juno are the abstractions of manhood and womanhood; Dea Dia or Ceres, the creative power; Minerva, the power of memory; Dea Bona, or among the Samnites Dea Cupra, the good deity. While to the Greek everything assumed a concrete and corporeal shape, the Roman could only make use of abstract, completely transparent formulae; and while the Greek for the most part threw aside the old legendary treasures of primitive times, because they embodied the idea in too transparent a form, the Roman could still less retain them, because the sacred conceptions seemed to him dimmed even by the lightest veil of allegory. Not a trace has been preserved among the Romans even of the oldest and most generally diffused myths, such as that current among the Indians, the Greeks, and even the Semites, regarding a great flood and its survivor, the common ancestor of the present human race. Their gods could not marry and beget children, like those of the Hellenes; they did not walk about unseen among mortals; and they needed no nectar. But that they, nevertheless, in their spirituality--which only appears tame to dull apprehension--gained a powerful hold on men's minds, a hold more powerful perhaps than that of the gods of Hellas created after the image of man, would be attested, even if history were silent on the subject, by the Roman designation of faith (the word and the idea alike foreign to the Hellenes), -Religlo-, that is to say, "that which binds." As India and Iran developed from one and the same inherited store, the former, the richly varied forms of its sacred epics, the latter, the abstractions of the Zend-Avesta; so in the Greek mythology the person is predominant, in the Roman the idea, in the former freedom, in the latter necessity.

Art

Lastly, what holds good of real life is true also of its counterfeit in jest and play, which everywhere, and especially in the earliest period of full and simple existence, do not exclude the serious, but veil it. The simplest elements of art are in Latium and Hellas quite the same; the decorous armed dance, the "leap" (-triumpus-, --thriambos--, --di-thyrambos--); the masquerade of the "full people" (--satyroi--, -satura-), who, wrapped in the skins of sheep and goats, wound up the festival with their jokes; lastly, the pipe, which with suitable strains accompanied and regulated the solemn as well as the merry dance. Nowhere, perhaps, does the especially close relationship of the Hellenes and Italians come to light so clearly as here; and yet in no other direction did the two nations manifest greater divergence as they became developed. The training of youth remained in Latium strictly confined to the narrow limits of domestic education; in Greece the yearning after a varied yet harmonious training of mind and body created the sciences of Gymnastics and Paideia, which were cherished by the nation and by individuals as their highest good. Latium in the poverty of its artistic development stands almost on a level with uncivilized peoples; Hellas developed with incredible rapidity out of its religious conceptions the myth and the worshipped idol, and out of these that marvellous world of poetry and sculpture, the like of which history has not again to show. In Latium no other influences were powerful in public and private life but prudence, riches, and strength; it was reserved for the Hellenes to feel the blissful ascendency of beauty, to minister to the fair boy-friend with an enthusiasm half sensuous, half ideal, and to reanimate their lost courage with the war-songs of the divine singer.

The Period Anterior to the Abolition of the Monarchy Page 13

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